It’s no surprise that creating great messaging takes time and can be complex but it is worth the time and effort. Every business needs a great message that is simple yet appealing. It will give you the ability to engage with all stakeholders, find new customers, build lasting partnerships, attract the best employees and secure that all-important investment.
A clear brand message is the cornerstone of an effective strategy, both internally and externally.
You need it to connect with customers, investors, potential employees, the press, etc. and if you don’t have a simple, compelling message, they won’t bother to learn more. They won’t take the time to learn about, and ultimately love and share your product. More so, if you don’t steer how people think about your product, the market will make up its own version which may not match your vision.
Every touchpoint a customer or potential customer has with your product or company will shape their view of you. It’s critical that each of those touchpoints send the same message. When you create a clear brand message it ensures your team is fully aligned. This gets everyone moving in the same direction, telling the same story and creating consistent touchpoints for your customers
When starting the process of developing a key business brand message a common tendency is to describe the product itself, and the features that get them excited. But buyers usually don’t relate to that kind of message, and instead, react better to messaging that gets at the heart of the benefits it will bring to their lives.
There are two recommended components of a strong and compelling message. Both need to be present. It needs to:
Express what you want to say
Be specific about what you do and how you do it. Think about what people are actually buying from you versus what you are selling. For example, if you are a training company selling courses and workshops, what people are actually buying is your expertise.
Communicate your unique selling point (USP). Why should someone buy from you rather than your competitors? If you are selling a standardised product or service, the value may be in how you sell it (for example, payment terms) or your backstory (for example your ethical sourcing of materials). Don’t shy away from being explicit when explaining the value that you bring and why you are different.
Be of interest to your audience.
Create this curiosity by pinpointing the problems and pain points that your customers have and highlighting how you solve them. Are you saving them time or money? Making it easier for them to be compliant? Taking away the hassle associated with your type of product or service?
A great way to spark this initial interest is to have a tagline or soundbite that in just a few words includes a key benefit, differentiates you from your competitors and is memorable.
M&M: "Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands"
But, how do you create this message? Where do you start and how does it change over time? How do you make it simple when what you’re offering is complex?
A positioning statement is a basis for all other messaging and communications. It’s a declaration of who you are, and the value you offer to a specific set of people. When someone asks about your business, I’m sure you are able to passionately describe what it is you do. For many founders, your “pitch” is always a work in progress and you’re likely to modify it based on your audience, mood and the latest features being built. By developing a positioning statement, and writing it down, you will have solved a number of key business issues, and have the beginning of a succinct, consistent way to describe your value proposition every time you are in front of a potential customer, investor or employee. This isn’t to say it won’t evolve, but if done right, it will only change when significant aspects of your business change.
It’s vital that your audience can relate to what you are offering. What you say needs to resonate with them to draw them in, so they want to hear the rest of your story. Speaking your customer’s language so they easily understand what you’re saying and see that you’re familiar with their world is important. For example, if you are selling security authentication software to finance companies, including industry-specific phrases that finance companies will respond well to and expect to hear.
We have found this classic positioning statement to be a useful construct:
For [TARGET] who are [SEGMENT], [BRAND] provides the [CATEGORY] with [DISTINCTION] because of [PROOF].
When you try to write down the positioning statement for your own company, don’t be surprised to find that this is hard to do. The reason it’s hard is that you are forced to take the many hundreds of things you’d like to say and reduce them down to just one sentence.
Don’t do this by yourself. Do it with your management team, as you want to get to the point where everyone on your team has a similar way of articulating this.
Keep the jargon and marketing hype out of it. Use simple language that you would use in talking to another human being.
Once you have a statement that you feel good about, test it. Run it by real customers and prospects.
A clear and concise positioning statement provides the scaffolding for a pithy and memorable articulation of your value proposition, often the first step toward a tagline or initial sound bite. We’re all busy and distracted all the time and bombarded with information. To cope with this information overload, we categorize the offerings we come across and boil down our understanding into simple concepts that we can remember. If your message is overly complex, it won’t be understood the way you hope, and won’t be remembered.
To really compete, your business needs a great message that is simple yet appealing. It needs to create clarity and align your people to the big picture. It needs to strike a balance between expressing what you want to say and appealing to your target customers. It needs to be relatable and jargon-free so that it can resonate. Finally, it needs to invoke action and create that conversion that you’re aiming for.