Just got back from the Cambridge office, where we held a one-day workshop on crafting a sharper value proposition. It’s one of several dimensions of our "messaging review" methodology.

Working with hundreds of technology vendors, in thousands of interactions per year, you quickly identify the common pitfalls. Over time, Forresterites have developed a rigorous way of breaking down marketing messages into their components, evaluating them, and helping reconstruct them into something better. (There’s even a nifty diagram that displays the strengths and weaknesses of the current messaging.)

Beyond the more scientific process of evaluating marketing messages, there’s also the "Eureka!" or "Aha!" moment that’s harder to quantify. This threshold is easy to describe: the moment when you start thinking in your target customer’s terms, not your own.

Initially, it’s hard to do–almost like learning a new language. Just as you need to learn a new syntax and vocabulary for a new language, marketing people have to learn about roles, business problems, evaluation and adoption processes, and other details. Fitting the technology into these sociological realities is the next step.

You still need to be able to distill the capabilities and prospective benefits of the technology into pithy, compelling messages. However, you first need to speak the customer’s language, and then translate these product marketing statements into that other language. This process imposes new challenges, but it’s definitely worth the effort.