Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

Tower Data Brand Messaging Update and Website Revamp Project

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Mar 26, 2013

Email data solutions provider, TowerData went live with their redesigned Website last week, with a stunning new appearance and a message that grabs your attention after landing on any page on the Website.


TowerData Background

TowerData helps companies increase the performance of their email marketing by validating email addresses for improved deliverability, providing intelligence about email leads and subscribers, and increasing size of the email list. TowerData has been in business since 2001 and has helped thousands of customers improve their email marketing results and take their email list to the next level.

We created the new TowerData brand message in partnership with enterprise inbound marketing agency, Kuno Creative (Kuno),  who created the redesign and new content and managed the website transformation project. Kuno is managing the content marketing, demand generation and marketing automation program for TowerData.
 
TowerData is a HubSpot customer and has already been successful with its demand generation activities, generating a predictable volume of inbound leads and doing well with keyword rankings. As a next step, TowerData wanted to attract and convert more qualified sales leads by improving its brand messaging and content.

Goal: Brand Update and Website Revamp

Tom Burke, CEO of TowerData stated, “the project was driven by a need to update and focus our brand and revamp our 6-year-old website.” Prior to the redesign the TowerData Website, although functional, looked dated and the message did not clearly identify how TowerData served its clients or what differentiated their services in a highly competitive market. TowerData sought to make its core service strengths readily apparent and easily understood by website visitors. 

Complication: Prior History

TowerData had already identified a redesign and branding vendor who proposed a traditional approach of interviewing stakeholders, including TowerData customers, to understand the business, and pull out the themes and message from there. Our approach would involve more than a brand refresh.

Resolution: Create a Messaging Architecture

TowerData selected Admarco and Kuno for the messaging and Website transformation, and we began the project with the development of the TowerData Buyer-Persona, which details the roles and thought processes of representative buyers. The messaging process was done entirely over the Internet to save time and money and we used the MindManager tool from MindJet.com to capture the information in a brainstorming session attended by Kuno and top TowerData stakeholders.  



With the Buyer Persona created, we moved to developing the Messaging Architecture and began brainstorming the Win Themes and Positioning Pillars. 

The Messaging Architecture is developed by identifying product usage Win Themes, i.e. how the products are used to create value, solve problems and help buyers achieve their goals.  

Win-Themes are self-describing information chunks that encapsulate feature, function and benefit in a meaningful sentence. In other words a Win-Theme describes what the product or service is, what does it does for the buyer when they use it and what that means in terms of value for the buyer. The brainstorming and review process required five Web Conferences to complete and took around about 10 hours to capture and edit over a period of 2 weeks. 

Positioning Pillars are used to position the product in the market vs. competition. Some of our clients are unsure of their Pillars at the start of the process, but in TowerData’s case they knew they wanted to position around Email Append, Email Intelligence and Email Validation

Content Creation Templates

Content Creation Templates are used for generating content from the Messaging Architecture and Buyer Persona. For TowerData, we created more than 20 templates, one for each target buyer goal.

The template development process starts with selection of the buyer goal and we populate it with the related problems and consequences from the buyer persona. We then select the appropriate product usage Win-Themes, and write the solutions summary, highlight the keywords and an attention grabbing Hook that can be used in an email header or call to action. Templates are completed with a proof point to support the product usage scenario and the value contribution.

Content Creation templates are the key to creating consistent content that can be used across the organization by people who were not involved in the messaging development process. Content Creation templates enable professional writers quickly generate Web page and blog content that is keyword rich, technically accurate, resonates with buyers and highlights the value in using the products/services. There is no limit to the number of templates that can be generated and combinations of Win-Themes can be used to fine-tune value messaging for very specific buyers.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The Internet-only brainstorm process was less than ideal as the Mindjet tool interface and screen painting process over the Net was slow and difficult to follow as the brain-pattern became more complex. (We are creating a SaaS Messaging development tool to enable collaborative real-time data entry to improve the message-capture process and hosting of the Messaging Architecture. Messaging is not static. As new buyers and needs are identified, new product capabilities are added, new market segments entered and market conditions change, your messaging needs to change. Our goal is to enable our customers to manage their own messaging on completion of the project).
  2. This was the first time we have used the content creation templates and they served as a critical link in extracting intelligent copy from the Messaging Architecture and formatting it for reuse by others not invoved in the brainstorming process to generate quality copy.
  3. Key-word rich Win-Themes are high value deliverables that can be reused countless times throughout marketing and sales messaging and serve to reinforce the brand value and align sales and marketing conversations. 
  4. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and we will report in a few months on the results from the project in a comprehensive case-study.

