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It's Time to Find a Core Message That Connects with Your Customers

April 5, 2022

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Having a consistent and well-documented message that actually resonates with your customers is important for your business's growth. A central, guiding message can help your team members consistently and efficiently communicate with your customers.

It ensure everyone's on the same page, whether it’s emailing clients, updating the website, or running a marketing campaign. 

But how can you make sure that your entire team is sharing the same message?

First, you need to find your core message. Then, make it the heart of everything you communicate. 

When your message is consistent across the board, you'll make a stronger impression with your audience. As a result, your brand is stickier with prospective buyers. And ideally, it helps convert more people into customers. 

So, what exactly is a core message? How do you find yours? And how do you make sure everyone in your company knows it?

Let’s jump in.

What is a core message?

A core message sums up the unique position your business has in the world. It helps your team consistently communicate the very essence, or "core," of your business. And it has a huge impact on whether people decide to stick with you or go with one of your competitors. 

A core message might sound similar to a mission statement, but there's one significant difference — a mission statement is typically inward-focused. It’s about what your business does and who it serves (including your employees). A core message, on the other hand, focuses on your business from the outsider’s perspective. 

In other words, a core message reflects your customer’s point of view. It details the struggles and solutions your prospective buyers have and need. When it's done right, a core message evokes emotion from its recipient because it shows them that you understand their needs and major pain points. And, when you use it as a guide for anything you write, it helps reinforce that your business is the solution to their problems. 

Plus, a core message is usually more concise than a mission statement. That way, it’s easier to recall whenever you’re writing or speaking about your business. 

Give me an example.

Let’s say you run an eco-friendly home cleaning business. Your mission statement might be something along the lines of, “using green products to clean local homes as if they’re our own and providing our employees with an environment where they can thrive and grow.”

This mission statement states what your business does. It includes the responsibilities to your customers and employees from a leader’s perspective. 

Your core message, however, shifts the perspective to the customer’s POV. 

“The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

This core message focuses on what the business is doing differently (green products), who they serve (homeowners) and why they're service is needed (they’re busy). 

Once you have your core message, it should guide the subject and tone for any piece of communication you write. This includes (but isn't limited to):

  • Mission and vision statement.
  • Website copy.
  • Sales emails.
  • Brand guidelines.
  • Marketing campaigns.
  • Content (blogs, videos, social media posts).
  • Customer support.

Essentially, your core message is the thread that runs through all of your messaging. It helps dictate what content to focus on and who you’re speaking to. And, once your entire business uses it as a reference, it helps ensure consistency across all your communication.

Why do you need a core message?

Businesses spend a lot of time defining and aligning their brand to produce a consistent image in the marketplace. But when you only focus on your company identity, you can miss what messaging matters to your customers. And when you bypass their perspective, you struggle to engage them.

In other words, you need to think less about your business and more about your buyers. Who are they, and what are their goals? What problems irk them? And why do they need you?

A core message helps you drill down to what really moves your customers. And when you speak to them on their terms, you increase your chances of making a connection (instead of losing them to another brand that does). 

Plus, it’s easier to create consistent messaging once you have a foundation. That way, your employees have a reference point for whatever they write (and know when they’re on brand).

How to find your core message

You may already have some thoughts around your core message. But now, let’s define it. Follow this five-step process and start using your core message as a guide for all communications.

1. Know your value proposition. 

The first thing you need to understand is how you’re different from your competitors. You need to define your value proposition, AKA what makes your offering more valuable. Drill it down to one (or maybe two) simple sentences. And be sure to include the most important benefits for prospective customers.

And speaking of benefits, we’re not talking about product features, but actual outcomes for your customers.

For instance, the features of your green cleaning company might be easy scheduling and eco-friendly products. But the actual benefit is that homeowners get convenience and a clean home without the use of toxic products. That's the solution your customers experience.

So, for our cleaning company example, the value proposition might be: 

“Avoid toxic products and get a greener clean on your schedule.”

Finding a unique angle is powerful when it comes to messaging. And if you can find ways to stand out, you can make a stronger impression. So, ask yourself what you do best. And centralize your messaging around what makes you different (and valuable to your customers). 

