The success of your marketing strategy and activities depends on many factors – creativity, relevance, execution, etc. – but it is anchored by clear, precise and relevant marketing messaging.
Marketing messaging can be defined as a structured presentation of your product’s value proposition – that combination of functionality, performance, quality and value that your products bring to the market.
Marketing messaging is not a tagline but is used to create the tagline as well as content for websites, press releases, blog posts, advertising, collateral and other marketing and sales documents. Done right, it becomes the foundation of all communications and outreach which compounds the impact because each channel reinforces the marketing messaging.
Marketing messaging typically involves discovering an overall message along with 3-4 supporting messages as you can see in Figure 1.
Done right, marketing messaging becomes the foundation of all communications and outreach which compounds the impact because each channel reinforces the marketing messaging.
Four Steps to Marketing Messaging
Sounds good, but where do you get the insights for great marketing messaging and how do you know if they are correct? Here are 4 steps to take:
1. Re-evaluate Product Features
Take a hard look at your product and ask, “What does it do really well?” What benefits do it provide to customers – real or perceived? Try defining your product strengths in these six areas:
- Market impact – Where does this product fit on the impact scale – from revolutionary to evolutionary or somewhere in between.
- Core technology – How new or different is the underlying technology to this product?
- Market position – Is the product already the market leader or is it a new up-and-comer?
- Ethos – Does the product contribute to solving societal issues?
- Management – Does management have a public track record of success?
- Financial performance – Does the company have revenue or investment required to make this product a success?
Define your strengths in each of the categories, then develop the messaging that plays to those strengths.
2. Talk to Your Customers
Developing marketing messaging in a vacuum can lead to marketing messaging that misses the mark. But your customers can tell you a lot – what they knew about you before they bought, why they bought, how they found you and more.
Talk to enough customers and you will pick up on trends that you can wrap your messaging around. Before recalibrating your marketing messaging, audit 10-12 representative members of your customer base. You can do this yourself, though working with a third-party agency often results in more candid responses. Customers tend to hold back real impressions and criticisms when talking to a company directly but are more forthcoming when speaking with a third party. The audit process can result in new input and ideas important to customers that can then be leveraged for a more precise marketing message and strategy.
3. Research The Competition
No company operates in a competitive vacuum. Marketing messaging wouldn’t be as vital as it is if it wasn’t for competitors who are trying to make an impression on customers just as you are. So, take some time to undertake a comprehensive review of competitive messaging and products. Some of this analysis can come from your customer surveys when you ask questions about why they selected your company over the competition.
But many insights will come through a review of competitor websites, press coverage and, in some markets, industry or financial analyst reports. The combination of customer input and web research will help you understand how well the competition’s messaging is aligned with their product offerings and plans. It can also point out places where your company has a competitive advantage you can exploit in your marketing messaging.
4. Merge And Prioritize
Equipped with a clear understanding of your product features, your customers’ impressions, and your real competition, you should have more than enough data to pinpoint your product’s true north. What direction will your marketing messaging take? Understanding the message drivers that set you apart from the competition is critical to turning your research into provocative messaging. What you should be looking for from that research are the brand influences and messages that are both important to your customer base and highly differentiated from your that of your competitors.
This prioritizing exercise will help overcome potential issues. For example, you may find too much overlap between your messages and those coming from the competition. If so, maybe you recalibrate to better emphasize the products or services that make you unique. Or perhaps you’ve discovered your biggest challenge is industry noise—you’ve got the most advanced technology, but you don’t have the customer’s ear. In that case, you need to find a way to rise above the din and make your messaging more relevant. Relevant content connects a brand to what is top-of-mind for consumers when they receive that content. It can be as sophisticated as engaging in cultural moments when they occur.
Where to next: The outcome of this marketing messaging exercise should be a blueprint for your paid, earned, shared and owned media campaigns. It should lead to a strategic document that combines key message points with benefit statements and proof points. The internal marketing team and/or marketing agency can use this document as inspiration for the development and execution of a well-honed program. Likewise, management can refer to it when evaluating the efficacy of marketing actions and deciding on a direction forward.