Recently, I had the opportunity to host a webinar for the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce on creating new messaging strategies for the new normal. There’s no shortage of interest in the topic since I’m about to do the same for a private equity firm and their portfolio companies later this month.
Under the umbrella of making lemonade out of an asteroid-sized lemon, the pandemic may force us to stop and do something we should do on a regular basis anyway: Update our messaging strategies to ensure they work.
I like to break down the continuous process into five stages: you, them, the why, the what and the how, and the way it all comes to life.
Before you can create a messaging strategy, you have to step back and think about the organization you have become.
Let’s start with you.
Before you can create a messaging strategy, you have to step back and think about the organization you have become. That may seem obvious, but hands down, all of our clients at some level need help articulating it. Doing that requires asking questions like:
- What need do we meet?
- Why is that important, from the broadest perspective possible?
- What do (I/we) love about this work?
The answers will not only prepare you for the rest of the process, they have the potential to help you do even better work and enjoy yourself more!
Next, there’s them.
It’s never a good idea to simply start talking about yourself to someone, without knowing anything about them and where they’re coming from. Leave that to the narcissists. In order to craft the most effective messages possible, you must understand aspects of their lives such as:
- What do they think they need?
- Is that really what they need or do they need something else entirely?
- Why has meeting this need been elusive?
For example, often organizations will come to us thinking they need a new website or a new marketing campaign. Ninety percent of the time, they need a new messaging platform.
Often organizations think they need a new website or a new marketing campaign. Ninety percent of the time, they need a new messaging platform.
We talk a lot about this question, but that is simply because it’s critical. The “Why” speaks to your organization’s soul. Why are you here? Why do you care and why should anyone else? As author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This phenomenon will become increasingly important as Millennials take the baton from Boomers and Gen-Xers. Data demonstrate that they are even more interested in the Why than their predecessors.
What and How?
The “What & How” differentiate you from all the other options people have. In many respects, the answers to these questions drive home any purchase or engagement. But here’s an important step that most organizations miss: We must always look for the practical and the emotional needs we fulfill. For example, on a practical level, someone may drive a certain type of car because they want to keep their family safe. On an emotional level, however, they want the world to see that they have been financially successful. Both are important even though sometimes one is more important than the other.
We must always look for the practical and the emotional needs we fulfill.
The Way it Comes to Life
The “Way” includes the unspoken messages and the emotional triggers that bring power to your words. From tone of voice (think Apple vs. Microsoft) to colors and imagery, the way your message comes to life is just as important as the message itself. Plus, getting clear on the Way helps drive the consistency that increases sales, keeps people coming back, and helps your marketing work harder.
And those, my friends, are the five core steps you need to take as you rethink your message for the new normal that is slowly coming to life.
If you would like me to talk to your organization about these, let me know.