Scott Smith

How-To: Capitalize on Messaging (Part 4)

Part 4: Hold on! We need ‘blisters’ in the message!

If you’ve read through from Part 1 of this how-to on developing a Key Message, you may be waving your arms, “Wait a minute! You forgot the blisters! It’s 20 percent of the market!”

The Key Message is the foundation for press releases, keynotes, product brochures, web content, advertising – all of the communications supporting a product. It absolutely must be effective.

So, Why ignore 20 percent of a market? is a fair question.

Limiting what goes into a Key Message is essential, but undeniably difficult. It takes discipline to position nearly as compelling points down the page.

You’ll recall that our study found wearing socks with holes caused unbearable personal humiliation for 80 percent of respondents and painful blisters for 20 percent. So, why did we build our key message only around one thought, personal shame?

Only Argyle Warehouse socks with bulletproof toes end the humiliation of exposed toes in colorful style.

Wouldn’t we capture more mindshare if we added that it solved the blister problem too? And we didn’t even discuss low price, new array of fashionable colors or the company’s commitment to high quality. All are important.

Science tells us that we can keep only three to four ideas in our heads at one time. That would suggest three to four messages, right? Only if we could trust customers, reporters, investors and other stakeholders to remember all of the messages, keep them in our order of importance and emphasize our Key Message before addressing the others.

Though I’m passionate about socks, I’ve already forgotten the first thing we’d expect of them. You can’t expect less interested stakeholders to do better.

Focusing on your Key Message keeps you in control. Without your Key Message fixed firmly in mind, a harried reporter might write the wrong story.

Imagine your CEO’s disappointment after spending millions of R&D dollars on Rmer to read the headline: “Argyle Warehouse Unveils Blister-proof Socks” – that addresses only a lowly 20-percent of the market. Any competitors catering to the large, affluent sock-aficionados market are back in business.

Multiply this confusion by the potentially hundreds of communications channels that can cover any announcement, and you can see how unfocussed messaging can quickly and irrevocably dilute a poorly conceived messaging strategy’s impact. 

Now, picture this: pretend you’re Argyle Warehouse’s marketing director and a friend introduces to a reporter or investor. “Have you heard of us?” you ask. “Sure! You’re the company that ended people’s embarrassment when taking off their shoes by inventing stylish bulletproof socks.”

Think about that response spreading throughout your audiences. You’re smiling, aren’t you?

Be relentless in pursuing one and only one Key Message. The results will astound you.

Rate your company’s messaging. Compare the messaging for the product brochure, press release and homepage content for a recent product introduction. Does each emphasize a single Key Message? Is the Key Message the same on all three?

If so, I’ll bet you’re smiling. If not, go back to Part 1 of this series and learn how to get it there. Let us know how it goes or if you have questions.

Category: How To, Marketing Smarts, Messaging, Wordsmanship

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