3 Ways to Create Memorable Key Messages By Kenneth Hitchner Key messaging is the building block for your brand, which is simply a story that makes a promise (i.e. sets expectations). In practice, key messages are three to five sentences that capture the essence of your company. However, they are scalable, so you also can include all aspects of your services, products and procedures. Key messages are an integral part of a business’s brand strategy, which should serve as the centerpiece to your yearly marketing plan. In addition, you need to establish them before you communicate with your target audiences, the media or on social media channels, to ensure that the information that’s being disseminated is accurate and on target with your brand. This will enable you to better control the information that’s out there about your brand. All communications, from a press release to an advertisement, need to comprise those key messages so there’s consistency across mediums. Additionally, the topline key messages about your business and brand must be memorable to be effective. Key messages that are more in-depth encompass talking points about services, products and procedures. Following are reasons why having key messages in a communications plan are important: Reputation: Key messages help differentiate your brand from your rivals. People will always buy your story, before they buy your stuff. The easiest way to increase margins is to be different. Otherwise, you’re forced to compete on price, which is a race no one wants to “win.” Relationships: Key messages allow you to add new elements, details and people to the mix to make your brand more relatable and likeable. Products and services are flat. The only way to add value is to add “layers” to the story. Experience: Key messages connect the dots. People buy the “why,” not the “what” or “how.” People don’t go to the gym because they want to go the gym. People go to the gym because they want to live longer and look good. Three ways that businesses can create memorable key messages include: 1. Identifying and resonating with target audiences The first step to developing key messages is to define your target audiences. These are the groups in which you are trying to reach, to promote your business, products and services. Identifying target audiences will assist you in determining the key messages that will reach those audiences, to increase the chances of moving them down the sales funnel. Examine location, demographics, psychographics, industries, personality type (persona) and pain points, and motivations. When you develop key messages, be sure that they will resonate with your target audiences. Key messaging can stir fear, deliver solutions and reinforce success, as part of a content campaign, which connects marketing with sales. 2. Creating personas Personas are profiles of prospects, which will ensure that your content “speaks” directly to its intended audience. As you develop key messages, ask the following questions: What are their pain points? Their concerns? Their level of urgency? Their needs? SocialMediaToday recently referenced an interesting infographic on creating personas from Salesforce. The steps included: 1. Conducting user research, to determine your customers. 2. Condensing the research, by looking for themes and characteristics that are relevant to your business and customers. 3. Brainstorming and organizing your research in persona groups, which represent the target user. 4. Refining the information, to get approximately three to five personas and their identified characteristics. 5. Making them realistic, by defining the appropriate descriptions of each persona. 6. Inputting the personas into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Let’s face it, you’ll never know someone until you know what they want. Once you have personas, you can connect the key messages to “positioning” and frame content in a manner that connects it to the buyer’s journey. When you understand what’s driving your current or potential customers, you can inject your key messages into your marketing communications tactics. 3. Being concise and interesting Finally, you can’t bore people into taking notice with uninteresting or unclear key messages. Graphics can get attention, but don’t let them overwhelm your marketing to the point where your message isn’t being communicated. The famous advertising guru David Ogilvy once said, “I do not regard advertising as an entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it creative. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA) worked with one of its clients, Amerlux, a B2B LED lighting manufacturer to build brand awareness and generate sales leads for its new exterior lighting products at the time. The products included pedestrian lights, step lights and parking garage lights. Amerlux wanted to build awareness among several target audiences—including city managers, facility managers, lighting designers, energy saving companies, parking garage developers, lighting architects and lighting distributors—based on specific products. As part of a 90-day integrated marketing communications (IMC) campaign, which included blogs, as well as digital media outreach and advertising, CMA developed key messages, which were woven throughout all of the communication vehicles. Some key messages examples for that campaign included: Amerlux creates bold lighting solutions that add warmth and brilliance to the world. Amerlux is a design-and-manufacture company that builds long-term relationships with architects, facility managers and lighting designers by taking every complex problem personally. Amerlux’s award-winning portfolio includes innovative interior and exterior lighting products that deliver striking aesthetics and rich performance through advanced engineering. During the 90-day campaign, CMA generated 74 conversions for Amerlux’s sales team. Key messages are critically important for any business. They need to run throughout all marketing communications materials, be relevant and resonate with your target audiences in a way that moves them to action. Key messages need to be memorable and dynamic. As such, businesses should review them on a regular basis, and especially yearly, to be sure they continue to be on target. Once you have a story, it’s your responsibility to tell it again, again and again. Don’t assume everyone knows it. A good name is worth protecting. Have you identified the key messages for your business, as we head into 2019? Contact us today, to start the conversation. Kenneth Hitchner is the Content Strategy Director at CMA, an award-winning, full service marketing agency, that builds reputation, relationships and return on investment.