Words are powerful. As marketers, we know this is true. Yet so many businesses struggle to find the right message. If you want to unfuck your messaging, you’ve got to lead with the customer.
So, what does this mean, exactly?
Messaging Strategist and Conversion Copywriter, (and the founder of Lion Words), Diane Wiredu, reveals everything you need to know about creating customer-focused messages in this episode of Marketing Unfucked.
Diane helps scaling SaaS and B2B companies simplify their message, attract more perfect-fit customers and get better results from their marketing. With a focus on customer research and brand strategy, she blends the art of storytelling with conversion-focused techniques to help her clients stand out from the crowd.
Tune in to find out how to get inside your customers’ minds so that you can create powerful messaging that speaks to your ideal customer.
In this episode:
Why your marketing messages should always ‘lead with the customer’
The problem with copying your competitors instead of sharing messages your customers need to hear
How fear stops marketers from creating truly unique messaging
Why you need to focus on a specific message that speaks to your target customer
What it means to ‘start small’ when it comes to your messaging
How to identify and create an ideal customer persona
How Diane helps business owners identify their customer persona
The benefits of supplying copywriters with additional information
Tips to help you focus your messaging on the customer
How and why you should validate your messaging
How to unfuck your marketing by delivering customer-focused messages
Welcome to the only actionable podcast to help you unfuck your marketing and run a business that gives a shit. I'm your host, Siobhan and this is Marketing Unfucked. Today’s conversation is about messaging that vibes with your customer with Diane Wiredu, let's do this.
So, Diane, how do we unfuck marketing?
Okay, huge question. First of all, yeah, so the biggest way I see we can unfuck our marketing when it comes to messaging, which is where I really focus on, is really leading with the customer. I know this applies to everything across marketing, but particularly, it's one of the things that I see in messaging that is so simple, but just so overlooked. I feel that particularly in brands and businesses and B2B, they start with ‘this is what we want to say,’ instead of ‘what do our customers need to hear’, which is the wrong approach.
It’s totally backwards, isn't it? But you're saying it's so simple, but often overlooked? Why do you think people overlook it?
Yeah, I'm not sure. I think that the answer to that depends on the industry, it depends on the growth stage of the company. I work mostly with B2B, SaaS and digital service companies. I feel like there's a lot of copying the competition. There's a lot of looking at what everyone else is doing and you end up in this rat race of noise. That's why there's so much noise out there in marketing, and just like a bunch of problems that I see on a daily basis is like the sameness, because people are wanting to copy what everyone else is saying. There's the kind of boring, bland, drab, you know, jargon, because instead of starting with the customer, they’re thinking what can we say?
So, you have nothing unique to say, or nothing different to bring to the plate, this kind of irrelevance of just focusing on wanting to share product updates. Instead of thinking about, well, what does the customer care about? So I'm not really sure why it's so pervasive, because it really is pervasive.
I think, really being customer focused in everything you do, right down to your messaging, your brand messaging, your product messaging is simple but it takes some hard work, because you have to get out there, you have to really understand them. And so many companies say yeah, we know our customer, but they can just put together a kind of high-level buyer persona that doesn't actually say anything about what a real customer needs. And then that doesn't end up being reflected in the messaging. So, I think that it's a lot of effort really to really know your customer inside out.
Is it overlooked because it's a lot of effort? Or is it overlooked because, let's say you're getting pushback from the client saying no, we already have the persona, we don't really want to dig in? Is fear involved here as well? Or is it just hard and we're not going to take the time to do it?
Yeah, I think it's a bit of both. I think there's a lot of nuance, I think you touching on fear is a really important part of this. I think that, particularly in B2B, there's a lot of putting your neck on the line, fear of sounding a bit different, fear of not following the crowd, you know, everyone talks about, oh, when they zig, we zag. No one actually wants to do that. Everyone is super scared to actually to do the work to find a message that just speaks to the customer instead of just following what everyone else does.
I do think there's there is a bit of fear there. Because, you know, in order to create messaging, in order to write copy that really speaks to your prospect and to your customer, you have to exclude some other people. You have to go narrower. And one of the places where business owners, founders and marketing teams fall short is trying to go too big and too wide.
So this is what you commonly see - that people are just going really wide and they're afraid to niche down or just to focus on their target?
Exactly. Because, you know, if you're trying to speak to everyone, there's no way that message is going to connect. I worked a while back with a B2B SaaS tech company. They're pretty huge. They were kind of enterprise size. And when I asked them, can you talk to me about your ideal customer and your clients like, who are they? They said, Yeah, so we're targeting pretty much every company that uses Microsoft 365. I was like, okay…cool. And then within that, you know, really, who are they? What are their pain points and the founder, the lead marketer, really struggled because they said, ‘We have clients in construction, we have clients in the financial sector, we have clients and logistics – everywhere’. And I said, ‘Well, there's no wonder that it's really hard for you to create any kind of messaging that is unique because you're just trying to speak to everyone.’ You can't help me, you know, as a messaging strategist and as a copywriter, there's no way you can help me if you're just talking like a high level to okay, everyonein the world, right? That's not gonna connect with me.
