Of the handful of foundational elements that go into creating a successful marketing strategy, brand messaging is not only among them, it's one of the most critical pieces to get right. You only have a few seconds to catch a customer's attention, after all, so it's important to make every second they're on your website count.
So, if the problem is knowing what will grab your customer's attention, the solution is creating a content strategy that defines what your audience needs, why they need it, and how your business is going to help. Getting there, however, is sometimes a little tricky.
A broad and comprehensive content strategy relies on several key components, but for the sake of this exercise, let's take a look at three that are most essential: identifying a brand's value propositions, creating a persuasive elevator pitch and generating brief statements about the overall brand.
Value propositions are what makes your brand appealing to customers and are designed to set you apart from the competition. It's not enough to say you have a superior product or service; it's better to say why you're good and why you're the best option to choose from. Here, the granular details on what a business offers make all the difference.
Identifying the core value propositions for a client, and then demonstrating them in a unique way, not only gives a business strategic clarity, but also offers an outside perspective on what's truly meaningful to customers.
Depending on the client, these value propositions can come in various formats when implemented across a website. This can include storytelling, big numbers (aka facts and figures related to client offerings), and/or tiered content that walks users from broad, informational messaging to more qualified, sales-oriented content by way of the messaging sales funnel.
The most critical component of this area, however, is to not only show the client we've been listening to them and done our due diligence with early research, but to also discover information that's vital to the sales process and may be missing from their current on-site copy.
When we create value propositions for clients, we know how important it is to avoid telling the same story clients have been telling about themselves. Basically, it comes down to choosing things that customers find valuable.
More than ever, it's absolutely critical from the earliest stages of our messaging approach to create a roadmap for website content to be as outward facing as possible, which allows clients to clearly demonstrate how they solve problems for customers. Until you know why
your product or service is so valuable and can effectively relay these details to customers, it's going to be lost in the sea of comparable competitors.
The Elevator Pitch
While it might seem like an easy transition from value propositions to the elevator pitch, knowing how to distill the above messages into a 5-7 sentence overview is usually a complex and highly creative exercise. This is where the real salesmanship of a copywriter comes through. But more importantly, it's where the client gains a stable foothold on how the site's new content will be developed, and perfectly illustrates what makes their brand appealing.
Elevator pitches typically focus on a central theme that addresses a main concern, or at most, the top-tier concerns of customers, accompanied by supporting information that drives home the solutions-oriented approach offered by the client.
In order to make an elevator pitch persuasive and spark interest from a potential customer, we as copywriters are tasked with summarizing who the client is, what they do and why they're an ideal fit in a compelling way. Really, it comes down to stating the facts in a salesy, but not overly salesy fashion.
The best way to describe the process of writing an elevator pitch is by comparing it to the messaging strategy itself: know who your audience is, identify what goes into their decision-making on a product or service, then apply this knowledge in a succinct manner by drawing out the best of what a client has to offer.
You only have a few lines to make an impact with this message, so be sure you aren't wasting a customer's time with flowery statements or taking a departure from the primary reasons for the pitch. In the end, it's always about getting the conversion - or at the very least, giving enough information to let the client's sales teams take them in that direction.
A great elevator pitch boils down to defining the core message for a brand as it's the principal direction from which every piece of content on a site is derived. While it may not (and should not) cover everything a client offers, it will ultimately become the messaging keystone, and inform nearly every aspect of site-wide content execution.
Example Headlines, Subheads and Taglines
Unless we're working on a specific landing page or area of a client's site, we provide overarching examples of homepage messaging that helps inform customers of the brand's intent and the value they offer. Unlike value propositions and the elevator pitch, however, copywriters are limited to providing quick, hard-hitting descriptions that will entice users to move further into the site.
It's not unusual for a copywriter to spend a considerable amount of time developing headlines, subheads and taglines. For clients with complex businesses, it sometimes takes several decent ideas to craft a single impactful headline, and we usually provide clients with anywhere from 2-5 pairs of headlines and subheads to allow for various options and approaches.
In my own experience, the one benefit of leaving this portion of a messaging strategy as the last step is I now have a firm understanding of the tone, keywords and value propositions a client's audience is looking for. Putting that into practice, however, can sometimes be daunting.
Customers have no issue with clicking the back button if your website's messaging isn't up to snuff. This makes it doubly important to focus on them versus the brand when writing copy for above the fold (what a person sees when they first visit a site without scrolling). Here's where I focus solely on the customer by putting myself in their shoes and imagining what kind of message will elicit a download, a scroll, a sale or direct them to contact our client.
I personally consider headlines, subheads and taglines as the center of customer decision-making. If it's done right, it can be the first critical step to securing a new customer and building a long-term relationship. If it's done incorrectly, it can lead to high bounce rates and unhappy clients.
To sum things up, the best results come when messaging builds an authentic relationship between the customer, the brand and the solution. A relationship where information and affinity connect, and a lifelong customer is born.