Director of Web Strategy & Design, Team Lead, Speaker, 10+ Years of Project Management and Digital Marketing Experience
April 10th, 2019
How many times have you gotten a gift card for your birthday or Christmas and then completely forgotten about it? Maybe it was left stranded in your junk drawer just waiting to be spent. Maybe you lost it in the depth of your purse. Maybe your toddler thought it was a fun toy and it was lost to the abyss that is his toybox (never happened…).
That’s some serious value just being thrown away and neglected! And, honestly, it is strikingly similar to something we see all the time with brand messaging strategies.
The process of creating a brand messaging strategy for your organization can be really, really fun. People love that part. They are willing to spend thousands of dollars on projects to get it just right. They are willing to invest hundreds of hours of their team’s time to ensure the right people have gotten a say in it.
Then once it is done, they set it to the side and completely ignore it. Like it never even happened.
Wait, what? Am I serious?
Absolutely. We see it all the time. It’s really easy to get people pumped and involved for the fun part. But then nobody wants to do the hard work to make sure it is actually implemented.
So, to help you avoid dropping your carefully crafted messaging strategy into the abyss, this article will give you some great ideas of what you can do with it. Keep in mind that the sky is the limit, and this list is nowhere near exhaustive.
Get Your Team Bought In
The first step you must take after your brand messaging strategy has been built is to get your entire organization bought-in to it.
Every single person that works for your company is a representation of your brand in some way or another. If they don’t know the brand strategy, how can they live it and represent it accurately for you?
So, what is the best way to ensure everyone is on the same page? Get them in a workshop. This should be a highly interactive session rather than a boring, dry lecture where you simply read the strategy to them.
What is the best way to ensure that your team will truly retain the information you are sharing with them? Get them to use it in action! People learn far more by doing or interacting than they do simply by reading or watching.
Some great exercises to do here include role plays. Group your organization by role (ex. Sales, customer service, etc.) and have them practice using key parts of the messaging strategy in scenarios they would actually encounter every day.
There are two key things to remember here. People will only retain this information if you continue to reinforce it, and the organization will only view doing so as a priority if the leadership of the company leads by example. So, make sure to continue to find ways to get your staff to be reminded of the brand strategy and make sure leadership has both initially bought in and proves to your organization it is a priority to them that they live by it.
Only once your brand strategy is a living, breathing part of every employee in your organization will it truly start to deliver. When this finally happens, it is like pure magic, and those results will be more valuable than you ever could have hoped for.
Build Sales Scripts
One of the most important places your brand messaging must be on point is with your sales team. Often, they are the first people someone will interact with from your organization. As such, they are the most important people in your company that must own and use the messaging strategy you’ve created.
A great way to start this process is to build out sales scripts with the messaging built right in. Most salespeople, at least the most effective ones, already follow a general script as they move a prospect through the sales process.
Now, there are two ways to do this: the right way and the wrong way.
The wrong way would be to simply hand them a script and say “follow this.” If they’ve had no hand in creating the script, they’ll immediately find reasons why it doesn’t work and throw it out the window.
Instead, the leadership of your sales team should work collaboratively with key members of the sales organization to build the script together. If you challenge the team to find ways to incorporate key brand pillars into their scripts, but let them actually write the scripts, they’ll be far more likely to use them. They’ll also be far more effective. Your sales team knows what messages have worked on prospects in the past and which have fallen flat, so use their experience!
Now, don’t simply walk away and hope it stays in place. Make sure to keep a pulse on how sales is messaging and ensure maintaining the brand strategy is part of performance reviews and measurement.
Update Your Website Copy
While a salesperson may be one of the first humans a person interacts with from your brand, we know that 70% of a buyer’s decision is usually made before they ever talk to one.
So how can we control that 70% of the conversation, and ensure our potential customers are seeing our brand the way we want them to? Through our marketing!
When it comes to controlling the conversation about our brands, one of the most effective ways to do this is through our websites. So, your next order of business should be to revamp your website messaging to ensure it is on-brand and matches with your new messaging strategy.
Be careful in this endeavor not to get stuck in “analysis paralysis.” We see so many people who take forever to actually get their website copy updated, or never do, because they are so obsessed with getting every tiny detail perfect. Or they are so concerned with every word choice that they end up frozen.
I cannot say this strongly enough: DO NOT DO THIS!
Your website is a living, breathing thing. You can update it every day if you want. You can change words as you test and see what is resonating and what isn’t.
The worst thing you can do is leave your website sitting stagnant with off-brand messaging because you are trying too hard to have the perfect on-brand messaging. Done is better than perfect and a website that gets your messaging strategy even partially right is far more useful than one that ignores it altogether.
So, just get it out there initially, and continue to refine over time.
Use Messaging As The Foundation For Content Creation
Once you’ve got your website messaging updated, it's time to think about your regular content creation cadence. You already know you should be producing new content about 3 times per week, and hopefully you’ve been doing so for some time already.
If that’s the case, just make sure you are creating content that supports your brand messaging strategy. Most likely, you learned some key information about how your audience makes decisions when you conducted the audience research that went into building your messaging strategy. There are usually plenty of goldmines for blog topics to support different decision-making styles just waiting in your messaging strategy.
Make sure to use it to inform your editorial calendar! Work with sales to answer the key questions that come along with each of those decision-making styles.
Answering all of those questions will fast-track you to becoming the thought leader in your space.
Use It In Your Product or Service Teams
We’ve already talked about sales and marketing, but what about the people who have the most interaction with your customers? Make sure your product or service teams are well versed in the brand strategy as well (using that workshop method we talked about before!).
You can start by building brand messaging into customer service scripts and incorporating it on physical packaging. What you do in this step is entirely specific to your business and how it interacts with customers. The key takeaway is to ensure each customer touchpoint is on-brand and any communication with customers reinforces the brand message.
Measure Whether You’re Living Up To It
The companies that really get brand messaging right are obsessed with living their brands and the result is customers that become passionate evangelists.
Having a loved brand is literally priceless. So, ask the people who matter most if you are doing a good job.
Survey your customers, and build that survey to specifically find out if you are living out your brand strategy and if the messaging is truly resonating with your customers.
Bonus points if you can ask your customers about it on video and then use that video on your website!
Find Ways To Show It
Typically, a brand messaging strategy is mostly about the words you use to communicate about your brand. But, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Once you know how you want your brand to be perceived, and have detailed what your brand promises are, it is time to find ways to show those promises.
This is where video comes in. People will only believe words for so long, but show them something tangible and real that proves those words -- now that is powerful. In this case, you are looking at creating what we affectionately call a “Claims We Make” style video (number 7 in this list).
Show people your brand in an authentic and honest way, instead of just telling them about it, and I promise they’ll love you for it.
If I can leave you with one thing, it should be this: building your brand strategy isn’t the finish line, it is just the starting line.
Once you’ve finished creating that fantastic messaging strategy, go make sure it is used (and used well), otherwise you’ve just wasted a lot of time, effort and money. And who wants to do that?