HOW do I develop and implement Key Messages?
Nobody knows your business better than you - so you, as the business owner or CEO, are in the best position to develop or lead the project to develop the key messages for your company.
Assemble representation from all key areas of your company to help with the development of the messages.
Have a dedicated key message meeting with the objective of creating a long message, a short message, an elevator pitch, and a conversational message.
Many times, it is beneficial to ask employees, suppliers, or partners about their perception of what the key message of your company is. This is a great exercise to determine whether there is a gap in perception about what you do. Here is a question you could pose. "If I were to ask you what we do as a company, what would you say?" You may be amazed at the different responses.
From this meeting, create a key message document (1-2 pages max). Once developed, the key message document becomes a living, breathing part of your organization. This should not be filed in a drawer and taken out once a quarter to be admired! Use your messages daily; modify them and revise them to suit your company's maturity. This document should be distributed to ALL employees to make certain they have an understanding of the key messages of the company. You may choose to have the staff practice and recite the messages in team meetings to ensure they have a clear understanding of what your company does.
Additionally, it is important that staff members are comfortable expressing the key messages, so that any interaction with clients and potential clients is smooth and natural.
As a guide, keep in mind your target audiences when writing your key messages. You should learn all you can about those audiences. As an example, think of who your target customer is, as well as the different kinds of media that may be interested in stories about what you do.
If you are a natural dog food company, examples of your target customer might be:
- Young urban professionals between the ages of 25-40
- Veterinarians, Dog Trainers
- Examples of different kinds of media are:
- Business editors at your local and regional paper to discuss how much money people spend on their pets
- Product reviewers or specialist media in your industry at trade magazines or general business magazines
- Reporters at your local/regional television station for a human-interest angle (people and their pets)
- Hosts of talk shows that discuss matters concerning your business (using the example of selling natural dog food), you might look for shows that discuss pets, pet health, and animal shows in general.
Now that you have identified your targeted audiences, your next step is to identify the key messages.
Creating key messages positions your company in the industry. You may have heard marketing folks talk about "SWOT". This means that you have identified your company's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Once you have determined the SWOT of your company, you can then develop your messages based on your strengths and opportunities, as well as the uniqueness about your company.
The key to success in the area of key messages is to develop messages that clearly and efficiently reflect how your company wants to be perceived by the public/your target audiences. The key to ensuring your messages are valuable is to constantly test them with your target audiences and be sensitive to their perceptions about whether or not the messages are working well or not.
*Questions to help guide you through this process:
1. What is my business?
(Notice, even in developing your key messages, you have the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW statements to answer.)
2. What industry am I in?
3. What NEED does my business address?
4. What PROBLEM does my service/product solve?
5. Who does my business serve? (Who are my target clients?)
6. What is my product or service and why is it different/better than the competition?
7. Why should customers choose my company over the competition?
8. What are my qualifications?
9. Where is my company going?
10. How will it get there?
At the end of the key message meeting, you should have a framework, or, if all goes well, the actual messages completed. In some cases, you may require a follow-up meeting to review edits and agree on final messaging.
Developing key messages can be a fun and exciting project for staff, as it really engages them to think about the business and take ownership of how they represent the company
Leanne Bucaro, co-CEO of Infinity Communications, is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of experience in communications and media.
Visit her website