The Secrets to Writing a Knockout Product Tagline

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It's time for some straight-talking. What do you actually do and what are you offering your audience? By Brandy Alexander-Wimberly (Digital Strategist, Interrupt)

Do your company talking points make it clear to your target audience exactly how your product or service can benefit them most? Is it concise and compelling? Or are you using overused jargon and staying within a “business speak” comfort zone?

Because nothing is more of a turn-off to prospective customers than a company that relies on marketing lingo to convey its message.

Buzzwords or BS?

As a digital marketing professional I often get caught up in software pitches with a rep using so many buzzwords that it seems like they’re pulling quotes straight from one of my all time favorite word generators, the web economy bullshit generator.

A few quick clicks will generate nonsensical combinations like “optimize enterprise ROI” or “transform best-of-breed paradigms” and “revolutionize innovative deliverables.” What?

Some of you may be reading this thinking, “I’ve been in a meeting when someone has actually said these things.” Fair enough, but if you’re positioning a new product to professionals, consider focusing your talking points (and especially your company tagline) to clearly articulate the true benefits of your platform.

You’ve heard of lean product development, let’s simplify that concept and talk about lean product taglines.

Lean Product Taglines: Hits and Misses

As examples, I decided to select a few startups and well established platforms that have both “jargon taglines” and well crafted and easily understood taglines. Company names have been removed in order to protect the identity of marketing violators.

Let’s focus on one of the most complicated industries in the tech space, digital advertising. It’s a veritable primordial soup of companies and platforms that white label other companies who buy data from still other companies and offer services that claim to be better and more powerful than the competition. Most without a clear differentiator.

Here’s a quick list of some hits and misses.

Tagline Miss: “A global technology company that’s empowering markets with an extensible, open platform to unleash the power of goal-based marketing at scale.”

You lost me at scale because I don’t totally understand what you’re scaling.

Why not get into the logistics, for example. “We make digital marketing easier to manage with the industry's most powerful dashboard.”

Global, open, goal-based and scale are all assumed for an enterprise platform.

Tagline Hit: “Our personalized approach helps companies turn individual customer preferences into sales by predicting the items each customer will find most delightful, and curating experiences that help them discover those products. Done well, these perfect messages result in “wow” moments for shoppers.”

Great, I get it. Sign me up.

Tagline Miss: “Context-aware marketing technology for a mobile world.”

Sometimes less is… less. This could be 50 different companies. What makes your platform unique? Tell me what your software actually does, intrigue me!

Tagline Hit: “Easily gain a single view across separately owned data silos.”  

My team could use that. This tagline is intriguing enough and speaks directly to my needs, I’m going to connect with them.

Top Tips for Writing a Tagline Hit

So how do you get a hit? Here are a few quick tips that will help you clear away the clutter and focus on what makes your company or product relevant to your customers.

  1. Don’t use the same talking points to prospective customers that you give to your investors about your company.
  2. Here’s a litmus test: Tell a fresh prospect your tagline and have them guess what your company actually does. If there’s confusion, consider going back to the drawing board.
  3. What do you actually do? A tagline should tell your audience the net benefit of utilizing your company to do business. Period.

Founders may try to focus too much on business speak, especially in the enterprise marketing space. Being straightforward with what your product can do for your key audience will help you grow.

Simplifying your most complex challenges will translate best with your skilled audience. If you’re positioning an enterprise platform for a professional use case, business speak will only muddy an already complex selling process.

What are the best and worst taglines you’ve read?

Photo credit: Coffee Lover via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Brandy Alexander-Wimberly is an independent writer, digital strategist and part of the Interrupt team, a channel marketing agency for the building products and home automation space. She is also the founder of Silicon Rustbelt, a news source covering the startup scene in the upper Midwest. Follow her at @siliconrustbelt.