Developing key messages (misunderstood and over-rated)

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Prospective clients often request workshops or training to “develop key messages”.

Often the underlying belief of the clients is that the right words, in the right order will make a world of difference. If that were these case we’d all be out of work.

developing key messages

Well this is one technique...

We sometimes surprise clients by explaining that Hootville is NOT a true believer in key messages per se. Words only carry so much impact. The finding of such a workshop should influence marketing across the board.

Also – we think that developing quality key messages should be based on two prior steps:

1. knowing and defining your brand’s personality,

2. understanding your audience extremely well.

Only then can you develop messages that will cut through. Trying to just get some good-sounding words to be rolled out as slogans or soundbites is plain shabby. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a slogan is a key message, nor that any one message will change the world.

Far more than just words on a page or screen, the messages you develop in a key messaging workshop should influence all your marketing: presentations and speeches, the nature of events you hold, your look and feel, the media coverage you seek.

Tips on creating effective key messages. They should be:

true to the brand’s values and personality. You must be able to deliver on the impression you give via your messages. Don’t claim inclusiveness if you can’t deliver.

specific, not generic. A key message shouldn’t be interchangeable with other key messages about other brands in your category. Everyone claims to be friendly, professional and passionate. How about being maverick, determined or long-term in your approach? (Warning – see the first dot point above.)

pitched at the right tenor – neither too dramatic nor flippant. Eg: don’t attempt to play on people’s patriotism / altruism if this is a step too far. Humans are generally self-centred but many nonprofit sector key messages aim to hit upon audiences’ idealism and community spirit. Here’s a prime example of a messages that are entirely out of synch with the way an audience might see and feel about an issue.

resonant with the specific audience at that specific time about that specific issue. This is hard for many smaller marketing operations wishing to reach as many as possible, as cheaply as possible. This is understandable but a scattergun approach yields less results.

brief and simple;

• aimed to create a certain thoughts, feeling and actions in the audience. (See below)

action-orientated. Attempt to encourage a behaviour - far more achievable than a change of attitude.

• based on more than just reason. Emotions inspire people into action. If logic was enough, many of us would be out of a job.

• addressed what you truly know of the audience including their motivations, anxieties, incentives and the sort of value propositions they like to see.

More on Think…Feel…Do.

We want to develop messages that influence people’s behaviour. If we go along with the broad observation that our thoughts influence our feelings which in turn influence our behaviours we need to start with the right thought.  This is a way to evaluate prospective messages. Will they make people think certain thoughts, create certain emotions and in turn take certain actions.

Think…

…Feel…

…Do

I can do this

Excited

Make a call right now

This is for people like me

Positive

Visit the website

I will be well supported

Empowered

Attend a meeting / event

Not too big an undertaking

Wanted

Refer a friend

This will be fun

Valued

What a great idea

Motivated

I get / understand this idea

Special

Want help with this? Call Brett at Hootville: 03 9017 1062.

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