Early this year, I read Audacity to win, written by David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager. After reading the 400 page book, I surmised that Obama’s 2008 Victory was tied to two things: messaging and strategy. David Plouffe himself said so.
Messaging and Strategy aren't for politics alone. It applies to business too. you need a clear strategy for growth, sales, and marketing. And it is also important to communicate clearly [messaging] to the right people [your ideal customers].
For now, let us show you how to craft a message that addresses your target customers’ needs and propels them to buy from you.
Before you design your message
One important action precedes messaging: Identifying your ideal customers. In fact, this is the first thing you need to do before starting a business. Having an ideal customer profile saves you from selling your product to the wrong people. It helps you to clearly define who you should sell to, and hone your messaging such that it speaks directly to the needs, motivations, and fears of these people you've segmented.
This article is not about building an ideal customer profile. We’re assuming you have that already (but if you ask us to write one on that, we will). The focus here is to help you nail your messaging such that your customers identify with you and finally buy from you.
What Messaging is not
Messaging is not about you or your business. It’s about your customers, their pain points, and the push they need to buy from you. That’s why you should not start a business until you have a thorough understanding of your customers [Target Audience].
When I think of messaging, there’s no better article than we don’t sell saddles here. The underlying principle in messaging is this: Don’t start with your product or service.
“What should you start with?” you wonder. Read on to find out.
A step by step guide to designing Your Messaging
Rule 1: Sell your benefits
Focus on the underlying pain that may move your customers to buy your product. Let’s assume you sell and deliver freshly cut and diced veggies, you have to realize that you're not just selling veggies. You are selling healthy living, convenience, and time to bond with family - The pain point you have addressed here is; Saving your customers time, money, and the inconvenience of walking around the market (under the hot sun or rain) and bargaining with the local sellers.
These are your target customers’ intrinsic needs which may move your customers to purchase your products.
Let’s use another example. Imagine you sell affordable ready-to-wear plus-size clothes. Various researches have been conducted and there is a general misconception that plus-sized outfits are always dull, ugly, and ill-fitting, which would affect their self-esteem.
Your messaging, therefore, should center on confidence, style, and comfort, and an end to the arduous journey of searching for the right cloth for any occasion.
Rule 2: Say you’re different without saying you’re different
This is where you should know your competitors like the palm of your hands. Follow them on social media. Go through their post comments. Sign up for their newsletter. Hang out in places you can find your target audience because they’ll discuss your competitors there.
See, no product ever has everything, but knowing your competitor’s weakness gives you an opportunity to highlight your product strengths in that regard.
Eno sells natural baby foods without preservatives. She started her business when she noticed that mums wanted to move away from processed baby food to natural meals. But her work doesn't end there.
She has to search for other people that sell natural baby foods and what their customers are saying about them. For instance, mums may complain that the meal goes bad after a short time, or the preparation process is long and tiring. Since one of Eno’s strengths is shorter preparation time, her brand message should be along the lines of ‘faster meal times, time and energy savings’. She can also appeal to maternal instincts by stating how babies don't have to cry in hunger while they wait several minutes for their meal to be ready.
Rule 3: Address resistance, fear, or any concern that stops them from buying
Recognize the questions holding your customers from buying from you and address them head-on. Failure to address this means that your customers will be stuck at the decision stage, grappling with their questions, and unwilling to proceed to the next step. Addressing this resistance frees them to buy from you.
For example; if you sell dresses and shoes, the indecision could be a ‘refund policy’. Some customers are always skeptical of the ‘no refund policy’ by most MSMEs on Instagram, and they have valid questions too like what if this dress or shoe isn't my size? Will I get my money back? - How do you bridge this gap as a small business? And by not addressing this in your brand message, may lead to loss of sales. (This is a good time for you to revisit your ‘No return No refund policy 😃).
You could put in place a 24 - 72 hours return policy (with a caveat that says ‘goods must be in mint condition as at when bought’) because we know how funny some customers can be. This return policy may not necessarily mean ‘money back’, it could be a store credit or pending when you can get a replacement for the item.
As a small business owner, always make sure your customers are aware of the goods’ defects before selling to them in other to curb returns.
Let’s go back to our baby food example.
Say, one of the things Eno learned from hanging out in some mum groups on Facebook is that unprocessed baby meals spoil rather quickly. You can recall that Eno’s product takes less time to be ready and lasts for a longer time too. This is her unique selling value. She shouldn't just work it into her messaging and go away.
Once Eno says her cereal lasts for 8 hours, (compared to others that last only for 4 hours), the next question from her customers is “how?”.
Remember these mothers don’t want anything artificial in their babies’ meals. So their first thought would be that Eno has added preservatives to the cereal. She has to address this unspoken question beforehand. At the launch of the product, she will state the meal does not need preservatives because it has been packed in a ‘tetra pak’ (which eliminates the need for preservatives). Additionally, they are made with natural fruit or vegetables and fortified with some antigens that break down complex carbohydrates which causes the meals to go stale quickly. She can even go further and add that the Antigen contains iron, essential for bone development in babies. (please note that this was made up for the purpose of this article).
Answering customers' questions in advance remove the friction and make it easy for customers to glide to purchase.
So over to you. Did you learn something new? Have something to add? Or perhaps a question? Please drop them in the comments box or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is me literally waiting for your questions.