I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down with a client to review their marketing materials and found inconsistent or even conflicting messages. The message on the website is different from the message on the brochure, which is different from the Facebook brand page.
And who knows what the salespeople are saying.
This lack of cohesion is the result of holding different meetings about different parts of the marketing strategy, possibly with different company personnel and different consultants.
In other words, each initiative started from scratch and was treated as an isolated project, which is reflected in the end result.
Nobody likes receiving mixed signals. It’s confusing and frustrating. How are people supposed to understand your company’s solutions, values and unique selling proposition if your company can’t seem to communicate them?
You can eliminate inconsistent messaging in your marketing content by creating a very basic framework that serves as the foundation for all future marketing initiatives.
Instead of reinventing the wheel each time, you can refer to this guideline, building each part of a cohesive marketing and communication strategy from the same foundation. Think of it as an internal document that lays the groundwork for external messaging.
This marketing framework should be required reading for your entire team, but especially those who communicate directly with customers or business partners. Verbal communication needs to be consistent with written content.
Building your framework is as easy as creating four columns:
Column 1: Common Customer Challenges
Effective marketing solves problems. This is nothing new, but problem solving too often takes a backseat to self-promotion.
What customer problems require solutions? What needs require filling? What parts of their lives would they like to improve? What pain would they like to have relieved?
Be very specific. Suppose you’re a financial advisor and your most common customer challenge is an inability to save money. What exactly do they want to save money for? Retirement? College? Home improvements? Vacation?
Why do they struggle to save money? Lack of discipline? Tight budget? Lack of investment knowledge?
Each challenge could inspire multiple website pages, blog posts, brochures, social media posts, feature articles and presentations. In addition to providing a foundation for your messaging, your marketing framework will be an idea generator for content.
Column 4: The Results of Doing Business with Your Company
Yes, we’re going out of order. That’s because effective marketing focuses on the customer, and these two columns will help you zero in on the needs of your customers before you explain how your company can help them.
The results in Column 4 should line up with the challenges in Column 1. How will someone’s life be better as a direct result of utilizing your product or service? What emotions will they feel when they experience those results?
Continuing with the financial advisor example, the results may be relief, peace of mind and a certain amount of money gaining interest in a retirement account.
Column 2: Your Company’s Solution(s)
You may offer one product or service, or you may offer many. List them here, lining up your solutions with the corresponding customer challenges and end results.
Column 3: Your Company’s Process
This is the secret sauce that separates you from the competition and helps to quantify the value of what you do.
How do your products, services and your company as a whole help people overcome the challenges in Column 1 and realize the results in Column 4? How do you take them on that journey?
How is your process unique? What are you doing that your competition isn’t? Why should people trust you?
It’s important to clearly identify how your company achieves results for its clients and how you want that process communicated. Make sure that your entire team is on the same page.
How do you put your marketing framework to good use?
From a big picture standpoint, this is a valuable tool for a startup that is building a website and beginning to develop marketing collateral. However, it can also be an extremely productive exercise for an established company that needs to reevaluate, refocus and fine tune its messaging.
For specific initiatives, your framework will provide the foundation for crafting powerful marketing content.
Suppose your financial consulting firm will be giving a presentation at a seminar for small business owners. Not only do you need to develop a strong presentation, but you need to produce brochures to distribute at the event and a landing page to get people to register.
Refer to your marketing framework and leverage the information you’ve already identified. Focus your content on the challenges that are common for this particular audience and the results your company is capable of delivering.
A simple marketing framework will serve as a time-saving reference tool and launching pad for ideas while helping you create content that’s customer-focused, consistent and cohesive.