Building Your Marketing Foundation: Messaging

Any marketing foundation starts with an understanding of your overarching business goals. Once those are well understood, they will help you shape your company’s marketing goals and start addressing your marketing foundation, beginning with your audience. Defining your audience will help you determine the right messaging to help you reach your goals.

Messaging is the bridge between your strategy and your content. Memorable, meaningful messaging will resonate with your audience. Marketing messaging needs to be well thought out, follow a consistent framework, and stem from your brand’s “why.”

What is Marketing Messaging, Exactly?

A marketing message is how you communicate with your target audience. This communication is used to influence people in a meaningful way so they align with your vision and want to give you their business. Your marketing messaging can result in a new customer—or cause them to choose your competitor instead. In other words, getting your messaging right should be high on the priority list for your business. 

Let’s discuss what marketing messaging is not. We’re not talking about sending messages like text, sms, or firing off an email—even though tech companies call that “messaging” using “messaging apps.” But in this context, “messaging” is the framework you use to communicate with your audience, no matter what the channel. It is the words carefully chosen to address your audience’s pain points and present your product or service as the solution.

After you have your marketing goals laid out and have defined who your audience is, you can start determining your messaging. Start with these questions when mapping out your messaging.

  • What main ideas do you want your audience to take away?
  • What do you want your audience to know, think, feel, and do?

Answering these main questions is what the seven parts of a marketing messaging plan are built around.

What Are the Components of a Messaging Strategy Framework?

A messaging framework is key to a successful marketing strategy. It is important because it provides a consistent and cohesive way to communicate with your target audience across all of your marketing channels. There are 7 steps to effective marketing messaging.

  1. Value proposition: The statement that describes the main benefit that a product or service provides to its target audience. It should be clear, concise, and compelling.
  2. Unique selling proposition: A statement that sets a product or service apart from its competitors. It should highlight the unique features or benefits that make it a better choice than similar offerings.
  3. Brand messaging: Overall message a company wants to convey about its brand. Think of it as the company’s personality. You want to project this personality to your audience. Including ethics, common goals, and motives for the brand.
  4. Target audience: Messaging should be tailored to your target audience’s needs, interests, and preferences.
  5. Call-to-action: A statement that encourages the audience to take a specific action, such as clicking a link, making a purchase, or signing up for a newsletter.
  6. Storytelling: Engage and connect with your audience using storytelling. A well-crafted story can make your product or service really resonate with your audience. You want your messaging to relate to your people, make them feel something.
  7. Visuals: This includes any images, graphics, or videos that accompany the messaging. Visuals can help to grab attention, convey information, and create an emotional connection with the audience.

This framework is especially effective when you know how to communicate meaningful messages that will truly impact your audience. It is also important to be truthful with your audience. Marketing copy is meant to highlight how your company brings the most value to your audience. It is not meant to mislead your audience into thinking your brand is something that it is not.

Seeing the Steps in Action—a Quick Example

Sometimes it helps to see what these steps would look like with an actual example. So, suppose your company sells a kind of eco-friendly, health conscious puppy food. Your messaging might look like this to start:

  1. Value proposition: Your brand of puppy food is not only good for your dog, but good for the environment.
  2. Unique selling proposition: Unlike other brands of dog food, your brand uses sustainably harvested ingredients necessary for a growing puppy and is specially formulated to reduce the number of unnecessary chemicals, fillers, and preservatives.
  3. Brand messaging: Your brand cares—about people, their pets, their communities, and the environment. That is why your brand has worked so tirelessly to figure out how to make nutritious, sustainable products.
  4. Target audience: Pet owners with a heart for animals and living things. They will likely be a little more affluent, a little more educated, and are more likely to be active in various causes.
  5. Call-to-action: Sure, you want them to buy your pet food. But not just that—you want them to “take another step towards a healthy and happy planet.”
  6. Storytelling: You’ll want to tell the story of your product: Why it was developed, what the challenges were along the way, and how it has changed the lives of dogs and their owners who were willing to make the switch.
  7. Visuals: Of course, you will want a designer to create some great visual to go with your message!

The above is, of course, just an abbreviated example of what a true messaging document would look like. But this gives some idea of how the different pieces come together.

Why Do You Need to Think Hard About Messaging?

