Messaging is a critical factor in a business success, but often is overlooked. This results in weak brand awareness of the company’s product or service in the market as buyers are either confused or do not appreciate the value created. The foundation for messaging is obviously the “positioning statement” of any product or service.
A positioning statement, especially a differentiated one, provides the context for all the marketing activities and sales in a company. It succinctly states how a business need for a target buyer is met in differentiated way in a competitive environment. The business needs and wants of the identified buyer are met by creating value through the company’s product and services. Technology companies frequently struggle to identify technical benefits and business values for products and services, resulting in missed differentiation in both areas and subsequent failure to reach buyers. This could mean that the message may not reach the intended audience – if targeted towards non-technology buyers.
FEATURES TO VALUES – THREE STEP PROCESS
One solution to solving this problem is to create a map that connects the technical features to the business values. Gartner’s three steps process to reach both technical and business buyers effectively is a great approach that helps in coming up with such a map. The three steps are:
- Identify differentiable features (product, delivery and so forth) when they exist, and describe their value relative to competing or alternative methods.
- Identify business needs addressed by those features, and describe the value they provide.
- Connect the technical and business elements to create content (descriptions, use cases,stories, product-marketing vehicles) that takes customers from differentiable features to statements of value for their businesses.
Although these three steps, shown below in a process flow, look simple it is a complex task to complete.
To start with, focus on meaningful features. “Meaningful” here refers to the features’ ability to be used as either technical differentiators or their ability to deliver differentiable business value. Attribute specific benefitsto these capabilities (features) that will link to statements of differentiation.
For example, the presence of the data transformation and visualization features can enable contextual analysis and visualization of outcomes more effectively than competitors’ products without them. While not overtly stated there, one could then create differentiated messaging to denote the superior speed of resulting analysis, the importance of contextual
visualization relative to standard charting, or other technical differentiations. The elements of differentiation that suggest describing how the technical features are provisioned and delivered. Some of these could be: revolutionary pricing models, delivery methods, ecosystem partnerships, support programs or other means to differentiate over and above the technology itself.
The flow chart below assists in identifying the technical values, which is normally the benefits.
BUSINESS VALUES IN TWO LAYERS
Identifying business needs and translating them to value obviously requires at least some vertical knowledge – understand market segmentation. When this is properly done, it will help prospects find themselves and their needs relative to the provider’s products or services.
It is recommended to create two layers of depth relative to business value. The bottom layer offers high-level value statements that should be used in concert with the technical benefits previously noted. The top layer would be used the same way, but it represents a more in-depth understanding of the pain points — or business moments — that exist in the given vertical markets.
CONNECTING BUSINESS VALUES TO TECHNICAL FEATURES
The three steps when completed should yield a connected picture between product/service features to the vertical or business values.
While technical value and business value are obviously two critical factors or providers to convey (that is, how customers can obtain value), they must also help customers understand when they obtain value. This is the “time to value.” Buyers tell us that provider information such as value assessment models and implementation plans are key elements that help them reach buying decisions. Together, technology, business and time to value make up a triumvirate of value elements that providers must relate to buyers.
Tech Go-to-Market: Creating the Path From Features to Value – David Yockelson