When you first sit down to define your company’s messaging—your mission statement, your marketing materials, your blurbs on all those social media profiles—there’s an energy and focus around it that’s palpable. You know who you are! You know how to talk about who you are! And mostly, you’re excited.
But as you use those phrases over and over, it’s not uncommon for them to feel flat or diluted over time. What’s more, especially if you work for a growing company, it’s easy for messaging to become outdated before you know it, not quite representing who you are anymore.
Feel like your messaging needs a pick-me-up? Check out these four easy steps to re-focus and re-energize the way you talk about all the awesome things your company does.
1. Go Back to the Drawing Board
Bring in a mix of staff—from executives to interns—and ask the group to answer questions or fill out a questionnaire related to the current messaging. Are there words or phrases everyone loves? Are there pieces of the messaging many people hate? On what platform does the group think your messaging is the strongest? And the weakest?
Bringing fresh eyes and a variety of voices can help you determine which words and phrases are the most relevant and impactful—and should stand the test of time—and which messages just don’t resonate anymore. Then, get to brainstorming. Toss the pieces that no longer work and use the strongest messages as your foundation.
2. Check in With Your Audience
If you have the time and resources to put together a focus group or marketing survey, having your clients or users weigh in on your messaging can be a hugely insightful exercise. Who better than them to tell you if your messaging is still making an impact—or if it’s starting to feel a little dusty? If you can’t host a formal get-together, ask your family, friends, and network contacts the same questions you asked your staff. What are the similarities? Differences?
Also, take a look at the comments and interactions you receive on your website and social platforms. Any helpful feedback you can pull from? Like, “Hey @Company, why so serious these days?”
3. Give Every Platform a Purpose
If you’ve been scrambling to build a presence on several social media platforms (at once!), it’s likely that you slapped the same three sentences into each “About Us” section. But without deep diving into your content, how is your audience supposed to know what they’re going to find on your Tumblr page vs. your Facebook page vs. your Twitter page? And, most importantly, how are they going to stay excited about who you are if they have to read the same description on your website, in your monthly email blast, and on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram pages?
While it’s important to be consistent with your messaging, it’s equally important to keep users engaged with different types of content. So, give each platform a job. Maybe Instagram is for behind-the-scenes photos, and Tumblr is for curated news about a certain industry or topic. Once you know what you’re pushing out on each platform, draft unique, but consistent, messaging for each one. Need some inspiration? Head over to GE’s Tumblr and Facebook profiles. The foundation of the company’s messaging is the same—a commitment to technology and innovation—but the way it’s framed is specific to the presence on each platform.
4. Create a Master Messaging Document
Once you’ve updated your messaging and determined where it’s all going to go, get it down on paper. Start with your mission statement, then add 3–4 main messages about your company, like “We stand for four pillars: transparency, innovation, consistency, and flexibility.” And then add another 4–6 supporting messages, providing high-level messages on each of your key business lines or giving you an extra layer of talking points to support your main messages. For example, “As the first company to invent and manufacture bicycles in the U.S., we have been committed to innovation, in all its big and tiny forms, since our inception.” Use the second half of the document to write down the job and messaging for each of your external-facing platforms.
Collecting your messaging in one place allows you to look at how you’re describing your company holistically. As a whole, does the tone feel right? Are there any holes? Any points you want to beef up?
Now that you’ve organized your messaging (and added some pizzazz!), re-visit your master doc every 3-6 months. Has the direction of any of your platforms changed? Have you received any positive or negative feedback from your community on any of the new messaging? Is there a theme you want to align your company with that could be weaved into your messaging? Tweak the document and your external communications accordingly. Remember, your community wants—and expects!—your company to evolve. Your messaging should, too.
Photo of man working courtesy of Shutterstock.