2. Understand your buyers.

Again, your core message is not about what your company thinks is important. It’s about what matters to your customers . So you need to be empathetic to their needs, their challenges, and how your business impacts both. 

A target audience profile is a generalized description of your most common customers. It helps you better understand your buyers, their needs, and specific pain points. And you can use a target audience profile as a tool while crafting your core message.

To begin, gather any data you have on your buyers or prospective customers. This could come from website analytics, your social media following, or a survey you collected. And if you don’t have any hard data, you can do this based on your experience alone.

Next, list any identifying factors from the data. The most common ones define your audience, and may include a wide variety of factors.  

Common groupings for your audience include occupation and industry. Or their approximate age, education level, and gender. You can even dive a bit deeper and look at their background or experiences.

Also, some products or services have more than one type of customer. In that case, create a profile for each one. 

Now, use your target audience profile to answer the following questions:

  • What is your customer’s goal?
  • What are your customer’s pain points?
  • How does your business solve them?

Let's go back to our fictional cleaning company. In this case, you might say your customer’s goal is to spend less time cleaning. Their pain point is that most cleaning companies use toxic products. And your business can help them by alleviating cleaning chores and using green products.

While it might seem a bit time consuming, having a good understanding of your customers can shift your perspective. And shifting your mindset can help you better understand your customers' needs before jumping into your core message. That way, you can come up with ideas from the customer’s point of view. 

3. Say it concisely and precisely.

Based on what you’ve learned so far, brainstorm ideas for your core message. Try to come up with an exhaustive list (at least 10 ideas) at first. Then, choose your top two or three messages.

Once you have your final ideas, take your time to edit them. Because short and straightforward messages get right to the point and force you to only include the essential details.

Put plainly: the more you cut out, the clearer your message. 

For example, our green cleaning company could have said: “Our green cleaning company helps homeowners spend less time cleaning, so they can spend more time doing what they love.” 

But instead, they went with: “The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

Both versions communicate the same idea. The latter is just simpler and to the point. And when you say it in fewer words, it’s easier to read — and remember.

4. Test your ideas.

Now that you have your top three messages, it’s time to test them out. After all, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” And in this case, you don't know what'll stick until you test it out. 

Remember, a core message informs your communications. It’s not a marketing slogan in itself but a guide for positioning your marketing messages. In other words, you can test your core messages in a myriad of ways. 

You can run several marketing campaigns simultaneously (referencing a different core message in each one) or rite up several pieces of content (like blog posts, social media posts, or webinars) based on different core messages.

Then, keep track of how each core message performs. This could be based on the number of visits, shares, or clicks. Or it could be based on engagement (like comments or likes). It'll all depend on your business. 

After a while (at least 90 days), you’ll start to see a clear core message winner. And that’s obviously the one you’ll want to stick with — at least until you test again!

5. Be consistent with your message.

Once you’ve nailed down your core message, it’s time to be consistent with sharing it. When you broadcast the same message across all platforms, it gets sticker and helps reinforce what your brand stands for no matter where your message appears.

Plus, when your core message guides company communications, it ensures a consistent customer experience. Whether via your marketing campaign, sales emails, or customer support, every interaction aligns with who you are at your core.

To do this, add a core messaging document to your business playbook. It guides everything you do (or more likely say) from a business and marketing perspective. And it helps everyone in the company understand the importance of consistent communication. 

Besides listing your core message, a core messaging document also covers your value proposition and target audience profile (the steps you already completed). And it’s an excellent tool for training employees on your customers, their needs, and how you serve them. 

First, start your core messaging document by including the results from this process:

  1. Value proposition
    This is how your company is unique.
    Example: “Avoid toxic products and get a greener clean on your schedule.”
  2. Target audience
    This is who you serve and their needs.
  3. Core message
    This is who your business is at its core.
    Example: “The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

Then, add any other important messages that might inform how someone communicates in your company. Whether it’s your voice and style guide (which explains how your content should read and sound) or your company’s boilerplate.

At the end of the day, having a core message is all about staying aligned and on track with what connects to your customers. Because once you understand who they are, their problems, and how exactly you solve them, you can speak directly to their needs.

