In a previous post, we offered an official definition of message strategy — including the two essential factors for effective communication. It’s a simple framework, but what if you want to have some deeper conversations? If you’re working on brand strategy, value propositions, ad campaigns, or content marketing plans, here’s some input that’ll give your team more to think about.
Since we consider ourselves to be Message Strategy Experts®, we figured our employees ought to be able to provide some pretty good definitions of “message strategy” on their own. So, we surveyed them. Sure enough, we got some great responses and varied perspectives.
The survey question was: “In your own words, how would you define message strategy? No wrong answer. Make it as long or as short as you want.”
Let’s look at a few answers.
Two ideas that jump out in this one are consistency and aligning. In fact, let’s put them together: consistent alignment. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? A key assertion here is that the perspective you should take can’t be the brand’s alone. Nor, in fact, can it be the consumer’s perspective alone. You have to consider both.
(This notion of a dual perspective is the essential concept behind the Counterpart Brief™. It’s the proprietary tool we use to drive message strategy at the project level — a creative brief unlike any you’ve seen before.)
Getting your message right means thinking it through thoroughly, considering every detail — even down to the punctuation. You definitely want your prospect hearing the same message that you’re sending. But how can you know? It starts with having the perspective of the target audience — the ability to see things through their eyes, to hear things through their ears.
Notice the audience perspective: “what they want to hear.” That’s the key to persuasion. What is it that they want to hear? Talk to your prospects. Or at least talk to sales. And yes, you have to consider the noise factor. Some studies say the average person is exposed to 5,000 advertising messages each day. Given this onslaught, everyone is well-trained to filter out advertising messages. What choice do we have? It’s a survival technique. Once you’ve figured out what to say, you still have to think about how to say it so that your message can stand out enough to get noticed.
The word “thoughtful” connotes something that’s well-considered and deliberate, as well as imaginative. You have logic and magic, you might say, involved in your message. Related: The American Heritage Dictionary defines strategy as a “science and art.” All this aligns with “what you say” and “how you say it.” When you’ve got both aspects working for you, it’s a powerful combination.
Craftsmanship implies great wisdom and care, leading to a timeless result. “Unique” is certainly what you’re going for. The goal is to stake out an unassailable position — the message strategy that puts you on top of the hill and keeps you there.
At the end of the day, your message will either make a difference or it won’t. Too often we don’t know, or we don’t try to know. But we should always be measuring success. (If you agree, you might want to align with a partner who thinks the way you do.)
for a message using elements of verbal, non-verbal, rational, emotional, and unique cognitive strategies to invoke a psychological connection to a product/service, ultimately influencing a desired action within a target audience.
This is some high-minded stuff. But this definition recognizes all the tools in your tool belt.
That’s a bold statement. But we submit it’s true. Consider some real-life hard numbers that prove message strategy gets results.
Full disclosure, this is the Counterpart mission statement — it’s just how one employee chose to answer the question. But it’s a great answer. Your message strategy should exist to ensure that “what you say” and “how you say it” answer to these four criteria. In fact, it’s the perfect response to the question, “What makes a good marketing message?” Answer: one that’s customer-centric… clear, compelling, and under control.