Imagine that a friend just reached out to you about creating a free billboard for your company. He works for an advertising agency and has an open spot on a digital billboard that he’s offering to you free of charge. He’ll even throw in complementary graphic design work.
All you have to do is send him some text for the ad by the end of the week.
Setting aside the debate of whether or not people actually read billboards anymore, you’re eager to take the friend up on the promise of free advertising. Your challenge is coming up with a short, memorable message about your business that people will notice and remember while driving 75 mph down the highway.
In other words, if you had a sentence to describe your business and compel people to do business with you, what would you say?
Why is a messaging strategy important?
That’s the question you should ask yourself with nearly every marketing platform.
Your website, social media, and email marketing all need proper messaging. These may be more effective than billboards, but you still have a limited time and space to capture someone’s attention and compel them to action.
What makes a difference is good messaging.
A clear and concise tagline isn’t the only thing that will close a sale or earn a new client. But it’s often the first step in earning their trust. A good messaging strategy tells the story of your business in a way that invites your target audience into the story.
Effective messaging is about painting a compelling picture that the audience can see themselves in. Your goal is to help them clearly see themselves buying your product or using your service. A messaging strategy is a tool for framing your brand in a way that your audience will understand.
Because if they’re confused about who you are or what you do, you’ve already lost them. A messaging strategy is your toolkit for creating content on any marketing platform that will consistently resonate and drive action.
People aren’t looking to spend money with you because you want to make a profit. People buy products and services that help them live a better life. They’re interested in what’s in it for them, and they’ll trust brands who they believe can help them.
That’s why every marketing message begins with who you’re speaking to. Understanding your target audience is crucial to forming a good messaging strategy. If you don’t know who you’re trying to serve, you’ll never know how to compel them to action.
It’s tempting to think you can reach everyone, but it’s better to focus in on specifics and build a foundation from there. For example, if you’re a lawn care business, you’re most interested in reaching homeowners. More specifically, you’re likely focused on homeowners in a specific geographic area who aren’t already doing lawn care themselves.
Humans are biologically wired to survive and thrive. That’s the motivation behind most of the choices we make—including who we buy from or do business with. Each one of us is inclined to trust and work with brands who can help us live a better life.
This means that your business should be focused on a specific problem (or set of problems). The more clearly you can focus on that challenge, the better you’ll be able to serve your target audience. Your messaging should also explicitly address this problem to build tension and recognition in people’s minds.
To build on our previous example, you’ve started to research the potential clients of your lawn care business. After some conversations with existing clients, you recognize that they came to you because they didn’t have the time or expertise to cut the grass themselves. But they felt embarrassed to have a lawn that was overgrown and filled with weeds.
People are compelled to take action when they have a problem to solve and they’re presented with a solution. As it just so happens, your service is the resolution to that tension. Framing your business as a solution provides potential customers down a path toward growth.
Your lawn care business isn’t just cutting your customers’ grass. You’re saving them the time it takes to do lawn care. You’re providing them expert insights into how to care for their grass. In the process, you’re helping them take more pride in their home because of their professionally manicured lawn. Your services have relieved their stress.
Therefore, they’re not really buying your time cutting their lawn, they’re buying the peace of mind that comes after you’re finished.
Depending on your industry or service, it’s likely that you’re not the only company providing this solution to potential customers. There are competitors in your marketplace precisely because there is a need to be met. That’s true even if the other solutions aren’t exactly like yours.
That’s why it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition. Identify what makes you unique and worth partnering with. Build trust in customers by showing them that you care (empathy) and you know what you’re doing (authority).
Building on our lawn care business example, you can display empathy by expressing that you care about how your customers’ lawns look. It’s not right for them to suffer sub-par landscaping, which is why you started the business to begin with. Authority comes from the number of years worked, clients served, certifications earned, or awards won.
A Plan of Action
Now you’ve targeted a specific audience, identified their problem, presented yourself as a solution, and proven credibility through empathy and authority. Hopefully, that potential customer is ready to buy from you. But they need to know how.
In order to win new business, you have to show people how easy it is to work with you. Giving people a simple three or four step process to follow helps them visualize how that would play out. Don’t assume that people will know what actions to take—tell them exactly what to do.
For your lawn care business example, the three-step plan could be as simple as this:
- Call us to schedule a free estimate
- We’ll come out to do a site visit
- Pick the monthly maintenance plan that works for you
These plans might be slightly different for each customer, but you still want to give them a general sense of what to expect. Without a plan, they’re less likely to take action.
Are you ready to create a messaging strategy?
This structure for a marketing messaging strategy isn’t new. We’ve borrowed many of the ideas for this messaging framework from Donald Miller and StoryBrand. They do a great job in clarifying the complex ideas behind brand messaging.
But these concepts are much older than StoryBrand because they tie into our DNA as people. Your messaging strategy is a roadmap to understanding how your audience thinks and how you can speak their language in a way that’s interesting and compelling.
Here’s the thing: you probably still don’t have the time to create a messaging strategy yourself. It’s also difficult to have an objective perspective on your business. That’s where GreenMellen can help. We use this same messaging framework to help companies just like yours to create a messaging strategy that guides the rest of your marketing efforts.
If you need help building your brand’s messaging strategy, contact GreenMellen today.