You might be wondering, “What exactly is a messaging project, and what can I expect?” In this short post, I’ll cover the steps you’ll follow, what you can expect throughout the process, and what you should receive when you’re all done. Additionally, I’ll throw out some ideas for how to use your messaging moving forward.
Messaging can make a huge impact and drive awareness and brand trust for your company. Your message speaks to your customer and tells them why they should do business with you, what your company offers, and how you solve their problems. At its very core, your message doesn’t just tell the customer what you offer… the purpose of your message is to inspire people to take action.
Creating an inspiring message requires a lot of hard work and a certain type of honed skill. It’s some of the most difficult writing a business leader will encounter. That’s why many companies turn to agencies and independent writers to help get their messaging just right.
Whether you’re working with an agency or an independent writer, you should expect to see the same steps followed, and you should receive the same types of deliverables. In the spirit of simplicity, I’m going to call the person or agency you’re working with your “partner.” YOU, in this article, refers to business owners and leaders who are working with the partner on the messaging project. You could be a CEO of a small company, a team of product specialists, or an entire marketing group. Regardless of the players involved, the process should stay the same.
Step #1: You’ll define the scope of the project
Messaging can mean many things, from honing your mission statement, to standardizing your internal and external communications for a product or solution, to reworking your entire website, to developing a social media messaging strategy. As such, it’s important to understand exactly how wide your messaging project will span and how deep it will go.
In order to determine your project scope, your agency partner should tell you whether you’re receiving product messaging, brand messaging, copy blocks, etc. You’ll also discuss the tone your messaging should carry. Do you want your messaging to be direct and product focused? Emotionally driven? Do you want it to tell a story? Should the messages make your customer feel safe and protected, or worried about what could happen? Are you unveiling a great new idea or concept and you want to generate excitement?
Pro tip: At this stage, your partner should clearly define WHO you are talking to with your messaging. Drafting detailed customer personas can serve as valuable gut checks and proof points later on. If you already have personas defined, share them with your partner. If not, your partner should be asking you detailed questions about your target audience in order to accurately write to their needs.
When you’re finished defining your project scope, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting at the end of the project in terms of deliverables, and you’ll understand your partner’s process for getting you from start to finish. You should have a clear understanding of timeline and possible barriers to success.
Step #2: You’ll define your why, what and how
When your business launches, creates new products, or enters new markets, it’s exciting. You want to share your vision with the world. You want to tell your target customers exactly what you can offer them. But that’s not where you want to start…
If you missed my post yesterday, you’re going to want to pause for a second and go check out Simon Sinek’s video, Start with Why.
“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power, or authority. But those who lead, inspire us.” – Simon Sinek
If you haven’t approached your business from a value-driven perspective, the process of digging into the inspirational foundation of your company and the products you offer will require a bit of work. Your partner will conduct interviews with your leadership team, your product experts, your marketing team, sales organization, stakeholders… possibly even your customer advocates. The purpose and end result of these interviews is to drill into the “why” of your company.
Your purpose and vision carries the inspirational weight that’s needed to become the foundation of your messaging platform. It’s the central message that will resonate with your customers and drive them to action.
During this process, your partner will also form proof points to your “why” by exploring what you deliver and how it benefits your customer.
Step #3: You’ll go through an iterative and collaborative rewrite process
Drilling into the core of your messaging is gritty, emotional work. Be prepared for a collaborative process that requires deep thought, exploration, tinkering and changes until you have that “ah-hah” moment where it all comes together.
What I’m really saying here is, don’t expect your messaging to be perfect the first time you get it back from your partner.
You know your business. Your partner knows the business of writing. Writers understand that editing is real and they welcome your critique. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, tear it apart, and hone it until it resonates with your intention and your spirit. This is YOUR messaging platform you’re creating. You want it to be something that you’re inspired to share with the world.
Step #4: You’ll receive an actionable messaging platform
When your project is complete, you should have all of your messaging in a format that’s easy to use. It should include:
- Foundational messaging that details your why, including market drivers and how your company inspires people toward action around those drivers
- Detailed personas that show exactly who you are targeting with your messaging
- Value statements that dig into your “why” and demonstrate your unique value to the customer
- Copy that can be lifted and used verbatim
Step #5: You’ll deliver your message to the world
Once you have your messaging, you’re ready to use it as your foundation for communications. Whether your messaging is intended to highlight the value of your brand or a specific product you’re offering, you’ll want to create consistent communications both internally and externally from your messaging.
For your internal use, evangelize your messaging platform with your core teams, and help them understand what your message means. You can use your messaging to inspire your employees and energize them for the work that’s yet to come. Don’t be surprised if you foster an innovative spirit that brings new ideas to the table from recharged workers. Use that momentum to create even greater products and services that deliver on your core value.
For external use, you’ll want to use your messaging in sales communications, social campaigns, web copy, emails, print advertisements, trade show booth materials and any other customer-facing campaign or strategy. By consistently demonstrating the value of your organization, backed by a strong and inspiring message, you’ll attract the customers who align with your vision. Those early adopters could very well become vocal brand advocates, providing valuable earned media in the form of social shares, positive reviews, and referred business. You’ll find that your customer advocates will use your strong, consistent message when they share your vision, which will further perpetuate your cycles of success.
If you have a new business or product, or you simply feel as if your messaging is falling flat, give us a call. We’d love to help you dig deep into the value of your brand to create a messaging platform that inspires your customers to action.