Can you provide your business benefits to a prospect in a succinct manner? How about a child?
It is not unusual to find your marketing messaging has derailed. The question is how did it happen? Typically, one of two things has occurred – you got bored saying the same thing over and over and decided to “spice” up the message without performing appropriate due diligence; OR you did not have a clear marketing message in the first place. How would you know?
Litmus Test 1 – Is your messaging strategy documented?
Messaging and branding go hand in hand, and yet we spend hours on the graphic design of a logo, choosing colors, and making sure we have a “memorable” brand without giving as much thought to the message. Does your tagline represent the primary benefits a target prospect receives? Do you have a strategic document that outlines your strategy, your differentiators, and your major benefits? If the answer to any of these is no, or I don’t know, then it’s time to revisit your company’s messaging strategy.
Litmus Test 2 – Can you review all your marketing collateral and find a storyline or messaging thread?
Things happen over time. You hire a new writer to update content or perhaps an internal sales person wants to improve existing collateral. Whatever the case may be, over time the message can change. If the changes are part of a strategic move, supported by a solid, well-written strategy then you should move forward. However, if the changes occurred without a focus on the baseline message, and the impact of the change, then your company will not have clear messaging, and your prospects can be confused.
Litmus Test 3 – If you ask your internal team, do they know the benefits your organization provides in your marketplace?
The true test of a crystal clear marketing message is if your branding is so clear that your entire team understands it, can provide differentiators, buys into it, and has supported top management in building a culture around the message. Think about the most successful brands. Coca Cola created a mission that you can see throughout their marketing message. “To refresh the world… To inspire moments of optimism and happiness… To create value and make a difference…” You can easily remember an advertising campaign that reflects each of these statements. This is not by accident.
Do your team members understand your marketing message? If not, it’s time to improve communications and take a step toward crystal clear messaging.
Challenge the Norm: A marketing message should be a reflection of your internal values, not a campaign that you run for a short period of time. Becoming clear requires the ability to create a message that reflects the value of your company. This value should be lived by internal team members and experienced by your customers. And more importantly, the internal values should align with the values of your customers. You must meet their needs.
The clearer your organization is on how you positively impact the marketplace, how you resolve the pain points of your target audience, and how you are different from competitors, the clearer your marketing message becomes. It should not be riddled with industry terms or large words. The best message is one that a child can understand – simple and concise.
Once you have developed a message that is reflective of the value set of your organization and your customers, it’s time to build a proper messaging strategy. This is much easier now that you are building a brand that is reflected internally as well as externally. Develop a well-written document that explains your differentiation, your customer’s pain, and how you really solve it. Now you are ready to build some collateral.
Align your message throughout all materials, sales pitches, and internal documents. This does not mean saying the same thing repeatedly; however, it does mean writing each piece, developing each white paper, creating each campaign with the foundation of your marketing message in mind.
Developing a clear message starts internally. It begins with an understanding of your target audience combined with your organization’s strengths. Now when anyone sees your marketing materials, the message comes through loud and clear – this is who we are, this is who we serve, this is how we serve and most importantly – this is why. Crystal clear!