The secret to effective messaging is simple: consistency. That’s hard to pull off with so many channels and marketing initiatives out there.
When business is growing fast, you’re just trying to get stuff out and on time. So you say one thing on your site and another thing on that landing page. Your social channels and blog have their own thing going on. The campaign comes out of left field to shake things up.
Before you know it, your message is all over the place.
Mixed messages have a cumulative effect on your brand. Each one adds to mounting confusion, making it increasingly hard for people to get what your brand is about, and the distinct value you offer over competitors.
Confused messaging is a slippery slope to losing your edge.
But you can avoid all this with a messaging cheatsheet: a handy one-pager that outlines the key ingredients of your brand’s message. It’s a simple, useful guide to ensure every piece of content you push over any channel supports your brand.
A messaging cheatsheet is the quickest way to make your brand more consistent.
And, it’s oh-so-easy to make one. Create a new document, slap a table inside and fill in the blanks with the following:
Your value proposition is a crisp statement that sums up the #1 benefit you offer customers. It should clearly articulate what people can expect from you, and how you’re different from the competition.
If you’re not clear on this, then your customers won’t be either.
Your value proposition is the bedrock underneath your marketing messages. It’s worth putting the time into crafting a good one. Here’s a simple framework to get started:
We provide X so Y can Z
Fill in the blanks so X is your offering; Y is your target audience; Z is the ultimate benefit they receive. Strive for specifics. For example: “We provide Salesforce consulting for global tech companies so they can increase revenue through a unified customer journey.”
Once you have a working value proposition, take a look at what your competitors are saying on the top of their websites. How do they talk about their value? What are they trying to be known for? Make sure you’re not trying to claim the same thing as all the other guys. Your value proposition should be unique.
If your value proposition is the bedrock of marketing, then consider your key benefits the soil on top. It’s important to have your most compelling benefits clearly defined and organized in a digestible manner.
Aim for 3 to 5 high level benefits that describe your most important selling points.
Start by going wide. Brainstorm all the benefits you can think of. Ask current customers what they value most. List out your product features and how they benefit people. Once you have a long list of benefits, group them into themes. For example, you may group “clarity”, “usability” and “simple” underneath the broader theme of “ease.”
A clear understanding of your key benefits make your marketing and sales efforts easier and more aligned.
Proof is the crop that grows from the soil of your key benefits. Good soil, good crops (and vice versa).
List concrete features and examples of how your product/services supports your key benefits.
If support is a key benefit, you’d want to list things like unlimited technical support; free learning materials; step-by-step help guides; mentorship etc. Land on the strongest, most popular proof points. Your marketing should focus on these things.
Boilerplate (long and short versions)
Can you sum up your company in 90 words? How about 30? I challenge you to try both. A sharp boilerplate gives a boost to social media bios, press releases and bylines. Consistency builds your brand.
There are no rules about what should be in a boilerplate. Include anything that’s important, like your mission, what makes you different, location, offering, audience or any basic stats.
There are so many formulaic company overviews out there, and I encourage you not to join them. Try and make your boilerplate as specific to your company as possible. What can only you say? What’s unique about you? How can you share your beliefs?
A brand promise is a catchy one-liner that sums up your value proposition. It gives people the gist of what you do in simple terms. Here are some examples:
Video conferencing you’ll actually love.
Build a creative business on your own terms.
Branding without the mumbo jumbo.
Your brand promise could double up as your tagline or you could keep it as an internal mantra for employees.
Tone of voice
Conversational, sophisticated, simple, friendly, cheeky…how would you describe your brand’s voice?
Landing on your tone of voice is crucial when more than one person writes for your brand. It offers a simple guide to keep your writing style consistent across marketing channels. Otherwise, your brand sounds like it has a personality disorder.
Establish 3 to 5 personality traits that describe your brand’s voice. A good place to start is imagining your brand as a person. Describe what they’re like, then land on the traits that make your brand sound different from competitors.
If your message doesn’t connect to your audience’s specific needs and wants, then you’re just spinning fluff. No one’s going to take notice.
This gets tricky when you have multiple audiences. Say you’re an app that makes small donations easy. You’re targeting donors who use the app and charities who could white label the app.
The donors want an easy, no hassle-way to donate to charities. And the charities want to affordably expand their donor base. They each have different needs, so you can’t speak the same way to them.
Clearly outlining your audiences will keep your messaging on-point. Underneath each audience category, bullet point their key needs and desires and the ways your product/services solve them. This is your cheat sheet to make sure your messaging will hit home with the right people.
Not sure what your audience wants? Then talk to a customer. Read product reviews or speak with your sales team. There are insights everywhere, if you look for them.
Always keep your cheatsheet close
Once you nail down the above into one page, you can say goodbye to reinventing the wheel every time a marketing initiative pops up. You’ll have the right message on hand. But it goes further than that.
Your cheatsheet is a springboard for new ideas, too. You could:
- Plan an article series that bring your key benefits to life
- Launch a social campaign around your brand promise
- Make a place on your website to speak to your different audiences.
- And more…
When you’re clear on your message, things start to fall into place and consistency becomes natural.