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The Pathway to Great Messaging

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Dec 23, 2014 • Eric Morgenstern • Blog

Integrated Marketing Communications



When people ask, “What do you do?” does everyone on your team answer the same way?

When people visit your website or social media, can they quickly understand, and then tell, your story?

When your salespeople interact with prospects, do your RFP responses, ads, articles, mailings and collateral all reinforce their story?

The good news is that every company and organization can ensure everyone and everything is on the same page. The key is to create consistent and powerful messages, the result of a six-step process we call, “The Pathway to Great Messaging.”

We have honed our process to develop great messaging, which we suggest you think of as the “DNA” of your story. It will be intertwined with every aspect of your story. Have you identified the DNA of your messaging?

Regardless of how your messaging is delivered (through the Four-Channel Media Model, the combination of paid, earned, shared or controlled media), it’s essential all of your communications tools harmonize from the audience perspective. (See Message Orchestration to bring this concept to life).

But that’s usually easier said than done.

It all starts with your message. All of your messages should be grounded from the same place – an authentic and true position. Picture a diamond. It’s always the same jewel, but it can be described from various aspects (cut, color, clarity…).

Our Pathway imagery shows the six steps to create great messaging. The first three describe the content of the message; the next three explain the context. All great communications programs are six for six!

Here are the six steps, in order:

1 – What. Start with the most important facts, features and benefits. In America, we’re really good at “what” messages…we know how to describe the facts.

2 – So, What. Now the recipient asks the all-important question, “What’s In It For Me?” Tell them why they should care. Specifically, what’s in it for them?

3 – Now, What. Tell the recipient exactly what you want them to think or do. Don’t hold back: lead them to create a change in thought or behavior – or both.

4 – Simple. We don’t read much, and we don’t listen very well, or very long. Be certain that your message is direct and easy to understand. Shorter always trumps longer.

5 – Recipient-oriented. This is my particular favorite…it’s not what you want to say; it’s what they need to hear. Think about going to the store to buy a new clothes dryer, and asking the salesperson, “Can you deliver it on Tuesday?” He responds by telling us about the terrific extended warranty, or the color options, or the special deal if we also get the matching washer. All great features, but you really want to know if it can be delivered on Tuesday. Your audience expects you to communicate directly to them.

6 – Everyday Language. Use short sentences and little words … the way people actually talk. When you add lingo, jargon and corporate-speak, you only serve to confuse the recipient. Keeping it simple increases the chances of understanding and action.

With a clear and consistent message, you have established the basics of a solid communication program. You’re now ready to begin telling your story to the people who matter most to you.

Onward and upward.