How To Boost Product Sales Through Clearer Messaging (Language Market Fit)

Neya Abdi
February 23, 2024
min read
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The average adult knows about 46,000 words.

That’s about four sextillion potential thoughts that your customers are having about everything from their fitness to their job to their children to their goals.

Your product likely helps support one of these important areas of their life.

Do you know which combination of words will get their attention?

This is where speaking their language helps. 

What is language-market fit and how is it different from traditional positioning?

The best way to explain language-market fit to you is to give you a real example. 

When our co-founders, Kate and Fiona, were building Heatseeker, they were excited about creating a movement around scalable, easy-to-use market experiments.

They tested five different messaging options as five separate companies: 

  • “Empower your clients with competitive clarity”
  • “Diversity and innovate revenue streams for your clients”
  • “Ensure market-perfect value propositions for your clients”
  • “Uncover and address hidden potential for your clients”
  • “Maximize brand impact for your clients”

So they were essentially “eating their own dog food” and “heat-seeking” Heatseeker (super meta, right?)

Based on their experiment, “Empower your clients with competitive clarity” generated the most leads at the lowest cost per lead, so they moved forward with that feature. That’s what was on our target audience’s mind and most likely to get them to stop and check things out. 

Language market fit means entering the conversation that's already happening in your customer's mind, and then adopting the words they use. It’s about humility, service, and a willingness to listen and find out what people need right now, so you can bring them along for the bigger ride once you've built some trust.

But how do you figure out what people need right now? You embrace disciplined curiosity. You ask questions. And you run a LOT of tests. 

This may sound like traditional positioning, but it’s a bit different. 

Positioning is about finding a spot in the mind of the market, but the audience is larger and the budget is bigger. It requires more market research, surveying, and a longer-term commitment for your product and marketing strategy.

Language-market fit is hyper-fast, nimble, and granular. But it’s only possible today thanks to digital technology. There’s no human-based way to understand all the different conceptual relationships. 

Until recently, that is. 

Data about real customer behavior is at our fingertips. Today, 66% of the world’s population is online and 62% of it is on social media

In the past, it would be expensive to conduct research about the specific use case of one niche segment. The revenue wouldn’t justify the spend. Now, online user behavior and data analytics tools make it easier to find the “riches in the niches” and the language and word associations that different audiences use. 

B2B and B2C examples of entering the conversation happening in your customers’ mind

Great marketers figure out what script is playing in their customers’ heads and they insert their brand in a key piece of dialogue. But it’s hard to find examples of language-market fit, because in the past, these “matches” would’ve come down to luck, intuition, or creativity. 

At the macro level, we can see these masterstrokes of entering the conversation happening in your customers’ mind. 

In the B2B space, there’s the famous, “No one ever got fired buying IBM.” 

Instead of focusing on features and benefits, they did something unusual for B2B companies at the time: they focused on the emotional script happening in a buyer’s head. 

That script was, 

“If I sign a multiyear contract with a company and they wind up being awful, it’s my butt on the line.”

Then there’s Slack. Sure, everyone knows it as the “workplace messaging platform” but in the early days, one of the standout features of Slack was its searchability and offer of one “infinite brain.” Today, we’re spoiled for options when it comes to workplace productivity tools and cloud storage that this is a little harder to appreciate. 

One beta user wrote,

“The big problem we have with our current communication tool is all the history is local – it makes it impossible to share conversations as a team. We need to be able to reference files and get them into the search index so they’re assets the whole team can work on. With Slack, that happens automatically.” 

In the B2C world, consider the famous “1000 songs in your pocket” example. If Apple were talking about their product in terms of GBs back in 2001, their target audience – music lovers toting around those portable CD binders – probably would’ve turned up the volume on their walkman and ignored the message. But Apple understood what these people were thinking was, “How am I gonna carry all the songs I want with me on my morning commute? Or on vacation? Sh*t! I left my Janet Jackson CD in my boyfriend’s car!” They understood what their audience was thinking about, and a genius statement was born. 

Similarly, the copywriter who came up with L’Oreal’s famous “Because You’re Worth It” tagline, tapped into a conversation happening around female empowerment in the 1970s. In today’s world, where self-worth and personal identity are celebrated, this seems like an obvious copywriting choice, but at the time, it pierced through the consciousness of a large group of people who were used to a different message. 

“Almost everything you ever saw was about women doing things because they wanted to be attractive to men,” said the tagline’s creator Ilon Specht. “I wanted a more assertive, more contemporary real woman, and I wanted it to benefit the women.”

But what do you do when all the low-hanging fruit like “1000 songs in your pocket” or “Because you’re worth it,” or “Have a break” are already fused with a big name or done to death online? 

You get hyper, hyper specific, by entering the specific conversation happening within the minds of a specific segment of people. This was not a viable business strategy in the past, since the amount of market research required couldn’t be justified by the relatively small market. But the amount of data now available online means that the identities and worlds of individuals are now widely available. If you can understand these niches’ needs, you can effectively position your product. 

