Why effective messaging is essential to good governance

Apr 4, 2016
Content Marketing

Have you considered how your marketing messaging affects the governance of your company? Until I attended the Company Director’s inaugural Governance Summit, I hadn’t thought about effective messaging beyond the marketing and sales functions. The two-day summit taught me effective messaging is crucial for the success of any company, regardless of size. Here’s what I learned.

In a session dealing with performance measures and metrics, Diana Taylor, executive director at CT Management Group and a director of the Geelong Football Club, spoke passionately about the necessity of providing a clear vision across your entire organisation, including volunteers.  

‘Absolute clarity of your message about what you’re doing and trying to achieve is critical’, said Taylor.

Not-for-profits were the main focus of the talk but the advice is good for any business, especially those under media scrutiny.

Getting the right context for your messaging

Taylor endorsed the importance of simplicity in messaging, but she also recognised every message needs to be crafted to each audience segment. The onus is on marketing to ensure key messages are delivered in the right context for a specific audience. This includes the way you engage the media.

Too often businesses focus on money coming into the business; Taylor maintained scrapping for dollars is not good for staff motivation or company culture.

‘Positioning statements must be aspirational, especially for volunteers’, said Taylor.

Productivity gains through common purpose

In a session about driving productivity, Steve Vamos, a director at Telstra, spoke eloquently about the importance of aspirational thinking for company leaders. He said the real value of a company is human and inhabits the hopes, dreams and expectations of the employees working there.

He insisted successful managers must obsess about messaging because it’s a way to achieve alignment throughout the company on purpose, values and goals. In his opinion, it has to be management’s first or only priority.

What are the elements of good messaging?

If consistent messaging improves performance and productivity, how can you be assured your messaging is effective? In her book, Buyer Personas, Adele Revella reminds marketers to consider the audience.

‘Effective messaging emerges at the intersection of what your buyers want to hear and what you want to say’, said Revella.

Far too frequently, corporate messaging is set to broadcast mode with no regard for what customers want to hear.

How to simplify your messaging

The good news for marketing directors and managers is they’re not responsible for crafting these messages in isolation. The best messaging is determined in collaboration with representatives from each stakeholder group, including owners, executives, sales, marketing, product development, and customer support to name a few.

It can be incredibly difficult to get consensus from these disparate groups, especially if there are entrenched ideas about how to go to market. It’s not uncommon for sales and marketing to be at odds with each other about the best way to deliver messages. The ideal way to address the issue without starting open warfare in your office is to get an independent facilitator to run a messaging workshop.

(Listen to Brand Newsroom episode 79: ‘Stop the Sales vs. Marketing War’.)

Two considerations in selecting key messages

Regardless of your goals, you’ll want to apply two filters to any potential messaging:

1) Does it differentiate you from your competitors?

If your messaging is similar to other businesses working in the same space, you need to change. I recently counselled lawyers in Australia to avoid using ‘experience you can count on’. When they asked why, I showed them the results of a Google search. In this case, there are 48,100 occurrences on the Internet. It’s not exactly setting anyone apart.

2) Does the buyer care enough to invest?

Many times companies get focused on promoting a certain feature or capability because they’ve invested a lot of time or money into it. If the buyer sees no value in a specific feature, you would be wise to drop it as a key message.  

Developing a messaging framework

Agreeing on key messages is only the first step.  Repeatedly companies abandon the exercise at this point, either out of frustration or lack of direction on how to gain consensus. It’s vital the messages are documented and written specifically for each of your audiences. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to messaging. [tweet]There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to messaging. #governance #marketing[/tweet]

Take the time to craft messages to resonate with each person you’re trying to influence. By investing time in getting the language right for each audience, you’re showing them how much you respect and care for them.

What to do next

Is every employee in your company aware of your overall purpose? Can they easily recite your key messages and explain them to people both inside and outside your organisation? Have you been able to provide absolute clarity about what you want to say and document it so everyone has access to the same information? Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in your organisation were positioning your company using common language? Maybe it’s time to take advice from the Company Director’s Governance Summit and do this first piece of work before you spend any additional budget creating content.

If you’d like help creating a messaging framework for your organisation, contact Lush – The Content Agency. We’ve helped brands of all sizes simplify their messaging and bring clarity to how they communicate with customers and prospects.