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Marketing Communications 101: Addressing Your Customer's Pain
By Jim Schakenbach, Managing Partner, SCT Group, Inc.

It's no secret that one of the keys to a successful product or service introduction is the right message directed to the right market.

It's no secret that one of the keys to a successful product or service introduction is the right message directed to the right market. It's a concept that's simple and fundamental. Where the issue starts to get fuzzy is how to develop and deliver the message.

Unfortunately, the advertising, PR, and marketing industries are chock full of self-inflicted language-mangling, happily using terms like "(fill in the blank)-centric marketing" and "value proposition matrices". But if you can take a deep breath and brush aside the puffery and lazy linguistics, you can get to the heart of the matter, and that is the need, first and foremost, to address the customer's pain. Remarkable as it may seem, many companies never do this. They are so busy developing "brand awareness" and "domain dominance" that they never take the time to actually tell the customer how they're going to take away his or her pain.

Companies bringing a new technology to market are particularly guilty of this. Often they are so focused on developing "next-generation solutions" that they lose sight of what it is about their product or service that the potential customer might find useful. It reminds me of the doctor who goes to great lengths to discuss the efficacy of a new drug, how it will dramatically reduce symptoms, speed healing, and generally return the patient to remarkable health in no time, only to have the patient finally interrupt to say "but, doc, I can't swallow pills".

By addressing your customer's pain you will save time, money, and effort. It will enable you to focus your marketing efforts on features that are of value to your potential customer, not your perception of what is important. For example, if your product is twice as fast as the competitions', but the customers are really concerned about size, all efforts directed at touting speed are wasted. You need to talk about size, regardless of how proud you are of your product's speed. Your customer's pain dictates the message. Period.



The SCT Group Inc. is a marketing communications agency specializing in science, communications, and technology accounts. For more information, please visit our web site at http://www.sctgrp.com/ or call 508.919.2092. Technology Spoken Here.

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