Message Mastery: Your Key To Business Victory

Michael D. Hume Key Message Platform

My late mom, who was a true wordsmith herself, had a favorite expression she used to illustrate bad writing… but it’s also an amusing word-picture that describes action without focus.

“He strode confidently to his horse, leapt gallantly into the saddle, and promptly rode off in all directions.”

Not sure where Mom got that… or even if she might’ve made it up… but it’s stuck with me through the years.

And it does describe the scattered, inconsistent marketing efforts of some companies.

Here’s a scenario that’s all-too-common:

One person is assigned to come up with an email marketing campaign… she labors mightily to create the right message, tone, and text, all from scratch.  Meanwhile, a colleague is writing newspaper ads, also building the messages from the ground-up, unaware that he’s duplicating (and maybe even contradicting) the work of the email marketer.  And a third person might be off in her own silo, developing new content for the company’s website or even a direct-mail sales letter, also unaware of the efforts of the others.

And if they were aware of each other’s exertions, things might be even worse: they might feud over whose vision is best, or even right.

They might all be talented.

But they’re riding off in all directions!

More...

They’re like a band of musicians, each playing from a different score.

Not ideal, to say the least.

A Key Message Platform Harmonizes Your Marketing

Businesses with marketing budgets large and small have discovered a great tool to help solve this problem.

It's called a Key Message Copy Platform.

It’s a comprehensive document, prepared specifically for your business by a professionally-trained copywriter, that brings together all relevant marketing and selling statements about your business’ offerings.

It’s like a “master message document” from which you can spin off all your essential marketing pieces.

The truth is that prospects won’t do business with you if your marketing messages are unclear, inconsistent, or confusing.

A key message platform, on the other hand, helps you ensure all your firm’s marketing materials have consistent, strategically sound marketing messages.

Once in hand, the platform can be used by you or someone on your staff, of by the writer who created it, to prepare winning sales and marketing campaigns.

Your business will present a cohesive, clear message to prospects in all of your marketing materials, from banner ads to blog posts.

A professional key message platform includes several different – and helpful – elements. Here are a few.

Business Taglines

Your firm’s “tagline” is a memorable phrase your customers and prospects will immediately link with your product or service.

The best taglines are short-and-sweet, use simple words, and either imply a strong benefit to your customers or give them a strong command (or “call to action”).

And your tagline should say something about what your business actually does.  The more specific, the better!  We’re Here To Help is a pretty bad tagline.  What business wouldn’t be able to make that claim?  We Take The Confusion Out Of Self-Publishing is much better.

Personally, I like Whoever Has The Best Words WINS.

A Description Of Your Target Market

It’s vital to have as clear a picture as possible of the “audience” for your marketing messages.

Often, this is not obvious.

A business that sells products or services to other businesses might well need messages appealing to different audiences: users of the product, purchasing managers, finance executives, and so forth.

And each audience may require a different “voice” in order for your message to appeal to them most effectively.

An In-Depth Analysis Of Your Target Market

On the whole, your prospects might represent all “psychological types.”

But do you mostly sell (or appeal) to a specific type, or to a small group of types?

It’s possible to make some educated guesses about the psychological makeup of your ideal audience, and to use this analysis to help your marketing messages appeal even more deeply to folks who are likely to become your best customers.

One of the most helpful elements of a really good key message platform is this sort of smart, in-depth analysis.  It can really help you target your marketing to the specific prospects most likely to buy, which stretches your marketing budget big-time.

A Clear Description Of The Value You Bring

Your business exists to solve problems and meet needs for your clients.

Your existing clients know your business’ value, or course.

They experience it in action, every time they do business with you.

But for prospects, your value needs to be spelled out with a clear, dynamic description that compels your ideal customer to choose you over competing solutions.

Your Unique Business Propositions

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the “Unique Selling Proposition,” or USP.

It’s the primary benefit of your offering that sets it apart from the competition.

It’s like the “tent pole” benefit around which many of your key marketing messages can be successfully built.

But a great key message platform will also flesh-out your unique “emotional” proposition.

It’s a tried-and-true axiom of marketing: people buy emotionally.  Then they gather enough facts to make sure they can justify their buying decision rationally.

So your USP provides the factual grounding, and that’s essential.

But again, the smart marketer doesn’t overlook the power of emotional appeal - of messages that can grab the prospect and motivate them to action.

In fact, the smart marketer emphasizes it!

And having a good platform to work from makes that smart marketing effort much easier.

Positioning

One of the main ingredients in your key message platform will be a collection of positioning statements.

This concept centers on creating a perception in your prospect’s mind about what your business represents.

In your positioning section, you’ll get an analysis and detailed description of how you ideally would want your target market to perceive you, and a plan for the appropriate style and tone (or “voice”) your marketing copy should use to convey that perception.

And if your platform writer is really good, this section will include a few thoughts on how your business might be transformed in the mind of your prospect.

For instance, is a child care center so unique and sophisticated that it transforms itself in the prospect's mind from being "just another" child care center?  Might they really be in the assistant parenting business?  Or maybe the early-life coaching business?

What an excellent way for the child care center to position itself in the market!

It’s unique.

It’s powerful.

And it’s something that probably never occurred to the center’s competitors, who likely might be described as offering nothing more than expensive babysitting services.

At least, that’s how the “early-life coaching” center might position it!

That's right: when you have a unique brand and positioning strategy, you not only have the ability to position yourself favorably in the marketplace... you can also go a long way toward positioning your competitors in the minds of your ideal prospects.

By showing the contrast between your business and theirs.

One guess who comes out on top!

And as if that isn't cool enough, think about this:  Who do you suppose can charge more for their services?  Center A, which is positioned as "just another" expensive babysitter... or Center A-Plus... whose tagline is Your Child's Very-First Life Coach...?​

… And More

Other helpful ingredients of your key message platform would include:

  • Attractive descriptions of how your product or service works
  • Market research – facts and figures to help you target your marketing dollars wisely
  • Compelling testimonials from your customers, written to come across as iron-clad proof of the benefits of doing business with you
  • Key message selling statements that answer your prospect’s need to know “what’s in it for me,” and
  • Benefit statements to overcome buying objections even before they arise.

There’s no reason to let your team – or yourself, if you’re a one-person shop – try to “ride off in all directions” when it comes to marketing your business.

That kind of marketing activity is not only wasteful, it can actually damage your brand.

Don’t let your ideal prospects get the impression you don’t have your act together.

Get it together!

Get a professional key message platform.

Stride confidently to your horse, leap confidently into the saddle, and promptly gallop off into a bright new sunrise for your business.

Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Michael Hume is a freelance writer, singer, and songwriter, and author of The 95th Christmas. He's an honor graduate of the Defense Information School, and holds an M.S. from the University of Colorado School of Business. Michael is the author of hundreds of online articles, including the popular series Great Leadership Requires Inspiration, The Conscience of a Restorationist, Appreciate Your Adversaries, and Take Care of Your Business.

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