Does Your Message Pass the Test?

Develop an effective benefit message and you're well on your way to building your company's entire marketing program. After all, you need focus to create success. Without it you can wind up expending effort without getting the reward (income, that is) you're looking for.

Start with these three ingredients:

  • Understanding of what the customer needs and wants

  • Knowledge of the competition's strengths, weaknesses and messages

  • Insight about what you offer

Gather the information and chart it. What you're looking for is a hole where there's a customer need that you address and hopefully, the competition doesn't.

Found it? That's the core of your message. Found several holes? You'll need to prioritize.

Now, write alternative introductory sentences. Remember, they need to be customer-benefit oriented, that is, they need to explain what the customer GETS. Got your alternatives ready? Here are seven questions to ask of potential benefit messages. They'll help you find the promise or message that will get you the most mileage:

1) Is it meaningful?

This is where knowledge of the customer comes into play. Your benefit message should be based on the real needs of the people who use your products or services.

2) Is it sustainable?

Establishing your unique position doesn't happen overnight. The message you choose should be based on what you can deliver long term.

3) Is it believable?

Can you keep the promise you're making? For example, if your benefit message centers on "superior service," do you understand what your customers' expectations are? Are you committed to making good on this promise over time?

4) Is it unique?

Often there are many providers of a product or service. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack?

5) Is it concrete and easy to understand?

If you ask your audience to think too hard, they probably won't! Simple, straight-forward messages work best.

6) Is it in your own words?

If you're going to be saying this as an introduction to your business, you need to be comfortable with the words and phrasing. Practice saying messages out loud to test them.

7) Is it attention-grabbing?

You can't bore someone into buying! Use words that demonstrate your passion, your understanding of client needs. Use words that engage interest.

Test your message with prospects. Watch for their reactions. Ask what they like and don't like. You might get stuck. If that happens, a marketing and communications consultant can craft alternative benefit statements, provide an objective viewpoint, even handle the up-front research.

About The Author

Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years' experience developing and implementing successful business-to-business marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire's monthly newsletter, Communique, at www.clairvoyantcommunications.com. Claire can be reached at 763-479-3499 or e-mail to claire@claircomm.com

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