4imprint, LLC

Key messaging for your small business

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Whether new to the scene or a veritable veteran, key messaging is an important part of developing and maintaining any brand. Essentially, key messages are the core messages your business hopes to communicate to target audiences in order for them to recall your brand, products or services.What’s more, key messages are the tie in the mind of the consumer between what your advertising and marketing efforts say and the experiences consumers have actually had with your business or brand. To some extent, key messages allow your business to control communications and enhance relationships with target audiences while creating context and reinforcing advertising, branding and in-person experiences—ultimately bringing all encounters with your brand and your brand promise full circle.

Take a look at the following pointers to develop or refine your key messages today:

  • Ask your team: What are the critical messages that we want to communicate? What are the perceptions of who we are and what do we want that to be? How do these tie in to our business’s culture? Our business goals?
  • Use the answers to create key messages for your overall brand and individual service lines or products. Hold staff brainstorm sessions to further define and outline what messages should be. Get the creative juices flowing by idea mapping, playing with fun toys like yo-yos or Zing Rings. Try a game of think fast—toss a ball or stress reliever to each other and upon a catch, blurt out a key message that comes to mind.
  • Create key messages that are effective by following the criteria for successful messaging:
    • Be believable—Don’t promise something that can’t be delivered. Consumers see right through this and messages won’t be effective.
    • Be understood—Key messages should be short, clear and easy to grasp, especially when used in commercials or other advertising channels.
    • Be distinctive—Key messages make it clear to the consumer how your business is different and why it matters.
    • Be credible—Illustrate why your business is an expert by sharing experiences, testimonials, awards or the like to provide a basis for credibility.
    • Focus on your agenda—Use key messages to tie and drive your overall business objectives.
    • Avoid negativity—Focus on the positive, what you can do for audiences , not what you can’t. Avoid bad-mouthing or even referring to the competitor; research shows this actually can boost recall of the competitor mentioned over your own brand.
    • Use the brand—Key messages need to tie the brand together; use wording and presentation that is in line with your brand’s identity and promise.
  • Communicate key messages effectively—internally and externally. Once your team has developed three to four messages for your overall businesses and at least one or two messages for each product and service, follow-up internally to promote and reiterate what these key messages are. The goal is for all employees to have these key messages top of mind to ensure that their work reflects this messaging, as do all conversations that take place externally on their work and your business. Offer a reminder of this in the form of a magnet or a Goofy Guy Pen. Externally, make sure that key messages are communicated on your website, in marketing pieces, direct mailings and customer service encounters. Use promotional products like pens or Jumbo Paper Clips to keep messaging and branding top of mind even after audiences have left your business.

Key messaging is called “key” for a reason: These messages are key to branding and communicating your small business in order to grow and expand.


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