Let’s say you’re a consultant selling your services. You’re putting together your new website, and you’ve got some copy written.
You’ve been concentrating on listing the things you do, showing off the results of what you accomplished.
But the word isn’t spreading, and you know your offering isn’t standing out from the crowd. Too many people offering the same services as you.
Let’s say you’ve got a product idea. You’ve created a tool you use in your own practice, and you love how it works.
Now comes the time to announce your creation, and so you put together a site listing its features. You even went further and you’ve positioned it by audience. “A tool to help [audience] with [problem]”.
But, the needle isn’t moving on sales.
So Far, You’ve Used “What” and “For Whom”
If in your messaging you’re focusing on your features, you’re addressing the “what” of your product. As we’ve covered previously, features can help attract the person toward your product, but features can definitely push people away (“Am I going to have to learn all these things? I just want to [get this job done]”).
If in your messaging you’re mentioning your audience, you’re using “for whom” in your positioning. “For whom” definitely helps spread the word. But it’s likely that your product isn’t that special for that audience.
You may have sharp audience matching and some nice features, but people in your audience might not always be on the lookout for that thing you’re selling.
And, your product might be serving an audience that’s way bigger than a single label can define.
“When” cuts down to the core of the job your buyers are hiring your product to do. It puts the focus away from the features (the “what”) or the audience (“for whom”) and squarely on the situation preceding them coming to you.
“When” focuses straight on the struggle they’re currently experiencing.
Here’s a template for a “when” statement:
“When I’m [struggle being experienced], I look to [place where I start my search] so I can [outcome desired].”
And here’s an example:
“When I’m realizing I won’t have the budget to develop a map from scratch on my client’s website, I look to ready-made WordPress plugins that matches the style I’m proposing so I can get to the more important parts of the project done first.”
Knowing that “when”, you’d then confidently craft your plugin’s website to emphasize a variety of map layouts, some how-tos on adapting the look, and to demonstrate the difference in time saved to achieve the same result if coded by hand vs. using your tool.
No mention of “for web designers”, no long list of features. You understand the situation that just preceded their visit (having just realized I won’t have the budget to develop a map from scratch), and you cater to that problem head on.
Catching A Second “When”
At that point, having had a good handle on the main struggle, you can catch the subsequent struggle that was felt on your own plugin page.
“When I’m not finding a suitable plugin that will get the design I’m looking for, I look to people with expertise in map coding so that I can concentrate on the other parts of the project that I’m better suited to lead”.
From your plugin page, you could advertise your services, right in context, communicating in more vivid details the feeling that they would be experiencing, capitalizing on the trust you’ve sowed by teaching them how to achieve other map designs, and showing your availability right on the site (thereby reducing anxieties in hiring you). You could even provide cost guidance right there with some pricing options.
So the next time you’re thinking of packaging your services or putting a product onto the web or launching a newsletter, consider crafting your messaging through the lens of “when”. That lens will give you clarity, confidence, and you’ll come out distinct from the rest of the crowd.
Psst: Want help hashing out some marketing copy or a landing page design? Shoot me an email with your idea. I’d be glad to help.