Key Communication Messages – Choosing your words carefully
Your Marketing Planning Journey So Far
Your Baker Marketing “Marketing Summer School” journey is now over the half-way mark having given consideration to the following components of your marketing strategy:
- Part 1 – An overview of your Marketing Strategy
- Part 2 – Your Primary and Secondary Target Markets
- Part 3 – Your Desired Brand Positioning
- Part 4 – Your Sales Partners and Sales Influencers
- Part 5 – Product and Service Priorities
I hope this journey and the steps that I have outlined for the above marketing planning and decision making areas have been interesting and/or useful for you.
This week’s step of the journey is:
Part 6 – Key Communication Messages – Choosing your words carefully
Key Communication Messages sees us move from pure strategy and decision making on to deciding what messages we are going to share with our customers.
What else is in store?
Our next steps in the Marketing Summer School will see us progress through the following key areas of our marketing decision making and planning process:
Part 7 – The Company Vision Timetable – Setting the big goals
Part 8 – Promotions Planning – Selecting the most powerful marketing tools
Part 9 – Marketing Action Plans – Your Branding, Digital and Sales Tools
Part 10 – Bringing it all together – Company-wide implementation, measurement and control systems
What are Key Communication Messages?
Key Communication Messages = Marketing speak for the most important things we are going tell our customers first.
One Hundred Thousand Dollars per Message
To put things in perspective, imagine that each specific point or message you communicate to your customers is going to cost you one hundred thousand dollars or more.
- Which messages would you send your customers?
- How many messages would you send?
- What order would you send them?
The answer to the above three questions would most likely be:
- I would send the most important messages.
- I would send as few messages as possible.
- I would send them in order of importance.
Well this is quite a good way to approach the creation of your key communication messages.
The rest of this article is focussed on helping you develop the most important communication messages that will have the greatest impact in motivating your Primary and Secondary Target Markets to do business with you.
Defining your Key Communication Messages
I have summarised below what I consider to be the most logical approach to developing your key communication messages, namely:
- Review your Strategic Marketing Decisions
- Answer the ‘What’s in it for me?” question
- Develop High-Priority Feature and Benefit statements
- Integrate a ‘Call to Action’
- Integrate 7 Tips for Powerful Communication
Naturally, the approach taken to these steps will vary depending on the nature of your business or industry, the complexity of the information that you need to communicate and also the type of promotional activity you are entering into.
Key Steps in Defining your Key Communication Messages
Step 1 – Review your Strategic Marketing Decisions
Aligning your messages with your strategy
Step 1 involves returning to earlier strategic marketing planning and decision making areas covered in the Marketing Summer School Parts 1, 2 and 3 and giving consideration to the following:
- Who are your Primary and Secondary Target Markets?
- What are their most important needs?
- What are your Desired Brand Positioning criteria?
- What are the top 3 most important messages that you should be sending your customers?
Step 2 – Answer the ‘What’s in it for me?” question
Highlighting that you provide a solution to your customers’ needs
After completing Step 1 above you will have re-visited your Desired Brand Positioning Criteria which is based on the most important needs that your customers have.
Your communication messages will be most powerful if they convey to your customer that you satisfy their most important needs or provide a solution for their most important problem.
So, for example, if you were a car manufacturer, you may have completed a customer needs analysis and determined that your customers require a car that demonstrates:
d) Sports car handling
Given that your Desired Brand Positioning is based on your customers most important needs it makes sense to base your key communication messages on highlighting the key components of your Desired Brand Positioning.
So as the above car manufacturer you may be striving to position your brand as a manufacturer of cars that offer the customer the follow attributes:
d) Sports car handling
NOTE: As per the Marketing Summer School Part 3 (Your Desired Brand Positioning) the above described car manufacturer would have double checked that this desired brand positioning criteria is in fact feasible prior to embarking on their marketing and communications program.
Your Key Communication Messages
If the above was your Desired Brand Positioning Criteria based on your understanding of your customer’s most important needs then it would then make perfect sense to create messages that inform your client of these points a), b), c), d) and e) above.
In this case the answer to the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question would be:
“I need a car that can provide me with:
d) Sports car handling
….oh and I want it now!”
Step 3 – Develop High-Priority Feature and Benefit statements
Create messages that highlight your competitive advantage
Feature and Benefit Statements
Feature and Benefit Statements are a commonly used method of structuring persuasive messages so that the customer is presented with a solution to their need.
