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Founder & CEO of Advantages, a branding and marketing agency that connects profit to purpose through performance-focused marketing.
The clarity of your messaging can either make or break a marketing campaign. Before you do anything, first ask yourself: Is my messaging clear? Does it align directly with my business objectives and customers’ desires? Over the course of my career, I have learned that if you answer “no” to either of those questions, then your business will struggle to thrive.
In order to get clear on your message, you must first form a genuine understanding of who your customers are, what they need and what they desire. Next, you must build a strong brand foundation consisting of your purpose, your values and your story that is relevant to your customers. Only then will you be able to differentiate yourself, genuinely connect with your customers and consequently build brand equity and accelerate revenue.
Listen to your audience.
Messaging isn’t about what you want to say; rather it is what people want to hear. It is a marketer’s job to understand their customer so they can anticipate their needs and desires and align their message accordingly. If you are in alignment with your customers’ wants or needs, then you will be more successful.
Although marketers are not technically content producers, the two share key traits in common. They both create compelling stories designed to attract their target audience.
Content producers — writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers — understand what their audience wants to read, watch and listen to. The great director, producer and screenwriter Alfred Hitchcock once said, “You have to design your film just as Shakespeare did his plays – for an audience.”
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Now, I am not comparing you to Alfred Hitchcock or William Shakespeare, but your methodology should be the same. Just as they produced their movies and plays for their audience, so must you produce your marketing campaigns for your audience.
Filmmakers and playwrights design their work backward. They begin with an end in mind — to attract an audience. What will people laugh at? What will stir emotion within them? What will make them want to keep coming back for more? The objective of your marketing campaign is to acquire and retain an audience.
To design your marketing campaign with the end goal in mind, ask yourself these questions: What will my customers like? What do they need that I can provide them? How can my messaging relate to them on a personal level?
By designing your campaign backward, it will become clear to you what resonates most with your audience. Then design and test the messages.
Build a brand foundation.
The next step to achieve a clear message is to build a solid brand foundation. To do this, you must identify your purpose, which encompasses your vision and your mission. Your purpose will emanate from the value your business delivers to its customers. What are you passionate about? What do you do well? How does that impact others?
Connected to your purpose are your values. What is important to you? What values do you and your organization hold? Are they in alignment? Lastly, from your purpose and your values flows your story. What do you want to communicate to your audience?
After achieving clarity on these key components, you will then be ready to develop your marketing strategy. I have observed from my clients that there is often a disconnect between strategy and tactics. Strategy refers to a broader set of goals, whereas tactics are the specific steps required to achieve those goals. While it might be tempting to make a beeline for tactics, you need to get clear on your overall marketing strategy first.
Once you have gained a solid understanding of your customers and established your brand foundation with your purpose, values and story, your messaging should be clear and align with your customers. What’s next?
In my experience, a clear message leads to stronger brand equity and increased revenue. Stronger brand equity leads to increased revenue because customers are naturally more attracted to businesses that have established trustworthy reputations. In 2020, public relations firm Weber Shandwick released a report entitled The State of Corporate Reputation in 2020: Everything Matters Now, which details that global executives accredit 63% of their company’s market value to their company’s reputation. As you build brand equity, you will be able to optimize customer acquisition, extend customer lifetime value and grow revenue.
Presenting a clear message to the marketplace is essential to creating a thriving business. By putting a little bit of extra time and thought into making yourself relevant to your audience, establishing your purpose and building your brand foundation, your reputation and growth are sure to flourish. It’s simple, just not easy. Everything worthwhile takes effort. Your business deserves a strong brand foundation and clear message that will result in positive returns on your investment.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Fran Biderman-Gross, Forbes Councils Member