Your Messaging Sucks.
3 Ways to Make It Better
Social Media to Help You Grow:
This is why I am so passionate about the intersection between personal and professional growth. Our greatest challenge isn’t other people, it’s ourselves…our own resilience and ability to maintain hope.
What’s something you do to stay hopeful? To stay committed to your vision? Even when things get tough.
Spot Your Opportunity to Grow
When I work with startups and their Founders, it’s usually because they know they could be growing faster and they need help. Almost always, my first step with them is to take them through my growth audit to diagnose and then help them fix the problem.
But I can’t work with everyone, and I still want to help every Founder grow and that’s why I’ve created the Growth Audit Quiz — which asks you some questions about your business and your process of turning a stranger into a loyal, happy customer, to help you identify where you have the greatest opportunity to take a big leap forward.
Growth Lesson of the Week:
In my experience working with 100+ startup Founders and their teams, I have learned there are a few commonalities between the ones that struggle and the ones that succeed.
Perhaps the most obvious sign of a struggling business is its messaging.
Most of the time, it sucks.
Often, it’s confusing, boring, or focused only on the company and not their customers.
Usually, it’s some combination of all three.
So how do you fix it?
Here are some simple ways to turn your messaging around and additional resources to read or review to help you go deeper.
1. Create customer-centric brand messaging
This is the most important step, hands-down. There is a hero in your brand story. But guess what? It’s not you and it’s not your company.
It’s your customer — or at least it should be. You’re their guide, their obi-won, their Mr. Miyagi. You’re the supporting character — not the hero.
Who is at the center of your story? If I visited your website, how many times would I see the word “we” vs. the word “you”?
Are you bragging about all the ways you help your customers, your product, and your results?
Or are you bragging about the incredible transformations your customers are able to achieve because of your work together?
Everyone wants to be the hero — yes, even your customer. Focus on showing your ideal customer they can be the hero in their work, their relationships, or their lives and they’ll understand they need your product or service to achieve that dream.
Action tip: Want to go deeper on creating a powerful brand story? Read Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. It’s one of my top recommended books for entrepreneurs. Simple and powerful, just like his framework for transforming your brand messaging.
2. Simplify your brand messaging
Once you focus on who really matters in your brand story, you’re ready to start cleaning up the language you’re using to explain what it is you do.
First, Stop using jargon in your messaging.
Get rid of every piece of jargon, acronym, or industry term on your website. Even if you have a deeply technical product, you can — and should — explain what your product or service does in layperson’s terms.
Usually, a website with a lot of jargon makes it harder for the reader to decipher what the company actually does. Do you know what I mean? When you look at a website and you think, “Wait, but what do they actually do?”
Jargon doesn’t bolster your expertise. It makes your messaging clunky and harder to understand.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.”
Often, when I rewrite brand or sales messaging for a company and they resist removing technical terms from their website, it’s because one of the Founders thinks that some technical aspect of their product is the coolest part of what they do.
But guess what? Rarely do your customers agree with what is the most compelling aspect of your product. You’re biased because you built it! Your customer actually couldn’t care less.
They care most about what your product does for them and only a tiny bit about how your product does it.
Instead focus on a few key things only — What you do, whom you do it for, why it matters to them.
Yes, you want to mention how you uniquely solve that problem, but only from the customer’s perspective. Not from yours. (Remember point #1 above?)
Next, shorten all of your sentences.
The longer the sentence, the more confusing it is for the reader. Long sentences limit a person’s ability to absorb information.
If it’s particularly long, break it up into two or even three shorter sentences.
Also, get rid of filler words and phrases.
You could remove 9 out of 10 “that”s and still have your sentences make sense.
The same goes for most adverbs...and yes, this is coming from someone who freaking loves saying “seriously,” “absolutely,” “fabulously,” and a million other adverbs (see: “freaking” above).
Action Tip: Try using an app like Hemingway, which grades your writing based on readability with an emphasis on short, punchier sentences. https://hemingwayapp.com/desktop.html
3. Make your brand messaging more exciting
Too many of you are playing it safe in your messaging. You’re working about alienating potential customers by speaking too directly to one segment. Or you don’t want to appear unprofessional, so you keep it buttoned up.
But guess what?
Buttoned up is boring.
You can be professional and sophisticated and still communicate directly and with emphasis.
There are a few tricks to amping up the excitement.
First, be willing to make bold statements.
Example: the subject of this email could have been “how to improve your messaging.” Safe, simple, and to the point.
But instead, I wrote, “Your Messaging Sucks. 3 Ways to Make It Better.” And I’m willing to bet, more people opened this email and read these words as a result.
You want to make sure you’re using language that works for your audience — startup Founders typically don’t mind that I curse like a sailor ;) — but still amp up the drama and emotion.
Think about using more powerful and emotional words in your messaging.
Second, add specificity to your brand messaging.
A few weeks ago, my startup, FounderUp, hosted a workshop about value propositions and nearly every example we heard was too vague, lacking specificity in what they did and for whom they did it.
Many of you worry using a specific example might alienate prospects for whom that example doesn’t directly apply. But the reverse is true.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you use specific examples of why the problem you solve matters or the outcomes you deliver for customers, prospects immediately extrapolate to their own use case.
Specificity makes your messaging feel tangible. Readers can immediately understand how your product or service delivers real outcomes for your customers.
So don’t say we save you time, say we helped one customer save 7 hours a week.
Action Tip: If you are struggling to identify specific examples you can use in your messaging, it’s time to talk to more customers. Not about servicing them and their needs, but about them. Their lives, their work, their goals, their struggles. Learn more about how you change their lives, so you can explain it to others.
One word of warning for any of these improvements: Don’t rely too much on Grammarly. Yes, it can help you fix glaring grammatical errors, but sometimes perfect grammar waters down the impact of your message.
What are some of the ways you improve your messaging? Comment below. I want to hear all about your tips and tricks.
And if you ever want help improving yours, send me an email, and let’s talk. I kinda love this stuff.
Growth Tool I Love:
Since we’re talking about messaging and ways to make it stand out, I wanted to share my favorite AI copywriting tool: Jasper (formerly Jarvis). They have a ton of templates you can use to make it easy to improve everything from headlines to blog posts, ad copy, product descriptions, and a million other forms of writing.
Easy to use, not expensive, and just, kind of cool. Check it out and let me know what you think.
If I could help you solve one problem, what would you choose?
I’m working on some plans to reshape how I serve my community of entrepreneurs, so please, tell me what you need, where you struggle, or what you’re hoping to gain, so I can support you.