Your why may be your true north, but …

but how you shape the message must change as you grow

Every touch point a customer or prospect has with your company will shape their view of you. A clear brand message across the buyer journey ensures everyone is moving in the same direction, telling the same story and creating consistent touch points for your customers. But … Consumers would not care if 82% of brands disappeared.

Entrepreneurs often struggle to come up with really strong messaging to describe what they are selling. A common tendency is to describe the product and the features. But people don’t care about what you do – they care about why you do it and what you can do for them. So, it should come as no surprise that buyers usually don’t react to the product / feature centric message.

Over and over early stage ventures struggle with lack of impact on investors, customers, and employees. You can have well designed customer journeys, massive resources to bring that message out. But if you keep reinstating the wrong message throughout your sales funnel you are doing no good…

How do you design the impact message then?

During the process of discovering the message, entrepreneurs often suffer from i) being too close to their story, and forget how much work is required for a new person to understand it; ii) not having met with enough buyers to know, which segment of buyers are their best target, and what messages are resonating with that particular segment; and iii) keeping the message unchanged as they attempt to cross the chasm.

To overcome this you have to get out of that building. It takes hard work to set up customer discovery meetings. But this is where you can add critical value at little costs.

Then, how do you create the message?

Start with the positioning statement: Your positioning statement and competitive claim should be no more than a two-sentence formula ! Your task is to take the complicated and make it simple. Take the simple and make it compelling. Make it the ‘One Simple Thing’ (‘OST’) as Mike Troiano (http://bit.ly/2nf1FDo) and David Skok (http://bit.ly/2DCizD9) call it.

So, how do you create this One Simple Thing?

Step 1: Data collection Collect all the data you can about who you are as a company. Create a list of five to ten ideas for each of the following: Capabilities – what do we really do, our skills, strengths Customers – who pays us and why, how will we sell to them Context – how do we define our market, what is the state of the market Culture – what do people celebrate; e.g. ‘to succeed here, you need to be …’ Competition – who is it, why will we win / lose.

Step 2: Identify your fundamental drivers Pick the three most important points for each of the five dimensions. Then, boil all of this information down into one emotional clause and one rational clause that answer these questions: If you were to make someone associate your company with a single idea, what would the rational idea be? If you were to make someone associate your company with a single idea, what would the emotional response be?

Step 3: Create a word space Based on the answers to the two questions above, what words or phrases capture the essence of these fundamental drivers? Then rank them against these attributes: Is your OST true to the capabilities and culture of your organization? Is your OST relevant to the target audience you have defined? Is your OST motivating – i.e. change how your target thinks, feels or does? Is your OST different from your competition?

Source: Mike Troiano

Your One Simple Thing may not be something you communicate to the outside world. Instead, you may need customers to experience your brand and ultimately draw this conclusion for themselves. It may feel like selling yourself short. Just remember, the goal is to prioritize your core ideas and simplify your message so that it’s easily consumable and draws people in to hear the rest of your story. In these clips, Mike Troiano talks through the approach in more detail.

https://youtu.be/xg5Arl4nChc, https://youtu.be/qKvdeVfd7Ho, https://youtu.be/vuWrH4IquIE

Defining your positioning statement

With the One Simple Thing in your hand – thoroughly developed, committed by the team – you can define your positioning statement structured like this:

For [target] who are [segment], [brand] provides the [category] with [distinction] because of [proof].

Target: The group of buyers you are going after that you can identify, target and communicate with.

Segment: Within your target, segment is the buyers that are most likely to buy? It is absolutely vital, that you be as specific as you can at this point.

Brand: Your company (or equivalent brand) name.

Category: People need a way to understand what you do compared to other products they know. Hence, give them a category they understand.

Distinction: Within the above category, why are you better? What can you alone do for your customer?

Proof: How can you prove your claim?

How you shape the message must change

Many message designs are based on the traditional adoption life cycle – a smooth bell curve of customers progressing from innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. But as Moore learned us (Crossing the Chasm, read cheat sheet here: http://bit.ly/2b13PjB), there are cracks – change of needs – between each phase of the cycle, whereby you cannot adopt the same messages applied during the previous phase.

Early adopters

Early majority

Visionaries who are driven by a ‘dream’ about a business goal

Pragmatists who care about product quality, infrastructure of supporting products, and reliability

Communicate your idea, not your stuff

Get to the heart of the benefits it will bring to their lives. Reference other pragmatists.

Hence, while discovering your why may be your true north, how you shape the One Simple Thing and positioning statement must change as you make your strategic shifts – first and foremost when you make attempt to cross the chasm.