Speak the Language of Customers

To effectively market a new product, you must be able to name it and frame it in terms that resonate with your target audience. Potential customers will not buy what they cannot name or understand.

All too often we see technology vendors define their positioning behind closed doors, then cross their fingers and hope the message spreads like wild fire. The end result can be disappointing if not catastrophic.

Positioning exists in people’s minds, not in your words. If you want the market to understand your value proposition, you must frame a position in words that actually exist in other people’s minds.

Too much time spent with your founder and developers can desensitize you and make you believe those acronyms and techno-terms are commonplace, but don’t be deceived. If your friends and family have trouble articulating to others what your products does and why anyone should care, then you may need to rethink your positioning.

So where is a B-to-B tech marketer to find the words to describe the coolest invention since sliced bread? Try listening to prospective customers. Tune into their conversations to find out how they are describing the challenges they face and products – benefits and features – that are relevant to the solution you provide. Then integrate that language into your marketing materials.

Tactical Tips for Learning the Language of Customers

  1. Find the bloggers that are writing about your topic area. Subscribe to their feed, read their stuff and the comments they receive regularly.
  2. Join LinkedIn and industry groups that cater to the market segment you intend to serve. Tune out the vendor rhetoric and focus on user posts and comments.
  3. Use your network to find people who match the profile of your prospective buyers. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to discuss the market issues. Try not to let your viewpoint influence the conversation…just listen.
  4. Monitor discussion boards and forums to understand the real strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Drinking too much of the company Kool-Aid can be harmful to the health of your marketing messages. A dose of reality will help ground you.
  5. Research keywords that are in use by your target demographics. Tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool or WordTracker can help you research the popularity of keywords that may be used to categorize your products and services. Be leery of keywords that yield little or no results.

Your press releases, collateral, email campaigns and even product packaging can all benefit from the language used by real life tech buyers. With your new market-aware messaging in place, your founder may miss those special terms that he/she coined, but your prospective customers just might thank you with a shortened sales cycle.

2 replies
  1. Valerie Driessen
    Valerie Driessen says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Proper positioning and messaging continue to be a major challenge for high tech growth companies. I agree more content on the subject would be useful for our readers, so I will definitely be expanding on these ideas in 2010.

    Reply

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