Messaging is a way to build a relationship with your audience. It helps to communicate your distinct position—and helps you stand out against a sea of look-alike products and competitors. Without messaging, you’re just another product on a shelf, or service in the metaphorical phonebook.

Furthermore, marketing messaging will help your brand build trust and loyalty over time. When done right, messaging creates a sense of community around your products or services. For an example, let’s look at two (real this time!) major companies and their messaging around sustainability: Adidas and Lululemon.

  • Adidas is known for their sustainable practices. They collaborate with a company called Parley for the Oceans to create shoes from ocean bound plastics. This recycled material has been tested and shows that Adidas’ messaging around being sustainable is true. Their brand loyalists can trust what Adidas says and they can trust their product is what they say it is. Plus, their messaging is aligning company values with customer values.
  • Lululemon is a much beloved sportswear brand that tells their customer’s their business practices are sustainable. This messaging was intended to appease the market’s demand for earth-friendly products—but one might notice that their product tags indicate that the materials used are synthetic and, likely, harmful to the environment. This is a case of “greenwashing,” where a company is sending one message, but doing another thing in practice. When discovered, this creates some confusion and even mistrust—in Lululemon’s case, it has caused consumers to go elsewhere for their sportswear.

Without the right message to connect customers to your brand, product or service, you could miss out on a lifelong customer. Marketing messaging is an important step in determining your strategy and should be a big factor in your plans from the get go. Use this part of your overall strategy to convey your brand’s key messages, benefits, and unique selling points. Messaging builds your brand identity from the “why” of your company; its mission, vision, and values.

The Golden Circle for Marketing Strategy

A good way to start thinking about your messaging is to step away from “what” you do, and start thinking about “why.” Sure, every company is in business to make a profit. But ask yourself: Why do it *this way* and not some other? 

When you start with why, you can truly align your messaging with your strategy. Leadership expert Simon Sinek explains how to use this “Golden Circle” model to truly differentiate your brand’s value proposition. Consider:

  • The What are your products or services.
  • The How are the details of how you provide those products and services.
  • The Why is your purpose—what gives your organization meaning. Your why is the reason your company exists.

Most companies make the mistake in their marketing communications of starting with the how and the what. They rarely talk about the why—or if they do, they bury that talk under the other layers.

But the best brands in the world—Apple, Google, Nike, take your pick—talk about the “why” first. Apple wants to “think different” in order to “design and bring good products to market.” Google wants to “organize the world’s information.” Nike wants to “unite the world through sport,” goading athletes of all levels to “Just do it.” When putting together your messaging, start with the “why.”

Impact Your Audience With Your Marketing Messaging

Putting together the right messaging can be trickier than it sounds. It requires a deep understanding of your audience, as well as a thorough understanding of your own value and your company’s “why.” Sometimes, these things are not apparent on the surface—it takes asking the right sorts of questions to unearth this information, and to use it effectively to hone your marketing messages.

This is why we make those questions a part of what we do in our Marketing Physical. This way, companies can zero-in on those messages that will resonate with their audience, no matter which channel is used to communicate them. Ultimately that will improve engagement across the board, whether we’re talking about turning prospects into customers, or turning existing customers into brand advocates.

Recent Posts

The Top 7 Problems that Can Kill a Product Launch

Of all the missteps that can give a company a black eye, a failed product launch surely tops the list. This is especially true for products that have a long development cycle: Medical devices, pharmaceuticals, advanced software, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than developing and testing a product for years,

Read More »

How to Get Started with Advertising (Online and Offline)

Advertising seems deceptively simple. A creative person creates an ad, and then you pay someone—a magazine, a radio station, Facebook, Google, a billboard owner—to run your ad. If that was all there is to it, getting started with advertising would be simple. But of course it isn’t that simple, because

Read More »

Finding “Holes” in Your Marketing Framework

There are many ways to conceive of and organize marketing activities. One of our favorites is our marketing framework, which tracks customer journeys against marketing goals and tools in place. Whereas many marketing firms think of these journeys as forming a funnel, we think of them as being hourglass shaped,

Read More »

We and selected third parties use cookies or similar technologies for technical purposes and, with your consent, for other purposes. You can consent to the use of such technologies by using the “Accept” button, by closing this notice, by scrolling this page, by interacting with any link or button outside of this notice or by continuing to browse otherwise.