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Hi! And Welcome to episode 4 of Startup Marketing. Today, we’re going to talk about Key Messages. When you’re putting together your brand, key messages set the foundation for what you’re going to communicate to your ideal customers and potential customers on a regular basis. They’re the core ideas that you want those ideal customers to remember about you and your business. 

Crafting a handful of key messages is going to help make your life as a business owner much easier. They’re going to help you prioritize the information you need to communicate to your ideal customers, ensure consistency and accuracy of that information and stay focused when you’re speaking to ideal customers or potential stakeholders. So, let’s dive in to what they should be and how to create them!

First, your key messages should build on the branding elements you already have in place. If you’ve been following along in chronological episode order, we’re getting to the more visible parts of your brand, because these messages will become part of the language you use whenever you create any kind of text on your website, on your social channels, in advertising, things like that. If you aren’t following along with my episodes in chronological order, no worries! Here’s a quick rundown of what your key messages should build off of:

  • Your “why” for running your business, both personally and professionally
  • Your brand story
  • And the ideal customer profiles or “personas” as a marketer would say

To further crystalize those ideas, think of your key messages as things that articulate: what you do, how you are different and what value you bring to your potential customer’s lives. Again, these are things that, if you’ve done the work to craft your story and identify your ideal customers by building personas, you can easily pull together. If those concepts sound completely foreign to you, hop back to episodes 2 & 3! 

Something that we haven’t touched on yet, but that you’ll also want to look at when creating your key messages are any business goals you’ve set for yourself this year. This doesn’t mean you tell your audience exactly what those goals are, but you’ll want to make sure that, in addition to applying solid branding to your key messages, that you also incorporate any goals you have for the year and build a couple of key messages off of those. Because, we want to make sure that you’re also propelling yourself toward tangible growth with these; not just relying on your brand to meet your business goals. It might help you to break your key messages into two groups: branding and business goals. Say for example, you need to increase the average sale amount of a customer or client. An example of a business goal (that’s also still on brand) might be about how your customers or clients can combine products or services and increase the value they get from your business. This helps you achieve your business goal, while still staying on brand. 

Next, let’s talk through what your key messages should look like. Here, we’re not looking to create a lot; maybe 3-5 sentences that you can build off of or rephrase when you create text to help you make your point to your audience for things like your website or social media channels. 

You want your key messages to be:

  • Concise; think literally a sentence
  • Strategic; they should communicate your value as a business
  • Relevant; your ideal customer should be able to identify with your messages
  • Simple; don’t make the language hard to understand by including a bunch of industry jargon
  • Most importantly, you want them to be on-brand. Remember, we’re all about building an authentic brand around here, so if you write a sentence down and it doesn’t resonate with you or “feel” right, it’s not going to feel authentic to your audience. While there’s a definite science to creating a brand, there’s also your gut instinct that’s worth listening to to make sure you’re not straying into any weird territory. For me, being authentic means feeling genuine and relatable. 

How do you create key messages? 

I like to start by jotting down all the ideas that pop in to my head that I think *might* work for key messages. I find that if I start by trying to craft the “perfect” message right away, I get nowhere. So, I usually take a piece of paper (because for me, brainstorming is way more productive when I’m physically writing than when I’m staring at a computer screen) and start writing down all the reasons I believe I’m different, better than my competitors and reasons why I love doing what I’m doing and why I’m passionate about helping my clients. I don’t worry about if one sentence or idea sounds too similar to another, I just get it all out there on the paper. 

From there, I look at everything I’ve written down to see if there are any similarities between ideas and sentences. If there are, I group those together and come back to them when I’m reading to start fine tuning the language. 

Once I’ve got my ideas in to groups, I do a gut check. Do they feel authentic and genuine to me? Any that don’t get crossed out. Then I revisit my personas/ideal audience and ask myself, are there any statements in front of me that don’t make sense to pair or assign to an ideal customer? If there are, those also get tossed out. Now, I should be sitting with a list of sentences that are pretty close to being on brand for me and, with some fine tuning, will resonate with my ideal client or customer. 

I pull out the 3-5 sentences that resonate the most with me and make sure they cover what I do, how I’m different, the value I bring to my clients, and any business goals I have. One final gut check before I move on. Now I get down to work and start to actually write and create the key messages. 

If I have a favorite sentence, one that I think is really concise and super impactful, that automatically becomes the sentence I start working to fine tune. I’ll take that sentence and review the ones that might be similar to it and incorporate any additional words that can improve the sentence. Sometimes, you strike gold in your brainstorm and write down an idea that doesn’t need any fine tuning. Those are my favorite! If there isn’t anything I want to do to improve it, it gets moved over to the “final list”. Then, I repeat this process with the remaining thought groups I have. When I do this exercise correctly, I end with 3-5 short, impactful and authentic sentences that I feel really good about using on my website and on social media. 

Sometimes, this process takes a while because I get really picky about my key messages. I don’t want them to be applicable to anyone but me. So if I read them and go, “meh, could be anyone”, I step away from my brainstorm and come back to it. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taking some time to let words or phrases come to me that feel unique to only me. Other times, the authenticity flows right away and this is a quick exercise to get done. 

Alright, so once you’ve gone through and identified your key messages, what are you going to do with them? As I mentioned at the start of the episode, key messages are super helpful because they’re going to help you prioritize the information you need to communicate to your ideal customers, ensure consistency and accuracy of that information and stay focused when you’re speaking to potential customers, current customers or potential stakeholders.

As an entrepreneur, I love anything that makes my life easier and when I have key messages to speak from, it makes creating communication for my business ten times faster because I can look at this list and make sure that I’m hitting the right points in whatever I’m creating. Think about it, these key messages are like a little agreement you make with yourself as a business owner to work into a conversation. If I were going to use a weird analogy, I would say they’re kinda like meal prepping. You’ve done a lot of work upfront, so all you have to do when you’re hungry is pull out your little bento box and heat it up for a tasty lunch. With key messages, You did the work up front and identified the main points you want to make each time you talk about your business. Now you just have to take that main point and build on it in whatever space you’re using it. 

For example, one of my key messages is that marketing is a foundational cornerstone to a successful business. On my website, it sounds like: 

  • “coach and empower my clients to achieve unparalleled success by utilizing the power of marketing”
  • “I’m a marketing coach who teaches female small business startups how to brand, market and grow their businesses.”
  • “I’m passionate about passing my marketing skills and knowledge on to my clients to make them more successful.”

On my social media, it looks like me taking marketing concepts and breaking them down in to bite size facts about why that concept is important to small businesses; a shorter version of what I do here on this podcast. 

This key message makes my life sooooo much easier. I don’t have to scramble to think of something to post on social media each week. Or a topic to cover on my podcast. There’s tons to choose from; I just need to pick a topic and do the research. It also means I’m really consistent in my messages to my audience. I also have another key message: I believe in sharing my knowledge openly and generously, so You’re not going to hear me give you only a small piece of what you need to be successful to implement my expertise in your business because that wouldn’t be on brand for me.  

Well, there you have it. Why I believe key messages are important, how to create them and how they make your life super easy. Your assignment this week is to have a fun brainstorm and create 3-5 key messages for your business. If you need help getting started, visit getauthentic.com/resources and download my key message brainstorming workbook. It walks you through the exercise we just talked about!

As always, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate, review and subscribe to help other women like you find it. Until next time!