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Your message is your most valuable marketing asset

Many executives ask what type of marketing is best for getting new customers and growing their business. Paid search? Display ads? Email? Direct mail?

Jumping straight into tactics like this without first understanding who you’re speaking to and without having identified the optimal message for each type of audience will result in wasting money.

The intentional, deliberate creation of messages that are carefully crafted for maximum effectiveness will make any marketing effort exponentially more successful. A solid message strategy will improve internal marketing, external customer acquisition, investor relations and interest from the press.

Too many companies allow each salesperson to fabricate their own description of who the company is and what makes its offerings different and special. Too many companies let employees — their greatest source of free word-of-mouth advertising — come up with their own explanation of their company’s positioning and value proposition.  

If you don’t communicate what is great about your business in a way that’s simple, clear and memorable, your employees and outside audiences will, I promise you, simply make it up on their own. And what they  come up with will not be as good as your business deserves.

A review of sales decks from a publicly traded company recently proved this true once again. Each salesperson had created a different explanation of who the company was, what differentiated them from their competitors and why customers should buy from them.

Why doesn’t every business have crisp, simple, compelling messaging that’s memorable and differentiating? Because it’s hard. It takes time. It is an investment that can’t be tied to an immediate ROI. And often, it’s not clear who within the company should own this. Brand? Corporate Communications? Marketing? Sales? The Executive Office? The answer is all of the above.

The development of your company messaging should include a carefully selected team of stakeholders. It’s optimal to have participation from the CEO, leaders of marketing and sales, as well as a representative from HR. If there is a leader of product management, R&D, or Operations present, they will often have valuable perspectives to contribute. A workshop environment designed to elicit everyone’s input and involvement will create buy-in across the organization. When key leaders feel that they have helped to shape the messaging, they are much more likely to embrace it when it is complete and help implement it across all internal and external touch points. A productive messaging workshop should include these steps:

  1. Define your audiences.
  2. Examine the key messages and promises your competitors use. Which are the most successful? Why?
  3. Determine what you want your audiences to believe about your business.
  4. Gather the facts so that you can substantiate why your claims are true.
  5. Make it simple and memorable.

Even the best messages are sometimes developed, and then tossed aside because organizations don’t know what to do with them or how to make them powerful. So, finally, it’s important to create an activation plan that defines how your messages will go to market and become valuable marketing assets that position your business in the most favorable light.

This article originally appeared in The Austin Business Journal.