18 Aug Content Marketing: How to Create a Messaging Strategy that Converts
You know who had an authentic, passionate, and empowering messaging strategy? Martin Luther King Jr.
As a middle child, you would think he’d end up with the usual inflictions – mild bitterness and resentment with a misguided assertiveness.
But, M.L.K. Jr. grew up in a loving environment with a disciplinarian father and gentle mother.
The son of a pastor, M.L.K. Jr. soaked in sermons and developed a natural ease for putting his beliefs on show in front of crowds.
And he always got his message across while drawing more and more followers to his cause with each speech he delivered.
How did he manage to capture the attention of a divisive nation? How did he rally large groups of underrepresented individuals under a single mission despite negativity from the majority?
The answer? An emotionally-driven message.
If you review any of his speeches or writings, from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to “I Have a Dream,” you’ll notice something miraculous…
He never leads with policy or pushes political positions outright. Instead, his arguments are grounded in principle and he intends his message to evoke particular emotions.
Take the following excerpt from “I Have a Dream”:
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the people’s injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
His principles are clear. Justice. Community. Unity. Opportunity.
However, he hasn’t yet hinted at the solution, the nuts and bolts, “here’s what we need to do” plans. He connects with people through the heart before accessing their minds.
And he accomplished this task with a repetition of core principles delivered in a package of words.
As you can see, words are funny little things.
We emit them all of the time. They are on every screen we touch, in every book or newspaper we read, and splattered across signs and billboards we see on our commutes.
Even more funny is the impact stringing certain words together or replacing one phrase for another can have on people.
The way your business combines words to create associations in the minds of your buyers directly correlates to the success of your sales and marketing strategies.
If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been so consistent with his messaging and persuasive with his language, the movements he incited may not have been as successful as they were.
As a business that sells products or services, consistency and assurance are the qualities most buyers seek from you.
Without a clear brand messaging strategy and thoughtful content marketing plan, each member of your team is left to their own devices.
When it comes to defining the value you provide to consumers…
Are all employees and departments within your business on the same page?
Are you even in the same chapter?
If not, it’s likely that you don’t have a documented brand messaging strategy to unite all fronts of your sales and marketing army.
How are brand messaging and content marketing different?
“Brand messaging” and “content marketing” are industry jargon that tend to never get fully explained. Plus, their meanings, formats, and structures vary from marketer to marketer.
For starters, brand messaging is simply a list of the core ideas you want audiences to believe about your company. When someone thinks of you, what do you want them to remember and tell their friends and family?
Each segment of your audience requires slightly different message framing, but the core concepts will remain the same.
On the other hand, content marketing includes the methods by which you distribute the compilation of messages you want your audience to understand about your company.
In other words, brand messaging is to cargo what content marketing is to a vessel.
We develop brand messaging based on who you are and what you do. Then, we share that information in the packaging and through the channels where you’ll find your most receptive audiences.
Why does messaging strategy matter?
From what your sales representatives say to prospects to how your ads read to potential leads, messaging strategy impacts every part of your business.
Any incongruence slows the sales process, stunts the ability to produce turnkey marketing campaigns, and perpetuates failure to connect with audiences. A comprehensive messaging strategy spells out the features that set you apart from competitors, the benefits consumers receive from your service or product, and the exact words and positioning to use for each buyer at each stage of the sales funnel.
Without detailed messaging strategy, your company becomes susceptible to:
- Confused marketers: Your individual or team won’t have the resources they need to adequately describe the value of your offerings to leads, repeat buyers, and influencers.
- Ineffective salespeople: Overcoming objections despite the type of consumer on the other end of the phone or chat is easier when you can create scripts and templates based on the messaging you know converts.
- Irrelevant content: To share the right message on the right platform, you must know where your audiences live and what emotions and rationale will encourage responses.
The messaging strategy you create to support your brand has a trickle-down effect on every person and department in your company.
Components of Messaging Strategy
At its highest level, a messaging strategy must attract a wide range of audiences who rally around an idea, concept, feeling, or goal.
As you peel the layers of a messaging strategy, the information gets more specific since you will address each audience type – their unique problems and ultimate vision of success.
