Messaging is an essential part of marketing, sales and communications, whatever your business. Think of messaging as the written and verbal story you want your brand to tell. It’s a cohesive framework of words and phrases that resonates with your audience and inspires them to engage with you.
Successful executives appreciate the power of words and understand the importance of having a strong messaging framework. Yet companies of all sizes and maturities often struggle to get good messaging.
Let’s break down the key elements of effective and engaging messaging. In the next column, we will focus on How? ‘Or’ What to build an email plan.
For the purposes of this section, we will focus on messages intended for marketing and sales communications, rather than communications with employees or customers. But know that the concepts remain the same, with different audiences in play. Because we work with a number of financial advisors who seek to articulate their messages, I will use them as examples of these components in action.
1. Audience-centric: For marketing and sales communications, it is essential that the customer is at the heart of everything you say. A story is more engaging when a person can identify with or see themselves as the main character.
With this mindset, if you’re telling a story about your business, your customer is your main character (not you as a business). Let them be the heroes of their own destiny, rather than your company stepping in to help you.
To do this, you need to stop thinking about what you want to communicate and instead reframe the story from the audience’s perspective. Focus on what interests them, their challenges, their goals, and the desired outcomes. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it. People care about the result you can provide them, rather than the list of services you offer.
A business owner might be tempted to write, “I am a financial advisor who cares about my clients and can help you with your long-term financial planning needs. What it really should be saying is “You deserve to be listened to – not pitched. At _____ firm, we personalize wealth management based on your unique story. So be treated like a human, get a clear plan and know that your wealth is in caring and capable hands.
2. Target : Just like creating a successful product or service, effective messaging must have a defined target audience or niche. There’s a saying that marketers often quote: “If you talk to everyone, you talk to nobody.”
Messaging is a way to focus on the unique needs of your audience and is most effective when you narrow it down to the ideal customers you are best suited to serve.
For our business, we like to hire journalists for this reason, because they understand the importance of an audience and how it impacts the positioning of a story, the words you use, etc.
One of the biggest objections or hesitations we hear before starting a messaging project with clients in financial services is how many ways can you say “you can trust us, peace of mind that you are in good hands”. It’s exactly there target messaging kicks in. Who are you trying to win over as a new customer? What’s unique to them that you can incorporate into your messaging? What are they really looking for? Why do they come to you?
Let’s say we have a financial advisor in Tampa who is really good at partnering with tech professionals and helping them navigate deferred compensation plans or restricted stock units (RSUs). Capture this in your email. Industry-specific wording will give you instant credibility.
3. Convincing: Next, think about the types of words and phrases that speak to your ideal customer. What would motivate them to learn more? What do they really care about? What keeps them up at night or is it a total pain for them?
The goal is to effectively motivate, inspire, persuade and engage your audience by harnessing the power of language to evoke feelings. Talk to the emotions, to the staff. People take action based on emotion; they validate their decisions with logic.
Once you know their biggest pain points, position them so that your prospect nods and thinks, “Ah, yes, they got it! »
• “We understand how frustrating it can be to be sold.”
• “As a busy and busy professional, we understand that managing your multiple investment accounts in your ‘spare time’ can be stressful.
• “How do you really ensure that your financial future is as successful as your career?”
• “Stop feeling stuck in an endless cycle of pitches that don’t fit your needs.”
4. Clear and concise: Perhaps the hardest part of messaging is making it easy to understand. We are often so in the weeds of what we do and so passionate about our differences that we have a hard time simplifying it for others.
You want your audience to quickly understand what you are trying to convey. While it’s important to tell the difference, try not to be too fancy with your choice of words, as this can put you at risk of over-complicating what you’re trying to communicate.
Harnessing an outside perspective (talking to someone outside the company) can go a long way to ensuring your arguments are easy to understand. When I worked for Bloomberg News, my editor would tell me, “Explain this concisely like you would to a grandma with a short attention span.”
5. Coherent: Messaging acts as a company-wide filter to help align different business departments and channels. Once you have a framework in place, it serves as the foundation for your business marketing materials (brochures, website, social media, etc.) as well as sales templates.
Perhaps most importantly, a strong messaging framework gives your team members the right ammunition to convey your value proposition through storytelling and one-liners they can rely on.
Traci McMillan Beach’s company, Craft Impact, partners with senior executives to develop communications strategies that engage top talent and customers during organizational change. To discuss how communications can drive retention and operational excellence in your evolving business, email [email protected].