Creating a Message That Connects

Each day we are bombarded with messages, so it’s important to take time to create a message that will stick with your audience and not get lost in the shuffle. Author Donald Miller once wrote “the clearest communicator will win,” so it’s time to start taking a deeper look at your messages and clarifying them in order to win the marketplace. People will buy or invest in products and services that are communicated clearly and that they can understand the fastest, and it all boils down to how the human brain works. 

The human brain tries to conserve calories and is always trying to help people survive and thrive. What this means if you give a brain too much information to process that has nothing to do with surviving, it will turn off. That’s why a clear message is so important–what you sell must connect to the brain’s efforts to help people survive and thrive, otherwise your products won’t sell and someone else will get your business.

One of the reasons it can be hard to simplify your message is due to the curse of knowledge. You know a lot about what you have to offer so it makes it easy think your audience understands on the same level as you, so you wind up crafting messages based off of that assumption. The end result is that they tune you out because it’s too overwhelming and they don’t understand the concept you are sharing. 

Think about it on a scale of one to ten. You are the expert on what you are offering to your audience and live in that world daily, so your understanding is a 10 out of 10. Your audience on the other hand, doesn’t know about you and what you have to offer, so their level of knowledge is probably a 1 or 2 out of 10. The problem is that most of us only simplify our messages to a 6 or 7 out of 10, but people buy at a 1 or 2. Now think about the message you’re sending–is it clear, simple, and about your customer’s survival?

Consider Your Current Content Obstacles

Creating content isn’t as easy as it seems, and that is part of the reason why so many struggle to trim and simplify their messages. It is helpful to think about your biggest obstacles when it comes to creating content. Usually, it’s going to be one or more of the following:

1. Your messages don’t connect with the people who need them. You are not your audience, so stop writing like you are.
2. You make assumptions about your audiences that create disconnects. Stop guessing and just ask.
3. You don’t know your brand’s voice, so there is inconsistency in your messages. 
4. You lack resources like time, people, and feedback, so you skip these steps and your effort is in vain.

Start with the End Result in Mind

Another part of the problem when it comes to effective messaging is that people often start with their tactics, which creates a lot more work for you in the long run. What you need to do is start with the end result in mind. Use the following questions to get your mind into gear:

— What does success look like?
— Who do you want to reach?
— Why do you want them to do?

Once you’ve answered these questions, there’s another step to consider that is a key to simplifying your messages so they are easy to understand. Donald Miller calls this the “grunt test.” If your message can clearly answer the following questions, you’re on your way to messages that will resonate. 

1. What is it that you offer?
2. How will it make my life better?
3. What do I need to do to buy it?

If readers can’t quickly answer those questions, then it’s time to revise your messaging. 

Know Your Audience

An additional key starting point in crafting better messages is to start with who you want to reach NOT what you want to tell them. This means getting to know more about your audience in terms of demographics and psychographics as this will help you understand their perspective, lifestyle, habits, and more. For demographics, think about factors such as:

— Age
— Ethnicity
— Geography
— Education
— Income
— Occupation

Then, consider psychographic factors like:

— Activities
— Values
— Interests and Opinions
— Lifestyle

You’ll also want to learn how they receive and consume information, as this will help you choose the right marketing channels for distributing your message. For example, if your audience members are primarily retirees, Instagram may not be the best place to put your message since the audience skews to a younger demographic. 

Build a System

Once you know who you’re speaking to and what you want them to do, consistency is key in order to get your message across. To be consistent, you need a system as this will help you to be more intentional with your efforts. While there’s no one perfect system out there, we do have some guidelines to recommend. 

— Start with your content strategy to determine how you will reach success and the baselines you will use to measure success. 
— Create a bank of calls to action that encourage your audience to engage with you. It could be creating downloadable materials where they provide their email address in exchange, or just simply asking a question or sending out a survey. 
— Also consider your content framework. For some, it helps to set themes to follow. This can include an overarching annual theme, as well as themes broken down by quarter, month, or even day–whatever helps ease the process so you have a jumping off point to work from. 
— Don’t forget to establish a posting frequency that works for you. If three times a week is doable, then start there and build more posts in as you are able. Also, remember the 80:20 rule: most of your content should be to entertain or inform, rather than to sell. 

Getting Feedback

As you are creating and fine-tuning your messages, listen to what others (especially your audience) have to say so you can adjust and improve as needed. There are a number of ways you can gain feedback, which include:

— Reviewing digital analytics, such as Google Analytics for website traffic and social media engagement and insights
— Talking to your audience
— Conducting surveys
— Looking at Net Promoter Scores
— Reviewing marketing research
— And conducting an After Action Review to note what went well and how you need to improve moving forward

It may take a few tries to get your messaging down to a formula that works for you and your audience, but don’t be discouraged. Trial and error are a part of the learning process that will help you continuously refine your message into a story that connects. 

Need help with your messaging? Download our Messaging Workshop one-sheeter and worksheet to get started, or contact us for a Messaging Workshop.

Not sure if you’re ready for a Messaging Workshop? Watch Donald Miller’s video “How to Become a Communication Ninja.”