We’ve all been there. You are cornered at a conference and someone asks, “So what does your company do?”
Either you fumble trying to come up with the simplest answer, or you’re hoping that whatever you say is the same thing your boss is saying in the opposite corner of the same conference hall.
Fear not. The confusion is not a YOU problem. It’s a brand messaging problem, and a lot of companies have it.
When working with a client, one of the very first places we start is to take a look at their messaging. We’re looking for consistency. We’re looking for effectiveness!
When done right, everyone in the company should be singing from the same hymnal on who the company is, what they do, and most importantly, how their customers benefit from using them. (More on that last one in a moment.)
Everything you do moving forward will be anchored to your brand messaging, so you want to make sure you take the proper approach.
Every brand needs a voice. Messaging provides the words that help customers and prospects understand a company’s value proposition (why it’s useful) and values (what it believes in). It articulates the brand’s promise, and brings desire for a company’s services.
Brand messages tell a story that gets people excited about your services and brand. When trying to win your customers’ hearts, messaging brings the butterflies.
Messaging can take various forms — a tagline, ad copy, headlines, your sales pitch — but they all share a few common traits.
Persuasive brand messages are always brief and convey critical aspects of a firm’s brand. And they often intentionally simplify concepts that, in reality, may be complex and nuanced. This simplification is a good thing, because the goal of a brand is to be noticed, remembered and desired.
In an over-communicated world, the only way to get inside the minds of prospects is to focus your brand messaging so that it is a clear value proposition.
The Core Brand Message
Behind every great brand is a fundamental core brand message: a compact statement that declares why the brand matters, what it stands for and how it stands apart from competitors.
It’s a statement you can return to again and again when you need inspiration or need to remind yourself what you stand for.
A core brand message communicates the values and key differentiators that define the brand. And above all else, it makes people in a company’s target audience sit up and care.
The core brand message will shape all brand marketing messages. A company’s tagline may closely match the words in its core brand message, or they can take a different form.
What’s important is that all brand messages describe aspects of the brand that are relevant to your clients.
Your Value Proposition
This is where you should describe, in just a few sentences, the unique, tangible value people get from your product or service.
It has to grab people and be interesting. Your unique value proposition should be benefits focused.
The reason features make for less effective value propositions than actual benefits is features center around your experience. But savvy marketers know that seller-centric marketing no longer works to build deeply engaged customers.
By centering around your customers and structuring both your unique value proposition to speak directly to what customers are experiencing, you quickly address customer pain points, and can then create an effective framework to build the rest of your messaging on.
Your pitch is your 30-second response to the “what do you do?” question, and it should speak directly to the value proposition and benefits you outlined in the step above.
Why should the customer care what you do? Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch. It’s just a conversation with someone. Once they engage with you then you can get into the details.
There are lots of ways to build your pitch. You can start with a question or offer up an example of success with a quick case study example. Regardless of how you approach it, the pitch should answer the questions:
- What do you do?
- What makes your brand different?
Make sure it is simple — something a seven year old could understand.
Creating Your Brand Messaging
Many messages convey specific services or benefits, and they don’t have to take the form of a marketing slogan. They may simply be key characteristics of your services, or they can be headlines on your website.
Whatever form they take, brand messages have to be relevant to your audiences.
If you have multiple audiences — different industries or offerings, for instance — you will want to develop key messages that address the interests of each.
There may be considerable overlap of messages between audiences, but there will almost certainly be points that are more relevant to one group than to another.
Crafting messages that are concise, easy to understand, and tell a coherent story can be a lot trickier than you think.
After you’ve gone through the process of developing brand messaging targeted at different audiences (an outside facilitator or consultant can be a huge help), you’ll be a lot better prepared to explain your brand. And once you’ve found your voice, you’ll discover that people suddenly do a lot more listening.
Your Brand Messaging Checklist
Wondering if you’ve got your messaging right? Check your brand messaging against the following questions:
- Does your brand message describe anything different from your competitors?
- Are your messages simple, easy to understand, and compelling?
- Do your brand messages reflect reality?
- Do your messages resonate with your target audience? Do they say anything interesting?
Taking Your Message to the Marketplace
Your messaging isn’t just reserved for high-level marketing and advertising. It can play an important role in selling and closing business, too.
The messages you use to describe your company are critical. They shape the way people think about your company, and they provide prospects with concrete reasons to choose you over other options. If you haven’t thought through your brand messaging strategy yet, it’s never too late to start.
By really wrapping your head around the value you provide customers, you can hone in on what content to write, what aspects of your business to focus on, and how to direct your marketing strategy to effectively set yourself apart from the competition.
Focusing on these areas will help you craft brand messaging that can guide your content creation strategy and campaign planning for quarters to come.
If all of this seems a little bit overwhelming, let’s work together and nail your messaging down.