11:07 PM

Gobbledygook: I say potatoe, your content says Best-of-Breed Complex Carb


Is Your Content the Victim of Gobbledygook?
I’ll never forget when my CMO told me to use my “weekend voice” as we reviewed messaging for an upcoming product launch. My response that I had considered my Small town Redneck mouth wasn’t nearly as funny to him as it was to me, so I quickly added that I would incorporate my ‘weekend voice’.
 In Search of the Messaging Silver Bullet
Messaging and positioning isn't easy to do well. It's expected to be compelling, differentiated and unique. Well, in truth - these elements don't magically combine in our minds and then effortlessly roll off our tongue. Like watching the gold medal Olympic gymnast land a back flip and split jump on the balance beam  –  landing gold medal messaging is the result of hard work that requires practice, hard work and balance of several elements: 
  • Market trends
  • Competitive Forces
  • Industry and Economic factors, including macro and micro economic elements and even government legislation
  • Business Goals
  • Buyer Motivations and Points of Pain
  • Product / Service capabilities       
Especially for technology marketers, messaging is often a translation function that takes the product input points, like tech specs, and translates them into something everyone else can understand and want. The example I frequently use, if a developer were to promote a Sushi restaurant, the positioning statement may read, “We Sell Cold Dead Fish” 
 Sure, this is factually correct; it’s just not appetizing. On the flip side, the Onion demonstrates “step too far”
So how do you develop messaging that can create compelling content?
1. Do your homework.
Yep, that's right. Homework. Most people instantly jump to SWOT analysis. Here it comes - I do not like SWOT analysis because I've rarely seen it done well. Too frequently the analysis element is missing and it’s a laundry list of facts, claims and statements that do not provide meaningful information. I also find it too ambiguous that doesn’t provide structure for the analysis. However, if it is the outcome of a PEST or PESTEL evaluation, it can provide meaningful analysis. I always start with PEST/PESTEL.
It's probably obvious, I’m a big fan of Porter’s Value Chain and methodologies. Why? Because it works. 
For generating compelling messaging, I find that using Porter’s 5-Forces and PEST analysis is a good way to start to identify the factors noted above that establish the basis for messaging based on industry, market, buyer and economic factors.
 You can read the description for PESTLE here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PEST_analysis  Succinctly PESTLE provides structure around influential factors related to
  • Political
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Technological
  • Environmental
  • Legal
2. Know Your Buyer
From here, an understanding of the buyers and motivations can identify the points of pain, business issues and related factors that will guide the overall message development. Knowing where your solution impacts the buyer's business process to provide value is essential.
 3. Write It Up
There is absolutely an element of trial-and-error in writing messaging. A good way to test the message is to review with existing customers and ask my two favorite questions:
           So What?   Who Cares? 
If the message does not clearly answer these two questions, then I'd recommend taking a closer lok at step 1 and 2. 
4. Test the Message
The old adage holds true, “would your grandmother understand?” That's great if she does but I strongly recommend putting those analyst dollars to use. Reach out to the key analyst groups you work with and have them review and comment. In this process, understand when and why they would short list your offering and when they wouldn't. In my experience, they’ve provided actionable feedback and helped steer positioning towards areas of strengths and real differentiation. Speaking of differentiation, always check competitive websites to ensure you’re not ‘me-too’.
5. Evaluate the Voice and Language
So now you have some candidates. While the message may be on point, the choice of language, voice and words are also significant. This is where David Scott Meerman can help with his Gobbledygook Grader.
According to Wikipedia , Gobbledygook is
"The term gobbledygook was coined by former US Representative Maury Maverick, then working for the Smaller War Plants Corporation, in a March 30, 1944 memo banning "gobbledygook language". It was a reaction to his frustration with the "convoluted language of bureaucrats.” He made up the word as an onomatopoeic imitation of a turkey's gobble."
So what does that have to do with messaging and marketing? Meerman’s Gobbledygook Manifesto on  slideshare provides an overview.
4. Try the Goobledygook Grader
Meerman helps the technology and messaging marketer with a Goobledygook Grader, an online tool developed jointly with HubSpot that looks for buzz corporatese words. Meerman’s slideshare on the topic provides background and the Grader online tool provides an honest evaluation of your copy based on buzz and overused hype term.

Other sources for language and terms is non other than Seth Godin. His Business Cliché overview is time well spent.
Summary
Like the Gymnast – Messaging isn’t a simple practice. It takes considerable work and practice to get right. The approach I recommend:
  1. Porters 5-Forces
  2. PESTEL Analysis
  3. Competitive Review
  4. Customer / analyst review
  5. Goobledygook Grader.
What tools or methodologies do you use? Are there tools out there that you rely upon? Send me a message or post a comment below.

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