One important step in the development of a 2019 strategic marketing plan is alignment on marketing messaging. While your corporate positioning may not change or require a refresh, you want to ensure that your primary messages are documented and communicated consistently over the course of the year and are considered as you develop your campaigns. These core marketing messages might be universal, such as for a campaign driving general awareness, and they might be very specific for campaigns that aim to launch a new product or drive lead generation within a specific market segment.
When you think about your marketing message strategy, go back to the basics and ask:
- What are you offering (product/brand etc)?
- Who are you offering it to (target audience)?
- What frame of reference should customers put this in (what category or bucket do you wish to be associated with)?
- What is the promise (the singular key benefit you want audiences to takeaway)?
- What are your own-able points of differentiation (We are talking to people in the science and healthcare fields after all—we need data. How do you justify the claim/promise?)?
When you are considering the core marketing messages you wish to articulate, it’s best to first think about them as ideas or concepts rather than focus on specific word choices which can be paralyzing and bring the task to a standstill. Carve out for yourself the space you want to occupy in your target audience’s mind as compared to your competition. What does someone need to know in your marketing messaging in order to choose you or your offering? Messaging need not be customer-facing language at this stage, but rather, the ideas you would hope to hear articulated in a customer testimonial.
When in doubt, you can always arrive at core messages by asking yourself a key question after every value statement: “Because why?” This will take you down an ever-narrowing road to get to the true core messages you want to convey. For example, if you start with “We aim to do good work to help people,” you should follow up with “Because why?” The more times you answer, the closer you’ll be to what you really want to convey.
Taking the time and discipline to write these value propositions down gives you a jumping off point for the development of collateral, advertising, and other creative materials where you can refine word choices and exact articulation of your messages.
Marketing Message Strategy Next Steps
Once you have your corporate positioning and core marketing messages defined, you have to do something with them! It is important to ensure there is consensus and buy-in among your internal stakeholders and everyone who is responsible for articulating those messages. Writing them down and then filing them away does little to get move the dial with your target audiences.
The fastest way to create buy-in for your newly defined core messages is to hold small group meetings with relevant stakeholders and say the words out loud. Consider organizing those meetings based on different teams who may use marketing messaging in different ways. Share them with those responsible for public relations who may be talking to the media as spokespeople. Share them with sales teams who will need to tailor the ideas with language that feels authentic to their sales style. We have clients who even take these core messages and laminate them and give copies to all their relevant team members.
Not every marketing channel needs to use the exact same words, (that can get tiresome for audiences) but the same ideas need to be communicated regardless of the vehicle in order for them to be digested and believed by the people you are aiming to reach.
The importance of (re)defining your core marketing messages can’t be understated. It’s the scaffolding supporting all of your other marketing and brand activities.
Look for more upcoming blogs in this series on preparing your 2019 marketing strategy, with topics including core capabilities, your digital marketing plan, and more.
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