How Metrics Will Increase Your Corporate Writing Sales

An organization’s sale message is a moving target: What’s relevant today may be old news tomorrow. Show your client (or employer) how the right metrics will keep the sales message on point. And you’ll have a steady income stream that you can count on.

But, which metrics should you focus on? You can crunch numbers all day long, and they would be worthless unless you can clearly answer the most important question of all: How do you measure success?

Many organizations are content to measure ‘brand image’ and ‘brand reputation.’ These ideas are translated into a core business asset with intangible (albeit very real) monetary value. Who would argue that the Coca-Cola brand has no dollars-and-cents value? Indeed, image and reputation factor into pricing strategy. And that’s why you’ll pay more for a Coke than a store-brand cola, every time.

But, what if you don’t have the #1 image in your category? What if you’re Dr. Phizz instead of Mr. Pibb? That’s where the right message and metrics come into play.

When I build a Corporate Messaging Platform, I’m looking for two anchors: differentiation and relevance. To have an effective message, you must be both different from your competition and more relevant than your competition. Far too often, I see marketers solve for one or the other and then stop. That’s not entirely wrong; it’s just not entirely right. Consider this:

  • You can be highly relevant, but not very different: The cap on a toothpaste tube is very relevant, but one is pretty much the same as the other. If it fits, it works.
  • You can be very different, but not very relevant: Think of a Rube Goldberg machine (anyone remember the game, Mouse Trap?) It couldn’t be more different, or less relevant. Who really wants one?

The most effective sales message is both different and relevant. But, here’s the tricky part: These aren’t static ideas. You can’t assume that what makes you different and relevant today will hold true in a year. 5 years. 10 years. Messaging strategy is a process, not a project. It’s a long-term commitment. And metrics are your ongoing guide to ensuring your message evolves as your audiences and their needs do.

So, how do you measure differentiation and relevance? When I build a Corporate Messaging Platform, my first step is a Discovery process in which I conduct both primary and secondary research. From those findings I develop a set of what I call Value Drivers. These are key themes–usually 8 to 12–that have one common characteristic: they all showcase both differentiation and relevance. Value Drivers capture client advantages in any number of relevant areas, including price, innovation, quality, service, convenience–whatever establishes my client as having the ONE brand position that no competitor can claim (and more importantly, that customers want more than anything else).

From the initial research, I establish the relative importance of each Value Driver to each audience. For example, Customer #1 may value convenience over price. Customer #2 may be just the opposite. Convenience and price are relevant to both audiences–just not in the same way.

Once I’ve established this baseline understanding of how the Value Drivers relate to each audience, I’m ready to write sales messaging that’s tailored to each audience. That messaging becomes the basis for all marketing communications developed–both online and offline. But, that’s just the beginning of the process.

I regularly measure how my sales messaging is performing in the real world. I monitor the ongoing differentiation and relevance of each Value Driver, to ensure that it remains as effective as it was when first created. Depending on the client and her objectives, I may use static, online survey tools. Or take a more fluid approach, using online social analytical tools that monitor conversations continually and feed me data immediately. It’s a matter of client preference, objective and budget.

Regardless of the measurement tools used, the key is to use them. In the New Normal of Marketing, it’s not a matter of much you spend, but how you spend it. That starts by developing and maintaining the most effective message–not based on assumptions, but on metrics. This by no means restricts the creative process. Indeed, it provides a much needed focus. (My first boss, who worked with Leo Burnett in the 1950s and 60s and was a student of Rosser Reeves, called this “having the freedom of a narrow focus.”)

And that focus begins by answering one simple question, How do you measure success? My answer is simply, Measure your differentiation and relevance. And woe to your competitors who fail to follow suit.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Andy Bartling

    October 26th, 2010 on 12:59 am

    From Linked In’s Copywriters Beat group:

    “I like the streamlined writing about the development of a sales message. Of course I am glad to know about a person understanding the value of primary research and secondary research and utilizing it for the corporate sector. I will try my best to follow your guidelines.”