How to Create a Consistent Marketing Message
How to Create a Consistent Marketing Message
If you want a consistent and repeatable message across all of your teams and no surprises when you open up that next ebook or sales deck, then we have the framework for you! Yes, there are different types of marketing messages, and just so you know, this isn’t a brand guideline. This is the foundation for your product and marketing messaging that you’ll use on a daily basis – from short copy on your homepage to creating ads. It starts with a persona-based approach to build that marketing messaging foundation, and gives you the tools to expand out once that’s in place.
You’ll focus on these key steps:
Map out the frustrations and wants of the individual Capture the fears and aspirations of that individual Build repeatable messaging taking those key emotions and that empathy as gain, loss aversion, and logical arguments
Do you even need a messaging strategy?
Messaging is easy, right? No. And Yes. Well, messages and marketing messaging can come naturally to some writers and marketers, but, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it can be really, really hard developing a consistent message – something that an entire team can ramp up on and use on a daily basis to get their work done. Staying “on message” when it’s just you or one person writing is one thing, but when you start to scale up your teams (are you working with contract writers or agencies?) the wheels can come off the bus really fast.
Maybe you’ve already experienced this, but here’s what can go wrong if you don’t write down your messaging strategy and enable your teams to build off of that work:
Gatekeeper mode: Your teams slow down and can’t make decisions, because all the messaging is single threaded through you (or someone).
Wild West mode: Everyone is doing their own thing, and is super efficient at running in every direction with zero consistency to what’s put out in the market.
Babble mode: Content is being generated that makes no sense and doesn’t align with your buyer’s perspective or their buying journey.
Some combination of all of the above
What’s the impact of ineffective marketing messaging?
If you don’t develop your key messages starting with the buyer personas, and if you don’t have a strategic messaging framework in place that’s working, you’re going to spend more and more time:
Coming to a marketing standstill when building out your content marketing pipeline, because you have to do deep dive reviews and rework on all the wording
Hunting down and cleaning up ebooks, whitepapers, decks, and other assets that have incompatible messages
Reviewing, training, and trying to bring along your team with the messaging you want to see
Wasting everyone’s time, as they thrash around trying to come up with – and reinventing – the messaging every single time.
Here’s how to nail effective messaging
There are a lot of incomplete templates and vague articles out there on how to go about creating your powerful marketing message. The problem is that few really offer a framework and a template that is going to empower your team to create new work based on what you decide on. “Customer problems” + “short message” does not equal success. You know the use-cases:
- Short copy - PPC ad copy (Adwords) and paid placement in newsletters
- Medium copy - blocks of copy on your web and landing pages
- Long form - entire articles, guides, presentations
It’s very difficult to create that without a plan. Without a strategy and a real messaging framework.
That’s why I suggest a different approach.
Start with a single ideal customer profile persona that you want to reach. Teams get lost in the operations side of marketing and often skip the part where everyone acknowledges that a single person will be reading / viewing / listening to what is produced at a given moment. Groups of people don’t sit around reading a blog post together – just one person does. Tap into what motivates the person that you want to reach that’s reading that ebook (or whatever asset), and you can definitely build messaging that converts and helps them along their journey as a buyer.
You want copy that converts – not purely informational content. How can you design for the difference?
How to build the messaging persona
Start with a brief persona profile to get everyone on the team on the same page.
Brief background on the persona - The high level overview on who you’re describing. We capture specific detail below, but a general overview is a great place to start. What type of organization do they work in (B2B/B2C, SaaS/CPG/etc), and how many years of experience do they have in their role.
Roles and Titles – what would they show up as on LinkedIn. Capturing all the possible titles here is valuable.
Responsibilities – If you review job posts for the titles you listed, what would their responsibilities include?
Manages – Does this person manage anyone? What roles and titles would that be if they do?
Reports to – Where does this person fit into the organizational hierarchy? This is really important, because we’re enabling sales and mapping the marketing messaging strategy and content to the buyer’s journey is critical.
Decision Maker – Does this person make the final decisions?
Affinity Groups – Where does this person hang out? Online? Offline? Are there trade associations they’d belong to or other professional groups?
How to craft messaging that converts
You’re starting with the foundation of your messaging, and it’s helpful to always remember we’re creating this for an individual. Someone is going to be reading your blog posts, checking out your ads, or web copy.
I think one of the hardest things to do is create urgency with that copy – everyone is busy and distracted with less time to try out software. The more you can speak to what they care about right now, the more effective your conversion will be on what you offer and your call to action. Creating and sustaining that urgency is about tapping into their current frustrations and wants, and this personas fears and aspirations. There are a lot of other “strategic messaging frameworks” that touch on “problems” and introducing your “solution”, but miss the point of grounding the messaging with what’s on the individual’s mind at the immediate point that they are reacting to your content. State their frustrations or fears as well as they can, and you have their attention. Remind them of the widening gap between their frustrations and what they want, and you have a conversion. Now that you’ve got a brief persona background, here’s the next step to nailing messaging that converts:
More than the problems your persona is facing at an organizational level, how can you build your foundation upon what frustrations, wants, fears, and aspirations they have on a day-to-day basis. That’s what they really care about and will motivate them.
Frustrations: Brainstorm frustrations, but try to reduce this down to the top 3 (or less) frustrations that your persona experiences that you can address. This isn’t organizational frustrations (eg our revenue isn’t increasing fast enough), but is instead personal frustrations (eg I spend too much time hunting for our official sales assets).
