Everyday, I scour through client presentations. And everyday, I notice the repetition of information across and among industries. Many companies within many sectors are spouting the same information in the same perspective as their competitors. How do they expect to create a real differentiation between themselves and other brands? In her book, Everybody Writes, Ann Handley addresses this lack of distinctive viewpoints and copycat writing style.
The consideration goes beyond website content to every piece of your marketing campaigns – from the brochures your salesforce delivers to potential customers and clients to the presentation messaging company representatives use in meetings and at conferences. To illustrate this point, however, let’s evaluate the website copy of 4 top technology brands: Apple, Microsoft, LG, and Intel.
Establishing Your Voice
All 4 of the aforementioned technology companies market their laptop devices. Below, I’ve included text from 2 of the brands’ online product descriptions. Can you distinguish what company wrote which piece of content?
It’s faster and more powerful than before, yet remarkably thinner and lighter. It has the brightest, most colorful [insert product name here] notebook display ever. And it introduces the [insert product feature name] — a Multi-Touch enabled strip of glass built into the keyboard for instant access to the tools you want, right when you want them. The new [insert product name here] is built on groundbreaking ideas. And it’s ready for yours.
[insert product name here], with its strikingly large and incredibly thin 28” PixelSense™ Display, lets you visualize ideas as you paint, edit, and design. Then watch those ideas leap off the screen with 13.5 million pixels of true-to-life color and clarity.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the first example is from Apple’s explanation of the MacBook Pro, while the second example is from Microsoft’s description of the Microsoft Surface. Although somewhat similar overall, each piece of copy has distinguishing elements. For example, Apple’s uses more adjectives – ranging from “powerful” and “faster” to “colorful” and “groundbreaking.” Microsoft, on the other hand, uses strong verbs like leap and visualize.
Promoting Your Unique Value
As is the case for much of the client content I assess, the problem lies in the positioning. Brands struggle to say something different; to highlight what sets them apart from the rest; to demonstrate how and why the differences matter for the customer or consumer. Below, I’ve added 2 examples from the technology companies outlined above. Could you pinpoint the words that belong to the brand?
The [insert product name here] 15.6-inch laptop offers impressive screen size without the weight. With gram’s innovative design and construction, this laptop weighs less than 2.5 pounds, so it’s easy to take anywhere.
[insert product name here] powered by [insert product name here] processors offer responsive multitasking on the web and off, so you can move seamlessly between sending email, updating social media, streaming HD video, and playing your favorite games with less load time.
The first example is actually from LG and the second example is from Intel. The primary difference between both brands’ copy lies in the perspective. LG focused primarily on the product, while Intel emphasized the consumer through the use of second-person language. They communicated their value in an audience-focused manner. Your should always deliver your presentation messaging through the lens of your typical audience member.
Offering Valuable Assets
To fully capitalize on the opportunity a public speaking event provides, a presenter will probably present helpful materials as part of his or her presentation messaging. Among the 4 technology companies, LG offers the most valuable assets. The section of the website about the LG gram 15.6” ultra-lightweight touchscreen laptop covers the specific product features, includes the chance to download the full spec sheet, and promotes the support line information as a core detail on the page. In your presentations, make a point of separating your company from your competitors by contributing more valuable information and giving more actionable insights.
Every day, you have the choice to look and sound exactly like the other players in your space or to break free of the mold. Don’t you want to stand out? Don’t you want to appeal to your audience in a way that no other company in your industry has ever tried? I suggest that you skip the jargon and vague business terms in your presentation messaging. Review, and I mean really review, your slide text. Ask yourself, “Am I writing with a voice and in a style that mirrors my competitors?” If your answer to that question is “yes,” start by instituting a perspective, marketing a compelling value add, and relaying supportive documents and resources.