Janke Team Interview Series: Beth Moore
Specialty: Brand Positioning / Messaging
Team member since: 2012
As we kick off our team interview series, it’s not everyday that you run into someone who lives and works on a ranch, working with ex-racehorses, while working with some of the top Silicon Valley businesses… but this is the day in the life of Beth Moore.
Beth’s experience, perspective, clarity, and counsel on brand development, positioning, and messaging has been a valuable guiding light for clients over the years. We’re proud to introduce her as a messaging and copywriting go-to.
With three decades of direct sales, corporate marketing, copy writing, and brand development experience, Beth’s extensive experience in technology with companies ranging from startups to global leaders gives her unique insight into how to move a company to the next step of its journey. From developing brand messaging and positioning to executing it across websites, collateral, PR and event assets, Beth helps companies communicate effectively with their various audiences. She describes herself as:
- “Mom” of ex-racehorses
- A movie and TV illiterate
- Ex-marathon runner
- Wildflower and wildlife watcher
Q: Being in the business of Brand Development for nearly 30 years, what would you tell readers is the most important part about their messaging today?
A: They have to have some. The company’s voice and message carries more than half the brand, with the visual identity carrying the other half. Messaging is all about selling—selling the company as one that a person would want to do business with, selling specific products, a new concept—whatever it is that brings customers in the door. Companies must be able to quickly and concisely say what they do, why customers need to explore what they have to offer, and what makes them truly different and better than other solutions. And messages must be consistently and well executed. It’s so basic, but I find most clients are more concerned with catchy headlines and complicated features than describing how they solve a customer’s problem.
Q: When it comes to clients whom are concerned about getting the best SEO out of their website, what would you tell them regarding content?
A: I would defer to an SEO expert. This is only my opinion, but I think it’s more important to have good site organization and useful information that conveys the company’s brand and product(s) attributes. I see so many sites that have blog upon blog article that says the same things that everyone else says. I don’t necessarily think that more content is better.
“A company that doesn’t take itself too seriously is so refreshing.”
Q: Tell us a little about your phrase “I love it when a company is so… themselves.”
A: This relates back to messaging and voice. Every now and then, you come across a company that has a terrific personality and product/service. A company that doesn’t take itself too seriously is so refreshing. Their existing customers love doing business with them, they solve real problems, and they’re just nice to work with. They know who they are, who their customers are and they understand them. That’s authenticity, and it makes it so much easier to develop strong messaging that differentiates them from competitors. One of my favorite examples was when UPS refreshed its brand identity a few years ago. Their color palette —brown—and logo weren’t particularly interesting. But they embraced it and played with it. They did a funny ad with a brown truck with flames painted on it. They called themselves “Brown.” I was in a store when the UPS guy delivered packages and everyone turned around and said “It’s Brown!” That’s a brand refresh that clearly got people’s attention, made them laugh, and made the company likeable. They were truly themselves and they were brilliant.
Q: Any words of wisdom for clients who say they will generate their own messaging… or why they should invest?
A: Well, they could do their own. But these are the reasons that they should engage a pro to do it instead:
- They’re too close to their business. It’s very difficult to be objective and see themselves as someone from the outside sees them. For example, almost every time I ask a technology company who their competitors are, they insist that no one does exactly what they do. But customers who hear about them are going to compare them to other companies that they perceive do the same thing. Messaging done by a pro includes an audit of potential competitors and how they’re marketing their products so that the client doesn’t end up sounding just like everyone else.
- They need a strategy. Messaging is part of an overall brand strategy. It has to include the enduring attributes of the company to build brand while being flexible enough to accommodate new products, services, etc. It has to work across channels and audiences at the upper levels and then provide the specifics needed to support different channels or products. It also has to understand where the company is going, so as not to box it into trendy terms or industry definitions that either change suddenly or become meaningless.
- They usually lack sufficient bandwidth. Most clients simply don’t have the time to devote to developing messaging, yet it is the verbal foundation of a brand. In addition, if they don’t have a proven process and do it often, it can be an overwhelming task. A pro knows exactly what’s needed, can provide options, and efficiently deliver a comprehensive result.
- They fall for the cliché. Clients tend to think too small and too narrowly. For example, a list of prioritized product features and benefits is not messaging. Taglines are not messaging—and in many cases, they are poorly conceived and short-lived. Messaging is not the catchy phrase or the cliché. Those ad headlines and catchy phrases come from creatively executing the brand messages and strategy. Messaging is the underlying platform that describes the company, its uniqueness, and attributes of its offerings.
- They are too fearful to push the limit. It’s a rare CEO or CMO who has the courage to truly go out in the market and be different, yet that’s the whole point of marketing. Most companies’ messaging ends up staying so “safe” that it fails to move the company forward. The agency team can propose and provide solid rationale behind their recommendations—so the client doesn’t feel as if they are just jumping off a cliff!
Q: What has been one of the more memorable projects you have worked on?
A: A recent project was actually a small website project for a local pest control and wildlife management company. It is memorable because the owner took all of our suggestions and the site worked exactly as we knew it could. He previously had web pages with Home Advisors and Angie’s List, and he was paying for Google adwords. But he wasn’t getting good customer leads. He was getting loads of calls from SEO companies trying to sell him on monthly SEO services. My client really didn’t want to spend the money for a new website, but it made no sense to spend on SEO if he didn’t have his own site. Plus, the SEO firms quoted high monthly charges wanted with no specific deliverables. I developed messaging for his company, wrote a new site with appropriate content and search terms, and wrote a couple of blog articles.
What sets him apart is his huge knowledge of—and expertise in—animal and insect behavior. He educates his customers so that they can make good decisions. After we had a conversation about the health risks of rodents and other critters, I suggested making a chart of the animals that he is called to remove and the diseases that they carry. I found reputable source information from the CDC, put together the chart and we incorporated it into his new WordPress site. We turned on the site and all was good. About 6 months later, he called me and said that his business was growing so quickly that he had to hire another person, and that chart had sparked the majority of calls from new customers. He was spending far less money on marketing. Spending on the new site actually reduced his costs. The site content did what we designed it to do—sell him as the expert and introduce him to new customers.
Q: How has your collaboration with Janke helped clients over the years?
A: I think it opens their eyes to the importance of having a strategy for their words and messages that’s appropriate to the stage of company growth that they are in and where they want to grow next. I hope it emboldens them to step out and be different in their market spaces.
Q: Free-time, unrelated to work, what do you enjoy doing?
A: Schooling horses and helping racehorses transition to their next careers.