Can Your Market HEAR You? Getting Your Message Heard!
Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you ever play “telephone” when you were a kid? Remember how funny it was to have someone start a message, then hear something totally garbled at the end after each friend whispered the message in the next person’s ear. Well, it’s not so funny when this happens to your branding message.

You want your ENTIRE market to hear your message loud and clear!

But, just like your child’s game of telephone, your message is likely to get garbled or never reach some members of your market.

Getting your message heard means you have to:

  1. Make your message consistent across media, including social media
  2. Repeat your message frequently
  3. Control your message

That’s easier said than done. Here’s why (and how to fix it):

Problem #1.

Often different people are in charge of different media. If these people don’t coordinate, your message won’t be coordinated either. Everyone’s out there with a different message creating an image of your brand that isn’t clear or consistent. Think about Chevy, for instance. What does that brand mean to you? Contrast that with Apple. What does the Apple brand mean to you? And we know which brand commands a huge price premium — Apple. So, there’s measurable value in having a clear, consistent brand image.

Fix #1.

Messaging should be at the corporate level. Various units must implement the corporate message strategy and each implementation tested using an independent panel to assure the message is on point.

Problem #2.

Cutting through the clutter. Everyone is talking, so how do you make sure people HEAR your message. Not only do you have a vast amount of advertising that consumers are exposed to every day, but consumers are busy people who don’t really care about hearing your message.

Fix #2.

Amplify your message. Make sure folks share your message through digital word of mouth — social media. We KNOW these messages reach more of your market and, because recommendations from friends are more powerful, they resonate more with your market.

Problem #3.

Speak their language. Each group of consumers has their own culture — their own way of speaking to each other, their own values, their own symbols … We call this “field of experience”. Unless you speak their language, they won’t understand your message accurately.

Fix #3.

Get to know your market intimately. Get to know them, their micro-culture, and what’s meaningful to them. Be like the anthropologist studying the natives.

Problem # 4.

Fragmented media. There are too many options in terms of media. It was easy in the old days because you knew your market had only 3 network options. Now, there are hundreds of cable stations, plus asynchronous viewing options such as online, TIVO, and recorded (on DVDs or Bluray). And, that’s just for TV. A similar situation exists with radio and all forms of print advertising — despite the consolidation of newspapers, there are more magazines and online new options. Social media is also terribly fragmented.

Fix #4.

Give your market tools to share your message wherever they are. Remember, your market is probably a lot like existing customers, so invite them to share with their friends.

Problem #5.

Controlling your message. This is a huge problem, especially if you’re using social media to spread your message because so many people are involved in the process. But, your only option is to shut down social media conversations, which isn’t optimal and may not even be legal.

So you need to find a way to share through social media without losing control of your message.

Fix #5.

Prepare sharable social media using links, visual elements, and pdfs. These tools invite people to share the whole without transforming it much.

Also, monitor what people are saying about your brand in social media. If what they’re saying isn’t accurate or doesn’t share the right message, you can tactfully correct the perception. In fact, this kind of dialogue creates a community that increases sharing your message.