Think about the last time you were at an event where you and your colleagues had to give your elevator pitch. Did you find that your team talks about what your company does in different ways?
Now, look at how you’re writing about your company in your blogs, white papers, social media and on other channels. Do your marketing materials display inconsistent messaging?Inconsistent messaging can create confusion about your brand and what your company does. Click To Tweet
If every team member of your team and every piece of content describes your organization differently, that could be cause for concern. Inconsistent messaging can create confusion about your brand and what your company does, making it difficult for your key stakeholders to align with and get behind your mission.
The solution? Key messages.
What are key messages and why do they matter?
Key messages are succinct language, segmented by stakeholder, that describe your company’s key benefits and values. They ensure consistent messaging across different audiences and provide a tool for everyone within your company to use when talking about your mission.
How to develop your key messages
Step 1: Identify your key stakeholders
First things first: you need to identify your key stakeholders. Stakeholders are any and everyone who impacts or is impacted by your company. These can be customers, investors, partner brands, business partners, etc., and each has a unique stake in your company’s mission.
Here’s a guide to get you started on determining and prioritizing your stakeholders. Once you know who you should be targeting with your communications, you can start thinking through what they really care about and how it relates to the success of your business.
Step 2: Determine your brand benefits
It’s time for a team brainstorm. Determine your brand benefits so you can next consider how to talk to your key stakeholders about them.
To determine your brand benefits, ask yourself:
- Why do your stakeholders choose to work with you?
- What are the positive messages that stand out about your social enterprise?
- What sort of feedback do you receive from your stakeholders?
Many companies choose to conduct a brand strengths analysis, which entails looking at how others are talking about your brand, to hone in on their unique benefits. This can be done by conducting interviews internally with your team or externally with your stakeholders, as well as through social listening and media monitoring.
You will find things like:
- “Our clients find our services to be very affordable.”
- “We provide great customer service.”
- “Our product is user-friendly.”
- “We provide access to real-time data.”
Step 3: Write key messages that resonate
Now, think of how you would talk to your stakeholders about about each one of your brand benefits. To easily distinguish these messages from one another, you can create a Key Messaging Matrix.
Build a chart that lists your key stakeholders down the left column and your brand benefits across the top row. This gives you a space to write how you would talk about each brand benefit to your target stakeholders based on the motivation of each individual or group.
- Keep your messages clear and concise. This will prevent your message from getting muddled or lost in translation.
- Tailor each message to what that individual or group cares about most. For example, if you’re a B2B social enterprise, more likely than not, someone at an executive level cares about something very different than the entry-level user of your product or service. Be sure you’re hitting on what each specific listener cares about most to draw in their interest right away.
- Not every stakeholder has a key message. Again, everyone has different motivations for choosing to work with your company. Not all of your brand benefits will be relevant to all of your stakeholders, and that’s okay.
How to use your key messages
Key messages can serve many purposes for your company, but are primarily used internally to make sure every member of your team is consistent in the way the describe who you are and what you do as an organization. They can be used by every member of your team, from leadership to marketing and sales, to appropriately align your messaging.
Think of the next time you need to:
Write a blog: Depending on who you want to read the post, use your Key Messaging Matrix to hit on the most important aspects of your brand for that particular audience. This will ensure you’re accurately communicating your brand benefits to the target audience of your content.
Prepare for a media interview: When your social enterprise receives a call from a reporter who wants to interview you, use your key messages in your interview preparation to ensure you clearly, accurately and consistently describe your company and your mission.
Make a sale: Encourage your sales team to hang your company’s Key Messaging Matrix at their desks to serve as a guide when talking to a potential customer. This makes it easy for everyone on the team to hit on the aspects each particular prospect will care about most.
Using key messages will help you effectively and consistently communicate what your social enterprise does to your stakeholders.
Our final advice: be agile. Know that as your stakeholders’ needs change and your company evolves, your marketing strategy needs to adapt. Pay close attention to feedback from your stakeholders and, based on what you learn through daily interactions and research, be prepared to shift your key messages based on what resonates most with your audience.
Before you develop your key messages, create target stakeholder profiles.
Download our free worksheets to get started prioritizing your key stakeholders and drafting profiles to help you most effectively speak to each.