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A Strategic Approach to Message Development

IMG_0613The idea of “message development” is at the core of most marketing and PR programs.

In fact, it should be at the core of all your business activities. The message we deliver to our various publics should be consistent — shaped and tailored, perhaps, even dynamic — but always consistent.

Doesn’t that run the risk of becoming boring, you might ask?


The risk is that you will articulate your message so clearly that it will resonate with all sectors of your public and they’ll “get it.” That’s the outcome you want.

We are continually advised to “focus” our message, “broaden” our message, “elevate” the message, “personalize” the message, “simplify” our message, and even “encapsulate” it. Everyone wants to develop the perfect “elevator” pitch — explain what you do in ten seconds or less. We must also help our listeners understand why they, in particular, need our product or service and what makes it worth the cost to them — probably in a thirty second blurb.

A Strategic Approach to Message Development

There are several ways to approach message discovery and message development.

Chances are your start-ups greatest legacy is its founders.

Invite all team members to deliver their pitches to you. Ask your early stage customers to do likewise.  Ditto with your board.  Your mentors.  Your investors.  Got kids?  Ask your employees’ children, “what does your mommy or daddy do at work?”

Develop- And Refine Your Message

As you work through this process and develop the words and feelings and define the motivations you want to engender, you can begin to develop and refine your message. Keep in mind your many publics and generate a message that speaks to each of them. It may be the same words for several groups or different for each. Then test them for internal consistency. You may discover a slogan that anchors your messages, or an image, or even a tune. But, don’t sacrifice clarity and meaning for cuteness. Likewise, don’t pass up an opportunity for “spark.”

As you craft your message, work from one level to the next — starting from very broad and general and working toward specificity, or the other way around. And continually test for internal consistency and truth.

Once you have developed your message, keeping it in the forefront of your ongoing narrative is critical to success.


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