Messaging is a key part of building any great company. Every business organization has a purpose and vision which leads it to develop products that solve the pain of specific types of customers (or create such customers). An effective marketing communications plan results in a better, more consistent brand experience. The end result: more sales.
Here are a few tips on effective messaging:
- 1. The better you know your Audience, the better you can appeal to their Interests
- 2. Think vision
- 3. Think frequently asked questions
- 4. Uncover your Unique Selling Proposition
- 5. Sharpen Your Brand Look
- 6. Pick the proper design for your messaging campaign
- 7. Think story first, then messaging
- 8. Ensure that All Messaging is Consistent
- 9. Be straightforward
- 10. Define, don’t assume
- 11. Don’t change the message too often, preferably never
- 12. Choose Your Marketing Mix
- 13. Establish Marcom Success Measurements (Metrics)
- 14. Manage Leads and Client Data
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when developing their messaging approach is for a group of executives to sit in a room and say: “What do we want to say about ourselves? What do we do? What are we all about? What is our mission?” Wrong.
All successful marketing efforts begin with a thorough understanding of your audience. The conversation you should start with is: “Who is our target audience? What do they care about most and how are we able to help?” If you start here you will likely land in a different place on how you talk about your value proposition. Your mission, ideas, and opinions will still come into play, but it’s better if you start with the target customer’s business problems and mindset.
Think ahead about what you hope people will say about you, and what you want the ultimate effect to be from all the messaging you put out there across multiple touch points. Drawing from customer insights and your unique value proposition, write down statements of how you want people to feel about your brand and the impact you want from content that you will likely distribute.
A good way to approach this is to picture your best customers in a focus group after experiencing your value for a certain period. If for example, a facilitator were to ask your customer, “What has been the single best part of your experience with ABC, Inc.?” – what do you hope the customer would say?
Maybe your vision for their response is: “The best part of our experience with ABC was their attention to detail and phenomenal customer service.” Or, “The best part was that the training was hands-on and specific to our issues. We were able to integrate their product into our workflow very quickly.”
The point is to back into your story and messaging (as well as your offering and brand experience) from the future and a place of vision.
Consider the most frequently asked questions you get when first introducing what your product does. This shows what people care about most and what you should lead with or be prepared to talk about in a meaningful way.
This can also inform your brand’s core message plus angles for video demos, webinars, email campaigns, social media posts and such. This is also where insights from frontline employees are a good supplement to customer research, as they often have a deeper understanding of the customer’s FAQ, needs and wants than executives do.
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the main benefit that, when communicated effectively, drives sales of your product or service. It focuses on a unique problem that you solve better than anyone else. Your USP must be compelling enough to move people to act. It is central to all of your marketing communications, so don't take it lightly.
Your brand must speak to the customer in a contemporary, relevant manner. From logos to business cards and marketing collateral, It needs to support your operational USP and accurately represent your market position – don't mislead your audience by creating a marquee brand if you're aiming to be a low-cost option. Be honest, sincere and true to the heart of your business.
Messages with a professional, clean and consistent appearance will have increased chances of customer conversion.
Use the insights you’ve gathered to help you see and confirm what your brand’s story is. Lay it all out, look down on it and say: “What is all of this revealing? What is bubbling up as a theme?” From there, work on the angles and messaging to bring your story to life.
Developing a good messaging approach is not easy, but it’s not rocket science either. If you ensure all conversations and decisions about your messaging are centered on customer insights (along with some input from frontline staff), you will be on your way to successfully differentiate yourself. This is one of the best changes you can make in your process to improve results.
One of the main attributes of strategic messaging is consistency. Effective messaging is always simple and consistent. Consistency reduces opportunities for miscommunication. Consistent messages are more likely to become memorable. Consistency improves message effectiveness, that’s why advertising works-it consistently repeats a simple message over and over again.
While most people think of logo and stationary when it comes to branding, your brand voice is equally important. A good place to start is to generate a few key positioning statements to feature in your communications. Start with a tagline, single sentence version and then a standard short paragraph. Try spooling out a handful of key messages that your company should be communicating. Outline key descriptive words to use and not use, and make sure that your new messaging standards are adhered to in all future communications. It is the responsibility of the marketing team to ensure that the message a company uses is consistent across all marketing channels as well as across all assets and communications.
Avoid fancy words and use more conventional language. There is a place for longer product copy or longer content, but strategic messaging is not that place.
When too much information is communicated, our unconscious process arbitrarily chooses which words seem most relevant in the moment. Most of us believe it’s best to give more detailed descriptions, not realizing that the audience can only focus on tiny bits of information and for a very brief period of time. Irrelevant speech disrupts patterns and interferes with judgment and learning.
Don’t assume that your audience understands terms that you use in your communication. Clearly define the terms that you use internally, and for outbound communication. Even simple terms such as “analytics” can have multiple meanings and interpretations.
Confused people will not buy from you. Ensure that you develop and deliver a very clear and easily understood offer if you want people to purchase. The best way you can do this is to accurately convey the purpose of whatever it is that you're offering. Be specific about this. Don't use clouded words that don't properly relate the offer. Ensure that the title of your offer is intriguing, relevant to your audience and that it makes a promise that can be delivered through whatever it is that you're peddling.
This is related to consistency. You can’t release a new strategic messaging framework every 6 or even 12 months. It’s okay to test new messaging ideas in the field, but anything that impacts the brand as a whole needs to be done incredibly carefully. Position your strategic message for the long term.
With all of the recent advancements in online marketing, there are more ways to communicate than ever before. Every industry and brand is unique, so there is no standard marketing mix that will work for everyone. The key is to understand your options, choose a media mix that fits your audience (where do they spend their time/attention), and understand your budget and marketing communications goals.
Whatever the medium and message, ensure that your communications are measurable. Whether it's email open rates, social media exposure or direct mail response rates, establish key communications goals and put systems in place to monitor your success. Tie this data in with sales metrics to get a true sense of what's working and what's not.
You know your audience, you've built your brand and you've told your story. People are interested – now what? A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a database of your contacts (customers, prospects, others) that allows you to organize information (contact info, records, files, calls, emails, etc) to streamline and scale sales and marketing processes. This will help you better understand how clients move through the sales funnel and help you close more leads.
Remember: You know the vision but the customers hold the perceptions.
And: The best way to evaluate your current messaging is to look at how consistently your organization talks about your products and compare that with how your current customers talk about your product.
Also: Make sure your customers and prospects understand the value and utility that your product provides.