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What Is Key Messaging?

Key Messaging gets across who you are, what you do, and who you’re for, as well as why you do it and the problem(s) you solve. It’s usually one sentence (it isn’t quite your slogan or tagline) and a couple of paragraphs underneath.

It’s a little bit of branding and a whole lot of copywriting, and it’s the best way to get customers to really buy into what you do.

It needs to sound good, but Key Messaging isn’t just some nice words strung together. It’s a strategic piece of content that comes with a lot of work behind it. Work to understand exactly what promises, tone, archetypes and more should go into the words.

That’s where the Brand Story Guide comes in.

A Brand Story Guide is a short document that distils all of the work from the Key Messaging process and workshops into codified statements about your brand. It ensures anyone who works for your brand – from a CMO creating a content strategy to a freelancer writing a video script – understands what your brand’s key messages are.

What is the purpose of Key Messaging?

It’s been well-documented that our attention spans are waning. So when someone hits your LinkedIn page, homepage, a YouTube video, meets you at a networking do or hears about you from a fan, you have just seconds to tell them what you do and why they might need it.

It’s also very likely that those potential customers you really want to reach have seen companies like yours before. Imagine you’re the 10th link they click on from Google’s first page – they need to know why they should buy from you and not the nine other guys.

Enter Key Messaging.

What to include in Key Messaging

For Key Messaging to work well, it needs to:

  • Be memorable
  • Be easy to understand
  • Demonstrate your brand values and promises
  • Show the benefits of your service or products
  • Target the right people
  • Unpack the most important parts of your mission and vision

All of that in just a few paragraphs. Quite the ask, right?

What is Key Messaging and what does it need to include?

It totally understands your brand

Our PRISM process includes detailed worksheets, research methodology, and workshops to ensure we delve deep into your brand and what it has to offer.

For brilliant Key Messaging, you need to understand:

  • Your customers, their pain points, and what they really love about your brand
  • What makes you different from competitors, but also competitive alternatives (more on this later, but it might be something as simple as ‘do nothing’ or ‘use an intern named Dave’)
  • Your brand archetype and promises
  • Your story
  • Your frame of reference

And lots of other things (you’ll have to buy our book for the full list)

It’s short and sweet

Key Messaging contains everything you want customers to know about your brand. It needs to win hearts and minds in seconds, and get people to read on to the next sentence.

We recommend 10 words maximum for the key sentence, and then 1-2 paragraphs underneath (no cheating, each paragraph should be a few sentences long). It needs to be pithy, catchy, easy to remember, and full of momentum.

Even if you’re speaking to a target audience like lawyers, who spend their days wading through complicated terms and convoluted sentences, remember – they aren’t being paid to read your content. So you need to keep it simple and give it to them straight.

It stands on its own

Don’t give it all away on the first date. But ask yourself, can someone understand a lot about your business just from reading your Key Messaging? Without any other reading needed?

Your messages need to get across what you do and stand out from all of the other companies in your industry, without needing an essay of information underneath it. Make sure it “pops” when placed in a brochure with lots of other companies and intrigues people enough that they want to find out more.

Key Messaging grows with you

A slogan, like Nike’s ‘Just do it’, is obviously here to stay. But your Key Messaging is different.

You will probably rewrite your Key Messaging every couple of years, depending on how quickly your business is growing. It needs to break down a lot of information into a very small space. And your products, services, customers and their needs are likely to change.

So make sure it lasts. It needs to be something your whole team can be proud of for at least 1-2 years.

It speaks in your tone of voice

A customer reading your Key Messaging is likely to be meeting your brand for the first time. It will hopefully be the beginning of a long relationship between them and your company, so make sure it sounds like you. Fun and pithy, or serious and dry, if it works for your brand it needs to be in your Key Messages.

It’s memorable

Your employees need to be able to remember the distilled version of your Key Messaging when they’re speaking to other people about your business. Your customers need to remember how you can help them. And your referrers and fans need to remember exactly what it is you do. Your Key Messaging has to be sticky.

Where to use Key Messaging

Your Key Messaging, or a variation of it, should be used at every introductory touchpoint to your brand. That includes your sales documents, your website’s homepage, your social profiles, when your team introduce themselves at a networking event, down to your lowest-traffic blog posts and product pages.

When to use Key Messaging

All of the time. If you feel you’re getting sick of your Key Messaging – great! That’s exactly when your customers are starting to remember it. They don’t spend eight hours a day immersed in your brand like you do, so it needs to feel like you’ve said it a lot to get the results you want.

The Key Messaging process

Finding those messages sounds tricky right?

It is. But luckily, we have a Key Messaging process (called PRISM) to help with that.

Contact us if you’re ready to find yours.

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