I know the core conversations that you're having, particularly on this podcast, and how to unfuck your marketing is really about being empathetic to the customer. And I think that we have to get over that fear and start smaller, because that's the way that we connect.
Does starting small… I mean, it doesn't actually mean we're excluding everyone does it? It just means that we're honing in on one person. Is there a little bit of that, where people are just afraid that you're now only speaking to one person, whereas I have a feeling you might still be talking to a wider audience, but you're just trying to connect with one specific audience?
Exactly. Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. I don't know if I can put it better than that, to be honest. You know, you're not excluding anyone. You're just really trying to speak to one group of people better. And you know, other people will still connect with what you do, and they will still understand what you offer. If it feels right, they'll still get in touch.
I bet you've seen this with your business, right, you know, that you clearly offer one particular service, or you say that you're targeting one group of people, and other people will still get in touch with you, because they've heard your call, or they want something. It doesn't stop people from getting in touch. But you know, it just helps you have a better connection with your people. I think we all need to, with marketing, we need to go back to the core of like, really understanding there's one group of people that you can like, own and defend. And it doesn't have to be an industry or niche. I'm not saying okay, it doesn't have to be a job title. It just has to be a group of people that feel the same thing or want to get the same job done.
What's a good example of ‘feel the same thing or want to get the same job done’? Because I think this is where people might struggle, right? It's easy for us to make a persona where we say everyone is female between 35 and 45 and has two kids or whatever the persona might be.
So how can you dig out that feeling? Or that ‘want to get the same job done’?
Yeah. So I mean, there's a couple of ways of going about it. And I think that, The Jobs To Be Done Framework is a great way to approach this. I'm not like a super jobs-to-be-done practitioner, right. So I don't know the ins and outs of it. But the concept of looking at going out and speaking to existing customers, ideal prospects and digging into the common needs that come up, the common pain points, the common outcomes, the things that people say that they're trying to achieve, and then looking for the patterns across the those four things will help you put together this this person that you can kind of own and defend.
I mean, maybe we can talk about like your ideal customer. Back to you. Because I've worked with you before. So I know a little bit more about the ideal type of person that you're trying to serve. And it isn't just, okay, any e-commerce, like any e-commerce founder, right? It's a particular e-commerce founder at a certain stage of growth that is trying to make a certain type of change that they're not able to, and they need support.
So how would you then in my case, how did you figure that out? Like I know you asked me a lot of questions when we talked about this but you never asked me what's your persona? Or who exactly do you want to work? I feel like you were really digging through a lot of other things to get there.
So, is this just part of your process or is just easier for you, for us as founders or a CMOs not to tell you what we are thinking our target market is, is it easier for you to find out on your own?
Yeah, so I actually I think our case is slightly different because I did a lot of the research by myself so maybe just for context for everyone listening. So yeah, I worked with Siobhan on messaging for her website, right? And the way that I often do the kind of research and getting to know your customers would be, you know, getting on interviews or sending a survey depending on how big your customer base is.
But in your case, you actually had already done interviews yourself, you went out and did some research like that you were part of a course previously. And so you had a lot of the language around the pains around the fears around the hesitations because of all of that work you did and finding your own differentiation. So really, you kind of set me up for success, because you shared all of these. You shared these recordings, you shared the transcript, you shared a shared spreadsheet of all of those themes compiled.
So, I was able to comb through that. A testimonial is a really great place to find messaging that will kind of stick and will resonate with other prospects and other customers that are in a similar situation. Because you can read and understand the outcome that a client was after and the way they talk about it. It's very easy to say, “Oh, my clients are looking to increase conversions – simple”, and we help them increase conversions. And that was it.
But actually, when you dig into it or you get on the phone with them, or you dig into testimonial form, or you ask them to fill something in, they'll say, oh, yeah, we increased this. But you know, she actually walked us through the whole process. Now we know how to do it. She's trained our team. And so you hear all of this other amazing messaging around how you've helped someone, and you can pull on that and think, Oh, well, maybe other people, will be struggling with the same things and actually want the same outcomes. So yeah, that was a really roundabout way to kind of answer your question.
But is that quite normal to get additional information from the customer? Because so I mean, I obviously have my opinions here. And I do think that stakeholders (and their egos) get quite involved, and they have this vision that they think is their customer. And then when somebody comes in and says, I want to interview your customer, or do some user research, there's a little pushback there, because it usually fights with that idea that they are thinking in their head.
Do you see that a lot? Or is that just my encounter with my clients? Meaning… are you seeing one thing that they're seeing or what they want? And then when you talk to their customers or users, are you seeing a different picture? Or are they being more elaborate? Are they giving you a lot more information?
Yeah, that's a great question. I think I'm quite lucky. The clients that I work with, they're very open, firstly, they're very open to me, going in, and having conversations with their customers and with their clients are very open to it. Usually, when people get in touch with me, they also realise that they're in this phase that I call like, the founder funk, right? Where you are just too close to the product and service that your product or service that you deliver that you just, like, you know too much. And it's really hard for you to simply remove yourself. It's a classic case of, you know, not being able to be the label of the job when you're like inside it, right?
