I get asked a lot by small business owners how to convey what they have to offer in the most compelling way. In most cases, they don’t lack for what to say, but rather how to sharpen its effectiveness. This guide provides 4 steps to creating an effective message.
Step 1: THE TARGET: Who is my audience for this message?
Messages are most effective when set in the context of a specific audience.
Step 2: THE MESSAGE: What is the solution I am providing?
This is the core of what you’re promising to customers. Your unique value that is meaningful to them. A useful test for me is to check that I’m stating how I’m helping people with a problem they have; not what I’m selling them.
Step 3: THE DIFFERENTIATION: How am I different from the competition?
What makes my solution so special from others? You might have unique capabilities, functionality, expertise, or terms and conditions.
Step 4: THE PROOF: Why should they believe my message?
Including customer testimonials, demonstrations, case studies, and guarantees helps to assure your prospects that what you say is credible.
Creating an Effective Message: Zappos Case Study
Here is one great example from leading online apparel and footwear retailer, Zappos, established in 1999 and now a subsidiary of Amazon. You will see this message prominently featured on its website.
(Step 1: THE TARGET)
- If you’re looking for shoes, clothing and handbags online, compare us to other online shoe and online clothing stores, as well as online handbag stores.
(Step 2: THE MESSAGE)
- You’ll find the absolute best service and the best selection in online shopping here at Zappos.com!
(Step 3:THE DIFFERENTIATION)
- Fast and free shipping both ways with no order minimums
- 365 days to return the item in its original condition
- 24/7 customer service line
(Step 4: THE PROOF)
Are you ready to work on your message? Download our worksheet to build your own message that’s customized to your target audience.
Share your draft in the comments below. Continue to test your message with your prospects through ongoing research and keep refining it as your insights grow!
Worksheet: 4 Steps to Creating an Effective Message
Are you ready to work on your message? Download our worksheet to build your own message that's customized to your target audience.
Miriam Vializ-Briggs is a marketing consultant with 25+ years of marketing strategy and execution experience, garnered as an executive at IBM, American Express and Kraft General Foods. She has created solutions and marketing strategies in a number of industries including banking, biotech, packaged goods, energy, healthcare, industrial, insurance, restaurants, retail, and travel & entertainment.
6 thoughts on “4 Steps to Creating an Effective Message”
Great post! So many of my clients haven’t figured out their target audience. They just start posting on social media and hope their audience finds them.
Thank you, Kelly!
It does take some discipline to sit down and work through these initial exercises, but in the long run you save so much time by actually communicating with the people who want to hear what you have to say!
great article. For me It did clarify what I need to do before and after finding my message 🙂 thanks
Happy to hear it, Ankit! Did you download the worksheet that goes along with it? Let me know how it works out for you!
I’ve tweeted this, and I’m going to share it on my Facebook page so I can come back to it later. I’m on a 30-day information fast for a class I’m taking – can’t download anything new and work through it. 🙁 But I’ll come back later once the fast is over. 🙂
Michael! I hope your information fast was a success. Hope you’ve made lots of progress since then! 🙂