(Eighth in a series about fundamental marketing documents every business needs. The seventh was: How to write personas to focus your marketing strategy.)
Many businesses think they’ve written their key messages when they’ve written their tagline. In fact, they are different. They are powerful messages that can crystallize your brand and consistently communicate key information about your company to your audiences.
Key messages aren’t to be memorized and spouted back word-for-word, but to be used as guidelines so that they can be incorporated naturally into conversations.
The purpose of key messages is to get everyone in your company on the same page when communicating about your business — whether they are communicating to the media, selling your products or just talking to the neighbor over the back fence. This isn’t to squelch free speech, but to enhance and protect your brand.
If you have a designated person or department that handles media inquiries, they should consider your organization’s key messages whenever they are handling a media inquiry and answer questions with the messages in mind. In addition, your PR and marketing staff should build all branding and sales materials, including your inbound marketing tools such as your website, blog, social media, e-books, videos and landing pages, around your key messages.
You should have no more than five or six, and three or four is better. They should be short and memorable, and they consist of the most distinctive and important claims that you can make about your business. These claims can’t be hollow, we’re-the-best, rah-rah statements. They must be fact-based. For example:
Claim: XYZ Consulting has the most technologically sophisticated consultants in our field.
Fact: XYZ Consulting has won more national awards for technology consulting than any other firm in our field.
When you write your key messages, consider your mission, vision, values, positioning and branding statements, as well as your tagline, making sure that the messages work to support this strategic structure you’ve put in place.
Examples of great corporate key messages
One company that’s done a great job of their key messages is 3M. Here are their key messages:
- 3M is a diversified technology company.
- 3M applies innovation systematically to anticipate and respond to customer needs.
- Practical and ingenious solutions are a strong part of 3M’s legacy.
- 3M is a global company with local presence throughout the world.
- 3M consistently fulfills its commitment to investors, customers, employees and communities.
- 3M fosters a culture of leadership at all levels.
- 3M can be trusted to do the right thing.
In addition to the key messages, 3M posts its proof points, as well.
Here is how Valspar lists their key messages:
|Reliability||Customers and consumers around the world can trust Valspar to be there when they need us most.||
|Performance||We offer high-quality products and services because quality and high performance always matter.||
|Expertise||Valspar shares a wealth of technical knowledge, account leadership and service, ensuring projects reach their full potential.||
|Innovation||Valspar is committed to helping customers meet their most pressing challenges.||
|Integrity||Valspar employees always strive to do the right thing.||
Now it’s time to write your own key messages!