Chris Halliwell, Technology Marketing Center Executive Director here checking in with a well worn, but crucial contribution to the clarity of your marketing message.
Over the past few months, I've been involved as an EIR at an incubator here in Southern California, which has given me frequent opportunity to hear that beloved of messages, the Elevator Pitch. One of the startups I've been working with completely re-engineered their message and the results have been magical. Potential customers are eager to learn more, and potential investors sense a unique opportunity.
So much, entire books, have been written on the importance of a clear value proposition and differentiation, so this blog's contribution will be to crystallize the basics into six quick rules.
You Talkin' to Me? Pick a target market and an economic buyer and stick to it. Message muddling starts with lack of audience clarity.
What's Your Problem? How many websites do not explicitly identify the important problem being solved? Why should the audience invest in learning about your offer?
It's Your Thing. What is this thing you are selling? Pick a category that the audience already understands to quickly communicate where you fit. Without this mooring, you'll confuse everyone.
Debuzzify. To be remembered and believed you have to be relevant to something the audience already knows or believes. When you fall in love with words you invent or resort to lofty hyperbole, you lose credibility.
ILITY One. Always be selling the category's value to grow the pie. Express category value as an "ility", for instance, "this category brings scalability vs. older or alternative technology."
ILITY Two. Now tell me how you are different and better than other members of the category, for instance, usability, reliability, efficiency, maintainability. Ilities are value drivers that exist over time. Establish brand by claiming the intersection of Ility One and Ility Two and supporting these capabilities with unique offer points.
Whenever you scan a website or read about a product or company that you admire, you're feeling the comfort and credibility of these 6 rules. You'll be able to pick out key elements of the Magic Message in all of the company's communication. On a recent Southwest flight, the Chairman's statement in the front of the Southwest magazine read, in part:
"Southwest has a bold vision to become the world's most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline...our daily focus is on how we achieve it through the Reliability of our airline and the Hospitality of our people."
Air flight is a well-established category solving an obvious problem, getting to a destination quickly. So what's key in this quote is the simple, plainspoken articulation of excellence in category value (Reliability) combined with Southwest's differentiation (Hospitality). This message works in part because it follows the rules, however, the most important thing is that each of us has personally experienced Southwest consistently delivering on these promises in unique and valuable ways over time.