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Article

It's Time to Find a Core Message That Connects with Your Customers

April 5, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
Sign up for our newsletter
You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Having a consistent and well-documented message that actually resonates with your customers is important for your business's growth. A central, guiding message can help your team members consistently and efficiently communicate with your customers.

It ensure everyone's on the same page, whether it’s emailing clients, updating the website, or running a marketing campaign. 

But how can you make sure that your entire team is sharing the same message?

First, you need to find your core message. Then, make it the heart of everything you communicate. 

When your message is consistent across the board, you'll make a stronger impression with your audience. As a result, your brand is stickier with prospective buyers. And ideally, it helps convert more people into customers. 

So, what exactly is a core message? How do you find yours? And how do you make sure everyone in your company knows it?

Let’s jump in.

What is a core message?

A core message sums up the unique position your business has in the world. It helps your team consistently communicate the very essence, or "core," of your business. And it has a huge impact on whether people decide to stick with you or go with one of your competitors. 

A core message might sound similar to a mission statement, but there's one significant difference — a mission statement is typically inward-focused. It’s about what your business does and who it serves (including your employees). A core message, on the other hand, focuses on your business from the outsider’s perspective. 

In other words, a core message reflects your customer’s point of view. It details the struggles and solutions your prospective buyers have and need. When it's done right, a core message evokes emotion from its recipient because it shows them that you understand their needs and major pain points. And, when you use it as a guide for anything you write, it helps reinforce that your business is the solution to their problems. 

Plus, a core message is usually more concise than a mission statement. That way, it’s easier to recall whenever you’re writing or speaking about your business. 

Give me an example.

Let’s say you run an eco-friendly home cleaning business. Your mission statement might be something along the lines of, “using green products to clean local homes as if they’re our own and providing our employees with an environment where they can thrive and grow.”

This mission statement states what your business does. It includes the responsibilities to your customers and employees from a leader’s perspective. 

Your core message, however, shifts the perspective to the customer’s POV. 

“The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

This core message focuses on what the business is doing differently (green products), who they serve (homeowners) and why they're service is needed (they’re busy). 

Once you have your core message, it should guide the subject and tone for any piece of communication you write. This includes (but isn't limited to):

  • Mission and vision statement.
  • Website copy.
  • Sales emails.
  • Brand guidelines.
  • Marketing campaigns.
  • Content (blogs, videos, social media posts).
  • Customer support.

Essentially, your core message is the thread that runs through all of your messaging. It helps dictate what content to focus on and who you’re speaking to. And, once your entire business uses it as a reference, it helps ensure consistency across all your communication.

Why do you need a core message?

Businesses spend a lot of time defining and aligning their brand to produce a consistent image in the marketplace. But when you only focus on your company identity, you can miss what messaging matters to your customers. And when you bypass their perspective, you struggle to engage them.

In other words, you need to think less about your business and more about your buyers. Who are they, and what are their goals? What problems irk them? And why do they need you?

A core message helps you drill down to what really moves your customers. And when you speak to them on their terms, you increase your chances of making a connection (instead of losing them to another brand that does). 

Plus, it’s easier to create consistent messaging once you have a foundation. That way, your employees have a reference point for whatever they write (and know when they’re on brand).

How to find your core message

You may already have some thoughts around your core message. But now, let’s define it. Follow this five-step process and start using your core message as a guide for all communications.

1. Know your value proposition. 

The first thing you need to understand is how you’re different from your competitors. You need to define your value proposition, AKA what makes your offering more valuable. Drill it down to one (or maybe two) simple sentences. And be sure to include the most important benefits for prospective customers.

And speaking of benefits, we’re not talking about product features, but actual outcomes for your customers.

For instance, the features of your green cleaning company might be easy scheduling and eco-friendly products. But the actual benefit is that homeowners get convenience and a clean home without the use of toxic products. That's the solution your customers experience.

So, for our cleaning company example, the value proposition might be: 

“Avoid toxic products and get a greener clean on your schedule.”

Finding a unique angle is powerful when it comes to messaging. And if you can find ways to stand out, you can make a stronger impression. So, ask yourself what you do best. And centralize your messaging around what makes you different (and valuable to your customers). 

