Chris Sacca wrote something about a week ago over Twitter that piqued my interest:
It might seem on the surface a trite bit of advice. It is too much like a soundbite to be of any practical use. However, I have found that internalizing and implementing this idea eliminates a lot of misunderstandings in the sales process. You see, all of the advice that I give about selling and messaging boils down to this one principle. Why? Because customers and users are often your best salespeople by extending your reach and lending far more credibility than you can by your own means. This is true regardless of whether it is a consumer play or a B2B thing.
Still, it is Fortune Cookie Advice. It fits nicely in its little package and is a tasty morsel, but it is far from a meal. It only matters if you can turn this into something substantial and worthwhile. Instead of saying to yourself that it is great advice and forgetting it a minute later, it might be worthwhile to ask how that idea impacts the way you currently do things and whether it calls for a change?
Your key questions should be can your customers succinctly describe your product and is your message confusing. Here are four things you can put into action immediately to tackle those very questions.
- One Sentence Pitch – Can you condense what you are doing into one sentence (run-on sentences do not count)? If you cannot explain what you do and why in a concise statement, then how can you expect someone else to explain it to others much less understand what your product does in the first place? The only reason to require a more lengthy explanation is if the product is being sold is highly technical or niche such as products in the scientific, medical, and biotech markets. For everyone else, get that pitch down to something that is not a mouthful and a half.
- Clear and Consistent Messaging – It is amazing to see the website, pitch decks, social media accounts, and even the founders themselves explaining the product in ways that are totally different. How exactly are customers and users going to tell others about your next big thing when it sounds like a lot of different things at the same time? You need to get all channels coordinated with one single message. A/B testing messages and target markets or pitching investors on some future vision not reflected in the current product is acceptable. Otherwise, get your message on point.
- Asking Customers to Explain – The best way to see if your message is clear and compelling is to ask your customers and users to spit your message back at you. If it sounds credible and convincing and consistent with your own messaging, then you are in good shape. If it sounds wildly different, then you might be having some message confusion going on or customers might be onto something else about your product that you were not aware of and worth exploring*. Just make sure you ask all types of users, not just your most enthusiastic users so that you see a broad swath of opinions and reactions. Your most loyal users are not the issue. It is the people that never become avid users that you should be most concerned about as they are the ones that you are not connecting with.
- Listening to Conversations – The other way to get insight into your messaging is listening to what people are saying about you or explaining your product to others. While sitting in on their conversations might be somewhat creepy, monitoring social media activity happens to provide an excellent opportunity to eavesdropping on those very discussions. Whether it is over Twitter, blog posts, comments on stories about your company, or other places online, you can piece together how people are responding to and communicating your messages. It pays to use a social monitoring tool to track mentions, setup a web monitoring tool such as Google Alerts, and to keep close track of all articles and posts where your company is mentioned.
The bottom line is that your need to make your message simple enough and memorable enough that your customers can readily convey your message to the people they know. The only way you will know this is the case is if you are regularly engaging with customers and being vigilant about your messaging. For an example of a startup that is doing just that, check out iDoneThis and their latest post “Visit Your Musers”. This is what I mean by putting ideas into action.
* Note that you should never assume you know how best to use or talk about your product, sometimes your users are farther along the curve than you are.