Message Myopia Sabotages Sales

Photo: Eyeglasses.Here’s the takeaway:

Singular focus on product specs and features undermines efforts at customer engagement. Visitor-centric messages generate higher ROI that will increase sales this year.

Myopia is defined as “defective vision of distant objects.” Companies that serve visitors messages entirely about product specifications actually exhibit Marketing Myopia. Typical signs and symptoms of this common problem include:

  • Web pages missing details about outcomes of use,
  • Dry descriptions that are as stale as the day they were first posted,
  • Merely accurate branding statements, too anemic to pull-through a purchasing decision.

When this happens the result is a trickle of visitor traffic, tepid evidence of engagement and advertising that goes either unnoticed or forgotten.

Myopia has a second meaning, too: A narrow view resulting from a lack of foresight. The risk associated with exhibiting a navel-gazing focus on product features and specifications is as big as it is simple: You appear to miss the point about what is motivating influencers, purchasers and end-users to search for solutions to their problems.

Marketing Myopia is conclusively diagnosed when it’s clear that the “distant object” is actually the needs and motivators of the people who influence, purchase and use products. It’s important to acknowledge that even gorgeous advertising and branding, that appears attractive and wins awards for Art Directors, can still suffer from Marketing Myopia. (After all, being near-sighted has nothing to do one’s attractiveness. Or, put plainly, even the best looking ads can fail to win a date to the Purchasers’ Prom.)

  • Quick tip: Influencers, purchasers and the end-users often have differing needs. Product messaging is most compelling when it addresses their respective and specific needs.
  • Action step: Solicit your customer-facing team’s perceptions and insights and then incorporate them into product messaging.

Messaging that suffers from Marketing Myopia misses a huge opportunity at a critical point in the information-gathering and purchasing decision processes. The opportunity to engage your audience about what your product can mean to their operation (and organization) is lost because it’s never even suggested. I can tell you from my own experience in the biomedical research sector that this is true in even the most technologically exacting segments. You’d think that the only drivers of a purchasing decision are the technical specs in this sector—but you’d be wrong. The result means your product is shopped as a mere commodity: on price, payment terms and/or shipping.

The techniques of “user-centric experience” and “outcome-based value proposition” remain under-applied in today’s product and brand messaging. The lost opportunity costs that result from ignoring the drivers of influencers, purchasers and the end-users’ needs are high. They are also sometimes due to company culture, product manager pride and agency naiveté.

  • Quick tip: Product messaging is most memorable when it contains a balance of objective product information and an address to the current needs of influencers, purchasers and users.
  • Action step: Create a fresh list of concerns and issues (drivers), unique to your multiple target audiences. These are the factors that have the greatest impact on the selection, purchase and use of your products. Compare these to your current messaging, regularly, to ensure that they are communicated in each facet and representation of your brand and its messaging.

My teams have metric evidence that several key strategies are effective and appropriate, even among the most technologically-driven purchasers:

  1. Outcome-Oriented Descriptions
  2. Problem Solving Stories
  3. Intuitive Enablement

Outcome-Oriented Descriptions are written to illustrate how the use of your product results in a widely known and well understood outcome. The reason that your product is able to deliver on that outcome may well be a specific feature (either designed or manufactured into the build) that delivers a differentiating benefit of its use. If this is the case, then it belongs in both the description and the reference specs. “Don’t bury the lead!” is a critique used by news editors to ensure that the most newsworthy of a story’s details literally “leads” the written account. It’s excellent advice that works just as well when describing a product in a digital setting.

Problem Solving Stories are brief, pointed and impactful descriptions on how your product delivers on its promises. While not ALL products solve a dramatic, show-stopping problem, remember that as long as it keeps a process running smoothly, and reduces the risks of that process breaking down, the story of why and how your product works so well is solving either a current, or feared, problem for your customer.

Intuitive Enablement is, possibly, the most impactful description you can deliver to a prospective buyer. This strategy completely flips the focus onto them, their hopes, dreams and wishes by conveying to your target client what your product will enable THEM to accomplish. When it works—because it resonates so accurately—it is an irresistible force compelling your customer to take an action step to learn more (if not buy it outright). I’m no longer surprised by how an intuitive description of a product’s outcome of use can resonate so effectively with a buyer’s fears, hopes and aspirations.

I’ll leave you with this thought:

It doesn’t matter the extent to which you rely on your online presence in your selling process. What matters to your balance sheet is the extent to which your customers rely on your online presence in their buying process. I see companies that sell into the science, technology and medicine sectors continuing to ignore proven sales-generating techniques. Symptoms include messaging focused entirely on the company brand and the products’ features and specifications.

If you’d like to take the self-check, to see how well your product information supports your brand messaging, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. Or, if you don’t want to wait for the results, call me and we can cure that case of Marketing Myopia in practically no time at all.

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