Messaging is designed to help organisations communicate their expertise, or to demonstrate the superiority of their products or services. But there’s one fundamental problem with traditional messaging projects: they rarely create messages that are usable.
We all know why messages are important.
Well-done marketing messages crystallise thinking around the organisation’s strengths, unique differentiators and product benefits. They ensure that all the great things about your company come across in marketing communications – and give customers compelling reasons to choose to work with you. They back up your claims with credibility content. And they help position you as a thought leader, which can strengthen your brand.
But traditional messaging often fails to deliver these benefits as it doesn’t have the substance to make the messages credible or, in fact, usable. When you try to include them in marketing documents – perhaps a brochure or a white paper – there is nothing to support them.
So any attempts to try and ‘backfill’ the messages to build substance from a soundbite will only:
- take up a huge amount of time, budget and effort
- produce different results for different campaigns, thereby making the entire exercise pointless.
- undermine both the messaging process and the communications harmony that you have tried to establish.
The solution: in-depth messaging
Instead of creating messaging soundbites with little credibility, an in-depth messaging process will prioritise substance over style. The aim is to build messages designed to work well in both below-the-line as well as above-the-line marketing, plus all the necessary credibility material. The result is messages that are reusable across all kinds of marketing communications with little adaptation.
Getting your messages right
Powerful messages contain the essence of who you are, what your unique selling point is, and how that sets you apart from your competitors. To get them right, you need to:
- Develop messages that are detailed, substantial and distinct by capturing knowledge from around your business. This may be in the form of one ‘super’ message and a number of ‘supporting’ messages.
- Ensure your messages are explicitly focused on the audience you’re talking to
- Test your messages to ensure they follow the 3 hallmarks of effective messaging – Compelling, Competitive, Credible
- Create a rationale and supporting information for each message, including relevant credibility/competitive points to support the creation of marketing materials
Building a message-driven writing strategy
Once you have got your messages right, the next step is to reflect and reinforce them throughout every single communication. This involves:
- implementing the messages in every deliverable and communication
- using the messages to create ideas for campaigns
- using your messages to help effectively structure your marketing documents
In-depth messaging ensures your written communications are focused and coherent, throughout every channel of your organisation. It gives you an exceptional level of control over how your organisation is perceived within your marketplace. And it optimises your ability to communicate your key strengths to market – which translates into increased brand value and incremental business.
Kristel Brown is the Operations Director at Writing Machine.