Are we trying to be so smart with our messaging that we miss the point?

I recently came across three things in the space of one week that got me thinking about messaging. About how so many companies struggle to find the right voice and clarity in their marketing materials – sometimes from overthinking, but often because of a lack of the right perspective.

Example 1: I attended a major trade show at the beginning of the week. When doing my usual rounds, I stopped at a large (bespoke build) exhibition stand where the only writing or visuals were a three word strapline. You might think that was good – high impact even – but the words were very generic and didn’t actually indicate what the company did. There were no handouts and only a rolling PowerPoint presentation on show by way of additional information. I actually stood and looked at the stand for 2 minutes (longer than a passing prospect would) and still didn’t know what the company did – let alone whether they were a company I should be interested in. So I moved on.

Example 2: Just the next day, I was sent a press release which was so verbose that I struggled to find the point and understand what the company wanted to communicate. It had been written by their PR agency and unfortunately already distributed to their media contacts earlier that day – unsurprisingly, with very little resulting pickup.

Example 3: At the end of the week, while working on a supplement for a trade magazine, I was asked to edit an article produced by the sponsors. The article was overly technical and needed an overhaul to make it more accessible and give it some impact. Luckily, the company who had produced it recognised that it needed some work, which is why they had sought some extra support before sending it for layout.

I may sound over-critical, but I don’t think that any of these examples are actually uncommon. It is not an easy task to pitch your messaging right. However, we all have short attention spans for marketing messages these days, so it is vital to grab the audience, convey what you do and leave an impression in those few moments – whether your audience is a prospect passing your stand at a trade show, a journalist looking at your press release or an employee reading an internal announcement.

Messaging must flow from your brand strategy and corporate story to ensure consistency, cohesion and clarity. Once you have the strategy and high-level messaging working, it’s all about cascading that story into your core materials. For every piece of content or collateral you produce you should:

  • Be concise (using bullet points helps!)
  • Be clear
  • Be creative
  • Set yourself apart
  • Use soundbites
  • Think about your audience’s attention span in context
  • Make an impact
  • Don’t be afraid to be disruptive

If you would like more advice on how to clarify your messaging and make sure your content hits home with your audience, get in touch for a free consultation.

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