When Too Much Info Is Too Much
Marketing Mistake: Overloading your prospective customers with too much information
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your innovative solutions and services. You’ve spent years developing great technology and effective digital strategies and you want to show them off—that’s natural.
Unfortunately, too many marketing and technology companies today feel the need to bombard prospective customers with a detailed, lengthy list of tactics, features, and benefits—and their supporting proof points that provide highly detailed proof of their product/service’s superiority in technology.
Just look at the websites of most marketing and technology companies today. The home page alone is often bogged down with paragraphs of detailed discussion and industry buzzwords. The “solutions” and/or “services” pages are far worse—often including long lists of bulleted features and benefits touting the detailed technology innovations, solutions infrastructures, digital strategies, and service methodologies. Detailed product/service specifications are not why a company is going to contact you to establish a potential new relationship. It’s the strategic messaging that counts most (and first)—and all of those strategic and technical specifications are serving to dilute your strategic messages.
Technical Details In The Sales Cycle
In addition, your marketing strategies and technical specifications—while important to make available later in the sales cycle—are not going to get you the attention and mindshare of the strategic business decision makers today. There’s a time and a place for details—but it’s not something that should appear in the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey when prospective customers are trying simply to educate and inform themselves on potential solutions to their key business challenges.
Marketing and technology purchase decisions are no longer made solely by marketers and technologists. As more and more business and operational team members become involved in the decision process for marketing and technology purchases, it becomes even more important not to overload your marketing materials, presentations, and websites with too much information.
Steps To Avoid This Mistake
Edit. Edit. Edit.
Take your current marketing materials and edit their content down now (especially website home pages, which should be clean and succinct).
Map your customer sales cycle.
Map your customer buying journey to define how information should be best communicated to prospective customers. When a potential new customer first comes to your website, or enters your trade show booth, or receives your email for the first time, they need to understand four things first and foremost—and they need to understand these things promptly (or you risk losing their interest and attention):
Who are you? (your identity and brand)
What do you do? (your primary offering and the primary challenge that it helps address)
For whom do you do it? (your primary target customer audience)
What makes you uniquely qualified to address this primary challenge? (your differentiation)
Tell your story—in a series of layers.
Once the prospective customers have understood the four key elements discussed above, you must provide additional secondary messaging that further enhances your differentiation and supports your claims—including proof points. It’s important that you prioritize this information into logical groups in the order the information should be revealed in. Think of your communications strategy as an onion—where the outer layer is your primary messaging, and each inner layer is an additional set of messaging that further tells your story.
Sales messaging should be communicated in layers, allowing the customer to select and advance themselves in their knowledge gathering as they see fit. This will serve to avoid bombarding them with too much information. And that’s key, as too much information too soon in their research and investigation can not only dilute your key messaging, but can also cause potential customers to become overwhelmed, confused, or otherwise make wrong assumptions and conclusions that hurt your sales opportunity. See the sample messaging map framework diagram on page 4 for an example of how sales messaging is organized in these layers.
Too much information can hurt you
Strategic business decision makers may not have the technical knowledge to understand the value of all those technical features and specifications.
Technical details tend to include much of the common “me-too” language discussed earlier, serving to dilute the impact of your sales messaging while reducing your ability to establish a truly differentiated image among the business decision makers.
The heavy technical details may serve to intimidate and/or frustrate the non-technical business decision makers who are anxious to understand your true value proposition but do not have the time or energy to try to distill it from your lengthy technical discussions. Or, they may otherwise make inaccurate or unintended conclusions about your company and/or offerings.
Most importantly, the messaging you need technologists to understand may be significantly different than the business messaging you need operations and/or business management leaders to recognize and understand.
The bottom line is: too much information provided too early in the sales cycle can have the exact opposite, negative impact on your ability to gain the mindshare you need to keep you on that short list of vendors.