A Key Message is a compact, well crafted expression of competitive advantage in support of well differentiated and well marketed brands and products that helps assure consistency in every business communication you make:
- on your Web site’s Home or About page
- in traditional media marketing
- in blog and social media posts
- on business cards, in brochures & other sales materials
- in video capabilities presentations
- on the sales floor and making sales calls in the field
- in sales and marketing meetings
- in board presentations and investor relations
- in recruiting good people and training them
- in composing your boilerplate
- when making that all important “elevator pitch”.
Your Key Message begins life as an internal strategic brief, sometimes called a positioning statement. In a single accessible paragraph, it describes who you are, who your customers are and why they should want to do business with you -- based on a thorough understanding of customer needs, competitors and market trends. Your Key Message then may be adapted into key sales points that prompt conversations with the clients and customers you want most (in the field and on the sales floor). It also may be condensed into a tagline that sets your business, brand or service apart in the marketplace.
Here’s a Key Message example for Greeting Seattle, a made-up greeting card and gift store. Note how their tagline (presented below) evolves from the Key Message – and how exclusive it is to this business.
“Greeting Seattle offers a competitively broad selection of greeting cards and small thoughtful books and gifts, as well as a few seasonal or special occasion flower arrangements, presented in an upscale retail setting that wraps ‘customers who care’ into the selection experience. Greeting Seattle is priced just above ordinary card/gift shops and is staffed by people who have as much fun working here as customers do shopping here. Our customers enjoy their Greeting Seattle experience so much that, on average, more than half of them shop with us nearly once a month. New customers are attracted primarily by words of praise from our existing customers and via our time-proven Personal Greeter consultant and Gift Reward referral systems. We acknowledge that our continuing success – and prosperity – depends on the considered contributions of each member of the Greeting Seattle team, and it is on that assurance that we plan our future.”
Tagline: The Northwest’s Most Enjoyable Gift and
Greeting Card Experience.
The long-term value of a well-thought-out (and well applied) Key Message cannot be overstated.
- In sales and marketing, a consistent Key Message can mean the difference between creating immediate belief in your brand or product attributes ... or not ... between attracting and selling new business or having your presentation fall flat because your story didn't sing.
- Woven into company culture, your Key Message provides a lifting purpose for your manufacturing and support teams, enlarges people's vision and focuses their work on what most needs to be done, leading to increased productivity and greater employee loyalty.
It may look easy, but coming up with an effective Key Message can be challenging. However, the payoff begins immediately, because the discipline and focus necessary to develop your Key Message alone should prove well worth the time you invest. Over the long term, applying your Key Message to every business conversation you have, from Web site positioning to product testimonials to making key sales calls, should translate into more business opportunity, less dependence on price as a sales driver and increased revenue. It may even help make strategic planning a less time-consuming process by having your ongoing strategic story already in place.
TakeAway: Time invested in developing an authentic and compelling Key Message will pay off in improved strategic discipline, more precise brand and product positioning, more effective sales presentations and a more profitable future.