Welcome to Messaging 101. More often than not I deal with scientists and engineers who look at a marketing pro as a necessary evil that brings in the bucks to keep the lights turned on. I water down the marketing-speak with these folks as much as I can, but every now and then a marketing term just can’t be avoided. One of those terms is messaging.

When I explain what messaging is, the typical response is: “Oh, you mean the elevator pitch.” With all due respect to whoever coined that term, messaging is much more than a mere elevator pitch. Messaging is a key part of your company’s marketing infrastructure.
Simply put, messaging is an expression of your brand, carefully word-crafted to concisely tell your target audience what you want it to know.

A messaging project typically results in a document which lists the messaging for your company and each of your key products or services. Typically this document will have the messaging available in various lengths, so that at a moment’s notice your executive, administrative, marketing, and sales teams will have this text available for last-minute requests for directory listings, newspaper blurbs, presentations, or web copy. Not only is this convenient for your team members, it ensures that everyone is using the same playbook and you are controlling what is said about your brand.

A typical messaging document has the name of the company, brand, product, or service written in its legally approved formal and informal ways. Next it lists your messaging text blocks in various lengths; such as 250 words, 100 words, 50 words, 250 characters, and 120 characters.

Some messaging documents might also include other information such as the best URL to use for direct web links, lists of acceptable ways to mention the product or brand in a sentence, and a list of industries or target audiences. Note that if you position your brand differently to different audiences, then you should develop messaging for each audience.

What do you do with a messaging document?

Once you have messaging documents in place, make them available! Distribute them to everyone in your company who may be in the position to communicate about your company or products. Provide the messaging documents any time you engage the services of an agency, web developer, writer, PR expert, or other consultant to ensure that the work they do for you reflects your approved messaging. Provide them as Word or text files so users can copy and paste the text they need.

Another thing you should do with your messaging documents is keep them alive. A “living document” is one that is constantly updated to reflect current reality. To keep your messaging documents alive, vow to return to them at least every other quarter to make sure they reflect how you want your brand to be positioned in the current environment. You’ll be surprised at how your perception of your brand can change as the market evolves and your brand matures!

The moral of the story

There are many reasons why having a messaging document for each of your brands is important, but the most compelling reason is so all the players on your team will be moving your brand in the same direction.

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