Companies often miss out on revenue simply because potential clients don’t understand what the business is or how it can solve their problems. Revisiting your firm-wide messaging, and getting the building blocks right will open the door to new client relationship opportunities.
“So, what do you do for a living?” It’s the classic icebreaker. And when we’re on the receiving end of that question, most of us can give a concise answer in just a few words: I’m a manufacturing consultant. I’m an HR executive. I’m a copywriter who helps companies tell their stories effectively.
Since I actually am the latter of those professions, I know from experience that it’s a lot easier for most people to describe what they do than it is for most companies to do the same. Often, this is because of FOMO— fear of missing out. Companies grow and evolve over time, and they end up doing so many things that boiling down their overarching firm-wide messaging to a few core statements is really hard; they don’t want to leave anything out and miss capturing the client that needs that specific service or solution.
Ironically, failure to be concise and succinct when it comes to your high-level messaging often causes the very problem companies are trying to avoid: if prospects can’t quickly understand what you do and who you do it for, then they are unlikely to give you any of their time to learn more. And you miss the opportunity to tell the in-depth story that can turn an interested prospect into a profitable new customer.
The 5 Core Messaging Building Blocks Every Company Needs to Get Right
While there’s a time and a place to regale your leads with the myriad of details about your solutions, processes, and unique expertise, all of this information needs to be built upon a buttoned-up messaging model or framework. Otherwise, prospects won’t get past your opening line.
At Rattleback, our messaging model is based on a series of building blocks or key statements that work together to effectively explain your firm to the market. The building blocks describe what you do, who you do it for, why you do it better than anyone else, and what a prospect stands to gain from leveraging your expertise. When these building blocks are right, it’s much easier for potential clients to quickly understand your business. And you’ll have components you can arrange as needed to structure and tell your story across a variety of use cases.
Here’s a closer look at each of the building blocks, the choices you need to make in each area, and some common mistakes to avoid when crafting each of these critical statements.
#1 – Positioning
Let’s start with space where you play. We think of positioning as the statement of who you exist to serve. While this can appear simple on the surface, we find that companies are often much too vague when it comes to describing their target markets.
You will have to fight back against the FOMO here because you can’t be everything to everyone. Give some serious consideration to your sweet spot or the types of companies that have the most to gain from your services and that are the best fit for the way you work. It’s okay to include several different industries. But if your list starts to get too unwieldly, you need to give some serious consideration to the clients you really want to serve.
Beyond industry definitions, think about the ideal size of your customers and the types of objectives you would like them to have to help hone down your definition. At Rattleback, we’ve narrowed down our positioning to work with professional services and B2B SaaS firms that are looking to generate leads and demand through marketing services.
#2 – Benefits
Once you’ve articulated who you serve, the next building block to tackle is the why statement. The reason why clients pay for your services is because there is value in it for them. Try to think about the bottom line here and drive all the way down to the final outcome of the work you do for your clients.
At Rattleback, our services are aimed at generating leads and demand. While both of these are indeed benefits for the organizations we serve, the ultimate value for companies is growth—both immediate and long-term.
So, our messaging doesn’t just talk about creating more qualified prospects; it specifically addresses the growth goals of the clients we exist to help. It’s important for companies to make this final or ultimate benefit statement crystal clear; don’t leave it to your prospects to connect the dots. Spell it out to make it easier for leads and clients to connect your company with tangible and desirable outcomes for their business.
#3 – Expertise
This is essentially the what statement—what your company does and the services it offers to unlock the value you provide to your clients. Once again, FOMO will be a force you will need to reckon with here. It can be extremely tempting to compile a laundry list of every possible service or area of expertise you have just in case a potential client is looking for that one specific thing.
But less is definitely more at this high-level of the messaging platform. Instead of overwhelming your clients with an exhaustive list, consider bucketing services into smaller subsets that better reflect your core competencies. Remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that it’s what you want to be known for in the marketplace, or even that it’s an area where you want more work.
This doesn’t mean that you have to throw out the laundry list. Those services can and often should be described in detail later on. But when it comes to your highest-level firm-wide messaging, it’s important for the firm to align around the critical few competencies where you can (and most want to) really make a difference for the organizations you serve.
#4 – Issues
While areas of expertise are important to define, it’s even more important to be clear on the business problems those services solve and/or the opportunities they help clients pursue. This is often harder messaging work to do because it involves getting into your prospects’ mindsets and looking at the situation from their point of view. But it is critical work, especially if you offer expertise or services that prospective clients might not know they need or that they haven’t yet considered as viable options to their specific situations.
Even when clients aren’t clear on their path forward, you can bet that they are extremely cognizant of the issues they face in their businesses day in and day out. Gaining clarity into these issues and framing your firm-wide messaging around them is an extremely effective way of capturing their attention. It lets you speak their language. And it shows that you have an intimate understanding of their pain points, goals, and objectives. For more on how to do this, check out this post on getting your problem statement right.
#5 – Point of View
The crown jewel in the messaging model is the POV. Your point of view is your firm’s unique perspective on the issues your prospects and clients face; it defines how your company goes about addressing those issues. While your competitors may serve the same types of companies, with the same issues, through the same areas of expertise, and ultimately deliver the same benefits as you do, your POV is what sets you apart. And it is very often the deciding factor in why someone chooses to become your client instead of partnering with your closest rival.
Clearly, POVs carry a heavy load and defining yours is work that should not be taken lightly. We find that when a POV falls short, it is usually because it is not differentiating enough or not articulated as clearly or in as compelling a manner as it could be. It’s not that a company doesn’t have the right elements or wow factors; it’s usually that the POV has yet to be defined in the most effective way. Carefully considering 7 Elements of a Compelling Point of View is a great place to start if you think your POV could use some fine-tuning.
If you build it, they will come.
There are many clients out there that have much to gain from what your firm does and how you do it. Bringing them in the door starts with firm-wide messaging that clearly articulates who you serve, what you do, why it matters, and how you do it. In short, getting your messaging right is the first step towards more conversations with the right fit clients you’ve always coveted.