So, I've come in ready to have that conversation where they realise, hey, we're struggling, we need your help. So, I am coming into a very open environment where founders and founding teams say, Yeah, please do go talk to our customers, we've done it. In some cases, we haven't in others, but we're open. And we're really excited to see what you find. So I think I'm in a really lucky position. And I think it's a really important position for me as well, because I don't like to walk into zones of resistance, right? Like, I'm not, I'm not gonna, you know, if you say, Oh, we don't want you to interview them. We're like, I don't want to kind of work in that way. So I also don't want to start this huge learning curve. So that's the first thing.
I don't tend to find something completely shocking. But often, it's a validation of, you know, different hypotheses. So, my clients will say, you know, we've got a couple of different differentiating points, we think, we're not sure what to focus on, or we think this is our favourite feature. And things come out slightly different, or the way that customers speak about the product or service is just, yeah, there's a bit of nuance. So, they're using slightly different language that the client hadn't really picked up on.
I recently did a project for a they're a UK based SaaS tool. It's a digital asset management tool. It's kind of like, you know, Google Drive for your images, but like way better, right? And everyone who I spoke to really talked about the interface they said it was stunning, it was beautiful, and it was so much better than the kind of the tools they were using before were just really inappropriate.
They were using SharePoint and Google Drive, which is not it's not an experience that you would describe as beautiful. And they knew that this was kind of kind of a differentiated product but they hadn't really leaned into it but everyone was saying it was stunning, like they actually enjoy like placing their photos in that, so we pull that out into their brand messaging and like create an created a core message around like this stunning place that your photos like deserve to live in, you know, like, your photos deserve to be in something as beautiful as this. And like now they're kind of testing that message. But like, we're pretty sure that it's gonna resonate a lot more, because that's what customers wanted. So, it wasn't completely, like out of the blue. But often it I kind of helped clients pivot slightly.
Got it. Okay, so then what happens when you take all this user research? Like, I know you said that one of the things is that we really need to focus on our customer, other than doing the customer research, what other ways in terms of messaging, can you do with messaging to focus on the customer? Or is it just customer research? And then just take their language and their words and you present it? Or is there more to it?
The foundation is starting with customer research, I think it's kind of pre and post, right? For me, leading with the customer is like 80% of the work. And if, you know, founders and marketing teams that are listening to this can already look at the foundational stuff and see when they last went out and spoke with customers - Is it reflected in the messaging, that’s definitely a starting point.
And then the end point is kind of bookending my process, start with research and end with review and validation. Another way is to get feedback, as well, from customers on the messages that you're putting out there using tools like Panels, for example and live testing. User testing, from a product perspective is well known, but user testing from a messaging perspective, is a little bit kind of less widely used, and so getting that feedback and asking a bunch of people when you land on our homepage, like, what do you take from that? Do you understand what we do? And it's a really, like, if you ask 15 people to every through your homepage, and at the end of that, if 10 of them say they've really still confused as to what you do, then, you know you need to make some changes to put them first, and to answer the queries and the questions and the doubts and all the hesitations that they have. That's another way.
Yeah. Is that an integral part of the process? Because like, I mean, how often is it just validating what you're doing? I'm assuming you're putting them into tools like winter.com and things and then you're just validating the copy that you've written, but how often does it actually reveal a lot more information for you?
I think it always it always reveals something. What I will say is that you need to know what you want to validate. Like, I think you know this, like more than most, right? Because I know you're a research nerd, you're a data nerd, right? So, you have to ask, you have to know what questions you're asking. Otherwise, the data is going to be like super biased, or you're going to look for the answer that you think your customers are giving. You need to know what are we going in? What do we want to know? Do we want to know if this is memorable? Is that the key goal? Or is it do we want to know that people know that they really understand what we do.
When you've defined your research goal before you go in, then it's easier to define. Okay, well, what questions will help us with those answers? And then based on that, it's a lot easier to sift through the research because qualitative research, it's a bit of a tricky one, right? Because everyone can interpret it slightly differently. And so, you still need to have a process. It's not just like, Okay, well ask 10 customers what they want and then they all said this, and then we go and do it?
No, you still need to have a process. So yeah, I would look for what are you trying to optimise for? Is it memorability? Is it checking if you’re trustworthy? Is it clarity? Like, what is it first?
So then overall, just to summarise what you said - is that to unfuck your marketing in terms of messaging is all about the customer? That's ultimately what it is right? Get talking to them. It's amusing because everyone says this from every angle of marketing. So then sometimes you wonder, is that really just it? But from your perspective, that really is it?
Yeah, it really is. Going back to bringing this full loop. This is the question like, how do we unfuck marketing? It's not, how do we just create messaging? No, you need to have a vision, you need to know what it is that you deliver as a company. There's a lot else that you need to do, but I'm talking about, you know, you've been struggling, you're just throwing up messages, you know you're not following a process and you know there's something you can do better.
So, if that's the case, if you're listening and thinking we haven't really been focusing on our messaging, then the first step is definitely speaking to customers. They'll give you the starting foundation, and then you can build from there.
Great. Thank you, Diane.
Thank you Diane and thank you for listening to Marketing Unfucked. I'll see you in two weeks. Ciao!