2. Understand your buyers.

Again, your core message is not about what your company thinks is important. It’s about what matters to your customers . So you need to be empathetic to their needs, their challenges, and how your business impacts both. 

A target audience profile is a generalized description of your most common customers. It helps you better understand your buyers, their needs, and specific pain points. And you can use a target audience profile as a tool while crafting your core message.

To begin, gather any data you have on your buyers or prospective customers. This could come from website analytics, your social media following, or a survey you collected. And if you don’t have any hard data, you can do this based on your experience alone.

Next, list any identifying factors from the data. The most common ones define your audience, and may include a wide variety of factors.  

Common groupings for your audience include occupation and industry. Or their approximate age, education level, and gender. You can even dive a bit deeper and look at their background or experiences.

Also, some products or services have more than one type of customer. In that case, create a profile for each one. 

Now, use your target audience profile to answer the following questions:

  • What is your customer’s goal?
  • What are your customer’s pain points?
  • How does your business solve them?

Let's go back to our fictional cleaning company. In this case, you might say your customer’s goal is to spend less time cleaning. Their pain point is that most cleaning companies use toxic products. And your business can help them by alleviating cleaning chores and using green products.

While it might seem a bit time consuming, having a good understanding of your customers can shift your perspective. And shifting your mindset can help you better understand your customers' needs before jumping into your core message. That way, you can come up with ideas from the customer’s point of view. 

3. Say it concisely and precisely.

Based on what you’ve learned so far, brainstorm ideas for your core message. Try to come up with an exhaustive list (at least 10 ideas) at first. Then, choose your top two or three messages.

Once you have your final ideas, take your time to edit them. Because short and straightforward messages get right to the point and force you to only include the essential details.

Put plainly: the more you cut out, the clearer your message. 

For example, our green cleaning company could have said: “Our green cleaning company helps homeowners spend less time cleaning, so they can spend more time doing what they love.” 

But instead, they went with: “The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

Both versions communicate the same idea. The latter is just simpler and to the point. And when you say it in fewer words, it’s easier to read — and remember.

4. Test your ideas.

Now that you have your top three messages, it’s time to test them out. After all, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” And in this case, you don't know what'll stick until you test it out. 

Remember, a core message informs your communications. It’s not a marketing slogan in itself but a guide for positioning your marketing messages. In other words, you can test your core messages in a myriad of ways. 

You can run several marketing campaigns simultaneously (referencing a different core message in each one) or rite up several pieces of content (like blog posts, social media posts, or webinars) based on different core messages.

Then, keep track of how each core message performs. This could be based on the number of visits, shares, or clicks. Or it could be based on engagement (like comments or likes). It'll all depend on your business. 

After a while (at least 90 days), you’ll start to see a clear core message winner. And that’s obviously the one you’ll want to stick with — at least until you test again!

5. Be consistent with your message.

Once you’ve nailed down your core message, it’s time to be consistent with sharing it. When you broadcast the same message across all platforms, it gets sticker and helps reinforce what your brand stands for no matter where your message appears.

Plus, when your core message guides company communications, it ensures a consistent customer experience. Whether via your marketing campaign, sales emails, or customer support, every interaction aligns with who you are at your core.

To do this, add a core messaging document to your business playbook. It guides everything you do (or more likely say) from a business and marketing perspective. And it helps everyone in the company understand the importance of consistent communication. 

Besides listing your core message, a core messaging document also covers your value proposition and target audience profile (the steps you already completed). And it’s an excellent tool for training employees on your customers, their needs, and how you serve them. 

First, start your core messaging document by including the results from this process:

  1. Value proposition
    This is how your company is unique.
    Example: “Avoid toxic products and get a greener clean on your schedule.”
  2. Target audience
    This is who you serve and their needs.
  3. Core message
    This is who your business is at its core.
    Example: “The best green cleaning for busy homeowners.” 

Then, add any other important messages that might inform how someone communicates in your company. Whether it’s your voice and style guide (which explains how your content should read and sound) or your company’s boilerplate.

At the end of the day, having a core message is all about staying aligned and on track with what connects to your customers. Because once you understand who they are, their problems, and how exactly you solve them, you can speak directly to their needs.

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It's Time to Find a Core Message That Connects with Your Customers

April 5, 2022

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