What’s your business marketing message? What do you tell your customers about your company, what it does, and why they should do business with you?
The fact is that many small businesses are confused about what their marketing message is and how they should communicate it to the outside world.
You only need to look at the home page headlines or “About You” sections of many business web sites and you’ll see countless instances of mission statements and business profiles being mistaken for marketing messages, for example:
“XYZ company has provided ABC products and services in the state of Florida since 1989″
‘We’ve been in business since 1996 and it is our mission to…”
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these messages, they tend to have one thing in common – they are all about the business and not about the most important asset to that business – its customers.
Here are seven steps you can take to develop a marketing message that grabs the attention of your customers, speaks to them, and promotes action.
1) Identify Your Target Market
Knowing your market is the first step to crafting a message that speaks to understanding your market’s needs. Every business has a target market, even if you stumbled into that market by accident. So don’t be afraid to define your business marketing message by the market you serve best and most profitably. There is nothing more baffling to a consumer than a business who is trying to be all things to all people – it simply dilutes your message and undermines your core value.
2) Describe your Product – Briefly!
Many marketing messages become unstuck because they focus exclusively on product. Instead, your product should be considered only one piece of your overall message. For the purposes of a concise marketing message, consider the features of your product or service in the light of what they mean to the customer. For every feature there is a customer need met and a benefit realized.
3) Identify Customer Pain Points, Issues, Needs and Wants and Determine How Your Business Addresses Them
To move your prospects into action you need to step back and identify their problems, issues, needs, and wants, and ultimately define how your business addresses each of these.
Each business and customer is unique, and while some customer pain points are obvious and easily aligned to your products and services, others aren’t quite so obvious. For example, if you operate a seafood bar/restaurant in a suburban neighborhood – what problem or pain point are you addressing? Well no great pain really, but you can certainly weave a benefit statement around the fact that you are overcoming a geographical issue and meeting an emotional need.
For example, our hypothetical restaurant may have chosen to position itself as providing a big-city dining experience in a suburban community. So the issue addressed and corresponding message here could be that no longer do customers need to travel miles or wait for their next business trip to experience the dining ambience that they enjoy so much in the big city – it’s now available right on their doorstep.
4) Build Your Proof Points
Whatever your product or service, it’s vital that you demonstrate how your business has solved the problems of others. This part of your messaging development is about documenting proof points.
Testimonials and case studies are an excellent way of doing this, and they needn’t be pages long – just a few quotes or paragraphs can help encapsulate the challenge your customer was facing, the solution you presented, and the results obtained. These proof points can act as stand-alone testimonials in your marketing collateral, but you should also step back and look at common themes that you can build into your wider marketing message.
5) Define What Makes You Different
Now that you have a sense of who your target market is, what their pain points are and how they have used your business services – you’ll need to communicate what you do differently than your competition. Try to tie those differences to perceived value – i.e. why should your customer care about what you do or provide?
6) What Should Your Message Look Like?
Your basic marketing message (often called a messaging platform), while consistent, needs to be flexible. You want to be able to slice and dice it for various marketing collateral (brochures, email marketing, advertising, web site copy, etc.). A practical approach to developing your standard marketing message is to build a 150, 100, 75 and 50 word version of it.
While the 50 word version is useful as a high-level elevator pitch message, the longer versions can be used to introduce more specific benefits, value statements, and proof points across your marketing communications.
The point here is that although the final message will straddle all your outreach activities – you still have the flexibility to combine it with promotional statements, advertising call to actions, and so on.
7) Deliver Your Message with One Voice
Once developed, your marketing message needs to be delivered consistently and with one voice. From your sales team to your receptionist, from your web site to your brochures – the more times your prospects hear it, the more likely it is to register in their minds and they’ll want to know more. So be sure to do a sweep of all your customer touch points and update your business voice accordingly.
– Caron Beesley