Zach Messler, Messaging and Positioning Advisor
Zach is a messaging and positioning advisor for entrepreneurs and small businesses. He helps them with what to say and how to say it so they can make a bigger impact on the world and their wallet.
One of the things he talks about is messaging. If you want your messaging or business communications and you want it to be effective, it has to be 3 things:
Compelling ( grab and hold onto it)
Convincing (persuading people to take action or do something)
If you’re missing one of these 3 pieces, not so good things happen.
Who is involved in this 3 step process?
Everybody! Everybody should be involved in the messaging process.
If it’s a bigger business, it should span across 3 organizations (sales, marketing and product). If it's a smaller business, think about your marketing or sales arm. If solopreneur, it’s you.
Zach spent 20 years in product marketing for tech companies. The businesses that were most successful had those 3 organizations operating in step. Use to call it the 3 legs of the stool. As long as marketing, sales and product are in that lock step everything you put into the market is going to be consistent, what you get from your audience is going to feed your marketing and feed your sales team and things start operating faster. It’s like a fly wheel.
Messaging needs to flow and be easy for the customer.
Messaging is driven by the audience and by the customer. If product is building something and they aren’t getting that message in from sales, then what they are building is not what sales is delivering.
Marketing sits in the center. It has to connect sales to product and vice versa then out to marketing. Connecting the dots between them all.
When you’re dealing with product marketing, especially with technology, you tend to have a different vocabulary or perspective than even sales and even different than marketing would have.
Help me understand your process for pulling those teams together and the value of that to get the right message out to the customer.
There are 3 steps. It works for anybody – not just big companies. This is foundational for any brand in any industry.
Step 1 - Clarity:
Answering 3 questions (clarity piece) and the essence of the product, then connecting the core value of the product once you understand it to the core of what the audience wants.
What is it?
What does it do?
Why does it matter to my target audience?
He built a guide for himself. Learn the product by talking to product stakeholders, talk to clients, and sitting in on sales calls and understanding what it is, what it does and why it matters – for everything. What is the offering I have? What does it do? Why should anyone care about it? Then going deeper into the different features of it. That way you understand all the components of the product. That’s valuable to anyone in the organization. If I can’t explain why a buyer needs this feature or why a user needs this feature then why am I working on this feature?
As a salesperson if I can’t articulate why you as a buyer should care about this thing, what it means for you in your role or job or your life, then why am I selling this?
When you do it the right way and answering the 3 questions, you have all this rich language and it’s connecting all the dots.
Step 2 - Compelling:
Compelling is about standing out. There’s SO much noise out there. Depending on the industry you’re in, you know what everybody says. In tech, the word is ‘de jour’ and it means transformative as in ‘transform your business' or 'transform your culture.’ It doesn’t really mean anything anymore because everyone is saying it.
To be compelling is less about being creative and it’s more about being brave and courageous. Taking calculated risks. If something stands out to you, what’s the reason? You’re either looking for it already or for an audience that isn’t looking, it has to be different. It has to stand out in some way. Most people are nervous about doing something different. It’s really guts more than anything else.
Story example: Fun Time Fridays – song parody
Something different in B2B tech – it stood out. Was it risky? Yes. What’s the worst that could happen. Nothing.
Ask yourself 2 questions: what’s the worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that can happen?
Step 3 - Convincing:
Convincing is moving your audience to act. It’s being persuasive. There’s all kinds of persuasive tactics that people talk about. It’s a load of crap. The way to be more convincing is to be your audience. It’s understanding how people buy.
The product marketing term for this is the buyer journey. It’s understanding how people buy. Your audience can range from people who aren’t even aware they have a problem you can help them with to the people who are ready to sign on the dotted line and think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. And everything in between.
If you talk to an unaware audience just like the audience who’s ready to sign, you’re going to lose that unaware audience. And vice versa. If you talk to the audience who’s ready to sign on the dotted line and you’re focused on all the challenges and bringing things to light and the problem and why a change might be necessary, you’re going to lose those people, too.
So to be convincing it’s understanding how your audience buys, understanding the messages they need to hear along the journey and then using that language in your messaging.
There’s a lot more to it than this, of course. There are a lot more layers but clarity, compelling and convincing – all overlap.
There’s a lot of transitioning in between those as well. And just because you go to one step doesn’t mean you won’t go back.
Create more clarity on results or based on actions that you’ve taken.
It sounds like part of that process, especially along that customer journey, you need to understand who your target audience is in order to understand the vocabulary to use to create the awareness, get to 'know you, like you, trust you' and ultimately buy you. Do you go through that buyer persona process as part of your process?
Yes. One of the things that’s so important is that audience research piece, especially in tech. It’s one of those things that the dirty secret is that no one does it. Everybody says they do it and everybody wants to believe they’ve done it. But no one is doing the research to the point where they are taking the words from their audience and throw them back at them. And that’s magic.
Especially for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, Just spend 15 minutes a day and research your customers. It’s not that hard – go on Facebook, look at people you know are prospects today, stalk them, and see what they are posting, who they are interacting with, see how they are interacting especially around challenges you solve or products or services or offerings that you have. See how they are speaking, note that language. Use a spreadsheet, write it down. Just collect it. Do that 15 minutes a day and in a month, you have a bunch of magic.
An example is using Word Cloud software, plugging in all the data about how someone talks about problem X and see what words get bigger and bubble to the top, there you go – use those words!
Specifically as an entrepreneur, if you use the words of your audience, you start to get the feedback of ‘You’re in my head! I have to work with you! You get me!' You start creating that connection. You’re talking their language.
It’s all the nuances. That’s what helps you connect to your audience.
You don’t need to spend the next 2 weeks researching. Just put it on your calendar, commit to 15 minutes each day or whatever works for you and make the research happen. Commit and take action.
What would be something that your target audience doesn’t know about you that you want them to?
A group Zach started called The Killer Message. Thekillermessage.com it’s a FB group. You answer 3 questions and you’re in. Why do you want to join the group> What does your business do? What do you hope to get out of this? He shares a lot about messaging and positioning on LinkedIn, Facebook across social media. He takes it a little deeper here than by reading any of his stuff on other platforms.
Any requirements to become a member?
It’s for entrepreneurs and salespeople. Anyone else can join and get value but the core focus is for entrepreneurs and sales people.
The purpose is to learn killer messaging techniques right now. He's trying to get the group members to the point of sharing posts and asking questions of him and other members of the group.
He has an advisory service called The Sound Board. The way it works: You ask a question and you get an answer within 24 hours. Twice a month a deep dive collaboration and advisory session and work through anything you want to work through. It could be a high level strategic marketing plan to deep in the weeks ‘I want to write a sales page’ and anything in between.
If they don’t know what to do on those sessions, they walk through the hole messaging structure and up-level the messaging. That’s at zachmessler.com
Where you can connect with Zach:
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