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Corporate messaging for B2B Technology Organisations

by Bob Dearsley on 03/04/17 11:46

Keep your corporate message clear, concise and easily understandable. Do it the Ronseal way!

 “What is it that your B2B Technology organisation does?” On the surface this should be a simple and innocuous opening question that provides an opportunity to showcase your company and flag the great work you do. Yet, although it appears to be straight-forward, many Senior Executives and Board Directors of B2B technology organisations have fallen victim to this deceptively difficult question.

In practice it is not easy for Senior Executives and Board Directors to agree on a concise explanation of what your company does. Many senior business figures require a lengthy presentation with the support of numerous PowerPoint slides, and still manage to leave the audience confused about what their B2B technology organisation actually does.

Your business proposition has to be easy to understand and digest – just like the Ronseal advert, you should ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’!

The ‘Ronseal’ approach – based upon the series of television advertisements by the woodstain and wood-dye manufacturer Ronseal, initiated in 1994 and still being broadcast today – is to create a ‘short and concise’ corporate description. The best way of achieving this is to get the key stakeholders in the business together, (e.g. the Board of Directors or the Senior Management Team, Sales Team, Marketing Team etc) and get everyone to attempt to write down what they believe the organisation actually does. Inevitably, if there are six people in the room there will be six different views of how to describe the business. These different opinions are the starting point for debating and determining precisely what your organisation does. You need a strong moderator – better an independent moderator than a ‘HIPPO’ (highest paid person in the room) – otherwise there is a tendency for the Hippo to just take their view and ignore the others.

It may sound reasonably easy, however this exercise can take a lot of discussion and input.

This is the basis for a clear set of corporate messaging for B2B Technology organisations – or any business for that matter. These initial ideas should then be condensed into an agreed 25-35 word corporate descriptor. From the 25-35 words it can be reduced down to a 10-word descriptor and finally, and perhaps most importantly, a concise three-word descriptor.

Once each of these corporate descriptions is agreed upon, then it can be used across all PR, Marketing and Sales communications to clearly outline what the company does, who the target audience is and why the company is different.

Why are three words important?

This is the typical maximum description that your target media publications will use to describe a company, therefore it is vital that you determine how your organisation is described. If you’re unable to articulate what your company does, the media and other commentators will make up their own view for you – and that can lead to inaccuracies, ambiguity and confusion!

We recommend that all organisations go through the ‘Ronseal’ treatment – ideally every year, but definitely every few years. This is critically important for a start-up or if the company has gone through a corporate change in some way, such as an acquisition or merger. This simple exercise can invigorate the thinking in an established business that may have become stagnant in its messaging.

Key things to keep in mind are:

- Think about your business and what you do as a whole.

- Do not use jargon – you need to be able to simply and clearly explain what your organisation does.

- Imagine you are describing what you do to an intelligent 12 year old – the one at the back of the class who always has their hand up and appears to know everything. Don’t be patronising, but don’t expect your audience to know and understand technical, complicated terminology or industry acronyms.

Once a corporate descriptor has been agreed you will find that whether in a sales meeting or during a press interview, your audience will find your proposition easier to understand. No matter what sector or industry you are in, being able to explain your business proposition in a clear and concise fashion is an important step to success.

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This post was written by Bob Dearsley

Tech marketing director, started a B2B Tech PR shop 20+ years ago - PR veteran, Inbound Marketing disciple, SEO fanatic... Golf & Chelsea fan

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