How to Develop Effective Key Messages

Key messages ensure consistent communication
Key messages ensure consistent communication (Image: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Key messages provide an organization with a clear framework for communication. They set out the facts that differentiate an organization from competitors and communicate benefits that are important to the target audience. Key messages are crucial to the success of marketing communications. The Institute for Public Relations recognized the link with an award to a consultancy that was able to demonstrate a relationship between a client’s communication of key message and increased sales.

Carry out research to assess how the target audience currently perceives the organization. Identify the target perceptions that will persuade the target audience to hold a positive and favorable attitude to the organization. Audit existing communications to identify current messaging. Compare the current position with target perceptions and set objectives for developing key messages.

Position the organization clearly in the minds of the audience. This is also known as a positioning statement. Develop key messages that explain exactly what the organization does. Set out the organization’s mission and core values. Describe achievements that demonstrate the organization’s leadership in its market. Provide proof points for any claims.

Identify the factors that differentiate an organization. Relate the messages to the most important issues and challenges facing the target audience. Develop key messages that align with the factors customers consider when making purchasing decisions. Use proof points to make comparisons with competitors, quoting independent authorities where possible.

Describe how the organization’s products or services benefit the target audience. This is also known as a value proposition. Translate product features into benefits for the audience. Create relevant value propositions for different members of the target audience such as business, technical or financial decision makers. Use research to align key messages with the information needs of each group.

Publish a framework for key messages. This is the equivalent of a corporate identity manual for messages. Issue the framework to all customer-facing staff and teams from marketing agencies. Use the framework to ensure consistent use of key messages in all communications and improve the results from marketing programs. Create message templates for standard text used in press releases, presentations and marketing publications.

Set up a procedure for reviewing and approving the key message content of all communications material before publication. Carry out continuous research to measure the effectiveness of the key message program. Compare perceptions with the baseline at the outset of the program.

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