I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain the value of a strategic messaging workshop to new clients. And, it boggles my mind that anyone would dive into media relations or social media engagement without first defining their brand, their value and story.
So, let’s take a moment to review the steps to developing a good messaging workshop and strategy.
BRAND MESSAGING STRATEGY:
When conducting your messaging, you need to consider the total story around the brand. No reporter is going to be interested in just listing your product or service’s features. They want a story. They want anecdotes. They want to talk about the situation, not the brand.
Ask yourself or your client these questions:
- Who is the target customer?
- If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, how can you possibly reach them?
- What problem does the product/service solve for that customer?
- This helps you pinpoint the value/benefit.
- How is this product/service different from everything else out there?
- This helps you find the competitive advantage.
- Why or how was this product/service developed?
- Often, the inception backstory is a goldmine for messaging.
- What do you want customers to FEEL about the brand.
- This will help you create emotional connections to the product/service or company.
Next, you need to transform all this information into a pithy elevator pitch, which is a complete brand statement that can be delivered in about the length of the average elevator ride. This is also called a positioning statement and usually needs to encompass the brand’s promise/value or solution to a problem. You want to avoid industry jargon. I usually say, write this positioning statement so that your mom or dad could understand it.
Then, you want to build out your anecdotes. Use supporting points to illustrate the brand’s position and value. You can’t just say, “this is going to change the way people shop” without backing it up with examples of how it will change behaviors and why the change is needed.
In the end, you should have an elevator pitch / positioning statement that looks like this:
- Headline – the who & what that sets up the story & controls the topic
- Facts – the supporting evidence that proves your point
- Anecdotes – the word pictures that make the story memorable
- Bottom line – the closing point that reinforces the message
You should be able to craft a solid elevator pitch or positioning statement for all aspects of the company, the products or services.
SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGING:
Now, figuring out your brand message for social media is slightly different. You want to follow the same principles of messaging but, you must also be able to answer one key question: Why would the customer follow this brand online? What’s in it for them?
This is where you will create value for your online following. And, if you can’t answer this in one sentence, you need to go back to the drawing board and figure it out.
Perhaps the brand can help educate customers on relevant issues? Perhaps the brand can be THE source for industry information or changes in regulations? Perhaps there are ancillary customer interests that can be leveraged?
I don’t care how specific a product is or how “boring” you may deem it to be. You can always create value for the customer to engage with the brand in social media.
For example, when figuring out the social media value proposition for Sparkle Paper Towels a few years ago, my team and I looked at the customer’s total day. The target customer was Mom.
Well, mom is interested in more than just cleaning up messes. She is interested in recipes and entertaining tips. She is interested in play time and craft time with the kids. She is interested in the health and safety of her family. And, she is interested in household hacks that make her life easier.
So, the Sparkle Paper Towel value proposition in social media became about these topics. Social media content included recipes, craft ideas, entertaining ideas, health tips and household hacks.
There was a natural connection to the product without talking about the product.
After all, there is only so much one can say about paper towels. But, there are a million craft projects one can do with paper towels and their rolls; there are a million recipes mom can make and a million ways to make family time fun.
Clients rely on us to be creative story-tellers. They rely on us to find and articulate the value of their products beyond the obvious. They can do the obvious themselves as they live and die by their brands. We, on the other hand, must come up with the storylines they haven’t yet thought of and that only comes from strategic messaging.
If you are in need of a messaging workshop for your brands, or you need a refresher course for your agency teams, please contact me jennifer (at) andersonjonespr.com or visit Anderson Jones PR.
Hi Jennifer I’d like to share some of your content with students to support our communication strategies in class, would this be ok with you?
Absolutely. Let me know if I can help further in any way. Thanks!