Analyze the issues and needs of your audience segments first to create compelling key messages that resonate with prospects.
Would you go to a job interview without learning as much as you can about the company (your target audience) beforehand? Would you want a general understanding of the company’s offerings, its value proposition and its customers? Naturally, the more you know about the company the better off you are in shaping your personal “messaging” to appeal to the people you’re interviewing with.
The same principle applies to shaping your messages for prospects that visit your website. Except, if you create content for B2B websites, you’ll address more than one audience. For some B2B websites, you might engage up to six audience segments or more. This means six sets of unique key messages, because a message directed at one audience may not be important to another segment.
The website of a commercial air conditioning manufacturer, for example, must engage architects, specifying engineers, building owners, distributors, and contractors. To build affinity with each of these audiences you’ll want to create a unique message platform (also called a message architecture or message map) for each audience.
You could spend weeks creating messages for companies with complex products and multiple target audiences. But, who has time for protracted audience analysis with looming content deadlines and pressure from competition?
Here’s a simple three-step process that will help you quickly create key messages for your website and other marketing programs.
Step 1: Interview your prospects
To quickly analyze your target audiences (prospects), begin by asking these two essential questions of each audience segment in an informal interview:
- What are your top issues? Put another way, you could also ask, “What’s keeping you up at night?” For each of your segments, you will likely hear between one to four issues.
- What are your needs? Through this question, you want to better understand the needs of your audience. What will make their life easier? What are their motivators?
Again, the goal is to quickly analyze your audiences, which will provide you with just enough data to help you craft your first round of key messages. Naturally, you can ask many more questions if you want more detail. But, try to stay out of research quicksand, unless, of course, you work for a large company with legions of researchers paid to do this work. For this example, however, you’re the only one standing between your prospects and a handful of punchy key messages written to persuade them to buy from you.
Step 2: Organize the answers
Ok, let’s organize the answers; I use a simple Word table or Excel spreadsheet. If you find that each of your audience segments results in numerous issues (five or more), prioritize them. You will want to craft your messages to appeal to your audiences’ highest priority issues.
The example below depicts an analysis of two audience segments for a regional security/alarm company. In all, the security company had five audience segments: Business owners, homeowners, facilities managers, property managers and general contractors.
Step 3: Write key messages
Following analysis, we created a handful of key messages that would resonate with each of these audience segments. In some cases, note you’ll have messages that will appeal to all of your segments.
- Our security systems come without the burden of long-term contracts.
- We help you manage the security side of your business with our customer portal; available 24 X 7.
- Like you, we are a locally-owned business that’s been built from the ground up.
- We’ll keep you on top of the latest developments in security systems technology—so you won’t have to.
For readers who want to learn more and create detailed message maps, check out George Stenitzer’s excellent article—How to Keep Content Marketing Always on Message. In addition, take a look at the new book Buyer Personas, by Adele Revella.