5 Marketing Measurements to Evaluate and Sharpen B2B Brand Messaging

Posted on by Karsten Burgstahler

When building a brand message, B2B marketing teams know that unless you’re a massively popular sports equipment manufacturer in Oregon, it’s never as easy as “just do it.”

Your message is the quick and clear articulation of the 30-page manifesto that defines your company’s purpose, your differentiators, your benefits to your industry and the world as a whole. It must stay true to your voice, while resonating with your audience. You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention with your tagline, and then only slightly longer for your elevator pitch.

If you’re a young company trying to make your mark, the challenge throughout message development might be gaining consensus on how to properly reflect your mission in words. If you’re an established company trying to revamp your message, your challenge might be finding a way to convert your message for a generation used to swiping away instantly if the words don’t connect. There’s a reason they say it’s harder to write 30 words than 300.

Either way, it’s helpful to have benchmarks to validate your message against. That’s why our team developed the SCORE test—five measurements to understand how well your message reaches your audiences, and how likely it is to keep them engaged.

Here’s what it looks like:

S – Surprising

Attention spans are far too short these days for a message to be anything but loud. That doesn’t mean your tagline needs to verge on innuendo (unless your target audience appreciates the edginess). It does mean you must understand what messages are floating around the marketplace, and how you can apply your voice differently. You’ll only earn someone’s attention by offering them a fresh story.

Ask yourself:

  • Is our elevator pitch strong enough to grab a prospect’s attention in 30 seconds? (I literally get in an elevator, ride it back and forth from the first to sixth floors of our firm’s building, and test whether I can deliver a client’s pitch at a normal cadence in that short trip. Try it!)
  • Is our message clear enough that the most salient points stick in a prospect’s mind a day later?
  • Does our tagline strike the right balance between creative and informative?

C – Contextual

Just as sales has its funnel, so does messaging—this is an especially important consideration for B2B marketers. Stay too high-level across your messaging, and you risk forfeiting benefits that would catch the eye of someone with deep, technical industry experience. But get too far in the weeds within an elevator pitch and/or boilerplate, and you risk turning off more general, widespread buyers. The latter want to hear more about the business benefits (and usually sign the checks), while the first prefers nitty-gritty details.

Your complete messaging guide should have language that speaks to each of these audiences, and segments into industries as it goes deeper.

Ask yourself:

  • Will our tagline explain our business value to prospects in just a few clear words?
  • Does our core elevator pitch make our company’s benefits clear while avoiding industry-specific language?
  • Have we developed thorough enough messaging for sales collateral across our target industries to drive conversations after the initial interaction?

O – Original

We often think of the tagline as our smallest unit of messaging, but there’s a layer deeper, one our audiences don’t necessarily see but should feel—the concept. It’s the one or two words that summarize your messaging. For example, car manufacturer BMW has for decades owned the tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” but its concept is “performance.” The idea flows throughout copy for their ads and commercials. You should start any messaging development by researching your competitors, understanding their owned concept and selecting one that offers your brand unique positioning.

Ask yourself:

  • Have we defined a concept (we’re the “future-forward” or the “simplicity” company) and does all brand messaging reflect that perception?
  • Do our tagline and elevator pitch clearly highlight competitive differentiators?
  • Is there any way our messaging and branding could be mistaken for another company, even if it’s in a completely different industry?

R – Realistic

A killer message gets your customers in the door, but the product and support turn them into true believers. That’s why it’s important your message is an accurate reflection of the customer experience. As you develop your message, let the research be the guide—specifically, the data you gather from interviewing customers as you’re investigating concepts, and again after you’ve drafted the elevator pitch. They can point out language they don’t believe fits their experience and let them tell you whether they believe you can live up to it.

Remember, your executive team is probably too close to the product to adequately evaluate the message’s effectiveness. You need outside validation.

Ask yourself:

  • Does our message underpromise OR overpromise our capabilities?
  • Have we stress-tested our messaging with customers to ensure they believe it and agree with it? Have we effectively implemented their feedback across our elevator pitch, boilerplate and supporting messages?
  • Do we have a robust bank of collateral with data to back up the promises we make with our message?

E – Enduring

Your brand’s goals will evolve, and messages won’t last forever—but the goal should be for your tagline’s/elevator pitch’s relevancy to be measured in years, and your concept should stick around even longer.

The first few months of a new message are key to determining whether it will endure, so it’s important you put significant resources behind launching it, both internally and externally. You should also keep an eye on competitor messaging—at least on a yearly basis—to ensure they aren’t trying to steal your concept.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we reevaluate our messaging each year to ensure it’s still aligned with our market positioning?
  • Have we historically rolled out fresh messaging the same way we would a new product—with a video, sales collateral, employee town hall/webinar, etc.? How can we alter our launch process in the future?
  • Have we appointed messaging “evangelists” throughout the organization to ensure each department understands how it relates to them and their role in the business?

Does Your Message SCORE?

A message is how your brand first interacts with the world, so it’s important to give it occasional TLC—that’s how you ensure it remains a positive ambassador.

The SCORE test can help you decide where your message is strong and where it could use some support. You might need to review your competitors, reevaluate your differentiators, or even tap your customers to ensure your language still matches up with how they see your brand. But when your message is surprising, contextual, original, realistic and enduring, it’ll have the power to draw customers in and close the sale.

Karsten Burgstahler is Senior Content Creator for Arketi Group, an integrated PR and digital marketing firm.


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