As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Marketing Communications is a subset within Marketing (ie, the Promotions element of the Marketing Mix). The Marketing Communications team is responsible for promoting a targeted, consistent message to its audience.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Well yes easy enough when you know what you’re doing, but many companies struggle with the concept of messaging and how they should communicate it to their audiences – external and internal.
This can be extremely damaging to the company in question, because confusion and inconsistency within the ranks is exactly what will be communicated to the market. All this does is show a lack of expertise and a lack of discipline. With this point in mind, I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand what messaging is and how best to communicate it.
The hierarchy of messaging
In simplistic terms you must address the following:
- Your brand and the position of your brand within the market (COMPANY/BRAND)
This is the highest level, and it MUST be consistent across all audiences and be inherent in all communications. No matter which audience you are addressing your brand positioning must be consistent. To help you understand further, brand and market positioning often focuses on values rather then specific services or offerings. This is normally communicated via an internal document known as the Company or Brand Positioning Statement. This statement is the defining paragraph about what your company believes in …it’s values. This statement may also include information about the company’s core business, the benefit this brings to the community, and its position within the market. This statement is the blueprint of your brand and all subsequent messaging.
- Audience-specific messaging (CUSTOMER/PRODUCT/SOLUTION/BRAND/COMPANY)
The second tier of messaging relates to your specific audiences – whether internal or external. These messages must be consistent with the brand position, but they are more detailed and specific.Ideally when you are developing messaging, you should have a document that identifies all key audiences, with a list of all their hot buttons/pain points/challenges and main objections. These points in turn can then be responded to in the form of key messages. So within this category you may have a hierarchy of key messages addressing their main concern, and then perhaps a secondary message. For example, if your customer is concerned that the added technology means the device is going to be more complicated to use, then your messaging would address this by ensuring ‘simplicity’ or ‘ease-of use’ is always a key message. They may feel the reduced size of their device is going to compromise quality, or that the product won’t be as good somehow. Your messaging would reflect this, ensuring you always include statements to this specific audience that says something about ‘compact without compromise’.
- Individually tailored messages ((CUSTOMER/PRODUCT/SOLUTION/BRAND/COMPANY/INDIVIDUAL)
If you are responsible for pitching to a client or presenting on behalf of your company, your messaging should reflect all of the above, but with an added layer of “situation-relevant” information. This is the most granular level of messaging but vital when it comes to assuring your customer that you understand their key concerns and work environment. If you already have your brand/company position statement clear in your mind, and you understand the concerns and key messages for specific audiences, you should have a solid structure on which to tailor your individual message.
If you would like more information on how to develop your hierarchy of messaging, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org