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Posted on August 31, 2017 | Angela Shugarts
Lacking a general direction of how to talk about your company? Do you find that your employees and leadership have different perspectives on what your UVP is? Do you find yourself spending hours figuring out what write on that darn brochure? We have a solution…
Some clients come to us needing a full-fledged integrated campaign, while others are just looking for a digital marketing plan. Regardless of their needs, one specific strategy helps make their job, and our job, easier—messaging!
What is Messaging?
But what is messaging exactly? Messaging allows your business to establish a consistent way of talking about your company. We find that stakeholders, leaders and staff each have a unique way of talking about their business—many of whom miss the mark when it comes to leaving a memorable and clear impression of what they do for whom.
Why Do I Need It?
In short, messaging helps your leaders and staff talk about your company in the same way, establishing consistency. Research reveals that consumers do not remember a marketing message until they’ve heard it about seven times (depending on the medium). Delivering consistent marketing messages enables you to build customer awareness and trust quicker than a scattershot approach.
Documented messaging also offers a number of organizational efficiencies:
- Ensures consistency and integration across multiple communication vehicles
- Simplifies direction for copywriters and other creative staff
- Speeds reviews of draft and final copy content accuracy
- Saves time and money by minimizing rework
Furthermore, a messaging audit is a great way to:
- Gain alignment amongst your leaders and staff
- Hear differing perspectives about your business from various leadership/managerial levels
- Work together as a team to define the core values of your business
Four Common Messaging Mistakes
- Thinking that “everyone” is your target audience. Not everyone wants or needs to buy your product or service. A “mass market” approach will only allow you to reach a broad audience instead of a niche audience that already seeks solutions your business offers. A common saying we have in the office is “if you’re shouting to a stadium of people, your message reaches nobody.” The more refined you can get with articulating your ideal customer, who they are, what their pain points are, where they live, their age, their income level, their buying behaviors, etc., the more robust of a target audience profile you’ll be able to own.
- Believing your business doesn’t have competitors. If your not like someone else, your nothing to everyone. According to our friends at AdWeek, 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying and on average, a consumer will visit three stores before making their purchase. So, they recognize you have competition, time for you to do so, too.
- Using common language to describe your differentiators. Words like “unique” and “customer-focused” don’t carry the same impact they did 10+ years ago. In fact, they’re used so often, they tend to lose meaning…and we don’t want that to happen to you! Today, it’s not enough to simply have a unique product or feel that your sales team is customer-focused—even if they truly are. The more you can spice up your business story with provocative language that is simple and direct, the more memorable you’ll be. Note, we are not recommending you pack your messaging with business jargon—it needs to be simple enough that a fourth grader can understand it, yet complex enough that it showcases your market value.
- Don’t overthink it! There is a fine line between being critical about your business messages and loving the first thing that pops out of someone’s mouth during an audit. We had a client who was stuck on one word in their positioning statement and it caused them so much anxiety, the project took much longer than necessary and, at the end of the day, the two words he/she was grappling with, ended up conveying the same message, in the same way, with the same impact. While messaging is extremely important, don’t cause yourself too much stress during the process.
Keep in mind that messaging can be challenging for business owners do to themselves. It is easy to get caught up in the minute details of your business and forget the bigger picture. A third party, unbiased perspective is critical to having a strong messaging document that permeates into every subsequent marketing project. Which leads us to…
How Does It Work?
Here at Philosophy, our messaging strategy starts with an audit of your brand and involves deep research of your competitors differentiators, claims to fame, and core values. Then, we bring everyone in the company (usually c-suite leaders, managers and other key staff who communicate regularly with customers), and have anywhere from a two-hour to half-day audit session. After asking a lot of questions and hearing from everyone at the table, we generate a formal document that details your business’s values, positioning statement, problems you solve for your customers, etc. It serves as a foundation for all future communication efforts. We call it, aptly, your “communication bible”—a written record of your brand essence that details everything you stand for, how you conduct business, why your business is better than anyone else’s, etc.
Bottom line: It helps to have an outside perspective drive the conversation and get at the heart of what makes your business tick. We are happy to help develop your business’s key messages in a way that is effective and memorable (and it’s personally one of the favorite parts of my job here at Philosophy!)
- Angela Shugarts