The components to consider when building your strategy include:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Who you serve
- And why you are different
A messaging strategy is like a molecule. When you distill a messaging strategy down to its smallest parts (or atoms), you will uncover a basic list. It consists of the top objections consumers make and the most effective responses your company constructs.
|The price is too high or I don’t have the budget for this||Speak to the value and describe the emotional state of buying from you|
|There’s not enough value||Offer up a demo (if relevant)
Present case studies as stories
List a couple of statistics that would be compelling to a particular buyer
|I already buy from a competitor||A classic compare and contrast situation, use this objection as an opportunity to discover how your competitor makes your prospect feel (and show how you can make them feel better)|
From your ad copy and emails to your presentations and sales pitches, the language used to define, describe, and justify your product or service should be similar.
Strategic Messaging Framework for Any Business
Once you have outlined the four components of your brand messaging, you are ready for the next step: composing a strategic messaging framework for your employees to incorporate into their daily routines.
To create an effective messaging framework, consider these 6 building blocks:
- Buyer Types
The messaging framework I encourage businesses to follow starts with an exercise where you list out your audiences including details such as:
- Purchase behaviors
- Household income
- Family type
- And more
Fill out this data for your top 3 audiences. Then, determine each audience’s principles and values. What intangible priorities are they most likely to have?
Review potential personal value examples here →
Knowing the principles your target audiences hold allows you to understand how they live their lives and make buying decisions.
While humans are fundamentally emotional creatures, their motivations for buying goods and services varies.
Consider the following 6 types of buyers when you construct your brand messaging strategy:
- Brand-Conscious: For this buyer, their identity means everything. Position your product or service so that it falls in line with how your audience wants the world to perceive them.
- Price-Conscious: These buyers are your run-of-the-mill, “yeah, but how much money is this gonna cost me” types. They view most purchases as negatives instead of positives. It’s your job to explain to them how the value you provide justifies any cost they might incur.
- Change-Conscious: Most of us are terrified of change and the expectation of adaptation. Talking points for buyers who change comes much harder to stem from a place of ease, seamlessness, and lack of pain.
- Relationship-Conscious: Trust is the cornerstone of this buyer’s purchases. As a company, you must deliver helpful content and ask personal questions to close the deal.
- Convenience-Conscious: A different version of the change-conscious buyer, people who prioritize convenience don’t want to think too hard about what they are buying or how they are buying it.
- Solution-Conscious: If the solution you are offering is new or unique, appeal to this type of buyer’s fondness novelty. They chase shiny things and adopt emerging technology and methods first.
Which category of buyers do your audiences fall into? Make a list in a separate spreadsheet to keep track of your research.
Now, you can discover where your brand principles and audience principles align.
What are your brand principles?
Brand principles depict the goals of your company and the ways you hope to serve individuals and the world.
- First, choose brand principles that are both emotionally compelling and capable of producing a cohesive story of what your company believes in.
- Then, surround your brand with positive emotion. Illustrate your principles by using the cut and dry features of your product or service.
- Throughout your messaging strategy, encourage positive feelings toward your company’s personal characteristics.
- Lastly, manage consumer feelings toward your company’s products and services. (This is the task you should focus least on)
Your brand principles might be…
Once you outline your brand principles, consider the stories you can attach to them. Whether it’s a company or product origin story or a customer experience example, define the narrative that will appeal to your core audiences. Then, stick with it.
At the fourth step, we begin our road to specificity. In the first few rounds, we developed high-level concepts. By taking a broad approach, we open the possibility to attract larger audiences.
From here, however, we need to start putting on paper the ways our particular products or services contribute to higher ideals.
For example, a meal planning business might select a brand principle of balance.
So, how do they connect their business to “balance?”
A good list of Actions they could communicate to consumers would be…
- Daily dish building – we deliver daily recipes with thoughtfully included ingredients
- 30-minutes or less – our meals take no time to finish so you can get the kids to bed on time, every time
- On-call health coach – if you run into any issues, contact a dedicated health coach through our easy-to-access app
When you add context to your brand principles, you gain the trust of your potential buyers.
This step is toward the end of the process because it’s actually the part of your offer consumers care the least about.
Features include the nuts and bolts of your product or service.
Think of your features like the icing on top of an already dense, moist, and delicious cake.
In your content or on your sales calls, run through your list of features last. And use it primarily to support your brand principles.
Finally, conclude your virtual and in-person pitches with customer testimonials and case studies. Share a story that mirrors the situation and needs of an audience member at hand.
Demonstrate exactly how that person or company used your product or service to reach the metaphorical other side. Like Frodo and Mordor.
In addition, start evaluating the facts, figures, and statistics you can use as evidence to back up your emotional claims.
With that, you will have a brand messaging strategy to communicate across all departments and with every employee.
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