How do you respond when someone asks “what does your company do?”
Do all your team members answer the same way?
And is your response compelling so the listener wants to learn more, or do you sound like everyone else (blah, blah, blah…)?
“Messages” are written and verbal statements that quickly describe what you do and how you’re different. They’re used throughout your interactions with your market:
The “elevator pitch” – the 30-second response to “what do you do?”
Sales & marketing materials – sales literature, websites, presentations and campaigns all use messages of various lengths
The introductory statement in a phone call
Press releases – the blurb at the bottom of the release that explains what the company does
Your mission statement
Good messages take your competitive positioning and brand strategy to the next level. They hone in on what’s important to your market and communicate it consistently and effectively.
How to Develop Better Messages
So how do you create strong, compelling messages?
1. Identify the key emotional benefits your customers gain from your product/service. People want to know “what’s in it for me” – that’s what makes a message resonate. Build your messages around those key benefits.
2. Think of your product/service as a person with a distinct personality. Describe him or her in detail. Then make sure you use a tone, voice, style and vocabulary that’s consistent with this personality.
3. Start with your verbal elevator pitch. In 30 seconds, you should be able to say who you are, what you do, who your customers are and why they buy from you (your key emotional benefit).
That’s a lot of info and 30 seconds goes fast. The idea is to share the most important ideas, to get listeners interested without boring them to tears.
Once you’ve gone through plenty of drafts, test your pitch to see how it sounds and how long it takes. Use it in conversation and see how people react. Do their eyes glaze over or do they ask a followup question? If it’s the latter, your pitch has piqued their interest.
4. Develop your written messages. You’ll use these messages throughout your written materials – your website, sales collateral, campaigns, etc.
25-word positioning statement: Includes your company name, what you do, for whom, and the single greatest benefit you deliver to customers
50-word version: Use the same information as your 25-word statement but add another key emotional benefit and 1-2 of the most important functional benefits.
100-word version: Now you have enough room to include features and the rest of your benefits.
Mission statement: An average mission statement describes why you’re in business. A great mission statement is compelling, shows why you’re different and conveys your company’s personality.
Tagline/slogan: A strong, succinct phrase used in campaigns. It can be one word or a short phrase and for most business writers, it’s harder to create. Even if you’ve developed the rest of your materials in-house, you may want to hire outside creative help on this one.
5. Use your messages consistently. Train your team to use the messages and audit your materials periodically to make sure they’re still working in the future.