Messaging is a fancy marketing term for the story that you tell about your company or your offering; most importantly, your message must be heard and understood by your customers, friends, and employees. This message must clear, concise, backed with evidence, and tell the right story.
Starting with the basics, it all starts with your company name. Your company name must be memorable, easy to say and spell, and must be associated with what you do. Sounds simple, but if your company name is Mike’s Mufflers and you are offering ballet lessons, you have a big problem right out of the starting gate. People won’t hear your message if they are confused about what you do.
Presuming your company name makes sense, a message tells your customer, the media, and your other contacts a story that you want to be understood. It can be about a new product announcement, an event, or your competitive advantage.
For an advertising campaign, your ad agency will spend a great deal of time helping you craft the right message; it must be clear, concise, memorable, and meaningful. They will test the message with focus groups made up of your customers and friends. No matter how proud you are of the message you have written, the real test is how others respond to it. Often, these tests confirm the message is correct; sometimes, the feedback sends you back to the drawing board.
Tag lines tell a story or message. It may be the most powerful message that you will ever write since it appears on your website banner, letterhead, business cards, etc. Tag lines need the same type of testing, so be sure to slow down and do it right.
For a message to be believed, you need to submit evidence. On a website this could be a tab devoted to testimonials. Nothing is more believable than a customer reference or testimonial. Other types of evidence could include product specifications, customer lists, or press quotes. All help back up your message and the implied claims.
Messages are best understood when introduced one at a time. A marketing brochure needs a focus to its messaging; if you try to deliver multiple messages in the same piece you will likely miss your target. Think about the TV advertisements that you have watched. They almost always tell one story.
Finally, for messages to be remembered they must be delivered to the right people with frequency. A great message delivered to the wrong people will be ignored. A great message delivered once to the right people will be forgotten. There is no substitute for frequency of contact when delivering your message.
John Bradley Jackson
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