This is where it’s worth looking at the big names, what we at Heatseeker call, “Exemplars.” Consider this social media post from Dove for a roll-on deodorant, not just for pits but for all the different creases and folds of the body. It’s pretty much the same product, but the marketing and the value proposition speaks to the conversation happening in many consumers’ minds around body positivity and inclusivity. And to a real-world dilemma! Everyone is familiar with sweat in awkward places. But Dove chose to say the quiet part out loud. 

It leads to social media comments like the one below. 

What’s interesting is that anyone with startup funds could have made this product with this messaging and this vibrant, upbeat campaign. But going all in on an idea like that would require upfront capital or the data to back it up. Meanwhile, Dove is part of Unilever, worth $95 billion. But you do not need Unilever money to get insights like this. You just need the willingness to listen and the tools to help you scale your listening. 

Say hello to Heatseeker.

Heatseeker helps your scaleup find language-market fit. 

It’s about taking your great idea and positioning it so that it speaks to the conversation already happening in your customers’ minds. It gives you a list of value propositions generated by the market to let you move in the right direction. 

Ready to uncover what truly resonates with your users? Join the Heatseeker waitlist for early access or book a demo today.

Language Market Fit FAQ

How is language-market Fit different from product-market fit?

Product-market fit is all about ensuring your product meets a need in the market for a significant number of people. Language-market fit is about ensuring the market chooses YOUR product even when there are several other options available. We’re living in a hyper-competitive, digital world where finding the words that make you emotionally meaningful to a specific audience can mean the difference between your business growing or your business fizzling out. 

Can you achieve product-market fit without language-market fit?

You can – but it’ll be unnecessarily harder! Today’s market is hyper-competitive. It is easier than ever for teams to go to market, so securing sales is a matter of getting people to stop what they’re doing long enough to learn more about your product. 

How do you measure language-market fit?

You measure language-market through social media market tests. This lets you know which version of your value proposition receives the most engagement. Traditionally, market research methods rely on surveys and interviews, and while these can be useful approaches, they are not scalable and cost-effective for many of today’s startups and scaleups who need to be able to test and learn all kinds of questions like which channel to focus their marketing efforts on to which segment to prioritize.  

What strategies can be used to find your language-market fit?

  • Running social media tests to find the language that leads to the most engagement
  • Using AI to run a competitive analysis of your competitors’ product, marketing messaging, customer reviews, and more, so you can identify gaps in the market as well as opportunities
  • Generate “AI personas” based on publicly available data that you can use to test different value propositions

How does language-market Fit influence customer perception and behavior?

It enters the conversation already happening in your customers’ minds. For instance, two brands could be selling a wellness and fitness app that has calorie tracking, video workouts, and food diary features.

But if one app uses outdated language about weight and body image and the other takes a more body positive view, the latter is more likely to gain traction in today’s market. This is a blunt example based on a macro-trend for a wide audience.

Today, AI allows you to find micro-trends in language and thought patterns, so you can find the niche that’s perfectly suited to your audience. 

Can language-market fit evolve over time, and how should companies adapt?

Absolutely! We recommend running regular tests. We do it ourselves at Heatseeker.

Since language-market fit helps you identify microtrends around what people are willing to pay, what problems they’re currently facing, and more, you can use regular market tests to understand how to talk about your new releases. 

What role does customer feedback play in achieving language-market fit?

Customer feedback is at the heart of language-market fit, but instead of focusing on what users say they’d do, language-market fit focuses on what users actually do by looking at what language causes them to click on a button that says, “Buy” or “Sign Up.”

And this information is gathered at scale using AI and market tests. 

How does language-market fit impact conversion rates and customer acquisition costs?

Running market tests before launching entire campaigns helps you put your money where your market is. It’s how parenting startup Cooper used Heatseeker to increase conversions by 42% and decrease cost per click by 44%

In what ways can misalignment in language-market fit harm your brand?

Growth companies need to make the most of their time and money. Getting language-market fit right prevents you from spending a fortune on a go-to-market strategy that brings in no customers. 

How can startups use language-market fit to stand out in a crowded market?

Language-market fit makes people say, “Oh! I didn’t know there was a solution to that!” or “I was JUST thinking about that yesterday.” It helps you stand out by breaking through the noise both in the digital world and in your customers’ mind. People today are busy, but they’re always looking for something to grab their attention. 

What are some common challenges companies face when trying to achieve Language Market Fit?

The top challenge is getting access to market data. Startups invest up to $30,000 of their first year’s budget on research according to Forbes.

Collecting survey responses when you do not have an active user base is difficult and one-on-one interviews are time-consuming and expensive. 

How can A/B testing be used to improve Language Market Fit?

A simple tweak in language can make all the difference. We ran heatseeks on Heatseeker itself and found that “market tests” was more meaningful that “market experiments.”

Our founder assumed market experiments would work better cause it sounded more impressive. You test and you learn!

Ready to uncover what truly resonates with your users? Join the Heatseeker waitlist for early access or book a demo today.

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