In the absence of messaging, it is difficult to attract new business or retain relationships. People take messaging for granted and, yet, it is the main tool that establishes credibility, builds trust, and compels action with an audience. Words create connection. During disruption, having the right words – for both internal (employees) or external (customers) audiences – is even more significant as people are distracted in their adaptation process. Let’s explore what you can do to ensure your messaging is as tight as possible.
Messaging is the act of communicating a company’s brand, brand promise, or platform. A message is a short communication sent from one person to another around a certain theme or to make a particular point. There are four kinds of messages – internal (going up the chain), internal (going downward to everybody in the organization), internal (lateral across the organization), and then external (to audiences outside your organization).
A structured message is intellectual, informative and educational. At the same time, particularly during disruption, you also want to have empathy because that is where your person feels they are understood, which is the (he)art of your connection.
Your brand messaging must be clear, concise, relevant, easy to consume and, especially during disruption, should convey empathy. Following are some things you can do or look for around your messaging to make sure you are communicating with clarity, empathy and relevance.
The Mental Conversation Already Happening
When you connect with another person, there is a mental conversation already happening with them. That mental conversation happens when people visit your company’s website, see your brand in social media, and come across your ads as well. You know this because you are a consumer in the world too. What do you think when you meet someone or visit a website for the first time? You want to know who or what this is about, how it relates to you, what you are supposed to do next… and that’s what happens for your business audiences as well.
The conversation is both verbal and written. It happens with every touchpoint, whether a cold call, virtual networking event, webinar or webpage. That requires planning ahead by being aware of the mental conversations already happening so you can address them and progress the relationship easily.
There are five questions that form the crux of the mental conversation. 1) “Who is this person/company?” 2) “How is it relevant to me?” 3) “How does it work?” 4) “What’s the fine print / what should I expect?” 5) “Where do I sign up?” You don’t need to answer those questions in order, but you do need to answer them. The right messaging addresses the customer’s mental conversation before they even have to think it.
Incidentally, good messaging also repels people who are not the right fit for your business. It’s a time-saver for everyone. Smart messaging attracts smart customers.
The letters T-A-C in that order are meaningless but, when you flip them, you have C-A-T. Now it’s a meaningful word. That is syntax in action, where the right things are in the right order to be meaningful. Syntax is the basis of sequential messaging for your audience and is a comprehension strategy for people to understand your brand.
You want to sequence the thoughts of your reader, of your website visitor, of the people who you are working with to build a relationship.
In our increasingly connected world, people are bombarded by marketing messages – research back in 2007 showed 5,000 per day. Fast forward more than a decade and it’s fair to reason people are exposed to as many as 10,000 brand messages per day, every day, through social media, TV, radio, internet browsing, ads on the subway or the bus, cabs, playbills from events. Of all those messages, only the most interesting or relevant ones will get through to your ideal audience, and only a few (out of thousands!) will get actioned.
Successful messaging cuts through that noise to get attention and focus. Sequential messaging then builds a story, meets the person’s mental conversation and creates micro-moment conversions, meaning tiny actions to keep that person engaged with the brand. Think of messaging as little sales magnets where micro-yesses thoughtfully progress the relationship (yes I’ll read that article, yes I’ll click that button, yes I’ll download that item, etc.).
Sequential messaging can apply to any marketing content shown in a purposeful order. So whether it’s a banner ad, a search engine ad, a social media post, videos, blogs, white papers, downloadable reports, or another format, as long as it builds a more complete thought to invite the person’s engagement for relationship, it is sequential messaging.
By the way, cross-platform messaging – meaning messaging on simultaneous platforms like social media, digital ads or other formats – gets attention. People notice a brand more when ads show up on different devices and on different platforms, and gets to interact with your brand on their terms. Having a cross-platform messaging strategy ensures your brand presents a unified image and helps personalize the relationship.
Six Elements of Clear Messaging
Putting the right words in the right order for the right future (and current) customer sounds so easy. To help keep it simple, here are six elements of clear messaging.
Why should your product or service be important to your ideal audience member? What motivates your target audience to take action? What challenges are they facing? What inspires them? This insight allows you to customize your messaging for their needs, wants and perspective.
Pain drives needs and wants (to a greater degree than moving toward pleasure). By knowing the issue or challenge your ideal future customer is facing, you can acknowledge their experience and show how your solution addresses it.
What is the consequence of letting this problem continue without being addressed or resolved? This is what your future customer risks by not taking new action.
How does your solution relate to your future customer’s problem or desired outcome? Show what life will be like as a result of your solution.
What are the real-world outcomes and ways your customers win with your solution?
- Why You
How have you earned the right to deliver this solution? Your experience, perspective, skills, niche… include relatable customer testimonials, case studies, or success stories to substantiate what you can deliver through your solution for credibility and authority.
Make sure your messaging is authentic – no hyperbole. Make sure your person knows what to do next with a clear call to action. Make it easy for them to say yes – to take the next step, to download, to schedule a call or demo.
The 8 Micro-Sales of Good Messaging
Your goal is to make your messaging so on point that it captures your ideal future customer in an ocean of potential solutions. Whether you know it or not, you are making eight micro-sales with every touchpoint.
- Attention: Your future customer’s focus and time needs to redirect to your brand promise.
- Benefit: Your future customer needs to understand the benefit(s) of your solution for them.
- Credibility: Your future customer has to know how you know what you’re talking about by building trust, referencing testimonials and success stories, and by being ‘real’.
- Uniqueness: Your future customer needs to know your solutions are something they don’t already have and won’t get somewhere else.
- Value: Your future customer expects a greater value than the cash they give you for it.
- Safety: Your future customer needs to feel their information is safe and confidential with you, and that they can always reach you.
- Convenience: Your future customer needs to understand your solutions and have an easy way to take the next step.
- Now: Your future customer must know why they should have a sense of urgency about taking advantage of your solutions.
Some of these points seem obvious; however, think about them the next time you look at any brand messaging to determine whether that content hits the micro-sales mark for relevance, clarity, and thought sequencing. Notice whether you are compelled to trust, to take the next step, to say yes to that company – or not.
In summary, your company’s messaging either attracts or repels people from your brand. It’s important for your audience to self-select because you don’t want to take time with people who are not your ideal customers. You need to be as effective as possible with all your resources (like 30-minute increments of conversation time that add up), especially during disruption. Be selective about where you put your resources by auditing your message to help your company pivot through disruption.
One last point… this is not the kind of information you might expect an IT company to share – but XTIVIA isn’t just any IT implementation company. We think about your business as a whole, including what you want your tech to accomplish, how you will use it and what already part of your IT environment. XTIVIA is more than IT – we are smart people who care about all aspects of your business.
Please reach out if you want me to review your messaging or be a sounding board for you. I would be honored.