You can’t control which details your customers notice, but you can control the essence of your communications. Your key messages are the foundation for everything you want to communicate about your business.
Different customers may be exposed to different sales and marketing assets, but regardless of where they encounter your company — whether through an ad, an email, a landing page on your website, or a social media profile — each encounter should leave a similar impression of who you are with those customers.
What Makes a Good Key Message?
Your key messages should be easy to understand. You should avoid complicated jargon or acronyms. Using fewer keywords per idea is best. Try and summarize what you want to communicate with 3-5 key messages.
Your key messages should address your service and what sets it apart from similar products. You should also do this while tailoring your language and information to best fit your target audience.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of what you have to offer. Remember to communicate the information your audience absolutely needs to know.
Your key messages should flow in a way that’s easy to remember. Keeping catchy phrases in mind might help. Sometimes it’s beneficial to use a call to action to stimulate customer interaction with your company.
How to Develop Key Messages in 6 Steps
Highlight a target audience:
This is where the bulk of your data collection will occur. Start with a couple of target personas you’re interested in. It might help to speak with people from these groups. Here are some example questions that might be helpful.
- What brands or companies do they gravitate towards?
- What are their current pain points?
- Are there phrases or words they are most likely to notice
Establish company targets
- Is your company new? In this case you would focus more on branding. You want to establish a name or theme for your company that is easy to recognize and easy to associate with. This will make customers more likely to remember your brand and return.
- Is your company already established, but branching into a new market? Here you want to focus on building your credibility. Why should someone choose your company over companies that have already done well in this category?
- Is your company well seasoned? It may be beneficial to focus on why you have done well for so long. Another option is to highlight any changes you’ve made. A new product or service can be promoted to generate new excitement.
Define the benefits and value of your service or product
Good key messaging will always focus on differentiating your company. Identify the main services your company offers and why they are different from your competitors. You want to summarize why someone should choose your company.
Research competition and their campaigns
It is vital to research what other companies are saying about their products. You want to take note of:
- What techniques are being used?
- Which techniques seem to be working best?
- What are your competitors offering?
- How do other companies identify?
Use keywords related to brand values
As elementary as it may seem a lot of companies do this by creating vision boards or word clouds. It helps to first identify what brand values you are most interested in getting across to your customer. Keeping those in mind, brainstorm words or phrases. Remember you want words that are memorable, maybe even catchy, and relevant.
After you finalize your key messages it is important to test them to confirm they actually resonate with your target audience. Assemble message testing groups that include individuals from this audience–either could-be customers or existing customers. Use the feedback from these sessions to edit and refine your message before you publish and promote them.
Testing is an ongoing step. It is important to return to your key messages as your company grows, ensuring that they still reflect who you are as a company, meet your audience’s needs, and are timely. We’ll discuss later some options on how to set up your testing.
Bluegreen’s DIY Messaging Tool
Sometimes it’s helpful to take a more visual approach. Bluegreen has created a guided message map tool that we’ve found really helpful. Bluegreen’s tool aims to help you determine the features, benefits, and values that your company provides in a 3×3 matrix based on how strong you are in a particular area and how much your customers will care about a particular element of your offering.
We recommend downloading the full PDF from Bluegreen and going through their complete exercise as you hone your messaging. Their process will help your company narrow down which information to highlight about your company and how to build on your company’s core value proposition with memorable, customer-focused messages.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Describing the product: While your product may be interesting and exciting to you, describing or giving a definition on your product is not what will invite customers to notice you. A description is not relatable nor will it generate excitement in your target audience.
- Making assumptions: Companies or creators often become so close to their product that it can easily be forgotten the amount of information required by the average person to understand it. Never assume that customers are aware of any concepts or information regarding your product.
Two Great Messaging Examples
Example One: KeHE
KeHE Distributors is a wholesale food distributor that specializes in natural and organic specialty brands. They target businesses that identify as retailers of organic and specialty groceries.
KeHE’s messaging approach articulates their passion for connecting customers to organic healthier products. They provide offerings for innovative food as well as define how their delivery services are dedicated to efficiency.
Their offerings are staged so that their dedication to distributing their products to company shelves shines through.
Example Two: Moo
Moo has created a much more casual sort of messaging. Their approach is quirky and filled with funny one-liners in their product descriptions.
Their easygoing language suggests the versatility of their products as well as the enjoyment that comes with their designs.
Moo is an online business printing and stationery company–services and products that are theoretically useful to any size business. But Moo’s creative, down-to-earth messaging is designed to resonate with their specific target of small and micro-size businesses.