What  Is “Messaging” … Really?

What Is “Messaging” … Really?

The term “messaging” has been bandied about marketing situation rooms since … well, forever. But, like many marketing industry terms-turned-cliches, it’s one of those broad marketing-speak vocabulary words that insiders use but, for the most part, fail to translate clearly to non-marketers.

What it is

In content marketing, messaging means the same as it does in general usage. So let me give you a working definition:

Messaging is a noun. It’s the substance and/or subtext of intent that belies actual, concrete communication. It’s not what you say. It’s what you mean and how that meaning affects the receiver of that message.

I’ll use an acting analogy.

An actor does more than recite the lines written for their role. They infuse the lines they say with unspoken intent and motive that we pick up through other cues — facial expressions, body language, or tone. In fact, actors are trained to practice thinking an inner monologue in their heads or subtext that, in turn, affects their line delivery and performance. If they’ve done their job, we get the message. (find meme)

Here’s another example:

Modern politicians rely on data from focus groups and polls to craft messages that resonate with people they want to vote for them. I’m not going to go into the intricacies of message coding and dog whistling — using innocuous language in a way that exploits stereotypes or unsubstantiated fears, but … you get the drift.

Messaging, used in the context of content, is how brands articulate who they are, what they do, what’s important to them, and how they can make their customers’ lives better.

Why it Matters

We all use messaging everyday. We use it in conversation, social media engagement, in our dress, our carriage, our style and word choices. All these things collectively tell the world who we are.

Same goes for brand messaging. Everything you do — how you network, how you deliver products and services, how you operate as a company, your brand image, marketing collateral — conveys who you are.

Problem is, many small-to-medium businesses (and some big ones) fail to define their messaging. They don’t take the time to decide what it is they want to say to people about themselves. They just shoot in the dark at the moon using obsolete advertising practices — like broadcast commercials, relying on print marketing materials or throwing up a website — assuming they’re “getting the word out”. It doesn’t work anymore.

The old marketing model of casting a wide net so you can reach the masses has bitten the dust. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the memo. Brands who fail to plan their message also fail to reach their target clients and gain conversions.

Define your message: articulate your brand’s heart

If you want to stay in the game, take an honest look at your approach to messaging. Take the process of messaging seriously. Don’t blow it off. Your brand’s future may depend on it.

Start by working through these steps:

  • Define Your Business in Core Documentation. Start by clarifying your mission, vision, core values, target and value proposition. If you haven’t done it yet, now’s the time.

 

  • Put your heart into it — Write Your “WHY.” If you feel emotionally detached from your brand, you’ve probably lost sight of your “why” — the reason you started your company in the first place. So, I’m giving you a writing prompt: free write what doing your brand means to you … personally.
  • Write a brand manifesto. Write a statement that declares what your brand stands for.
  • List 5 things your brand does for your client/customer better than anyone. This is not the time to be Debbie Downer. List your brand’s superpowers — that “thing” that differentiates you. It could be nothing more than an attitude, swag or that certain “je ne sais quoi.” Hint: your brand is a reflection of you. If you tap into what makes you unique, you’ll find the key to your brand’s place in your niche.

Next-level messaging: your message architecture

Once you’ve articulated your brand’s message foundation, it’s time to begin structuring the re-bar: your message architecture. This is the process of taking your core message and deciding how it’ll translate in actual content. While there are a variety of ways to build a message architecture, it should include three thing:

  1. A message hierarchy – ranking your messages in order of priority.
  2. Messaging guidelines — determine guidelines for all content creators to convey that message (start with a content mission statement and content style guide).
  3. A message plan – determine what content types and outlets you’ll use to target your message receivers.

Obviously, there’s more to mapping out a message architecture than this. Ready to move forward?  Read my post, “Message Architecture Primer”. =

Need more? Get in touch for a consultation.

 

The Essential Marketing Collateral Checklist

The Essential Marketing Collateral Checklist

People have different takes on what marketing collateral is. Some say it’s a file of general sales materials that account execs use to pitch new clients. Others say it’s a tool chest of documents that accompany a product or service promotion. Both are correct.

The way I see it, marketing collateral is a collection of easy-to-digest evergreen digital or hard copy materials that promote your brand and its products and services. It can also be the essential marketing material that arms your sales team. But it can also include specific literature — digital or hard copy — that promotes a product launch.

