Hi there, welcome to Lab Notes. Thanks for joining me. If we don't know each other, my name is Felicity Wild and I run the Brand Language Lab.
Today we've got a change of format. I've got a checklist here for you instead of some slides. And we're going to talk about reviewing your messaging as a B2B service provider.
This topic has come about because this week I posted on LinkedIn about reviewing your messaging every six months. That's my recommended frequency because lots of things can change. Your services can change, your audience, their wants, needs, and desires, those might change. The competitive landscape, the market you're operating in might look different. Market conditions change. All sorts of things. Particularly now it feels like everything's changing all the time.
So I would recommend sitting down every six months to review your messaging. To make sure it's still accurate, it still reflects reality. You're still targeting the right people and yeah, you're covering all your bases.
I was asked if this advice was relevant for service professionals or service providers. And if so, what they should be checking for. I thought that was a perfect thing to talk about here because I know a lot of my audience are freelancers and service providers.
I've put together a checklist of what I'd recommend checking with your messaging every six months. If you've never thought about your messaging, this checklist is also a pretty good place to start (if you're starting from scratch).
I've separated it into three parts. There’s brand-level messaging, audience-level messaging, and product/service-level messaging. In your copy, this might all kind of be jumbled up together. You know, you won't have “the brand messaging section” and the “audience messaging” section. But you might organise your messaging document in this way. Or at least this is how I organise my messaging documents. because it makes the most sense in my brain.
We'll start with brand-level messaging. That’s the messaging people see at the start of their journey with you, when they don't know who you are, and they're trying to work out what you do and get a feel for whether you can help them.
The first few sections of your homepage, think about that information that people need to quickly gather to work out if they're in the right place, and if they're interested in you.
Does your brand level messaging clearly and accurately communicate what type of business you run? Is it clear that you're a copywriter? Is it clear that you're an accountant? Is it clear that you're a graphic designer? Or a web designer? Is it clear what you do? Does it give a succinct summary of what type of copywriter you are? What type of accountant you are?
Because if it doesn't, people are going to lose interest really quickly if they have to dig for that sort of information.
Who do you offer these services to? Who are you a copywriter for? Who do you work with? Who are you an accountant for?
And a top-level view of what you help this audience achieve. Nothing too in-depth at this stage, but top-line messaging: I help these people achieve this desirable outcome.
Why do you do this? This speaks to your purpose, your mission statement, your big end goal and why you think it's important. Why you're motivated to do it, why you get out of bed in the morning to do it.
And your competitive edge, which is why somebody should care about all this versus the other brands that they might be looking at, or carrying on doing their own accounting, or using Canva instead of using a graphic designer.
Now audience-level messaging. Is your messaging consistently speaking directly to the correct audience. Since you last looked at your messaging, have the people that you want to work with changed? You might have niched down or got more specific about who you want to work with. You want to make sure that your messaging reflects the reality of that.
Does your messaging acknowledge the problems that this audience are looking to solve when they're looking for an accountant or a copywriter or a graphic designer or all those, all those other different possibilities? As well as why they're looking to solve this problem?
So does it paint a picture of their current situation, the struggles that they're having, and why these struggles are a problem for their business? Why they're not ideal?
And then does your messaging show the other side? Does it paint a picture of the desired outcomes you help your audience achieve? Does it illustrate what life looks like after working with you, how much easier and better you can make their life, the better position they could be in after working with you?
Does your messaging also highlight the benefits of these desired outcomes? There's the place that you help these people get to, and then there are all the good things around that that start happening for them. It’s like layering the benefits on the benefits.
Does your messaging paint this picture of before and after? And all the good things that happen.
Does your messaging also address the blockers and objections that may be preventing your audience from taking action?
You might be thinking: these desired outcomes are pretty good, why haven't your audience taken action? Why have they been struggling on with their problems for so long?
This is because of the blockers and objections that are in their way. These might be fears, they could be obstacles. An example of an obstacle might be an unsupportive boss. Their boss won't give them enough budget to hire someone to provide this service. Or a blocker might be the fear, fear of asking for help. Or the fear of looking stupid: the concern they should already know how to do this and they shouldn't have to be asking for help. That might stop them.
The key to doing this well is knowing your audience well. You don't really want to assume what these blockers are. You'll have spoken to prospects, and hopefully you'll already have an idea of what these blockers, objections and obstacles are for the people that you want to address with your copy.
To add to this, you want to provide credible proof and reassurance to overcome these objections. If you want to reframe it in a slightly softer way, it's to ease these concerns and worries that people might have about working with you.
They might be concerned about the return on investment of working with a copywriter. So you want to provide some credible proof to ease this concern, to show the return on investment of working with you. Because that's what makes your message credible. It builds trust and makes people want to speak to you.
Now onto product or service level messaging. Does your messaging give a clear picture of the services and or products that you offer? Say you're a graphic designer, does your messaging communicate what type of graphic design you do?
This is important because somebody might be looking for a specific service like package design. If you only do digital design, they're obviously going to be in the wrong place if they're looking at you. So you need to be clear about the services and the products that you offer.
You also need to clearly communicate the features of these services or products. (features are the things that your product does or what your service covers).
Say you're a social-first creative agency, and one of your main services is video. You want to communicate the different features that you offer as part of this video service. Do you do the strategy? Will you do creative concepts? Or do you focus more on the production side? If it's all social focused, do you also offer a management service for social media accounts? What elements do you cover in this service?
And then you want to speak to the benefits of these features, linking them to the problems and the desired outcomes we talked about earlier.
If the benefits of your services don't link to the problems and the desired outcomes of your audience that we talked about in the last part, you perhaps are targeting the wrong audience. There's some sort of mismatch there and you maybe need to look at building a more cohesive strategy.
A lot of emphasis is put on benefits when we're talking about copywriting and developing messaging. But I think you always need to be very clear on your features first to then speak about the benefits. Because sometimes people go too heavy on the benefits, but it's not clear exactly what services you're providing that get me these benefits. I think you need to have both.
And then you need to also make sure that you're providing clear and meaningful differentiation for your services and products. And note here, I've said versus the most competitive alternatives, not your competitors. I think particularly for service providers, yes, your prospects might be considering other businesses that offer roughly the same services as you, but they might also be thinking about not using anyone and struggling on as they are, or perhaps DIY-ing it. That could mean hiring someone to work in-house or training the staff that they've already got to cover this service.
They might be weighing up those options versus hiring a contractor like you. You will know your audience best. So you know whether they will be considering these options or whether they'll just be looking to your competitor brands. And if so, you need to cover this in your messaging.
So there we go. That's my messaging review checklist for B2B service providers. Like I said before, I'd recommend doing this every six months, going through, and making sure everything's accurate, that it reflects reality.
And then if you find that you're coming across lots of problems with this, it's a sign that you need to take a deeper look. Your messaging is perhaps very out of date and needs more of an overhaul rather than just a review.
Thanks for listening and join me next time.