Political strategists can spend days and weeks thinking, talking and testing a message strategy. They know every word counts. The lessons startups can learn from politics is a subject I have expanded on previously, and made reference to in a book I am launching in the coming months, The New Goldrush. So why is it most startup founders don’t spend much time considering their message strategy?
Time, resources and skills shortages are the top 3 reasons why startup founders aren’t able to properly craft a message strategy. A poor message strategy can impact the success of an entire business. Marketing won’t fix a rubbish product, but it will help launch a good one. Here is five things to consider when you are defining your message strategy.
You have a story. You created this new product or service for a reason. Chances are you’ve had an interesting journey to this point in your life. This is a story worth telling. People don’t just want to understand why they need a new product. In order for them to have faith in it they have to know the people behind it.
Codify your story. Personalize it. Make it a story people want to hear and can relate to. Because that’s the story you are selling to customers, investors, stakeholders, new recruits, and the media.
What Problem Are You Solving?
Right now, answer that question: what problem am I solving with my product / service? If you can answer that question in a sentence then you’ve got something. Or rather, you might have something. A message strategy clarifies what exactly you have, and more importantly, why anyone needs it, and therefore should care enough to pay for it.
Don’t just have one version of an email marketing campaign, web copy, or an elevator pitch. No political candidate ever has only one version of the language they want to use for anything. Put together different versions, based around one core strategy, and test it until you have something you are confident resonates well with your audience.
Why is Ernst Hemingway one of the worlds greatest authors? Short sentences. That’s not the only reason, of course. One of the ways Hemingway made literature more accessible is he got to the heart of the matter. Quickly. With short sentences. In the era of Twitter our attention spans are even shorter. You may be able to talk about all the benefits of your product for hours on end. But guess what: your intended audience doesn’t care, and their attention …
… has already wandered.
Your message will have greater impact.
Know Your Audience
More importantly: be specific with your audience. A product that could do everything for everyone ends up selling to no one. B2B web startups should drill down on a specific niche sector, understanding the pain points that your product solves, and who’s lives you are making easier. If the end-user is also the one with purchasing power it keeps things simple. If this isn’t the case then you need know what buttons to push amongst that audience group as-well. Your language has to reflect their needs and desires.
The bottom line is that without a clear message strategy you are in danger of shooting for a market which is either too large, or doesn’t understand why they need your services. Getting this right means first understanding who you are, what pain points you are solving, and doing so quickly and concisely.
Message Strategy Action Points:
Write down and clarify your personal story, and that of how your startup was born
Be clear what problem you are solving, and therefore why your customers need what you are selling
Clarify your Message
Test your language on your audience
How well do you know your own market? If you answer that question vaguely then you need to drill down on who, exactly, your customers are, before you launch a communications strategy.
Dominic Tarn is Founding Partner & CEO of DTCW Communications: A digital media agency for high-growth startups. DTCW accelerates startups’ communications, globally. You can read more about his tips for start-ups in his upcoming book, The New Goldrush.
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