However you define it, marketing collateral is essential to your sales kit. That’s why I decided to compile this simple checklist to guide you through the arduous task of creating and assembling your sales arsenal.

  1. General Collateral

This is your list of evergreen business collateral. It’s documentation that evolves from your core documentation and its job is to tell the world who you are and what you do. No matter what, if you’re a serious business owner, you should have most items on this list ready to go.

 

General Brand Company Collateral

 

Hard Copy

□ Business cards

□ Brochures

□ Sell Sheets

□ Company/Brand Profiles

□ Media Kit

□ Proposal

□ General Services Fact Sheet

□ Pricing Guides

□ Elevator Speech Scripts (memorized)

Digital

□ Website

□ Landing Page

□ Social Media Profiles

□ Company Story Video

□ Testimonials

□ Portfolio Page

 

 

  1. Product or Service-based Marketing Collateral

Most companies keep a file of evergreen marketing materials for each featured product and service. But, you can also create a list of appropriate materials for each product or service launch and promotion.

Information Products

Product/Service-based

Promotional/Product Launch

□ Pricing Guide

□ Case Studies

□ Whitepapers

□ Product/Service Video

□ Explainer Video

□ Sell Sheet

□ Explainer Video3.

□ Promotional Video

□ Landing Page

□ Podcast


If you want to develop niche authority, leadership, and a passive revenue stream, information products are a great option. While they can be time-consuming to produce, they’re worth the effort because, in the end, they’re that gift that keeps on giving for brands.

Information Products

(evergreen and client accessed)

□ eBooks

□ Books

□ e-Courses

□ Case Studies

□ Tutorial Video

This checklist is, by no means, comprehensive. But it will guide you through your process of creating appropriate materials that will give you an edge. Sure, producing marketing collateral takes a little time, but for new (or not-so-new) brands, having them on hand helps you and your sales team while lending a polished look to your brand.

Do you need marketing collateral but don’t know where to start? Turns out that’s my forte. Get in touch to schedule a consultation!

Terms You Should Know: Connection Economy

Terms You Should Know: Connection Economy

 What It Is

Nearly 20 years ago, author/publisher Kevin Kelly wrote New rules for the new economy: 10 Radical Strategies For A Connected World – a book in which he introduced a concept that marketing guru Seth Godin later made famous:

“The new economy is about communication, deep and wide. All the
transformations suggested in this book stem from the fundamental way
we are revolutionizing communications. Communication is the foundation
of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual
identity, and of all economic systems. This is why networks are such a
big deal. Communication is so close to culture and society itself that
the effects of technologizing it are beyond the scale of a mere industrial-
sector cycle. Communication, and its ally computers is a special
case in economic history. Not because it happens to be the fashionable
leading business sector of our day, but because its cultural, technological,
and conceptual impacts reverberate at the root of our lives.”
— New rules for the new economy: 10 Radical Strategies For A Connected World, pg 15.

Kelly and two other early 21st-century influencers, Robert Hargrove and Seth Godin, predicted that the internet would change how we all do business. From their respective perches, they opened our eyes to fundamental changes in industry driven by emerging technologies:

1. The marketplace has globalized at a personal level.
2. The new economy has replaced the industrial economy.
3. The new economy is driven by communication.
4. Intangible “soft” digital products are the new commodity.

Transition from the Industrial Economy

To understand the worldwide transition to a connection economy, let’s review where we all came from: the industrial economy.

Since the early 19th century industrial revolution, the marketplace was built on a combination of manufacturing and labor to produce goods intended for sale in the market. After World War II and the early development of computers, a new commodity emerged: services. Technical services — from programming to secretarial skills — were necessary to maintain and program innovations hitting the market. So, the last 30 years of the 20th century is considered the post-industrial economy.

As a late baby-boomer, my childhood brain was assaulted by industrial marketing practices built on several principles:

● Manufacture products in mass quantities to beat the numbers game
● Advertise to the masses but make it sound personal
● Message saturation ensures sales
● Cast a VERY wide net

In short, the industrial economy was all about the masses. But, it was also regionalized. Under the old structure, each industrial country had its own economy, so their products, services, and marketing were culturally-specific.

The world wide web changed all that. For the first time in the history of mankind, small businesses can sell to customers across the globe instantaneously.

