May 26, 2022 / Marjoram
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”Steve Jobs
For many B2B industrial and ingredient brands, complexity is an admirable, cherished value — even a source of pride. It’s easy enough to understand why. Solving complex problems is not easy — doing it well for your B2B customers should make you proud.
That said, brand pride is not an effective product marketing strategy.
To rise above the noise of your complexity-enamored competitors, your product and brand messaging must convey simple, familiar, easy-to-grasp ideas that resonate with your target audience. That means your marketing has to focus on telling your customer’s story rather than your product’s.
The B2B Marketing Complexity Problem
“Clarity is that 20/20 focus that cuts through the fog and lets you stand out from the noise. Clarity fuels effective marketing and selling.”Steve Woodruff, Clarity Wins: Get Heard. Get Referred.
Complexity kills messaging effectiveness. Yet, we see a considerable amount of dense, feature-oriented language in industrial B2B marketing. Why?
Because complexity is baked into the everyday reality of industrial marketing.
Your customers operate within highly technical sectors, contending with complicated operational and manufacturing problems. Your products are built to address those complicated issues and are themselves outcomes of sophisticated design and engineering processes.
Customer problems and technical solutions aren’t the only places ingredient brand marketing teams face complexity—they also contend with it on an organizational level.
Corporate marketing teams in industrial sectors are frequently part of intricate bureaucracies with multiple levels of reporting and numerous decision makers and product stakeholders. They exist to support an extensive inventory of products across a multitude of internal departments and an army of technical product experts.
When complexity is all you know, it’s easy to think that’s what everyone else knows, too.
That’s how complexity becomes synonymous with authority and trustworthiness for industrial and ingredient brands. That’s also how we end up with complicated, feature-oriented product messaging.
If simplicity is the goal, what do you do when your product story really is a complicated one?
Taking Complexity Out of Your Product Campaigns
“Simplicity: To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize.”– Chip Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Industrial B2B marketers receive a considerable amount of technical information from their internal product experts. Too frequently, this content is prioritized in the development of product messaging so the complex, technical aspects dominate the language of the resulting product campaigns.
Complicated ideas can be communicated in simpler ways, but there’s a lot you need to do to simplify your B2B product messaging and distill your campaigns to more effective core ideas. Before you strip away, you need to collect relevant information and perspective on the solution you are marketing.
360° View of Your Product
The value of your product is not in its complexity — it’s in the solution it provides to a customer problem, and the emotional release that solution enables. But you won’t find that emotional core in the technical product information.
To do that, you have to speak with everyone the product touches — internally and externally. This includes the product people, brand, sales, customers and distributors. Collect the perspectives of every product stakeholder in order to get a complete picture of your product and its impact.
Asking the Right Questions
Considering your product from several points of view helps you understand the full extent of your product’s relevance to each group. Getting to the heart of each perspective requires concerted effort, a healthy dose of empathy and a keen eye for detail.
Talking isn’t enough, either: you have to ask the right questions. And continue asking them. Many problems have multiple levels of impact. It’s important to plumb the depths to uncover deeper insights, and that’s not always easy.
Often, internal product marketing teams are too close to the product to spot the clues that lead to more meaningful discoveries. Distance and a fresh perspective make it easier to identify those opportunities.
Outside Perspectives Bring Internal Clarity
Frequently, industrial brand marketing agencies like Marjoram are better positioned to extract actionable insights from the product message discovery process. That is, in fact, one of the many ways we deliver value to clients. Our understanding isn’t influenced by the feature-driven engineering focus of your product teams. We approach the product from the customer’s perspective, which opens up a different way of thinking about your value proposition.
We honed our expertise around the fundamental realization that great B2B marketing isn’t about what you make — it’s about what you make possible. This pivot is difficult for B2B marketing teams supporting traditional, industrial brands — but entirely worth the trouble.
A little guidance and validation from an outside perspective may be all you need to simplify your product messaging and reach your customers with a clearer, more relatable narrative.
Finding the Core Message
Uncovering deeper insights will more fully inform your understanding of the problem your product solves and the impact your solution makes. The next step is to flex your creative muscles. You must analyze the various points of view and synthesize those voices into a compelling core message — one that connects the problem your product solves with a shared value you identified as important to your customers.
Your core message has to be relevant to all key customer audiences, reflective of the greater brand and be adaptable to multiple marketing tactics. The goal is to develop a core message that powers numerous campaigns — campaigns that quickly capture the attention of your audience, evoke an emotional response and entice them to take action.
Clarify Before You Amplify
Breaking through the din of competition is easier when you simplify your industrial marketing campaign messaging and lead with your core value proposition.
Complexity is the villain of effective communication. Don’t bog down your marketing campaign audiences with technical details too early. It’s not an effective differentiator over the long-term. And it fails to establish the emotional bridge you hope to build.
Marketing success is more attainable with a narrative that resonates with your customers on an emotional, as well as logical, level.
At Marjoram, we empower you to build and share brand narratives that help you stand out without standing apart. What do you make possible for your customers? Find marketing clarity for your industrial brands. Let’s talk.
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