Strategic Messaging Matters
When you hear messaging you might think of texting, email or chat apps. While those are all forms of communication, messaging in the marketing sense is the story you are putting out to the world and what your potential customers, users, volunteers, donors, partners, and more are receiving. Whether or not you are actively cultivating your message and brand, you are communicating something. Is your success due to your messaging or in spite of it?
Are people confused and have to figure you out or do you make it easy for them to know just who you are and what you do? So often when I ask a client what they want the community to think of them, they give me something vague about whatever will make them spend money. Sometimes it is positive thoughts. Or they tell me something that they personally like about their business. Those are great messages for potential customers to get. How are they getting those out there?
Here is an example of messaging that we all do every day and women in particular will resonate with this. When you put on your clothes in the morning, you pick business attire, casual dress, a little bit of flare, something that expresses your unique style. You pick the shirt that brings out your eyes, the sleek shoes that make you look sharp, the dark colors to make you look slim, or the bright colors to get you noticed. This is messaging. You are non-verbally communicating to people who you are and how to interact with you.
So you might liken that to a store front, office, uniforms, et cetera in your business. Most people consciously or unconsciously work on this type of messaging all the time. You wash your windows and clear away clutter to make the space inviting. You use dress codes or uniforms to create consistency and professionalism between employees. There are many more components to messaging to explore.
I have a colleague that works in the copy-editing department of a bigger firm and they have a style guide that they employ to keep their written communication consistent and on message. Whenever there is a question about how something should be handled, they have a clear procedure to follow. This level of consistency communicates to their customers that they are reliable and trustworthy. Who wouldn’t want people to think those things about them?
This level of consistency communicates to their customers that they are reliable and trustworthy.
People need to hear/see things 7 times before it sinks in. Consistency in communication ensures the message is breaking through the filters. Great marketing managers repeat their messages. Take a look at Lodgic Everyday Community. They put their primary message in their name: Community. It’s logical. It’s an everyday thing.
Their photos are bright and sunny, the colors of their location and online/print marketing all match, they attend family friendly events and invite people to visit them on a frequent basis. Message: welcoming, cheerful, inclusive, clean, modern and fresh. It asks you if you identify with those things and tells you that you can share in it too. They appeal to your intelligence and desire to belong then normalize it.
You don’t have to have a degree in communications to perceive these things. You see it. You know when the messages are working for you.
As a manager you employ strategies all the time. You make strategic decisions about staffing, task management, materials sourcing and effective sales. It is time you check in on your messaging. Let me explain a test I employ.
A routine I have when I meet someone new at a networking event (I try not to challenge people randomly so this is a place where people are representing their company) is finding out how well they can tell me the company’s mission. This tells me a multitude of things about the company.
Firstly, I can see how passionately the employee is buying in to their employment. Mission alignment matters. Your employees are the first line of marketing. Customers are charged up and excited by enthusiastic and happy employees. The message you send to employees is just as important as what you send to your customers.
Secondly, positioning. How well do your employees understand your position in the marketplace? Can they communicate the value you are providing? Do they know what differentiates your company from others like it? If you are a coffee shop, what makes them walk the extra block to your store? Is your coffee better tasting or responsibly sourced? Are you catering to the businessperson looking to get in and out quick or interested in a quiet meeting place? Do you know your target market and do your employees understand how you are meeting that market’s needs? Turning your employees into brand advocates is a surefire way to increasing your messaging returns.
Thirdly, how strategic your management team has been. A warning sign starts flashing when employees can’t communicate the company’s mission. Mixed or muddled messages are communication killers. If I can tell these warning signs from a 3 min conversation, your customers are getting that communication too.
I help my clients develop mini-strategic & mini-marketing plans to address these issues. I start with where they are today and the actions they already employ then build on their mission. In a one day session, we walk through the steps to define strategies and get them headed in the right direction. Here is my list for you to start your own mini-strategic plan.
- Clarify your mission and vision.
- Make sure you have a strategic marketing plan.
- Develop a tactics plan for rolling it out.
- Get your employees energized and on message.
- Make your message consistent.