31 Dec Messaging Holds the Key
If there was ever a time to drive home to clients the need for investing time in refining authentic, clear, unvarnished key messaging in their marketing communications, advertising and public relations, now is that time.
Misinformation sums up far too much of what we hear in the media, through social media channels and simply the hot rumors of the day. The irony is, that’s the truth. Setting COVID-19 aside, we are also living through a highly contagious pandemic of malicious manipulation of facts that’s spilling over to brands and businesses. The solution is in part key messaging.
A key agricultural marketing client of Axiom is Cultiva® LLC. We wrote about the company in a recent blog post. The company makes a pre-harvest agricultural product called Parka® that is sprayed on high-value crops like fruits and vegetables to protect plants from environmental stresses, including excessive heat and drought. But that’s not their leading key message. Their key messaging includes this:
“Cultiva Parka® helps secure the food supply – creating predictability for farmers in their fight against the unforeseeable effects of climate change.”
What makes this work? It appeals to the fundamental truths of the product and its potential. We regularly work with clients on messaging that creates a communications and marketing foundation for brands and products. It is sometimes seen as tedious. (We’ve heard “unnecessary” at times too.) But when we start breaking down the process, clients begin to see how foundational key messages are to their organizations. Here are the basics of how we work to identify and articulate what will really matter to their customers and their employees.
Focus on Benefits
It can’t be emphasized enough how important benefits are in key messaging. When we first ask clients and prospects about their products, we usually get a litany of features – it comes in so many colors, it’s made of a proprietary material, a patented process is used, etc. But benefits are not features, they’re experiences.
Manufacturers focus on features, but people buy benefits, not features. You buy a razor because it provides a close shave, not because it has four blades. Best-in-class messaging focuses on benefits. Going back to our example, Cultiva Parka provides predictability, which helps growers’ long-term planning and business growth.
Highlight Advantages and Results
Good marketing messages provide and forecast desirable outcomes. These are solutions to previously unresolved issues. Your new razor improves your appearance. Messaging for Cultiva Parka helps secure the food supply by providing peace of mind, higher yields and longer shelf life. In addition, Cultiva provides control where none existed before. Farmers cannot control climate change, but they can control its effect on their crops. Customers gain these things when buying the product, where other products or methods they’ve tried in the past have fallen short.
Keep it Simple
We recommend to clients no more than three, maybe four, succinct key messages to carry their brand. Why? Messages must become integral – a part of the whole – to a brand, and shared among customers and employees. To do that they must be memorable to keep the “why” behind a brand clear.
Backing claims is inherent in messaging. If you can’t prove it, you can’t say it. A message may not come out and say how something is possible, but if challenged, proof is the axiom of any performance claim. Digital Media Law explains it best in their article, Avoiding Misleading and Unsubstantiated Claims. That’s not only fundamental, it’s an imperative brand promise. Marketing and communications can tell aspirational stories, but it’s in the substantiation that key messages gain their strength. The integrity and trust of a business is put in jeopardy when companies make claims they cannot prove. Cultiva has proven through testing and science that their product and technology performs and is capable of fulfilling their statements. They can prove it, therefore they may claim it.
Call or email us to talk about your organization’s messaging. We’re here to help. Stacy Einck, firstname.lastname@example.org.