Honing Your Core Messages

When it comes to creating written communications about your business, whether for your website, social media, an email campaign, a press release or a company brochure, you need to do more than declare who you are and what you do. Good communications is the key to success in business. While it’s important to be clear about what your business offers, you need to also convey what many marketers call your “core messages.” And honing your core messages is important for continued business success. These messages should contain certain information your target audience (specifically customers) wants and needs to hear, but more importantly the information that will resonate with them and help you make a connection with them.

Your core messages should convey your unique selling proposition, your core values and/or your unique value proposition, your strengths and your differentiators — what separates you from other businesses who offer the same products or services you do. By creating and communicating your core messages, you will be answering the questions all prospective customers have at the top of their minds: “Why should I do business with you?” “Why should I choose you over others?” and the number one question, “What’s in it for me?

Honing your core messages

First, Who is Your Target Customer?

Before you start working on your core messages (or, for that matter, anything marketing-related), you must think about who your target audience is because, of course, your messages are for them.

Your target audience can be several different groups, but mainly it’s potential customers. More precisely, it’s who the actual buyers and users are of your products and services (which can be different people). If you are a business-to-business provider, are you selling to companies of a certain size, or in a specific market or geographical area? Is there a person in a specific role in those companies who would be the user or buyer, or a gatekeeper to or influencer with the buyer?

If you sell to consumers, think about the demographics of the people who would use your products or services — the age group (Tweens, Gen Z, Gen X, Millennials, Baby Boomers), gender, marital status, family status (children/no children), education, location, etc. Also bear in mind who might be the buyers but not necessarily the users of your product (for example, parents buying toys and games for kids, women buying personal products for male partners).

Creating and Honing Your Core Messages

it’s critical to identify what makes you unique and what distinguishes you from every other company out there that does what you do or offers what you offer. With that information, you can create a clear statement of value pertaining to your uniqueness and what you bring to the table: your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.

Your USP statement should basically be your whole argument for what you offer and why customers need it now to solve a problem or address a situation they have. By forming a clear, focused and compelling USP, you can motivate prospective customers to beat a path to your door and make your business stand out in your market. By not declaring this sense of purpose and identity, you will likely confuse your target customers.

You can find a plethora of examples in the marketplace of how honing your message down to a brief (yes, brief) and unequivocal statement can reap success. An example of a well-known, memorable and winning USP is the one from Federal Express: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

To develop your Unique Value Proposition, or UVP, start by brainstorming a list of your organization’s core values and then identify which values would most resonate with each of the groups (or “publics” or “personas”) that make up your target audience. Try to come up with a dozen or more values and be very specific. For example, instead of just identifying “responsiveness to customers” as a value, make it “responding to customers within one hour.” Having as many as two dozen values would not be unusual. By taking the values that are most important to each group in your target audience and incorporating them into a set of compelling statements, you will have your UVP. You will effectively convey what the prospective customers (and each of the other groups in your target audience) get by doing business with you. An example of a UVP statement would be: “XYZ Company responds to customer issues within one hour, ensuring resolution in a timely manner.”

The UVP statements would ultimately become the heart of your company’s core messages, along with your USP, strengths and differentiators.  I talk more about this in my article, “Figuring What’s In It for the Customer.”

Once you’ve developed your core messages, they should be woven into all your external communications and marketing content — your website, company profile, sales materials, press releases, social media, etc. Then you should make sure you are honing your core messages on a regular basis. With consistent and clear messages in all your communications, your target customers will more easily be drawn to your business and what you offer.