Horror Stories: B2B Tech Messaging
B2B tech messaging tends to be big, broad, and vague. Which is the opposite of what savvy B2B buyers are looking for.
So often, B2B marketers leave customers in the dark in terms of:
- The intended audience.
- Relevancy to buyers’ “jobs to be done.”
- How the product or service uniquely solves their business problems.
- Whether the messaging is to be believed at all.
After conducting scores of B2B message testing studies, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the truly horrifying.
Here are some common messaging mistakes to avoid before you launch your next landing page, product marketing initiative, or content calendar.
Horror Story 1: It’s Unclear Who It’s For… And Who It’s NOT For.
Tech companies, powerful visionaries that they are, have a tendency to go really broad with their messaging. For example: “Your vision. Your Cloud.” Or: “Cloud for all.” But is it really for everyone?
B2B products and services are rarely intended for the use of any and all. Unfortunately, it’s rare for tech companies to make it immediately clear who their intended audience is.
Buyers shouldn’t have to work to figure out whether a product or service is relevant to them. B2B messaging should make it really obvious. Whose life will be made easier by this B2B solution? Use visuals, smart layouts, and clever formatting to make sure the eye is easily drawn to copy that identifies and speaks directly to key buyers.
Horror Story 2: It’s Not Written In The Voice of The Buyer(s).
Is your target buyer technical? Do you have someone technical on your marketing team? You should. At least make sure you get someone technical to vet your messaging.
Technical buyers will lose confidence in your solution if the messaging gets the jargon wrong or strings random concepts together in a way that doesn’t make sense. Or if it skirts specifics and stays vague. (Also, technical buyers will be turned off by anything they consider “fluff.” They don’t like marketing buzzwords.)
Context matters. Don’t message in a vacuum. Do what you need to do to author, edit, and verify that you’re writing messaging that resonates with your key buyer personas.
Here’s a place where understanding your target buyers’ “jobs to be done” really comes in handy. You’ll score lots of brownie points if you can speak to the specific issues your solution solves for the intended buyer.
And remember, B2B buying decisions usually happen by committee. In other words, you need to convince a group of stakeholders, not just an individual.
Your B2B tech messaging should speak to all the key buyer personas involved in making the purchase decision- not just the end-user.
Horror Story 3: The Messaging Is Stranded From The Brand Strategy.
The goal isn’t just for the customer to remember the product. You also want them to remember the brand.
If your product is part of a larger suite of solutions, your messaging shouldn’t make it sound like an isolated offering.
Graphics are often an effective method of demonstrating that a particular solution or tool is part of a holistic suite of offerings.
Your B2B messaging strategy needs to connect the product or service back to the company.
Horror Story 4: It’s Poorly Written.
Bad grammar creates an unnecessary obstacle for communicating the relevance of your solution. Especially if your target buyers are non-native English speakers.
In our B2B message testing studies, we’ve watched scores of buyers use the bulk of their energy trying to parse out the intention behind our client’s initial attempt at messaging. This prevents customers from moving down the purchase funnel.
Make things as easy as possible on the buyer. Communicate clearly. Don’t make them work to figure out why it’s smart to buy your product or service.
So. Use complete sentences. Simplify your wording. Amplify your main message so that it’s the most noticeable thing on the page, the paragraph, etc. Only attempt to convey one idea per sentence. Make sure you can get through a sentence without having to take a breath when reading out loud. Shorten the sentence if you can’t. Edit. Edit a lot. (More on this here.)
Horror Story 5: There’s No Hierarchy of Emphasis.
Tech companies love listing the attributes of their product or service. Unfortunately, they often neglect to explain how these features solve problems for their target buyers.
Also, lists are just plain hard to read. Reading a list gets monotonous and boring. Which of the many adjectives is the reader supposed to remember? What’s the main point of the product? What makes it special?
Say you’ve got five key selling points. Please do not pack all five key points into one sentence or even one paragraph. That will mute the impact.
Instead, give each key point its own space and separate emphasis. Add in supporting points as needed. Make sure the supporting points strengthen the main idea, rather than sounding like isolated factors.
Strategic messaging requires a hierarchy of emphasis. Your marketing team needs to be clear on the main selling points of the solution and the supporting, secondary factors.
Readers are more likely to remember what is given the greatest emphasis. If everything has the same level of emphasis, readers may struggle to remember anything at all.
What do you want the main takeaways to be? Emphasize accordingly.
Horror Story 6: Unsubstantiated Boasts, Vague Terms, & Marketing Buzzwords.
During our market research studies, we’ve watched many B2B buyers grow suspicious over broad messaging claims.
Unless you have substantial, authoritative backup for making such a claim, shy away from declaring yourself “the best” or “the leading solution.” When such lofty claims are made, we’ve noticed that B2B buyers often take it as a challenge to think of a brand with a better solution.
Further, to be blunt, messaging that reads like marketing wrote it puts many B2B buyers off.
B2B customers often take vague terminology as a red flag, as it may indicate that the solution is being pushed by a company who doesn’t understand how it will actually be used.
Further, marketing buzzwords tend to scare off technical buyers. These customers will only be convinced by brands that get what their day-to-day entails.
So, be as specific as possible. What does your solution actually do? How does it do it? How will it fit into the work of the buyer? Specifically, what value does it bring to your key customers?
Also, marketers, make sure to run your messaging by someone who is well-versed in the business and technical context of your target buyers.
To summarize: don’t make your buyers work to figure out your solution’s relevancy and value-add.
Make sure your B2B messaging:
- Identifies the intended audience. It should be very obvious who the solution was built for.
- Is written in the voice of the buyer. Messaging needs to get the B2B buyers’ business and technical context right.
- Connects back to the brand strategy. Give the reader an easy pathway to related solutions and information.
- Is easy to read. Pay attention to good grammar and avoid run-on sentences.
- Has a hierarchy of emphasis. Be clear internally on the top 2-5 selling points you want the reader to take away. The main value-add should have the most space, visual draw, ink, etc.
- Is specific. Avoid vague terms, unsubstantiated boasts, and marketing buzzwords. Explain how your solution accomplishes the benefits you’re boosting. Back up your claims.
Need some help with messaging strategy? We offer B2B messaging upgrades.
Special thanks to Senior Consultant Colleen Clancy, Senior Research Analyst Hercules Randolph IV, and Research Analyst Courtney Bae for advising on this piece.
With custom market research and marketing services, Cascade Insights helps companies seize opportunities in the B2B technology sector. We work with everyone from enterprise tech stalwarts to up-and-comers in fields such as FinTech, MarTech, Health Tech, and more.