TowerData CEO's thoughts 

Tom Burke, TowerData CEO, remarked on the process, “Rebranding was much more to us than a new logo or graphics. We wanted someone who could help us articulate and crystallize our message and positioning, and then convert that into engaging content. The Admarco process provided a comprehensive view of our services from the buyer’s perspective and a robust structure that we can use with Kuno Creative to develop our content.”

A Final word from Kuno Creative

John McTigue, Kuno’s EVP and Co-Owner, has been guiding this process from the Kuno Creative side. “What’s often missing from any brand refresh or website redesign project is understanding who the customer is and what they want, then tailoring the entire content strategy to fulfill their needs.

Admarco’s interview and modeling process provided a structured way to develop buyer personas and easily turn their needs into product-usage Win-Themes to drive a content marketing strategy and editorial calendar. We plan to incorporate this process into many of our enterprise inbound marketing client accounts to help them achieve success faster and more efficiently.”


Align Sales & Marketing Messages with Buyer Needs
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Topics: messaging architecture, brand messaging, content creation, towerdata, kuno creative

Your Sales Problem is not the Problem, it's in Marketing

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Feb 05, 2013

The Symptoms are not the Problem

I have detected a pattern in our inbound lead generation that indicates a typical problem in mid-sized SMB technology companies. The problems can be rectified within a few months and relatively inexpensively, once it has been correctly identified and stakeholders are on-board. The outcome from fixing the problem will positively affect the future of the company. I'm going to describe company X, a lead that came in last week with the problem and how we go about identifying the cause and solving the problem.

Company X founders have long since moved-on and the company is no longer the darling of the investment community and is possibly owned by a Private Equity company who are interested in flipping it as soon as possible.

The business is hard-won and the methods are traditional. Revenue growth has flat-lined and every quarter is a struggle, as is hiring and keeping good sales talent. Multiple CEO's, sales VP's and many salespeople have passed through the halls of Company X in the last 2 years. New agile competitors are attacking the installed base and leads are few and far between. 

Do you have enough Leads? - No

The inbound inquiry (lead) I receive in my HubSpot Inbound Marketing system comes from the sales leader typically, although it can come from the marketing director. The inquiry is usually for a sales performance related whitepaper and symptoms of the problem are nearly always "sales aren't making their numbers" or "weak pipeline". The first question I ask is, "what is the problem that is causing the weak sales effect?" The answer is often silence or head-scratching and then I ask if there could be a lead generation problem....to which the answer is nearly always - yes.

A quick look at our visitor's Website and I form an opinion that is then validated through running a couple of reports. Do the following describe your Website?;
  • A Scrolling montage of smiley faces, screen shots and captions that are coupled with abstract product features or benefit statements that presume the visitor has prior knowledge of the company products and services.
  • There is no Big-Idea where I can "get what the company does" and how they create value for their customers.
  • Drilling down on menu items indicates the markets they serve, but it leads to more product-centric capabilities and I still can't figure out what the company does and why I would want to work with them. I can download a whitepaper, but why would I?, - other than curiosity, there is no compelling reason to.
  • There is no blog, so I look at the news to get some insight, and the last article was published 6 months or more ago. 
  • Finally I revert to customer testimonials and out of the mouth of one of the customers comes the product-usage value statement.

