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Teasing out sales messages

If you’re breaking into a technical market with a complex product and established competition, it can feel like an uphill struggle to win an audience (and ultimately, sales) – but finding a way to give voice to your sales messages can be an enjoyable and refreshing exercise that teaches you something about your business.

A few months ago, we had to write a brochure for a company that, by their own admission, builds and sells stuff that might not be very sexy to the average person on the street – and even within their own market, is not always easy to sell if you haven’t got an established brand within your particular segment.

The “why use us?” messages coming from the client’s product design team tended to focus on end-user technicalities that, while compelling, were not going to do the job of distracting prospects from the more established competition at an expo where time and attention were the most valuable resources.

By their own admission, the team found it difficult to come up with what we referred to between us as “the fluffy stuff”.

Our main point of contact for the project was terrific – friendly, approachable, knowledgeable; everything you could want in a client POC – but we needed more sales messages and more differentiation.

We did a few things to help them find those sales messages, and here they are.

Open it out to the team

We asked if we could speak to the whole team, not just the main POC and the technical people who had asked us to help them in the first place.

There’s always someone in a wider project team that will give you nuggets of information you can use. Sometimes, the trick is simply to get people talking and glean what you can: from a mix of perspectives, experience, time with the company, and different business focuses of the individuals involved, certain truths will emerge, certain patterns, certain points that sell. There’s no reason why you can’t adopt this approach within your own business.

Find the truths

With this client, it started to emerge that customer focus, customer service and aftercare were absolutely central to how the company operates, and something the individuals within the team cared about deeply.

And by hearing this articulated in a number of different ways, we were able to start producing some pretty compelling paragraphs, with pull-out quote, that ensured this message really landed. For example, anyone can claim they care about customers. It’s not news. But to hear about how an organisation actually structures its requirements capture process so that the customer need is front and centre – well, that starts to become more interesting.

In this way, we got from some pretty “dry” material to a much more personal, compelling, and ultimately true series of messages that represent why the company is such a good supplier to work with. All the messages were real, too, not an exercise in self-deception – a business selling itself on what it wants to be, but in reality is not. On the contrary, the messages were something the organisation can stand by and lives by in the day-to-day: we were unlocking what was already within the business.

Takeaway messages: setting yourself apart from the competition.

In conclusion, here are some suggestions about how to identify and articulate sales messages for your own organisation.

  • Speak to a wide range of people within you company – you never know who is going to provide you with something great that you can use.
  • Get people talking, and capture everything they say. There will be nuggets in there that you can refine later.
  • If you’re writing for a brochure, website or anything else that will be produced in real or virtual ink, remember the power of pull-out text in sales messages. You can use the really strong stuff in quotes even if it doesn’t feel quite right for body copy. “I want this business to be the best in the world at what it does” might not feel like a line you can use for body copy, but it could make a great pull-out quote, in the right context.
  • Use people’s job titles as a signpost to where they might be able to add value. For example, we found a bids specialist within our client. We told him at the start of our conversation that we thought he could add a lot, and that we needed his take on the company and its sales messages. We tried to frame the conversation so he came to it in a certain way (ready to help and mindful of the positives about the business, for starters) and he did – giving us some useful soundbites and ideas for content. He was also quite new to the company, so had freshly-minted ideas about why they’re good in comparison to some of their more established rivals.
  • Speaking of which, know how to turn “weaknesses” into strengths. This particular job reminded us that newness to market and a relative lack of size can be a strength, because with it can come agility, flexibility, clarity and directness in communications, speed of turnaround, superb customer focus and partnership. And in this day and age, these selling points have never been more important.
  • Work with In The Box! As with PR, so with copy: people don’t always recognise their own sales messages or story-worthy material; our job as copywriters is to tease this out of you and recognise the resources you may have without even knowing it.

Need help distilling your sales messages or producing compelling copy?

Then contact us!

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