Marketing today can be really confusing. New technologies, tons of data and automation all over the place. It’s enough to make a business leader’s head spin! But what if I told you that the most important place to start had nothing to do with technology? In fact, it really has nothing to do with anything digital. Instead, it’s actually quite simple. The starting point for marketing today is the same place it has been for many years: determining your core marketing message.
What is a Core Marketing Message?
Successful businesses know that marketing is important. And business leaders, even if they haven’t spent a lot of time in the marketing suite, know that they must be able to identify the people they are trying to reach. But what they don’t typically focus on is determining what they will say to that target audience. Or, more importantly, how they will say it. That’s where a core marketing message comes in.
Every business should be able to identify why they exist. Typically, this reason gets translated into a “mission statement” or is part of a “vision statement.” And while these items have value, they usually get locked up in a frame and hung on the wall, never to be discussed again.
A core marketing message takes the mission statement one step further. The core marketing message is the way that you explain your unique value proposition (UVP) to potential customers. In short, the core marketing message is a way to give life to a (usually boring) mission statement. And once it has life, it becomes actionable. Once it is actionable, it can be used to drive your marketing campaigns. You may never publish your core marketing message verbatim for the world to see, but the language in that message will show up in your paid-search (AdWords) ads, your social media posts, your blog posts and any other content you develop to help you connect with your target audience.
3 Elements of a Core Marketing Message
While a core marketing message can take many forms, I believe that there are 3 elements that any core message should contain:
- Be descriptive/tell a short story. Stories are powerful. Stories help people understand complex situations. Stories are also entertaining. When creating your core marketing message, aim to be descriptive of the conditions your target audience faces. Talk about what impacts them. Describe what keeps them up at night. Try to describe the world that they see. (Related: check out this resource from Seth Godin on the importance of telling stories in marketing).
- Be genuine. The funny thing about marketing today is that everyone can spot BS a mile away. Potential customers know if you’re not being real. Your employees know if the story you just told is a lie. Save yourself some time. Tell the truth. Give an accurate description of the situation and your company.
- Explain how your company can help. This is the part that everyone is eager to jump to. My recommendation: don’t jump! Slow down and make sure you really understand the problem and then give an accurate description of how you can help. But the key here is to stay away from dry language, acronyms and industry jargon. Instead, simply describe the ideal conditions your company can create. Then, walk away.
Bonus Element: Be Concise
If you develop a core message that is descriptive, genuine and explains how your company can help, congratulations! But there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind: your core marketing message needs to be concise. In fact, two paragraphs (no more!) should suffice. If you need more space than that, you are probably trying to say too much. Pull out your editor’s pen and start cutting.
Where Do You Use a Core Marketing Message?
Once you’ve developed your core marketing message, it is time to put that message to work! As I mentioned above, I do not recommend publishing your core marketing message for the world to see. Your core message is an internal document that your team will draw from when it is time to create campaigns and content.
So, where do you use the core marketing message? Consider using it as the starting point for the following items:
- Blog posts. Every blog post you write should have a purpose. You should always know who you are trying to connect to and what you’d like for them to do after they read it. Use your core marketing message as the source for the specific words and phrases you’ll use in your blog post as you try to connect with your audience.
- Social media posts. Social media is a very competitive arena. You have to fight hard to get attention. As a result, you have to stay on-point at all times with how you describe the challenges your potential customers face and how your company can solve those challenges.
- Google AdWords/Pay-Per-Click Advertising. Paid-search ads can be very effective. But their effectiveness depends on how quickly you can get the attention of the searcher and convince them that you have the best answer to their question. When creating your PPC ads and landing pages, use the core marketing message to identify the specific words you will use to get the attention of your target audience.
Of course, the applications for a core marketing message are limitless. Anywhere you communicate a message to your target audience, you can apply your core marketing message. And once you’ve put that core marketing message to work, you’ll begin to find a new level of success with your marketing campaigns.
*photo courtesy of vishnuprasad Radhakrishnan on Flickr under the Creative Commons license.
CEO & Lead Dijital Strategist
Jon Parks is the CEO and Lead Dijital Strategist with Dijital Farm. Jon specializes in developing and executing sustainable inbound marketing strategies and has worked with companies such as SAS Institute, Citrix, Nationwide Insurance, Fike Corporation, Epstein Global Architects, Tough Mudder and Massage Envy. Learn more about Jon.