How to check if you have the “right” message, if you are in a solution-aware market

One of the key factors in getting a message right is making sure you pre-empt the question “why should I buy from you right now?” For sales of expensive enough products, i.e. more than a candy bar or a book, that is the key question.

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In markets that are “solution aware”, the focus of traditional copywriting is often around articulating benefits to justify features. But within your market category, your direct competitors will offer the same benefits. So the real question at that stage is why a prospect should buy–specifically from you. Why your product, service, or solution will uniquely address the customer’s need. This is a really hard question, because it requires self awareness in addition to all of the work you are already doing, to be able to answer it successfully.

There’s three aspects to this:

1. It’s clear to you how your product differs from alternatives in the marketplace, both competitors as well as alternate ways of addressing the problem

2. You communicate it clearly and falsifiably.

Your riskiest assumptions are probably related to your prospects and customers. Establish empathy quickly with your target prospect, figure out what's valuable, and get your innovation into the market.

3. You can effectively articulate why a transaction should happen right now.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

1. Differing clearly from Alternatives

A Launch Tomorrow client had developed a sonar based device to identify cancer cells, in order to aid physicians during surgery. As medical device experts, the founding team were struggling to describe their invention. When I started working with them, founders were largely marketing their efforts via technical papers in medical journals.

As a result of working together, one co-founder discovered the product is uniquely positioned as the only audio-based technology relevant for ovarian cancer surgeons. It could be used with all existing tools to significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce the amount of cutting required, as well as time required to recover. This meant that by focusing on this one group, he potentially had first mover advantage in a lucrative niche using a very narrow message.

1. It’s clear to you how your product differs from alternatives in the marketplace, both competitors as well as alternate ways of addressing the problem

2. You communicate it clearly and falsifiably.

3. You can effectively articulate why a transaction should happen right now.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

1. Differing clearly from Alternatives

A Launch Tomorrow client had developed a sonar based device to identify cancer cells, in order to aid physicians during surgery. As medical device experts, the founding team were struggling to describe their invention. When I started working with them, founders were largely marketing their efforts via technical papers in medical journals.

As a result of working together, one co-founder discovered the product is uniquely positioned as the only audio-based technology relevant for ovarian cancer surgeons. It could be used with all existing tools to significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce the amount of cutting required, as well as time required to recover. This meant that by focusing on this one group, he potentially had first mover advantage in a lucrative niche using a very narrow message.

I got this corner of the market…cornered.

Essentially, he discovered his invention had little competition in a slice of the multi-billion dollar cancer treatment market. But the slice was billions of dollars in size. He previously missed this, because he was so focused on developing a working technology. Once he had this positioning insight, it was just a matter of deploying it in every sales and marketing interaction going forwards.

It could be as simple as being able to introduce the product with one sentence, which immediately helped sidestep the difficulties they were facing when trying to describe the product.

2. Falsifiable marketing

Falsifiable is a big and fancy word that serves as a gold standard with respect to messaging. This term originally comes from Karl Popper and his thoughts on the scientific method, but it has a quite practical application to persuasion. Essentially, you make a bold and surprising claim using a number or time frame. Then invite the customer to to prove you wrong. To try for themselves if you are right.

Here is a classic commercial where it was used qualitatively, to pull the customer in, entertain a bit, and also subtly point out the point of difference Wendy’s was trying to stress:

This makes it pretty clear that Wendy claims to have more meat in their burger, compared to competitors. So that was the clear answer to why the customer should buy from them.

Ideally this is numeric. As a result, either your claim is true or it’s false. There is no gray area. And it’s quite objective. The hackneyed example here is the “30 minutes or less, or you get it free” delivery for Domino’s Pizza. If you called to order a pizza, the clock started ticking. Either the pizza arrived in less than 30 minutes or not. At the time, it was a differentiator. Customers were used to waiting up to an hour for a pizza to be delivered, often receiving it cold. And the message carried a clear additional benefit, if it took longer than 30 minutes. In this case, the short message embedded a guarantee .

3. Establishing urgency

Finally, the time sensitivity is the last part which helps cement a good positioning message, even though this is quite different for B2B and B2C. On the B2C side, there are a long list of standard copywriting techniques around limiting availability, digging into fear of missing out, like “time is running out…” to communicate or sometimes even manufacture urgency. Take a look at the swiped.co archive of famous salesletters using urgency effectively.

Trying to do this in B2B, for example in B2B enterprise software sales, could end up blowing up in your face though. This is better left out of the positioning, but explicitly included into the sales cycle. Sales consultant John Paul Mendocha advocates the use of what he calls the “calendar close”. On an in person basis, you pull out a physical calendar, and ask when they need the solution by. That way, you can have an open discussion about when it would need to start. And you get a clear indication of whether or not the sale is urgent for this particular prospect.

Here’s a quick example of repositioning a tech product

MargenTech invented a VR system to help train ship captains by simulating difficult situations and making sure they engrained the right habits under pressure. But they were having trouble marketing it. The conversation usually died down, after the novelty factor of using VR wore off.

Emre Ucan, co-founder and COO, realized during our discovery process that in fact he was selling the wrong thing. Instead of selling a VR training system, he could use the same technology when selling "insurance" against accidents to oil shipping companies. As one oil tanker carries about $1bln in inventory, accidents can be extremely costly to shipping companies (not to mention the ecological damage). This new positioning opened up a completely different pricing strategy, and ultimately helped him attract a potential strategic buyer for the entire business.

Next steps

If you’d like some help with positioning your product effectively, reach out to Launch Tomorrow and book a discovery call to explore options that might work for you.

How to launch a new product in the market successfully

This week my main update is that I had an appearance on the Startup Playground Podcast, as part of season 2 which he is calling the #CasualUndistancingTalks. The host Elvis (great name) and I had an in-depth chat. We mostly covered mindset about launching new products, and how to think about it, especially now during the pandemic. As well as the importance of teams and teamwork.

I had a lot of fun, and for some reason a lot of the examples were around mp3 players (remember those) and the launch of the original iPod. Makes sense, since we’re both podcasters. 🙂

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Bang.

Bang.

Well, that's your prospects' experience, when they hop onto a landing page that doesn't direct their next step.

Don't make them think.

It really needs to be obvious, even from 10 feet away.

Answer the questions they have, even before they know they need ask them.

Relief.

A solution.

Relax, it's easy.

See, friction doesn't occur on the landing page. It occurs in the mind of the prospect.

How do they feel when they see your landing page? Because decisions are made in the emotional brain. If you make 'em think, you've pretty much lost the sale.

To get more, there's only one resource worth reaching for.

That's Launch Tomorrow. Inside, you'll get the low down on what actually matters, when putting up a landing page MVP.