The evolution has begun

Once cellular, satellite, and computer chip technology was adapted for personal use and became a modern staple, social media had the infrastructure to build its platforms. Individuals all over the planet have a soapbox now. For the first time, marketers can engage with people without putting a receiver to their ears. Messaging is no longer designed for the ubiquitous masses. It’s crafted to speak directly to an individual. A new culture is born.

Rather than summarize Seth Godin’s four pillars of the Connection Economy, I’m going to let you hear him for yourself. He lays it out during his keynote at the 2013 SAP ERP Systems Conference:

How to survive in the Connection paradigm

The new economy has ushered in a marketing precedent: engagement. Customers want more than just products; they want meaningful connection. That means the connection economy has developed certain criteria that brands must adapt to meet the new demand:

Be tribal
Niche marketing is where it’s at. Brands must carve out their niche and market to a community of people who are most likely to buy their product. This also means the lines between culture, tribe, and niche are a little blurry.
Speak to the heart
Under the industrial economy, getting too personal was a no-no. It crossed boundaries set by a corporate culture. But, the B2C experience is more relaxed. Customers won’t tolerate being treated like a number. They want to know that your brand cares about them.
Be transparent
These days, people want to know what’s going behind the curtain. They don’t trust slick corporate institutions who tend to, in their minds, forfeit morality for fat profits. Rather, talking about the inner workings of your brand fosters customer trust and loyalty. So, give your tribe a tour behind the scenes. Build Community
Community-building is a new skill formerly lacking in the industrial economy. Businesses just didn’t inject themselves into the community-building process. But, the new paradigm requires that brands get good at community building through engagement. But once you start engaging, you can’t quit. If you snooze, you’ll surely lose.

Final thoughts

Dictatorial industrial-age mass marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore. People are now empowered to demand attention to their individualism. If you want your brand to survive, start by understanding the connection economy concept. If you want to thrive, you’ll have to embrace it.

#

Sources:

Kelly, Kevin. New rules for the new economy: 10 Radical Strategies For A Connected World. Fourth Estate, 1999, pg, 15.

“Getting Ahead in the Connection Economy,” We Are All Connected, http://www.weareallconnected.co.uk/its-the-connection-economy/

“Seth Godin and the Connection Revolution,” Sapphire Now, June 12, 2013, https://youtu.be/sKXZgTzEyWY

Social trends to watch out for in 2018

Social trends to watch out for in 2018

Since the 2016 elections, “fake news” has become a favorite cliche in public discourse. It has also directly affected how people perceive information sources. Tribalism, community discussion groups, and person-to-person conversations are replacing traditional information sources and, as a result, they’re affecting how businesses market to their tribes. So, for 2018, the buzz word for brand marketing  is “connection.” Take note.

@taylorfayebragg Taylor Bragg is a technology journalist with a particular interest in blockchain applications, brand marketing and the effect of the ever-growing digital world on businesses around the globe. Taylor also has a love for all things fashion and discovering new places. Read more here …

thumbnail courtesy of techwireasia.com

25 Tools to Create Infographics for Your Small Business Website

25 Tools to Create Infographics for Your Small Business Website

Believe it or not, people will share infographics 3 times more than they’ll share other content types. That’s because they’re little visual bite-sized content snacks rather than a 1,000-word blog post or 9-minute video meal. Until recently, creating infographics has been the domain of graphic artists. But if you can’t afford to outsource, you can create your own infographics using tools designed to help small businesses create their own smart-looking infographics that will boost your SEO and authority in your niche. Plus, these tools are big fun!

If you’re looking to publish infographics online, take a look at the following list of 25 infographic creation tools ideal for small business websites. One of the best places to start is with Canva, which is free to use and enables non-designers to create attractive and informative graphics with a simple drag-and-drop method. Another popular free infographic generator is Visme. Their creation process is easy to navigate and can help a small business owner create and share professional-looking infographics with the added option of making them interactive. This easy-to-use infographic creator offers a free service that is useful, although the best options it has are only available through paid upgrades to the premium Piktochart services, one costing $15 per month and the other $29 per month. You can create a multitude of charts, maps, graphics and dashboards with Infogram’s free-to-use infographic generator. There are also several paid options in which more advanced infographic services can be accessed, ranging from $19 to $149 per month. Another infographic generator with a basic free option but with much more in-depth paid services priced from $19 per month is Venngage, which can be especially useful for businesses which require animated infographics. This free… Read more here …

thumbnail courtesy of smallbiztrends.com