Suspicions Confirmed - it's a Marketing Problem

I then run a marketinggrader report and my suspicions are confirmed as the company scores a Website grade of less than 50/100...in Company X case they scored 38/100.

I know after reading this report that the company is getting very few inbound leads. They are virtually invisible on the Internet to potential prospects who are looking for products with similar capabilities to Company X to solve problems.

I also know that if we examined the effectiveness of their keywords, that their few traffic producing keywords would contain the company product name and their product names, few others.  What is really distressing is that the company typically has really solid technology products, backed by great pre-sales and support people.

There is no marketing VP and the marketing director is pulling her hair out or looking for another job. The company is spending a lot of its marketing budget on pay-per-click ads and also uses a 3rd party to generate appointments for the sales team.

They may have a marketing automation platform installed, but t
hey admit they are  underutilizing its capability and p aying too much for it  considering the meager  flow of leads.  I t is basically being used as an email engine blasting to their installed base and lists they acquired. 

Where to From Here?

When I ask Prospect X to rate the clarity of the company message, it's usually a 4 or 5 out of 10....but they want to be a 9 or a 10.
Then I ask how they rate the sales teams ability to clearly communicate value to the prospective customer and the answer is typically 3-4 out of 10, but they want to be an 8-9/10. Now we have a problem we can deal with.
  • The reasons salespeople fail are myriad, but what if they had a stream of well qualified leads? 
  • What if instead of just a few talented members of the sales team succeeding, everyone on the sales team could communicate clearly and confidently with propects?
  • What if the money being spent on sourcing appointments and the non-functioning marketing automation platform could be diverted into a proven Inbound Marketing platform and sustainable methodology for generating and nurturing quality leads?
  • It is difficult to imagine spending lavish sums on rebranding or a marketing agency to redevelop the company X message, where every marketing dollar is closely scrutinized, but what if the message could be made to resonate with buyers with a little outside help?
  • What if the sales team had a compelling value-creation story they could all tell and skills to engage prospective buyers that did not rely on the use of PowerPoint?
To me it seems obvious that the place to start is in figuring out how the company creates for its customers who use their products/services.  We can capture this information starting with a careful analysis of the problems and challenges our customers face, that lead them to use the products/services.

Brand Messaging and Positioning

Al Ries in the book "Positioning" suggests rather than try and create something new and different in the mind of the buyer, we need to manipulate what is already there and retie the connections that already exist.

methodology for consistent value messaging that resonates with buyer needs  is built from the bottom-up, based on connecting value-creation to buyer-needs. The chart below represents our latest thinking on this important subject.
  1. Start your journey to clarity in messaging value with a sales and marketing messaging alignment workshop. The output of this process is Messaging Architecture that will help marketers and salespeople position capabilities and engage buyers in conversations around their problems vs. the product features. 
  2. Identify your buyer-persona's and their roles, goals, issues and problems that your products/services can address
  3. Next, map your relevant capabilities that can help buyer persona's solve their problems
  4. Group Win-Themes into logical clumps and abstract the positioning pillars to create clarity in positioning vs competition.
  5. At this point we will have enough information to form the basis of a visual confection and visual story that salespeople can use to engage buyers in conversation around their issues.
  6. With the Value Proposition in place, the Brand Message including mission-statement, tagline, corporate positioning and corporate story can easily be derived.
  7. Content Creation Templates extract Win Themes and Buyer Persona issues and appropriate keywords and are used to develop consistent content for both blogging and Website pages by insiders as well as external writers.
  8. Creating a "Mission Statement" that helps employees connect their daily toil with company vision, revenue, profit and customer satisfaction goals will resonate with customers more than "to be good corporate citizens" and "to maximize stockholder value".
  9. Creating a positioning statement identifies the market segment you wish to occupy in the mind of the buyer and why your product/service is different and valuable. 
The positioning statement will be used countless times in sales and marketing messaging and it should be well thought out, built from the ground up and should not change every week.  

Connect Buyers to your Big Idea in a Matter of Moments
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Topics: messaging architecture, brand messaging, website messaging

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