Speaking to an intended audience from their perspective using their language is a common theme in my work (and in my blogs). But sometimes, B2B companies aren’t speaking to the right audience to begin with.
The right messages, crafted well but directed to the wrong people, won’t open doors.
Speaking to the wrong audience, or only one audience, in the buying cycle is probably the most common error I see B2B companies make when they prepare their messages.
The user is not (necessarily) the buyer
In most B2B plays (and some consumer plays, too), the audience is deep and/or wide: several individuals, roles, and departments are involved in the decision-making process. Start-ups especially tend to speak only—or too much—to the user. But in B2B, users aren’t usually the buyers.
Even a user with a budget (say, the head of a department that you want to sell a tool or platform to) may not be the right audience—or only audience—depending on a company’s goals. For companies that are “crossing the chasm” from early adopters to a scalable customer base, it’s as important to identify the audience (or several potential audiences) needed for scale as it is to capture the early champions.
Messaging across the chasm
Companies that fail to cross the chasm often do not prepare their messages and value proposition for the long-term. That may be because they don’t know exactly who that audience of scale might be.
A common approach to this conundrum is to speak to an organization or a market type rather than a specific person or role. But, having a message “for enterprises” is not as effective as a message that speaks to the CIO of an enterprise in the healthcare space. A strong audience has specific needs, motivations, pains, and priorities.
Messaging is like a tree
An effective messaging blueprint is like a tree. The trunk is a singular, concise, and stable value proposition based on differentiation. The branches are messages which spread that value proposition toward specific audiences. Strategically layering (or branching) the presentation of messages is the foundation of speaking effectively to the right audience at the right time.
At Phrase Strategy, this is our wheelhouse. To fix brands that aren’t working or that want to do more, we start with audiences and messages. Contact us to talk through your messaging challenges.
P.S. the wrong audience in investor pitches
By the way, companies often use their customer story as the basis for their story to investors—but the investor audience is completely different. I’ll write more on investor pitches in the future, so stay tuned to this blog, Phrase Strategy’s social media, or sign up for the monthly newsletter.