In a recent blog post, Donald Miller talked about the three signs that you’ve hired the wrong marketing consultant.
Number one on his list: a marketing consultant fails when they don’t start with the development of clear and understandable messaging. This really resonated with me because I do a lot of strategic messaging work for B2B technology companies.
One of the biggest challenges with messaging is many people think it’s easy. I mean, how hard can it be to create a new brand narrative?
Truth is that messaging is hard, really hard because it means creating something clear, concise, and succinct that answers these questions: what do you do? Who do you serve?
For example, I recently completed a messaging project for a software company. To make its messaging happen, I did the following:
Did a series of interviews with the senior management team.
Talked to several customers.
Held a half-day collaboration session with employees to get their thoughts and perspectives.
Conducted in-depth research about the industry (hotels) that the company plays in.
Did a marketing audit of their major competitors to focus on their messaging and get a sense how to best position the client going forward.
And then I wrapped all this information up and synthesized it into a draft report.
When I met with the senior executive team to present my draft elevator pitch, positioning statement, value propositions, and the brand narrative, the reaction was less than overwhelming, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
There were some parts they liked and some they didn’t. Obviously, it was a little disappointing. But at the same time, it reminded me that messaging is difficult to do and that proverbial home runs don’t happen that often.
Sometimes, a keyword, theme or idea resonates but those are baby steps towards the puzzle being solved.
In this situation, I had to retreat and tell to myself, “Okay, let’s review the executive interviews. Let’s look at what employees said. Let’s look at what their customers said, and then focus on the topics the executive team actually liked”.
So, I took one step back to take two steps forward and came back to the executive team with refreshed messaging: new value propositions, brand narratives, elevator pitch, and positioning statement.
They liked it, they really liked it because the messaging resonated. It was something they could rally around and have cohesion in how the company moved forward. This was exciting because it showed the messaging process had identified the key themes, topics, and ideas that the company wanted to highlight.
That’s the thing about messaging: it takes a lot of work, it’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like you can wake up one day and suddenly have an ultra-clear brand narrative.
I think the biggest value that I bring – that anyone can bring to a messaging exercise – is perspective. When you’re working 24/7 within the eye of the hurricane, it’s hard, if not impossible to have a clear view of how the world should perceive your brand or product.
It’s challenging to deal with entrenched biases, the things you’ve always believed, and the stories you have used to embrace something new and different.
If you’re exploring the idea of a messaging refresh, you need to think out-of-the-box and creatively.
Sometimes, you have to get some outside help. Then, you can develop a brand story that resonates and clearly says to your prospects and consumers, “We’re listening to you. We recognize your problems and needs”. This will create messaging that is on point, well articulated and makes an impact.
Are you a fast-growing company looking to attract more high-quality leads? I can help jump-start your marketing powered by storytelling. My services include the development of marketing plans, strategic messaging, brand storytelling, content marketing. Let’s have a conversation!