Breaking through the noise in a loud and crowded market is tough.
How do you make sure your messaging is being heard in a sea of competition?
Ken Rutsky, the author of Launching to Leading: How B2B Market Leaders Create Flashmobs, Marshal Parades and Ignite Movements has created an 8-layer cake for B2B messaging that helps brands tell their story and stand out.
He spent many years in product marketing in Silicon Valley, and he specialized in security, infrastructure, and business applications in the sales & marketing automation space. Now he helps companies define their message clearly. Ken shows businesses how they can build their brand through storytelling to accelerate revenue.
The Core Four
Ken’s 8-layer cake starts with the core 4 layers of messaging as a B2B provider. He likes to say it moves from “mythos to money.”
1. Aspirational layer. This starts with your company’s big dream. What do you want to accomplish? For SalesForce, it was the “end of software.” When people think about your brand, what are the pie in the sky things they think you’ll accomplish? But aspiration alone won’t close a deal with customers.
People don’t buy aspiration.
2. Magical layer. This layer is the most important. It’s the core of how you build everything else. If you’ve ever heard of the “Hero’s Journey” it’s a similar framework.
Every Star Wars or Disney story is constructed like this. It starts with a hero who lives in his or her world until it gets disrupted in a negative way. The hero gets a gift that allows them to come back and transform their world to a place better than what it was before.
As a B2B company, you want to play the role of the gift, magic, or guide that aids the hero along the way. You’re not the hero, the customer is. This is truly transformational if implemented successfully.
3. Money layer. You need to prove that there’s value in what you deliver. What are your key business benefits to customers? You can get someone excited about your product or service, but you’ll never get their purchase without a much needed ROI justification.
4. “How you do it” layer. This is most prominent with tech buyers who want to know how you’re going to execute on your vision. You need to be able to link your method with the money your potential new customer will spend.
The Rest of the Cake
The four remaining values of the 8-layer messaging cake overlap with the first four, but they are really all about seeing the transaction from your customers point of view. You need to explain to the buyer what is in it for them.
Take each of the core four layers and just look at it from your customer’s side. What’s the aspiration for the buyer? What’s the journey you’ll take them on as a user? What value are they seeing in doing business with you?
Most providers don’t think about second four layers, they stop at themselves. They don’t connect with customers on a personal level. But think of any great salesperson, they do this; they think about their customers’ needs, and good things follow.
The biggest mistake that many early-stage and even later stage B2B providers make is that they think they’re the hero. It’s not you who’s the hero, it’s your costumer.
Breaking Through The Noise
The best way to break through a crowded messaging landscape is to tell your brand’s story in a way that will get attention and is scalable. If you’re starting with ROI, you’re telling your customers you are just competing on price, and that is a tough hill to climb. Align your value initially around your brand’s story rather than your ROI.
I always say that it starts and ends with the story.
The chapters you tell in your story need to be well structured and articulated for your customers. Here are the four chapters you can start with when telling your story:
- The customer’s world has changed. The world is moving rapidly, and chances are your customer has some frustrations and needs some new solutions. Talking about this build rapport and gets their heads nodding in agreement that the old way isn’t working.
- They have old solutions to the new world problems. Show them their pain points and missed opportunities that maybe they never realized they had. Position yourself as expert the expert, and teach something they didn’t know. You might have the solutions they need.
- Ask them, “What if you had a different approach and mindset?” They need innovations to solve today’s problem. Show your uniqueness as a provider of these solutions.
- Communicate your value back to the customer’s world. Dive into value messaging at this point once you have earned their trust.
This storytelling method is not a “show up and throw up” about your product approach! You break through to customers by showing them how you can be a strategic partner to get them where they need to go.
Tell them the story of how you’ll help guide them along the way and show them that they are the hero of their journey after all.
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