Every time we meet with a prospective or brand-new client, here’s how it usually goes: We sit in a conference room, and they tell us all about their organization, its history, its people, what it does, the market it serves and a lot of other very interesting information.
After about 30-45 minutes (and sometimes over an hour), we have a pretty good idea of what they do. The key phrase here is “pretty good idea.” When we communicate with various target audiences, we just don’t have that amount of time for them to not “totally get” what we do and why they should engage with us.
So, before you start on any initiatives including advertising, media relations, digital/social media, collateral, direct marketing, website development or events, make sure you have a clear and concise message.
Because people only remember a few items from any communication, we recommend developing a messaging platform that includes your overall narrative (proverbial elevator speech) and short yet powerful declarative statements for Who We Are, What We Do and What Makes Us Different (and why you should do business or engage with us). We know that people will remember 3-4 things from a mailer, article, website, etc.; so why tell them two-dozen things and hope they retain the ones we want? That’s why we focus on the core 3-4 message pillars in everything we do from a communications standpoint.
Then, based on the brand narrative and declarative statements, we develop a “Message House” with the roof being the narrative or elevator speech, the pillars supporting it are the key messages, and the foundation on which the pillars sit are proof points.
It’s really a pretty simple concept, but the process to get there is not so simple. We’ve had success with all types of organizations from Fortune 500 companies to small startups, retailers, nonprofits, universities and school districts. The key is to obtain input from all levels of an organization and to develop our desired message to successfully deal with what the competition is doing.
The Message House becomes the communications blueprint for all future communications, but we can certainly adapt the message depending on the particular need, message and audience.
In short, if you can’t tell someone who you are, what you do and what makes you different in a few minutes, then possibly it’s time to get your message house in order.