Decoding a brand’s messaging is like breaking enemy code sometimes. That’s how dense and inarticulate the language can be, especially in certain business-to-business cases.
Examples abound. Here’s one from the Boring Company:
When we come upon these misshapen brand identities it is our nature and our desire to make them right, and we have a successful history doing just that.
Our results are positive and consistent.
- We helped Danville Services reinvent the way they recruit and retain candidates
- We helped Danville Development make a complicated HUD-housing application process easy to understand and act on
- We helped HealthCo Information Systems open clinic doors and practice administrator’s eyes with a new sales kit
- We helped to humanize Lewis & Clark Bank by elevating the customer testimonial to a new level
In each case, the company’s “look and feel” was improved and their focus on serving customers narrowed.
Clear Messaging Doesn’t Flow Naturally like Water from a Spring
9/ When is the last time you walked a mile in your customers shoes?
Empathy isn’t a buzzword. It’s a first step to greater comprehension, which then leads to better customer conversations.
— Bonehook (@bonehook) December 18, 2018
Too many marketers are obsessed with what they want to say, instead of focusing on what their audience needs to hear. Many are also looking to close, instead of looking to serve.
This is the pressure of quarterly numbers at work and a reality that isn’t going away. Nevertheless, our role as a strategic advisor is to help brand teams earn their customers’ attention and trust, and this means overcoming all obstacles, including short-term thinking in the C-Suite and beyond.
Are You Ready to Lace Up Your Walking Shoes?
The pathway to better work does NOT start with neat ideas about what could be. Better work is not about coming up with clever headlines or flashy graphics—it’s about understanding how to relate to people in the audience, and to do that we need to push back from our screens and take a brisk walk in the customer’s shoes.
Getting on the customer’s page isn’t easy but it is necessary to open minds, doors and wallets. When you’re ready, we will help you walk this walk and think about things from your buyer’s perspective—she may, in fact, have a genuine interest in your product but no time to weigh its benefits. In a case like this, the “no time” barrier is the first communications problem in need of a solution because you can’t sell your wares to a distracted person. Instead of making more ads, we might recommend that you intentionally make “focus time” for your buyer, where you can make her feel cared for and give her access to tools and events that make her work life better.
When you adhere to the process that delivers actionable insights, you end up carving waste from your marketing budget. Take the scenario above. A branded event may have never entered the realm of discussion, much less possibility. That’s the danger of moving too fast and putting projects ahead of the discovery and strategy sessions that are necessary to align your brand communications with the true marketplace opportunity.
Replace Request for Proposals with Discovery and Strategy Sessions
The ad business has been disrupted, but one thing that has not changed is the RFP process. Marketers still rely on this arcane process to locate their new agency team, and the results speak for themselves. CMO churn is legendary and “agencies of record” are no more.
Bonehook does not respond to RFPs. We don’t have the resources to dedicate to free work and we don’t believe that speculative thinking, no matter how brilliant on the surface, is how real life communications problems are solved. RFPs amount to a grown up’s “Show and Tell,” when it needs to be a rigorous business process that produces desired results.
Instead of guessing and wheel spinning, Bonehook replaces the RFP with discovery and strategy sessions that result in a strategy document to support your new product push or your annual plan. We also include brand guidelines that specifically address brand voice.
This initial engagement gives everyone a chance to work together on a trial basis, before committing to any long-term services-based agreements. What do you say?
- Are you ready to drop the RFP and get to work?
- Are you prepared to get on your customer’s page and stay there?
- Are you excited to tighten up your brand messaging and appeal to customers with clear and compelling offers that are easy to act on?
If doing things the way they’ve always been done works for you and your company, thanks for reading this. If you need to go in a new direction, we’re here to guide the expedition into customer-friendly waters.