The essence of Feature and Benefit Statements are as follows:
- Feature = Characteristic or Attribute
E.g. Something that describes what you have to offer, your brand or product and preferably something that is special about you
- Benefit = Value customer gains or perceives
E.g. What’s in it for the customer such as a solution to needs or wants and preferably something that they really want
Benefit and Feature Statements
I have often thought that they should really be referred to as Benefit and Feature Statements because what is really important is that we talk less about ourselves (i.e. less about the features) and more about what is important to the customer (i.e. more about how we satisfy the customer’s needs).
You have probably met a sales person who spent way too long talking about all of the features of their product or service without focussing enough on what your need actually were (e.g. not enough time on the benefits).
Feature and Benefit Statements are such an important part of getting your marketing messages perfected that I will be dedicating another specific article to this subject also in April.
There are a couple of marketing terms that are used interchangeably that I will address under the heading of Competitive Advantage, they include:
- Competitive Advantage
- Point of Difference
- Point of Excellence
- Unique Selling Point
- Unique Selling Proposition
Quite often the term sustainable is also integrated into this term e.g. Sustainable Competitive Advantage or Sustainable Point of Difference.
If you look up definitions of the above you will find differing definitions but yet a level of similarity for each (I am talking serious reference sources like the ones you find on Google and Wikipedia).
I find that our clients will refer to one or more of the above terms interchangeably so I will treat these as one group.
This most important point is that Points A to E are ‘Marketing Talk’ for what is most ‘special’ and ‘sustainable’ about your brand or business.
Special means that it is something that your brand and business does that is important to the customer (i.e. satisfies an important need or desire)
Example includes things that your brand or business delivers or owns that are of importance to the customer:
- Fantastic quality control
- Vast industry expertise
- Owns modern factory facilities
- Conveys an upmarket or trendy image
Sustainable means that it is something that not all of your competitors can do easily. This makes it an advantage that cannot be stolen from you overnight.
Factors that make specific Competitive Advantages more sustainable than others include:
- Years of in-house expertise resulting in fantastic quality control
- Years of industry experience and training resulting in vast industry expertise
- Significant investment in plant and equipment resulting in modern factory facilities
- Cutting-edge and stylish branding resulting in an upmarket or trendy image
The above competitive advantages usually take time or have certain barriers to entry that mean that they are more difficult for your competitors to copy overnight. This makes them more sustainable as advantages over your competitors.
Step 4 – Integrate a ‘Call to Action’
Make it easy for your customers by asking them to take action
The effectiveness of your communication messages can be significantly enhanced by integrating a ‘Call to Action’ often referred to as a ‘CTA’.
The idea behind the Call to Action or CTA is to simply ask your customers to do something. Preferably to ask them to do something that involves taking the next step towards becoming a customer.
Some common Call to Action or CTA statements include the following:
- Start saving money now
- Call now
- Order today
- Click here now
Call to Action or CTA statements are intended to be those powerful, creative and inspiring words that linger at the tail end of your marketing copy and creative messages that encourage your customer to take the next step – to phone, email, click or buy!
However, customers are bombarded by numerous generic sounding Call to Action or CTA statements so there is a need to tailor your messages to your specific customer groups and in particular, your Primary and Secondary Target Markets.
Call to Action or CTA statements can be such a powerful part of your overall communications that I will dedicate a separate article in May to this subject where I can elaborate in more depth.
Step 5 – Integrate 7 Tips for Powerful Communication
Keep your messages focussed and easy to understand
Step 5 is about drawing on some conventional wisdom in the field of crafting clear, consistent and persuasive language.
I recommend that when developing your key communication messages you consider the following Key Tips for Powerful Communication:
- Focus on High priority Features & Benefits that illustrate that you satisfy your customer’s most important needs
- Highlight your most important Competitive Advantages
- Ensure your choice of words is relevant and in keeping with your Desired Brand Positioning
- Include a ‘Call to Action’ or ‘CTA’ if possible
- Keep content simple and easy to understand
- Adopt the principle of ‘Less is more’ and keep it succinct
- Allow time to edit and polish content and final proof-read/spelling check and then proof-read again!
Your Key Communication Messages and Beyond
I wish you good luck in getting your brand or business Key Communication Messages developed for your Primary and Secondary Target Markets.
Next week I cover ‘Part 7 – The Company Vision Timetable – Setting the big goals’.