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  • Holly Hughes-Barnes

How to Stop Misaligned Messages from Tanking Your Marketing ROI


If your marketing messages are misaligned at any point throughout your buyers’ journey, then you’re losing sales.


In fact, MarcomCentral teamed up with Demand Metric to study just how much damage fragmented messaging could do to a B2B company’s bottom line.


The results?


Misaligned marketing messages reduced revenues by 11%.


WOWZA! That can add up to a big chunk of change.


For example, if your company grosses $10M annually, but you’re creating fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants marketing messages that cause friction for your buyers, then $1.1M is falling through the cracks in your content.


That’s a big deal.


So I’m going to show you the #1 best way to fix those cracks.


But before I do, you need to understand what’s causing the cracks to form in the first place.


Misaligned Messages Are Caused by a Failure to Plan


And before you scream at me that all your funnels and content strategies are very well planned out, thank you very much, let me clarify something here.


Planning a sales funnel, email series, or ad-to-landing page sequence is not the same as planning the copy that goes into them.


Yes, you should plan how your campaigns will flow according to your marketing goals.


But you can’t forget to also have a plan for the messages that are going into those campaigns.


And no, I’m not talking about which copywriting formulas to use.


Because as great as the problem, agitation, solution (PAS) formula is, inconsistencies will still show up in your copy if your writers plug conflicting messages into it.


And your precious moolah will still disappear.


To help you understand what I mean about planning your messages, think about this:


Would you ever turn a designer loose on your website without first giving them your brand style guide?


Would you say to them, “Pick whatever colors and fonts you like…”?


-Or-


“Our brand colors are light blue and gold, but any version of those two colors will be just fine…”?


NO!


You’d make sure that any web designer, graphic designer, advertising firm or packaging designer had a copy of your visual brand guidelines before they started work.


Otherwise, your brand would show up like a disheveled teenage boy at Sunday brunch who’d had his first taste of waaaay too much beer at a party the night before, but whose mom drug him out anyway.


Not pretty.


You’d never want your brand image to show up like that poor kid.


But, if you aren’t careful, that’s exactly how the messages in your funnels, emails, ads and landing pages will show up—if your team doesn’t work from a very specific messaging plan.


The Best Cure for Misaligned Marketing Messages


So what’s the best way to ensure your team creates well-aligned messages that fit together across all mediums and channels?

…Even when you have to crank out a surprise new promo fast?


…Even if you have 16 writers from 5 departments in 3 time zones working on 8 different copy projects?


The solution is to always work from a master messaging document—not to be confused with a content style guide.


This master document dives deeper into your strategic messaging and less into whether or not you use an Oxford comma or write “email” instead of “e-mail”. (Though those things are important, too.)


It’s a copy platform to guide how your writers create copy for your brand. I call it a Master Messaging Guide.


It’s basically Yoda in pdf form for your entire communications team.

A Master Messaging Guide is an 8-10 page document that lets every writer who’s working on your copy (whether they’re in-house, a freelancer, your mom—whoever) know what they need to know so they can write messages that are unfailingly on-brand and that consistently convert.


If your company doesn’t have a Master Messaging Guide, I highly suggest you create one.


Here are the sections it should cover:


Your Master Messaging Guide should always include these key elements:


  • Detailed info about your target audience, including—but not limited to—personas


  • Your value proposition: how does your product/service serve your customer?


  • Your positioning statement: are you low end price/high quality or are you highbrow/high price?


  • Your emotional selling proposition: what kind of emotional satisfaction does your product bring to its end user?


  • Your unique selling proposition: what key benefit separates you from the competition?


  • Product taglines: an easy to find list of all your taglines and slogans


  • Key Messages to overcome objections: your prospects have objections; how should your writers tackle them?


  • Your brand voice and tone: does your brand sound like Beavis and Butthead or Bert and Ernie? (Hopefully neither, but you get the point!)


  • Key selling statements: these are benefits statements that need to show up in your marketing materials along with their messaging hierarchy


  • Testimonials: keep social proof within easy reach


  • Market research: the facts and figures that back up any claims you make


  • How your product or service works: you do have a consistent explanation for how your product works, right?...


  • The Steps Your Customers Take on their Buyer’s Journey: what’s going on inside your prospects’ heads along the way?


If you don't have a detailed plan like this, then your messages are likely very unfocused.


And to quote my fellow copywriter, Casey Demcheck, “For people to focus on your message, your message must be focused.”


So if you’d like to see an even better return on your marketing dollars…


And capture some of the revenue you’ve been losing thanks to misaligned marketing messages…


Creating a Master Messaging Guide is a good place to start.


__________________________



If you’d like to learn how I can help you create a Master Messaging Guide for your company, shoot me an email at holly@hollyhughesbarnes.com

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