Monday, November 5, 2012

The Beer and Pizza Messaging Test

Welcome to my first blog post.  I know folks do this every day but with a busy family and a crazy work schedule, carving time to write is pretty difficult most days.  With daylight savings time, getting an extra hour got me thinking about starting a new habit.  Regardless of the reasoning, the goal of my blog is to share some of my insane thoughts about marketing and project management. 

You will not find academic theories in this blog but a blue color view of marketing and project management concepts and how to make stuff happen.  I have simple thoughts about getting the message out and have spent the last 10 plus years in the back ground making products successful, enabling sales teams and working with project based organizations to improve process and to implement best practices.  I have not done everything right but have had more success than failure.  I have learned from my failures to create some interesting views on communicating complicated solutions in clear and simple ways.  Simple is better or at least in my opinion. 

One of the first ideas is a concept I call beer and pizza messaging.  Many of my friends keep telling me to get a better name but I kind of like it.  And, no we are not selling beer and pizza. I want you to think about a Friday night after a rough week and everyone is sitting around the dinner table just relaxing and shooting the breeze.  Adults, parents, friends and kids are all unwinding after a hard week of work and school.  And the pizza shows up.  Think about the excitement in the room at that moment; the scrambling of everyone for plates and the positioning for the first piece. The warm smell of melted cheese and the pizza box smell.  The cardboard takes on a unique aroma of tomato sauce and basil.  You can just smell it as you think about it.  Now add the cool refreshing taste of beer contrasting the hot slice of pizza expanding over the plate.  There is nothing that compliments pizza better than an ice cold beer; dark, light, import or domestic, it just does not matter.  They just work together to make something bigger than the individual components.  Close your eyes.  You can put yourself there!

Let me ask you one question.  Does your marketing message give you this feeling or any feeling for that matter?  Does it hit a nerve, include any emotion, or even connect with the impact to the customer.  Most business messaging is sterile and boring.  (Boring with a capital boring)  Yet, most buying happens when a customer has hit the tipping point where they have had enough of a bad situation.  The impact has made the status quo increasingly painful and worth changing.  Think about your own major purchases.  When you replace a car, heater, or air conditioner, you have hit the point where an action has to happen.  Whether it is increasing costs, reliability, or an unacceptable situation, something has to change and you will find the money to change it. 

So I ask again, does your messaging target the tipping point or does it just talk about the boring features with some perceived value generated from an internal committee.  Connecting to this level of pain and emotion requires a new approach to messaging; an outside in approach.  I have worked with a number of companies and most think they understand the customer problems better than the customer.  They fall into the trap of listening to feature requests to incrementally move products forward and they fail to connect with the customer to understand the real problem.  The problem (yes I said the P word) that causes people to lose sleep, get fired or go out of business.  And since when has the word “problem” become taboo?  If it isn't a problem, why change it. 

So, look at your messaging and take the beer and pizza test.  Does your message pass or fail?  Are you connecting with the customer pain to push them over the edge?  Will they scramble to find the money to purchase like when the pizza boxes first opens with folks jockeying for the first piece.  Regardless of it does or does not, you understand the value of the beer and pizza test. 

We must first understand and admit to a problem and have the courage to change.