A few weeks back, my wife and I had the rare opportunity to go out to dinner with another couple, and without the kids, which meant we got around to discussing topics for grown-ups at the table rather than juice boxes, straws, and crayons. As we ordered our food and settled in, the couple we were with asked me how the real estate market was doing. My confusion and blank look must have thrown them, so they followed up by asking, “Aren’t you in the commercial real estate business?” I responded that no, I was in marketing, and the confusion continued until we realized how they had arrived at the idea. When asking my wife about my work a while ago, she responded that I started a business and lease office space in the Canton area of Baltimore. In her mind, that made sense, as it describes how I got out of the home office and into an office space in an energetic area of Baltimore, but in my neighbor’s eyes they immediately interpreted that message to mean that I was in commercial real estate.
While this was a very casual occurrence, and something we have been getting a good chuckle out of the last few weeks, it reinforced a key point that we see all the time with companies – that your message is more important now than ever.
The Messaging Guide – Alive and Well
In the digital age, all too often the messaging guide is now neglected, incorrectly discarded into the marketing trash heap with the 4Ps and athletes pitching tobacco products. But whether it’s for crafting the elevator pitch, describing to your neighbors what your company does, or serving as the go-to reference for how you talk about the company, in the era where content is king you need a consistent set of key points where all language flows from. The messaging guide serves that purpose, and gives you the key points to talk about the company in a way that is unique, stands out, and resonates with your clients and prospective clients. The more complex the offering, and the more crowded your space, the more important it is to have that unique value proposition and supporting messages in order to stand out from your competition.
How Your Messaging Guide Drives Your Content Marketing
When we talk about the value of content– whether it’s website copy, blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars, videos and a host of other formats – it’s imperative that you clearly and consistently articulate and support your company’s value proposition and key messages. These key messages should serve as the ultimate bellwether for whether that content advances the company and the business, or is essentially useless filler. The messaging guide helps to truly serve as the checkpoint for all of your content – is it in line with the business, does it support the way that we work and think, or is it just fluff?
As an example, we recently completed a brand strategy engagement with a B2B technology company. As part of this, we interviewed clients and internal stakeholders to get to the core of the business, and ultimately to the unique value proposition and key messages and incorporated all of these into the messaging guide. That messaging guide content then serves as the barometer of the content in their blog posts, drove the content that lives on the pages of their redesigned website, in their 2 page and 4 page collateral pieces, PowerPoint deck, recent webinar, proposal templates, email signatures, elevator pitch, and company golf shirts, and a host of other places. In short, the messaging guide drives every type of content about the company.
Building Your Messaging Guide
For all the reasons above, the messaging guide is frequently among the first places that we start when working with a client. While it can often be beneficial to get outside assistance to do the proper qualitative research and develop the guide, you can learn step by step how to build your key messaging guide in the post – Who Are You? The 5 Key Components of a Core Messaging Document.
What do you think? Have you built or recently revisited your messaging guide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Looking to turn your message into great content? Want to get started with content marketing but don’t know where to begin? Download our free eBook How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing where we explain how content marketing can not only enhance your marketing efforts, but grow your entire business.