Key messages are specific information you want your audience to understand and remember about you. They explain the value and/or service you provide, and address your customer pain points. They should form the basis of any marketing or communications.
If you’re looking to draft some for your business, or refine them, here’s what you should consider:
Core offering or Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
This doesn’t need to be complicated; in fact, the simpler, the better! Take Hootsuite, the social media content planner, for example; their basic premise is ‘Manage all your social media in one place.’ It’s simple and straight to the point but actually tells the consumer a lot about the ease and convenience its service offers.
What makes your business different? What’s its real strength? Perhaps you’re a plasterer who always makes the effort to clean up after themselves in which case, one of your messages could be ‘The plasterer with the vacuum cleaner.’ It tells customers you’re considerate, respectful towards their homes, and can be trusted and goes a long way to getting those all-important word of mouth recommendations.
Specific key message to different audiences
Most businesses have some diversity within their target audience, whether they differ by age, income, location or gender, for example. Each of them may use the same product, but for different reasons.
High earners might value the fact that ‘the plasterer with the vacuum cleaner’ will take good care of their expensive furnishings when working, whereas someone else might more highly value a tradesman in their home they can trust and feel safe with. Identify what value they find in your product or service and address that in your messages.
If your audience is B2B, remember that there are often several target audiences within this section – a decision maker, buyer and end user, so you’ll need to adapt your messages to each. The decision maker or buyer might be led by price – the end user who most likely has nothing to do with the cost, could be more likely to value functionality.
Be clear about the problem you solve
Identifying customers’ and clients’ pain points and frustrations demonstrates you have some understanding of their lives and the specialist knowledge or product to address them.
For example, if a make-up user is fed up with spending money on lipsticks that don’t last, telling them that yours is ‘The lipstick with 24 hour staying power’ shows you know the problem they’ve experienced and have taken the time to formulate a product that solves it.
What are your values?
Telling consumers what issues are important to your business is vital for helping them align their values with yours, and identifying with your brand. It could be that you only use sustainable materials, donate a percentage of profits to charity, are a family-run business, or use an authentic product recipe handed down through generations; these all give a flavour of the ethics, personality and ‘heart’ of your business. Consumers like to know they are buying from a brand that shares their principles and views – even if it’s subliminal.
Use the right language…
It can be tempting to think that sophisticated language gives the impression that your business is in some way more competent, or knowledgeable in its field. But complicated writing full of jargon is likely to confuse your audience and leave them feeling alienated.
Take the financial sector, for example – industry vocabulary such as ‘protection’ is unlikely to be understood by many consumers. They might feel it’s a word they should understand, leading them to feel embarrassed and uninformed. Far better instead to use the more widely understood and internet searched word: ‘insurance.’
Unless you’re talking to a specifically tech-savvy audience who prides themselves on their complex knowledge in your field, plain English is always preferable.
The right key message in the right places!
Include your messages in all of your communications, whether that’s publicly such as your website, social media, advertising, packaging, brochures etc. or privately, such as direct mailers, letters or even phone calls.
Think about when you’re talking to your consumer, too, whether that’s a seasonal time such as Christmas or Easter, a particular day, such as the weekend, or ahead of an important event. Getting the timing right shows you really know your audience; we once worked on an NHS breastfeeding campaign and we chose to send email and social media messaging out in the early hours of the morning, when we knew mothers would be awake feeding their babies. This demonstrated we understood their experiences and were making real efforts to support them.
Likewise, we advise clients with a Christmas product to avoid too much comms in the summer when the sun is shining and thoughts are far away from December’s festivities and weather!
If you’d like help putting your key messages together, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read our blog on target audience – to understand more about who to say your messages to.