Gather your sales brochures, product bulletins, Web page copy, white papers, news releases, sales presentations, annual and quarterly reports -- all the paraphernalia of your company's communications--and see how consistently the story holds up. How clearly and consistently is a differentiated position expressed? If you dont' have a communications strategy in the first place, then it probably reads like stuff from several different companies.
In their classic and broadly applied work on business to business sales, Strategic Selling, Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman reveal that for “complex sales” (where purchasing is controlled by more than one person) communications tactics optimally must address four key types of customer buying influences. They are the Economic, User, and Technical buying influencers, plus the Coach or customer champion. All four need to receive a range of consistent information to reach a favorable buying decision. Do your Marketing communication tools address all audiences? Other important audiences include target media, market research analysts, investors, sales and human resources. And don't forget external sales if you use reseller channels. Do your communications tools address the needs of all these key audiences?
If you have a well-differentiated marketing strategy, you must deliver substantial, coherent, competitive tools that can be broadly and effectively applied across multiple audiences and business information requirements to maximize technical sales success. Most importantly in the tech marketing sector, Marketing communications must tell a powerful, in-depth technical story that “sing from the same song sheet.”
“Writing the Book”
If consistency is essential, then creating a common basis for all communications is the path. Tell the same story everywhere by creating a single, in-depth resource for all users, buying decision-makers, and audiences. A motherload of information lets all internal and external audiences draw from a single complete document, in print or on-line.
Pulling all critical information into a single resource on your products, markets, technology and competition may seem like a expensive and onerous chore. However, it's an investment that has a big payoff. Consider the value of a detailed, cohesive, credible text and graphically descriptive document of your company's technology and business-benefit story. For many companies, one document can do it all. It spawns PowerPoint sales or financial presentations, customer newsletters, advertisements, contributed technical articles for trade magazines, and executive speeches--the full array of communications tactics that are needed. It's the “well” from which your sales and marketing teams draw all their communications. As a whole it cuts through marketing and sales clutter, and powerfully makes your case with customers.
A Selling Advantage
When your company writes the book on its market, technology, products, and competition, it effectively puts your products' most valued features and benefits forward, while clearly demonstrating your expertise. It delivers all the required information needed by all key audiences in a single, persuasive way that can't be duplicated by separate documents.
Here are some comments from those who've pulled their whole story into a single document as suggested:
“Having a high quality document like this makes it much easier to express our position that we have world class solutions.” VP Sales, Enterprise Software supplier.
Another Silicon Valley-based computer systems marketing executive said:
"The report helped us pre-empt the market by being first with our product and achieving thought leadership among both analysts and prospects. It clearly explains our products' advantages by comparing them to major competitors in a factual, technical, and convincing manner."
A market research analyst adds:
"It provides a consistent framework for evaluating technologies, and contains very current, not previously published information. I found it informative, cogently written and clearly demonstrating the company's market knowledge."
The book gives sales teams something competitors don't. When you write the book on your market, customers listen and buy. It creates market credibility by demonstrating proof of expertise. It's the only way to deliver your whole competitive, technology-marketing story with credibility, persuasiveness and clarity. Writing the book becomes your sharpest technical marketing weapon.
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