Getting The Message Right The First Time

Get the message right!Spend some time with me and you are bound to hear me talk about messaging. The development of powerful, compelling messages is – arguably – one of the most critical aspects determining the success of any business. For example, you may very well be the best at your particular craft, but if you are unable to briefly and clearly communicate who you are and what you do (sometimes known as your elevator speech), you may find that getting your foot in that door, or a response to that e-mail, or a reply to that bid, or… I think you get the idea, can be next to impossible.

There are several factors that go into creating fine, well-crafted messages. Typically, you want no more than three messages at a given time. We’ve become a change-the-channel society without – dare I say – the best of attention spans. With the understanding that three is a magic number, consider the following:

  1. Here’s The Truth and Here’s Why You Should Handle It
    We are used to telling stories with a beginning, middle and end. The best messages don’t follow this pattern. Instead, they consist of two parts – a clear, concise, powerful statement followed by proof points.

    Think of the statement as the headline or sound bite that makes your audience stop what they are doing and say, “I find that hard to believe” or “I want to learn more.” The proof points are those anecdotes, analogies, facts and figures that support your statement (or headline).

    So, for example, if I was to explain to someone what my company does, one of my messages would be the headline:

    SuperMedia is the only marketing partner local business owners need to attain the American dream

    And my supporting points:

    • Our consultative approach in developing effective and customized marketing solutions delivers ready-to-buy consumers to our clients.
    • We will create compelling advertising/marketing and determine the best outlets and ways to deliver it – - social networks, websites, mobile websites, SEO, SEM, direct mail and the yellow pages.
    • We have thousands of testimonials from existing clients who have attained the American dream because of our help and we have an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  2. Well, Who are You? (Who, who, who, who?) I Really Wanna Know
    Define who “that person” is and make sure your compelling messages are relevant and appropriate for the audience. If you are trying to reach different types of people, your headline may end up being the same or similar, but your supporting information may be different.
    If in my example above, I knew I was talking to a specific business owner, the headline would be customized and my support points would be specific to the category.
  3. More Than 6 Billion People Are NOT On Facebook
    Different strokes for different folks. Not everyone receives messages the same way, so once you know who your audience is, determine how and where they like to communicate.

Good messages can be the basis and foundation for mission statements, advertising and marketing campaigns. Like anything else, developing a well-crafted message will take time and practice. Go to different news sites and look at headlines. Which ones make you want to read on? Why? Listen to a press conference and try to identify the “thousand points of light” and “building bridges” type of messages that will make it onto the next newscast and beyond. Those are the messages that resonate.

About Andy Shane

Whether it is media relations, corporate communications, public relations, internal, external or employee relations, Andy Shane has spent more than 20 years developing compelling key messages that resonate with the appropriate audiences. Follow Andy on Twitter @aesdallastexas

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