In my initial post on the B2B lead generation topic, I wrote:
This is the first in a series of posts that will address the creation and execution of a B2B lead generation program in a step-by-step manner. We’ll post another tip each week, and when the series is complete we’ll compile all the tips into one document and distribute.
That was October 16th, 2009. Oops.
My apologies for the programming interruption, but we’re back on track. For those that missed the first few posts in this series, here they are:
Let’s get into the 4th step, which involves messaging. The good news is that we’re seeing a healthy shift to a metrics-focused mindset amongst B2B lead generation marketers. While that mindset may elicit a “No duh Mike, lead generation is all about the numbers” response from some, the truth of the matter is that until a few years ago, the metrics-centric mindset wasn’t that prevalent.
That brings us to the bad news. Somewhere along the way, many lead generation marketers forget about the importance of the core message and the value it brings to lead generation efforts. While the message is only one of many moving parts in B2B lead generation, it’s a critical piece that must be addressed.
When messaging is ignored in the lead generation program building process, the most common cause is an impatient executive with a “no one cares about the message” attitude, and of course the program administrator/leader who accepts that attitude and proceeds to ignore the messaging component.
Given that the executive we’re referring to is often times a strong and influential stakeholder in the process, let’s figure out a way to address messaging without offering the impression that you want to overhaul every web page, press release, brochure, video and tweet ever created.
My guess is that there are hundreds if not thousands of approaches to message development. I’ll offer up the two that work best in the circles we travel in.
1) The Journalism Approach – Who, What, When, Where, Why & How
As I understand it, this journalism approach represents the formula for completing an article or report. Businesses can use this approach to create a 1-page messaging summary document. Notice I said 1 single page. Not 18. Not even 2. Just 1 page. If you can’t narrow your message to 1 page, your company’s problems run deeper than a lead generation program. In this document, you want to answer questions such as:
- What is company X?
- What types of products or services does company X provide?
- Who does company X provide those products and services to?
- Why is company X different from the competition?
- How does company X provide those products or services?
2) The 3-5 Core Messages Approach
With this approach, you want to select a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 key messages that define your company. Each message is then accompanied by 2-3 bullets of supporting material. Again, you shouldn’t have to go further than 1 page. For instance, the structure of one core message might look like this for a content creation company:
Message 1: Company X provides high quality, on demand content creation services, on a pay-as-you go basis.
- Company X clients never have to commit to long-term retainer agreements.
- Company X clients can turn on our content creation services when they need them, and turn them off when they don’t.
Once you’ve created either of these documents, you ought to be able to figure out how to address all of your materials. Vehicles like websites, blogs and press releases can be addressed in real-time. Vehicles like brochures and media kits – assuming they are in a printed format – will take a little longer.
Most importantly, you do not need to be overwhelmed at the prospect of addressing company messaging as it relates to your B2B lead generation campaign. Spend 2-3 hours and 1 simple page, and you’ll be off to a great start. You might even convince that impatient executive that the messaging exercise deserves a little more TLC.