Develop Core Messaging Now to Avoid Pitfalls Down The Road
By Cassie Crudo
Core messaging is the way you describe your company, your team, your products and services, your purpose, and your opinions. If you don’t know what to say, you risk driving away potential customers or alienating other stakeholders.
Developing your core messaging now can help you avoid pitfalls down the road by ensuring you’re communicating effectively and distributing the same information consistently.
Here are five easy steps to develop core messaging for your new business:
1. Create your core company description.
Outline your company vision, mission, and values, and then write a one-paragraph “About Us” description. After that, write a detailed description of your service/product from the buyer’s perspective: Why should they want it / what makes it different / why should they buy it now? You can repurpose this content for various purposes: sales call scripts, marketing emails, website content, etc.
2. Write compelling bios for your team.
You should keep a biography of each team member on file for use on your website, to send to reporters, or to provide to potential customers. To quickly write bios for you and your employees, answer these questions, in this order:
• What’s your name, what is your role, where’s your company, and what’s it called?
• Where are you from, what (and where) did you study, and how did you get here?
• What’s an example of your success, and what is your current role?
• What’s your personal drive?
Then, combine all the sentences. For example:
George Hanson is the President and CEO of Green Bay, WI-based Hanson’s Roast Beef. Born and raised in Fish Creek, WI, George studied animal husbandry at the University of Wisconsin before joining Hanson’s as an organic products sourcing manager. George led the introduction of several new product lines including corned beef and beef jerky, and he became President and CEO in 1995. George believes that happy families are powered by quality foods, and that all families deserve to eat healthy foods regardless of their socioeconomic status.
3. Describe your products and services.
It’s key to describe your product or service in a manner that is most compelling to your audience. When communicating with a potential customer, you want them to make a purchase — and your language should reflect that. When you’re communicating with reporters, you want them to write an article about you, so your language will be different from the sales-focused language you use with a potential customer. Similarly, if you’re speaking with a potential strategic partner, the desired outcome is totally different, so your language should adapt accordingly.
Write your core product and service descriptions with this three-part approach:
• State the basics – What’s the product or service? Be clear and simple, and feel free to include some compact enhancing adjectives (just don’t overdo it).
• State the value – What value does the product/service deliver to the customer?
• State the enablement – What does the value enable the customer to do in their life or work? Think a few steps down the line — beyond just being a delicious cheeseburger, does it help the customer have a better day? Beyond just being a tasty bottled juice, does it help the customer live a healthier lifestyle?
4. Define your purpose.
First, clear your head of any practical concerns about your business. Forget about what you do, and how you do it — the goal of this step is to focus on why you do what you do. For a helpful explanation of this concept, check out Simon Sinek’s inspirational TED talk.
Then, identify your drive. Explain why you get out of bed in the morning and do what you do. Answer one of these critical questions about what drives you:
• What is your professional purpose? If you’re a lawyer, it might be, “My purpose is to engage honestly and productively in the American judicial system.”
• What do you believe in? If you operate a car wash service, it might be, “I believe that driving clean cars helps us achieve more success and live happier lives while preserving vehicle value.”
• What gets you out of bed in the morning?
If you’re a wood-worker, it might be, “I love working with my hands, creating things, and building beautiful things.”
Finally, apply your “drive” by placing it in the context of the people you serve. For example: How do you apply your professional purpose?
Your Drive: My professional purpose is to engage honestly and productively in the American judicial system.
Company Purpose: We help clients grow and succeed by engaging honestly and productively in the American judicial system.
Just like that, you have your company purpose, which can be used on your website, business cards, sales materials, or even in response to the question, “So, what do you do?”
5. Explain your opinions
What issues matter to your customers? What about your employees or strategic partners? Make a list, and then write an “issue brief” for each of these. Aim for a half page to full page, approaching the issue brief in two parts:
• Frame the issue: Describe the issue in the context of your industry, business, field, etc. Keep this short and sweet. If someone wants more info, they can Google it.
• Explain your position on the issue: This is the heart of the matter. Explain your position on the issue in a way that’s consistent with your brand.
Building a small collection of issue briefs will provide materials for many different purposes (online, white papers, sales pieces, presentations, etc.) and will help educate new team members quickly. The more core messaging you develop for your business, the more effective, accurate, and consistent you will be! HBM
Cassie Crudo is the operations director of HubRunner, an Austin-based web design company that specializes in affordable, high-quality websites and website redesign for small businesses and entrepreneurs.