Scott Smith

How-To Capitalize On Messaging (Part 1)

Part 1: Make Messaging Drive Planning To Reap New Mindshare

Do you have customers who just don’t seem to get what’s different about your service? Did news stories about your last product launch lead from angles different than the point you wanted to get across? Does this sound familiar: “Really! I didn’t know your main business was accounting software.”

Any situations like these have you reaching for antacids lately? The most common reaction is to call for more publicity. However, a flurry of press releases and advertisements will only make you vague in even more peoples’ minds. The problem isn’t that no one has heard of you. The problem is that they didn’t come away with the primary message you wanted to deliver. Instead, they came away with a bunch of messages and got confused.

Your Key Message should be a statement – often a single sentence – that crystalizes the single most important reason for buying, writing about or supporting your offering. It must be absolutely credible and compelling enough that it remains top-most in customers’ and reporters’ minds. If they could remember only one thing, the Key Message is that thing. The Key Message becomes the foundation for all of your communications.

The result of a well designed Key Message is almost magical – your customers will make your competition defend its wares against your best argument; newspapers and trade journals trumpet your message as one melody; and with increased confidence donors cease to waver about contributing.

Developing your Key Message starts with your communications plan. Surprisingly, I find that even companies that develop otherwise well thought out communications plans, often do little more than cut and paste messaging from another plan.

While I anticipate mail from scores of MBO adherents, the Key Message can have such a powerful impact on your communications plan that it should be developed first. It should drive your goals, objectives and certainly tactics.

After all, how can you develop objectives until you have a handle on the case you’re supporting? Strategies too evolve more effectively when you have the Key Message that brings to light opportunities and hurdles in your path? Messaging invariably shapes the press and customer events, media tours, social media programs and the tactics that are the teeth of the plan.

So, if you have a communications plan underway, put it in your drawer and let’s take a message-down approach. In the next part of this series, I’ll show you the most common alternatives to the Key Message process and why you should avoid them. In Part 3, I’ll show you how to develop a Key Message.

Meanwhile, those of you with experience, anecdotes or tips, please share your wealth with all of us.

Category: Messaging

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One Response to How-To Capitalize On Messaging (Part 1)

  1. JSS says:

    Thanks for the 3-part series. I come from a PR background and have been drafted to develop comprehensive messaging for a client with a complex product/service that doesn’t fit neatly into any existing category. Parts 1 and 3 provided a nice opportunity to step back and do a reality check.

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