Brand: What’s the ‘right’ message to send for your business?
My last blog focused on the benefits of investing in effective graphic design to leave a ‘good’ first impression for your brand (it sets the tone for the rest of the business relationship). If ‘perception is everything’ in brand and in business, then it’s in your businesses best interests to… build a positive and effective identity, find your voice and… craft a visual message that helps your business to communicate and your ideal customer to clearly understand the value of your core offering. Getting these two elements ‘in sync’ and aligned (connecting the sender with the receiver) is the key to attracting your ‘right’ customer.
A great first impression is clearly essential when marketing your business, however when it comes to business growth, sending the ‘right’ message about your business is equally as important to attract the ‘right’ customer.
Business owners (especially those in retail) will confirm that consumers are displaying increasingly selective behaviour. Customers overall are spending less and expecting more for their dollars these days. Underpinning all of this, consumers are carefully considering where they should spend their hard-earned cash. No surprise perhaps in times of global austerity and perceived global uncertainty. The result? Your marketing collateral and brand visual elements: your website, ads, direct mail and PR activities are all under increased scrutiny. Therefore this underlines the importance of sending a brand message that ‘hits the spot’, distinguishes you from the competition, and secures your brand in the hearts and minds of your customer so you’re top of mind when the time comes to make that buying decision.
Many businesses are shocked to discover there’s a major difference between what a company sells and what its customers actually buy. A ‘perception gap’ exists which is best illustrated and is subtly revealed by applying a lens of perspective: once you look at a product or service from a customer’s point of view.
For example, what if the car manufacturer Volvo sold ‘strong, boxy cars’ instead of ‘safety’, ‘peace of mind’ and a persona a Volvo owner identifies and resonates with? A business may sell ‘premium–quality’ outdoor patio furniture in the form of a mix of stainless steel and responsibly sourced, kiln dried solid wooden tables and chairs, but its customers really want to buy long-lasting, durable, aesthetically pleasing furnishings for outdoor fun and entertainment to either impress the neighbours, enjoy a more outdoor lifestyle or ‘feel good’ kicking back in the garden during the weekend or summer months. See the perception difference?
The key insight is that ‘sales increase when you create a marketing message that taps into the essence of what your customers want to buy’. Usually the ‘essence’ is another word for ‘why’ they buy, distinct from the ‘what’ they buy, which unfortunately is the space most businesses operate and market in.
How do you find this insight? Simple. You just have to ask. You can get a much clearer understanding of your customers’ expectations for your company or brand through research. This info can be attained through online surveys, focus groups or discussions with your ideal customer or ‘Avatar’, as well as from online message boards and direct feedback from one-on-one sales contact. As with any research though, the feedback is only as good as the questions you ask.
But what’s the ‘right’ message for my business?
Your core marketing message needs to be consistent across all of your marketing channels, from your website to traditional offline media, and your social media platforms. The ‘right’ message has to be simple, direct, relevant, memorable and easy to understand. Bear in mind this will be different for every business. The ‘right’ message is the essence of your brand or company – your why – and this is unique to you. An effective or ‘right’ marketing message will clearly define the difference between you and your competitors, but more so, it will make your brand that much more relatable for your customer.
Are you able to succinctly describe what your business is and does in a few words? This is a challenge for inexperienced and sometimes even seasoned entrepreneurs, however it’s critical to achieve clarity on what your company or brand provides, or more directly, how customers will benefit from what you offer. As you develop your core message, resist the urge to include what I call ‘me, me me’ marketing words such as ‘our’ and ‘we,’ and replace them instead with words like ‘you’ and ‘your.’
This type of outward customer-focused language is more appealing to potential customers because the emphasis is on them (not you). Remember the term WIIFM! (What’s in it for me). For example, a sentence that might have started with ‘We offer‘ should instead begin with ‘You’ll experience/get/receive.’
The ‘right’ message communicates the benefits your customers will experience when they buy from you. In this way it engages, intrigues and captures their interest. It’s definitely not the place for a dry list of product and service features (the ‘what’). Your brand message should use the benefits to make a ‘brand promise’. Your supporting communications and campaigns can then explain how you will deliver on that promise by detailing the selling features. Make sure you can and do deliver on your promise because that promise generates trust! No trust = no brand.
Your advertising campaigns and slogans must communicate the essence of your core message, because while slogans and campaigns may come and go, your core message is the heart and soul of what you offer as a brand, and this should experience a much slower or gradual evolution. It may take some time to sink in: six months, a year or even more for customers to absorb, process and internalise the essence of your core message, and it can be difficult to change pre-established perceptions. The solution? Ensure your core message has a long-term outlook and the staying power to endure and support your company’s growth over time.
To conclude, the ‘right’ message for your business is the ‘right’ message for your ideal customer. They’re the ones who pay your overheads, staff, rates, holidays, coffee and deliver your profits after all. Isn’t time to focus your efforts on them instead of you?
To clarify, your right message is the one message that engages your preferred customers. It helps them to understand your offering and convinces them you’re the one provider who can help them solve their particular problem – relevant to your specific offering.
So find your ideal customer, find your ‘essence’, and you’ll find the answer to your right message.
It’s up to each individual business to work out what their respective message will be.
Don’t follow, Be a leader.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth. I do this through a series of brand workshops designed to educate businesses to identify their identity, visualise their vision and manifest their brand mission. ’Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now’. I’m passionate about helping businesses create unique brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers for business growth.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur