Strategic Marketing Plan

Why Smart Messaging is the Wise Thing to Do

Marketers engage in smart messaging with the right personas to appeal to obtain a greater return on their investment in marketing activities.

Everyone is interested in something. As a licensed pilot, I have a passion for flying and also like fast cars. Based on my website visits and my purchases, I receive emails related to those hobbies from marketers trying to sell me things or experiences. Those marketers, whether they know it or not, are engaging in Smart Messaging, and you should, too, if you are not already doing so because it can help you obtain a greater return on your investment in marketing activities.

Smart Messaging is the act of changing WHAT you say to a customer or prospect in words, images, and calls to action based on WHO (i.e., what job title(s) or persona(s)) you believe are receiving the message. In the industrial market, commonly targeted job titles are Buyer, Engineer, and Manager. All of them have different “hot buttons” so effective messaging should be different to each of those personas. The most effective Smart Messaging campaigns include 3 to 8 personas.

Put another way, each persona is tuned in to a different radio frequency, and if you are “listening” to 102.5 FM, for example, and a marketer is “broadcasting” on 102.45, the marketer’s message will sound to you like white noise, so you will never understand what the marketer is trying to sell you.  

By engaging in Smart Messaging on behalf of our clients – broadcasting on the same frequencies to which our clients' prospects listen – we have helped them experience 10% higher open rates of eNewsletters focused on multiple personas across multiple industries and of targeted eMailers focused on one or multiple personas in a single industry compared to traditional blanket messaging. That increase in open rates translates to higher engagement, more conversions (sales), and more long-term relationships that yield repeat business.

Using Smart Messaging as a Lead Generation strategy is an ideal complement to your Brand Management activities and should not be used as a substitute for creating brand awareness because people need to know who you are, what you do, and WHY you are in business (what "passion" motivates you besides turning a profit) before they will think about buying something from you.

A Cure for the Woes of COVID-19

Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has made it impossible or difficult to meet face-to-face with many customers and prospects at trade shows or at their facilities. This trend is here to stay because Buyers, Engineers, and Managers alike have found that it is not necessary to meet face-to-face as much as they did pre-pandemic. In short, the days of a salesperson “closing a deal” with a sales pitch after looking at the title on a prospect’s card and taking cues from a prospect’s comments or body language are a thing of the past, so the best, and arguably the only, way to break through the clutter is with Smart Messaging.

Smart Messaging vehicles include:

  • eNewsletters
  • Targeted Mailers
  • Banner Ads on Select Websites
  • Blog Posts to Demonstrate Expertise & Thought Leadership

How to Begin Smart Messaging

Development and implementation of Smart Messaging in your marketing plan begin with crafting messages that will be of interest to the personas (job titles) you are targeting. It is impossible to engage in this process successfully with a pen, paper, and spreadsheet.

Instead, you need market intelligence to categorize personas by:

  • Job Title
  • Age
  • Seniority
  • Company Size

After you have categorized personas using those criteria, you should launch a “baseline campaign” (blanket messaging) of an eNewsletter to all your targeted personas for three or four weeks. After you learn which personas are responding to your messaging, you can adjust your messaging accordingly based on your knowledge of the markets you are targeting. This process is what we call A/B Testing, and it is relatively easy to do using Marketing Automation platforms such as HubSpot.

If you or your colleagues do not have first-hand experience in targeted markets, there is plenty of information online from trade journals, trade associations, and other sources to give you a sense of the “hot button issues” or “pain points” in any given industry. You should use those resources to obtain the knowledge you need to begin a Smart Messaging campaign.

Going forward, Smart Messaging to targeted personas will become the rule rather than the exception for successful marketing campaigns because the vast amount of data available these days to document the online behavior of prospective and established customers provides a flight path to your ongoing success by making the Customer Journey most comfortable.

What is a Customer Journey?

You have probably heard or read the term "Customer Journey," but you may not be sure of its meaning. Customer Journey is the idea that you will make an impression on prospective and established customers alike through brand messaging and that the personas you are targeting will remember your brand and search for it online.

The typical Customer Journey is a 5-step process. Step 1 consists of the persona not knowing that they need your product or service. It then progresses to Step 2 in which the persona has a problem (e.g., increased customer returns, quality issues, production or shipping delays) and needs to talk to someone about solving it. Those “someones” are often dealers, distributors, and friends on social media such as LinkedIn groups.

When done effectively, Smart Messaging addresses the questions that personas are asking and includes keywords that a prospect would type into a search engine. Additionally, your Smart Messaging is easier to access than old emails.

Step 3 of the Customer Journey consists of a prospect or established customer negotiating a deal (purchase) with you and Step 4 is the act of purchasing – writing the check or, increasingly, transferring funds electronically. At this stage, nothing will change the buyer’s mind unless there is a problem fulfilling the order. Step 5 is the buyer’s assessment of whether the items or services purchased are working and whether he or she would like to purchase more of the same product or service, or other products or services your company offers.

Customer Journey_LMIf the buyer is unhappy with their purchase, it is essential that you acknowledge their dissatisfaction and refrain from blaming them for the problem.

Another way to think of the Customer Journey is like multiple train tracks leading to a station. Track 1 is for people who do not know they have a problem, while Track 2 is for people who have a problem but do not yet know how to solve it, etc. Regardless of the track on which a customer (or prospect) begins his or her journey, they eventually end up at the station.

My experiences running marketing programs for large manufacturers earlier in my career and helping medium-sized and small manufacturers as a consultant have taught me that the development of Smart Messaging and mapping the Customer Journey are essential to successful marketing and branding, and ultimately to the financial health of any manufacturer.

To discuss your requirements related to Smart Messaging and the Customer Journey…

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