So you have a killer product, you have a highly targeted audience, and you’re solving a real problem that your targeted customers face. But what you don’t have is a way to effectively communicate your product and startups value. Like all startups, portraying the appropriate message that aligns with your company values and what your product can do is critical for its success.
This we understand. But what we all want to know is, how do you develop the right message that’ll attract your customers and resonate with them? Throughout this article, we’ll address what strategic messaging–a new concept for myself as well as hundreds of others–actually is and how it can help your startup
Step 1: Identify your weak points
The overarching question: are we communicating effectively?
We can all agree that even though we collect huge amounts of data with tools like Google Analytics, UI tracking tools like HotJar, and Email Marketing tracking scripts, it’s definitely not easy to determine if the actual copy of your website, pitch decks, or infographics are working.
Perhaps the most effective–and simplest–way to identify how your current messaging performs is to analyze how your company communicates its value and your products value.
Ask yourself, in fact, ask your entire staff…
- Are we communicating the same value across all platforms?
- Is our messaging in its simplest form?
- Do our customers easily understand what your product offers?
- Do our customers understand how it can solve their problems?
Answering these 4 questions will give you insight into how consistent your messaging is. More than that, they will help you realize how your current communication reflects your product.
What about company vision?
Many new entrepreneurs often look over company vision. They’re often times so focused on building a product that they forget how important their brand actually is when it comes to the longevity of their company.
Yes, your branding is critical for the success of your hardware startup. Here’s a quick read that’ll help you understand why and how to start brand development.
So how can you align your marketing communications with your company vision? Understand this first, your company vision doesn’t necessarily mean where you see your company in 5 years time. Rather, your company vision is all about what you do and why you do it. And this alone is critical for setting the tone of your marketing communications. Your messaging may be ineffective or contradictory or it may not resonate with your values.
Step 2: Align with company vision
The overarching question: are we consistent?
Newly born companies often misunderstand what company vision is all about and are often built upon the idea that it’s either “my way or the highway” or they try to appeal to every need and desire of their customers. But both of those strategies are flawed. Most of the time, that is.
Ask yourself this, does your company vision align with your messaging?
Take lead from Larry Myler, a B2B sales strategist and contribute to Forbes. In the article, “Strategy 101: It’s All About Alignment,” Myler states,
“A sustainable business balance can only be realized through the pursuit of alignment. At this beginning stage of your strategic quest two questions become extremely important: 1) What will your customers buy; and, 2) What are you producing? If these two factors are aligned, strategy communication and implementation will have a viable foundation. Oddly, many strategy teams fail to ask these two fundamental questions, and thus end up neglecting obvious and devastating misalignments. If misalignments become apparent, you would be negligent in moving forward without making needed adjustments.”
When both your messaging and company values are in alignment, you’ll be closer to effectively controlling customer perception and behavior–which is what strategic messaging is all about.
Step 3: Develop strategic messaging
Testing new messaging ideas is easy with A/B testing software or even with email marketing. One of the best ways to test ideas would be through your already established email list. Since most email marketing platforms include some type of A/B testing integration, you could send one form of messaging to one segment and then another to the other segments.
This will not only help you establish what resides with your customers but it’ll also help you identify who is interested in what and how they respond. The key concept to note here is that you aren’t assuming what works best. You’re testing your ideas with real people and reading real data.
Myk Pono, head of marketing at Aptrinsic shared exactly why you should test your messaging rather than build your strategic messaging based on assumptions in the article, “Strategic Communication: How to Develop Strategic Messaging and Positioning,” content that reached well over 1000 shares. Pono stated,
“Don’t assume that your audience understands terms that you use in your communication. Companies live in bubbles, employees use the same terms and very often the meaning changes from one company to another. Define terms that you use internally, and when necessary define them for outbound communication. Even simple terms such as “analytics” can have multiple meanings and interpretations.
Startups often make the mistake of creating positioning and messaging based only on their internal expertise and product features. This approach entices founders to describe their products using industry jargon, complicated technical details, or buzzwords.”
Strategic messaging is time consuming, this I can agree with from personal experience in the startup industry. But what it can achieve for startups is consistency, simplicity, and wholeness. Aspects of startups that seem to be overlooked, especially for startups that are rapidly growing.