Wants: Capture the list of what your persona wants as an alternative to each frustration. These are tactical items, so if a frustration is “I spend too much time hunting for our official sales assets”, then the want is something like “I want my entire team to have instant access to all of our official sales assets”.
Fears: Brainstorm the top fears that your persona has. Fears are different than frustrations, because these are less tactical and more a view of a negative future. They might be frustrated about not finding an asset, but they’re afraid that the team won’t use the latest materials launched.
Aspirations: Just like frustrations -> wants, aspirations map to each individual fear to paint the picture of the alternative, positive future. What motivates this persona (eg promotion, recognition). If they fear that the team won’t or can’t use the latest assets from the latest launch, maybe they want to be recognized as improving the efficiency of the team by executive leadership.
We’ll put this mapping to work in the next step when we actually build the messaging model. This step anchors our messaging with something an individual person(a) cares about and helps our team build a consistent and repeatable messaging strategy and process with our model below.
How to create a messaging model with your persona
Ok, now you’re going to take your persona messaging template and expand that into your messaging model. To come up with your core marketing message examples, running a messaging workshop exercise with the team is a great activity. I’m not going to cover the logistics of doing that here, but the Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers book provide a lot of really excellent examples that I’ve used in a group setting.
The template that we’ll use to expand our persona frustrations, wants, fears, and aspirations into actionable messaging follows connecting with them on several levels:
Loss Aversion messaging: the desire to reduce pain and avoid or minimize loss. Most people would prioritize not losing $5 vs finding $5.
Gain messaging: Messaging to someone’s motivation for gains may resonate more with some individuals under the Prospect Theory.
Logical Argument messaging: Messaging that appeals to the rational decision maker and a slower approach to making a decision. Social proof, recommendations, facts, statistics are probably already an important component of your content.
This is an emotional messaging and logical messaging strategy that’s rooted in science (see Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman) and will speak to an individual’s decision making process. What I really like is that this gives you a repeatable formula to craft your message and take into consideration the audience of one that you’ve identified in your persona.
So, Start with one of the frustrations. And the corresponding want. You already have this captured in your persona messaging template above. Then, to generate your Gain message, start with a longer form version and try the starting point of:
With <your product or service>, you’ll achieve <Want> so you can focus on <Aspiration>.
You can also add in product/service capabilities and benefits tied to that Want or Aspiration, but nailing product or service value based messaging is another exercise.
Here’s copy from Zendesk’s homepage with Gain messaging:
Zendesk’s (helpdesk) makes it customer conversations seamless across all channels, so you can keep your customers happy and satisfied.
The gain is seamless conversations (a want) and happy satisfied (retained) customers (an aspiration). The decision maker for the help desk software might be frustrated by broken multi-channel communication and they might ultimately aspire to being seen as a leader for customer retention, impacting the bottom-line.
The original Zendesk copy is 54 words, our slimmed down version is just under 25 words. You can distill it down even more for the short version:
Zendesk makes it easy for customers to talk with you, so you can retain them.
That’s Gain messaging – longer, shorter, and shortest while still retaining the essence of the message.
Next, try out Loss Aversion messaging. You’re still expanding up on just one of your frustrations and wants from the persona template. Try the longer form:
Avoid < frustration > with < your product / service > and accomplish < want >
Zendesk doesn’t use any loss aversion messaging on their main homepage areas, so they’re missing out on telling their story multiple ways and connecting with decision makers on their terms. Intercom, though, features loss aversion messaging as a testimonial:
Avoid rigid, asynchronous, impersonal connections over email only by choosing Intercom and quickly forming personal relationships with anyone.
The want here is express as forming personal relationships with anyone (your prospects, your customers), and to do that we’re going to avoid rigid, impersonal connections with your existing email-only process. Boom.
An even shorter version could be:
Using Intercom avoids rigid, impersonal, email-only connections enabling you to quickly form personal relationships with everyone.
16 words. You could skinny that down, retain the message and write Adwords copy with that, right?
Finally, appeal to the rational brain and back up your messaging with the logical argument. Can you build a logical argument with your message. Something like:
X% of < title and role of persona> < achieve want > or < avoid frustration > by choosing < your product / service >.
You’ll often find logical arguments like this highlighted with case studies, but Pipedrive successfully includes this on their homepage:
They’ve put the spotlight on a bunch of stats, but you can pick out the ones where they are tapping into the frustrations of their ideal customer profile and target persona.
VPs of Sales that chose Pipedrive gained an average 28% increase in close rates in their first year.
Tired of the lack of support from other CRM vendors? Pipedrive has a 60s or less customer support response time and is ranked #1 in Software Review’s 2018 and 2019 Quadrants.
Avoiding frustrations, gaining the persona’s wants and logical stats all rolled into one to make the argument. Perfect.
Ready to get started on your own revamp of your messaging?
Improving your Sales Enablement with Better Messaging
OK, now you’ve nailed down your more focused, conversion-oriented messaging. And you’ve set up a method to scale that across your team, so everyone can write more compelling copy that speaks in a direct way to the buyer throughout their journey. What else can you do?
You can also include this information as you hand off assets to Sales. As marketers, there’s a gap in how we communicate, train, and all-around enable Sales as assets are typically thrown over the wall. Giving everyone the context behind who an asset is for and they key messages to drive home throughout the sales process means the hard work that went into building great content won’t go to waste.
Go grab the PDF Guide and checkout the included spreadsheet template. Let us know what you think. Did you build some compelling messaging that converts with the template? Let us know!