In a crowded and competitive market, it’s never been more important to push your message… be that via targeted advertising and editorial, creative PR stunts and/or other activities that will effectively deliver your message to your target audiences.

No business has ever risen above the pack by sticking with everyone else, doing the same old things, attempting to push tired messages to tired audiences.

Core message

A core message has the ability to set a business apart from its competitors. In that light, the business that best communicates its differences through its core message will position itself for continued growth while its competitors stagnate.

Developing a core message begins with the belief that consumers value the difference your business offers. What you might believe to be the “competitive edge” in your business may not be important to your target audiences, in which case any marketing effort around this will have little, if any, impact.

It’s for this reason that developing a core message often proves a difficult task. Most business owners are too close to their businesses to identify the consumer-valued point of difference, which is why some opt to engage an agency to assist with this important process.

With or without external assistance, the key is to look deep into your business to gain a clear understanding of what your business represents and how you want it to be perceived by your target audiences.

Your core message will essentially have two parts. The first is the message itself. This will be a one-line statement that is quick and to the point. At the same time, its power will be evident by the way it grabs the attention of those who hear it.

An effective core message will hook your target audiences and encourage them to ask questions as to how your business fulfils what your message claims. The second part is to develop a concise answer that conveys how your business can deliver on this message.

A core message is extremely powerful, so devote the time required to get it right.

Be creative in developing your core message – then be consistent in delivering it.

Consistency is the key

There are myriad ways to deliver a consistent message to an audience – beginning with the business’ corporate identity, brochures, advertisements and other material; right through to information dissemination via the media and corporate presentation at various events.

All activities should have a common thread through which audiences can instantly identify and “hear” the message the business is attempting to send.

At a grass roots level, consistency in your message is as basic as ensuring you maintain consistent logo positioning and use a consistent colour scheme and typeface in your marketing material – business cards and clothing, letterhead, website, brochures, posters, print and online ads should all “look and feel” the same.

A wishy-washy business does not gain momentum. It fails to identify itself and to develop a reputation for anything good.

Considering (according to the adage) “a photo is worth a thousand words”, it’s critical all photography also conveys your business’ core message. As an example, it defeats the purpose of claiming a boat is “built tough for offshore fishing” if the photo in the ad or brochure is of a young family towing a ski tube around a lake.

Similarly, if the business specialises in building family boats, it won’t strike the right chord with the target audience if the photo is of two hardcore anglers hauling a yellowfin tuna over the transom.

While it sounds pretty logical, you’d be surprised at some of the photos that have appeared in ads, brochures and on corporate websites over the years. Fishing rods with no line on them and/or held upside down, and gilled/gutted fish being lifted onboard in a net are just a couple that spring to mind! That sort of stuff doesn’t communicate “this is a serious fishing boat” to anyone. What it does say is “we don’t understand ourselves or our target market”.

Your core message must always remain the central focus in the development of effective marketing material. Be as creative as your
ability – or that of your agency – allows, as long as your intended message is loud and clear.

Where and when

Consistency refers not only to ensuring the meaning of the message being delivered remains the same, but also to the number of times an audience hears a message.

While advertising is an essential part of a business’ marketing mix, placing one ad in one issue of a magazine or a tile ad on a website for a week and expecting to sell 10 boats from it is unrealistic, not to mention a waste of money.

Advertising is a powerful form of promotion and to reap the rewards you must be consistent in your approach to it. Committing to run an advertising campaign across a small selection of respected media outlets is far more beneficial than taking an ad “here and there” across a large number of media outlets.

Consumer behaviour in buying a boat, for example, is significantly different from the impulse purchase of a Mars Bar at the supermarket checkout. Your next potential customer has most likely researched your product – along with that of your competitors – for 12 months before they purchase. If you don’t have a visible presence in the market, you’re simply not on the consumer’s radar.

Some businesses believe advertising doesn’t sell them boats. If they’re not consistent in maintaining a presence, it probably doesn’t!

Other businesses have occasionally ceased their advertising for a period of up to 12 months and then claimed they don’t need to advertise again as they still sold boats during that period. The fact those companies continued to sell boats during that year was due to their consistent advertising effort up to that point, given the above mentioned consumer behaviour in regard to high-priced items.

Beyond a significant period of not advertising, there’s little doubt businesses with little or no media presence will note a continual decline in product sales until such time as they again embark on some form of consistent promotion. It’s a simple case of cause and effect.

Remember, most businesses have more than one audience … and a consistent approach that effectively delivers a business’ core message to all target audiences will make all the difference in that business’ success.

Sandman Public Relations is a full-service media agency recognised for its integrity, professionalism and success.

comments powered by Disqus