Be specific in your messaging, or be forgotten

Autumn often brings a lot of work rewriting web copy, and based on the number of jobs we’re doing this month, this is a good time to bring up the power of being specific when it comes to your messaging for customers.

When describing yourself, there’s nothing like getting the perspective of your customers – ideally, the actual words they use to talk about you. But often, nailing down success stories with fully fleshed-out customer case studies is difficult. You may have signed a nondisclosure agreement which keeps you from speaking in detail about you’ve achieved for client. Alternatively, you may just not want to rock the boat, especially if there is any unresolved issue or hiccup with the account which means you can’t go asking favors just now.

But do try to capture those customer stories and put them at the very center of the messaging process, if you want your communications materials to hit the bullseye.

What problem are you solving?

This is a classic case of talking about the problem you solve rather than the solutions you offer. You don’t have to name names or reveal secrets in order to do this. You just need to turn around your thinking. So, instead of taking approach like Option A:

For more than a decade we have delivered the billing software that offers better functionality and more complete integration with your CRM systems than any other solution on the market…

You might end up with something more like option B:

For more than a decade customers have trusted Brand’s billing software to help them reduce debtor days, improve cash flow and get closer to customers with easy to control personalization options.

I am literally making this up out of my head. But can you see the difference? Option B doesn’t just point to business benefits realized, it also shows empathy with your customers. Option A shows a company which seems to care more about its feature set and its competitors (and its shiny, shiny technology) than the customers who keep it afloat.

This is all about specifics: what specific business benefit have you brought to your customers? Of course that would best be illustrated by fully fledged customer case study – and any enterprise with a solid customer base should be doing at least four fresh case studies a year. But if you can’t get those case studies recorded, at the very least record them as use cases.

Use cases: an anonymous alternative to the case study

A use case is anonymised case study which even the most reluctant and NDA-straitjacketed relationship manager should be happy to agree to. It paints a picture of the customer in general terms that ensures it isn’t identifiable. But it does talk in detail about the pain the customer was experiencing, the process of going to market for a solution and competing vendors to analyze, and the solution delivered, alongside those all-important business benefits achieved.

Never forget about the business benefits: did the solution power growth? Enable new flexibility? Increase sales?

Putting the customer at the center of how you describe yourself is a policy that will never steer you wrong. Whether you’re rewriting your website or planning new cinitiatives, like a social media outreach or a sales push into new markets, think first of those people who matter most – your customers – instead of yourself, and you’ll be off on the right foot.


Main image by Maria Eklind on Flickr  

Sheila Averbuch is managing director of ENNclick, content partner to agencies and ICT companies, with offices in the UK and Ireland. Get in touch at