Many growing companies spend a lot of time honing the brand. But by focusing solely on their identity, they miss the most important thing: what matters to customers.

I noticed this when I was working on the marketing team at Google. Often, the technical teams would use niche product marketing speak when talking to small businesses. But those companies didn't have an in-depth understanding of the products. They didn't know the lingo. Most just wanted to understand how Google could help grow their business.

When you don't speak to customers on their terms, you miss an opportunity to connect. And if your message doesn't connect, you don't sell your product.

That's why it's crucial to get into your customer's head and ask the right questions. Who are they? What do they care about? Once you know the answers, you can start to figure out the messages that resonate best.

Here's how to find out what works for your customers:

Crafting the right messaging requires a lot of testing.

Ironically, what's most important to your company usually doesn't matter to your customers. But finding what your customers care about requires significant testing.

You can begin by asking, "What is the problem? And what is the simplest way to solve that problem?" Then, brainstorm 10 to 20 messages you think will resonate with your customers. Pick two to three options and come up with various strategies for communicating each one: videos, photos, blog posts, customer testimonials. From there, you can run tests to see which message and method your customers connect with.

For instance, one of our core values at ThirdLove is giving back to communities. Many of our customers also care deeply about charitable causes, so our marketing team shares our donation stories. Sometimes we show a video compilation of women who have received our donations or highlight the amount of money we've donated to our non-profit partners. We also share stories about the organizations we partner with.

The point is, with so many messaging options, you have to try out different methods to find what works best. Usually, one option will jump out as the clear winner. The results may surprise you, but that's why it's so important to test. It's the only way to discover which messaging matters most.

Once you learn what your customers care about, your messages will have greater scale.

Keep in mind that too many messages can become confusing for your customers. They get jumbled up, and it becomes difficult to keep them all straight.

No one should have to think long and hard to remember what your company stands for.

That's why you don't need to create 10 different marketing messages to reach 10 different segments of your audience. In all likelihood, most of your audience will care about many of the same things. Focus on the overlap, and then look for multiple ways to communicate it.

Over time, we learned that our customers care about fit issues, like poking underwire or slipping straps. So we communicate these problems (and our solutions) on social media. Sometimes customers will contact us about certain fit issues, and we'll design short video clips on how to solve them.

If you zone in on a widely-applicable problem and solution, odds are it's going to resonate with the majority of your customers.

Continue testing as you scale.

Messages come across differently on different mediums. What works on one platform may fall flat on another.

Recently, our team realized two Facebook ads work really well for us. One of them uses customer testimonials--women talking about our bras and why they like them so much. The other links to an article about the history of the company and why I founded it.

When we began shooting our first TV commercial, we decided to use those two formats. The customer testimonial version performed well, but the version with me sharing the history of ThirdLove didn't do well. It didn't have the same engagement rate and didn't drive traffic to our website.

It was a good learning experience to realize what translates well to TV. Not every message you try is going to work, so you have to be flexible and open-minded, especially when moving your message to a new medium.

And while your message is important, it isn't everything. Obviously, you need a product or service that resonates with a lot of people, because without that, your message doesn't really matter.

If you already have a great product, the next step is communicating its unique qualities and benefits. Once you can do that, you'll surely see a difference in your marketing.

Published on: Sep 6, 2018