You’ve spent a lot of time and effort working on your company’s messaging and positioning. It’s such an important part of any effective business strategy that you made a special point of doing it well. But any professional strategist can tell you, putting in the work to create something like clear brand messaging doesn’t automatically translate to that work paying off.
Far too often, the clarity gained during a high-level strategy process fails to effectively make its way into the day-to-day practices of employees throughout the organization. Even if you’ve created research-backed product messaging that you’re confident will set your brand apart in the space—it won’t do its job if your sales and marketing teams don’t incorporate it into the way they talk about your brand.
Bridging the divide between strategy and the everyday work of attracting customers can be challenging, but it is doable. To make sure your brand messaging gets effectively put to use throughout your company, you need to create the right kind of content to keep it top of mind for all relevant employees.
Step 1: Create clear messaging documents.
The first step is to make sure you’ve done a good job of getting your messaging down in writing, with brevity and clarity. If you haven’t yet, our messaging and positioning framework templates can take you through the process. Your product messaging should be easy to summarize in just a few words—if it requires a long explanation, your team won’t be able to realistically incorporate it into their work.
Make sure your product messaging:
- Is written with your target audience top of mind
- Makes it clear what your product does
- Clarifies the main problem it solves for your target audience
- Establishes what makes your product different from competitors
Now turn your messaging into a boilerplate—a set of messages of different lengths that each fully communicate your elevator pitch. That can include a tagline or definitional fragment of just a few words, as well as messaging phrases at 25, 50, and 100 words each. A boilerplate gives you pre-written wording you can easily pull from when applying your messaging to different formats.
Granted, this isn’t always easy. Brand and product messaging is generally created based on a lot of research. Taking all that information and turning it into a pithy line or two isn’t a simple process. But the practice of editing your core message down to its shortest form ensures you understand it inside and out, and can more effectively communicate it both to your internal audience, and your prospects and customers.
Step 2: Tailor your messaging documents to each relevant internal audience.
It would be nice if the next step was simply sending those messaging documents to everyone in the company and calling it a day. But you want the recipients to actually use the messaging information you send them, and not all of them have the same priorities and needs when it comes to how they talk about your products.
Your executives will want a high-level version of the messaging that makes it clear how your company fits into the larger industry and what competitive advantage you have. Your sales representatives will need a brief version that emphasizes the product’s main benefits to your customers and how to address common objections. And marketing will benefit from a more comprehensive version of your messaging that provides details they build out into blog posts, ad campaigns, and other types of content.
Step 3: Determine the best way to distribute them to everyone.
Creating unique messaging for each internal audience will be no small feat. The last thing you want is to do all that work and then find that no one bothered to review it. To avoid that fate, you need to figure out the best way to get the messaging in front of each relevant audience in your company.
This may require some internal research to learn the habits of employees in different departments. If one team does almost all their communicating over email and another sticks closely to their Slack channel, you’ll want to distribute the information where they are in both cases. If you sales and marketing teams have a shared platform they all use regularly, that can be an easy place to get it to everyone all at once.
It all depends on how your particular employees behave. Meeting them where they are and using content formats they respond to will increase the chances of the messaging getting through to them, which is the first step in getting them to use it.
Step 4: Identify specific external places to update messaging.
There are a few places you can use your boilerplates to update messaging right away. If you have a tagline version of it, you can sub in the new one for any places your old tagline was used. Update your brand’s social profiles (the About or Bio sections) to include it. Figure out the best way to incorporate it into the copy on your home page. If your brand has many printed materials, such as brochures or conference handouts, review them to see if they should be updated with your new messaging before the next printing.
In some cases, you’ll be able to pull language directly from your messaging documents, making the updates quick and easy. In others, it may require a more extensive process of rewriting the materials you have now. For both, the first step is figuring out what needs to be updated where. Then you can determine who best to assign any additional work involved to.
Step 5: Work the messaging into the content creation process.
This step will mostly fall to your marketing team to execute on, particularly those in charge of content marketing. Figure out the best way to ensure that your brand and product messaging is always considered when creating new campaigns and materials. For ad campaigns, landing pages, blog posts, emails, social media marketing posts—everything you do—you want to be consistent in your messaging.
That may include creating templated briefs for content creators that include the messaging. Or it could mean adding a step to the editing process where you always ask: how does this fit in with our messaging? Communicating your messaging to the content marketing team once won’t necessarily be good enough. Think through how to make your messaging an ongoing part of the process, so it’s always top of mind and everyone involved is using it as a guiding point.
Step 6: Test your positioning.
You created your messaging based on extensive research, but you’re not its intended audience. You want employees in different departments to use your messaging, but you don’t want them to treat it as the only possible approach. Instead, encourage testing, feedback, and experimentation across departments.
Have your marketing department set up A/B tests in their advertising campaign to make sure your messaging is getting the desired results. Encourage your sales reps to pay careful attention to how prospects respond to your current messaging versus any approaches they used in the past.
And check in with customers directly. Use customer surveys to get a general feel for how they respond. Then supplement the data you gather from surveys with customer interviews to help you dig deeper.
Never assume you know what your customers will like or feel. Let data, results, and conversations give you the real story.
Keep Up Two-Way Communication
Any time it feels to employees like something is being pushed from on high and they’re expected to fall in line without input—it can create friction. Employees across sales and marketing teams have unique knowledge about your audience and what works for them based on their experience. It’s important to let them have a say in the process.
Give them every incentive to use the messaging you’ve provided and make it easy for them to do so. But also make it clear you want to hear back from them about their experiences with it. If your sales team feels strongly it isn’t resonating, or if the A/B testing your marketing department runs suggests a different approach is better, you want to know about it.
Make a point to check in with them after the messaging is firmly in place. And if needed, be willing to make changes. It means going through the whole process again to get everyone back on the same page. But that extra work is worth if it leads to better results for your company, employees, and customers.