Why You Need a Messaging Platform AND Training to Use It.

A Fun Exercise – and a Scary Scenario

The next time you have the opportunity to talk with your top employees, customers and vendors, ask them to describe your company and what distinguishes it in your markets.

Spoiler alert: In most cases, here’s what’s likely to happen:

  • Ten different people will give you ten different answers.
  • There will be some truth to each answer. Not all those truths will be the same.
  • You will want to wince at some of the misconceptions and outdated perceptions you hear.
  • You may, indeed, actually wince, but also think, “That’s probably close enough.”
  • When you think about all the different answers, you’ll recognize gaps between your expectations, your customers’ perceptions and everyone’s actual experiences.
  • Those gaps will be bigger than you’d like.
  • You will realize that “close enough” probably isn’t.

That lack of message consistency wouldn’t happen with your company, would it? Well, let’s just say we’ve seen it often enough to know that this scary scenario is very common – and there are two reasons why.

Scenario Reason 1: No Real Brand Messaging Platform

The first reason why most companies have too many gaps between corporate expectations, individual perceptions and real-world experiences is a lack of consistent messaging. They mistake their advertising headlines, taglines and other copy for messaging. And, while there can often be overlap, they aren’t the same thing.

Let’s look at it another way. You live and breathe your business every day, and you find so many components of it are interesting; you can talk and write about them all day. But your potential customers, consumers, partners, and even your employees have their own areas of interest and attention. What they think is most important to understand about your business may be different from what you think. And, without a common understanding, the scenario above is highly likely.

Your messaging platform is a set of strategically organized concepts and content that bring focus to the most important things that anyone should know about your business. Armed with that content, anyone should find it simple to communicate about your business in a way that keeps the focus where you want it. Indeed, if the platform content is on-target, virtually any formal, informal, written or verbal interaction should easily reinforce it.

Scenario Reason 2: Insufficient Training

Note, we say that with a powerful messaging platform, “anyone should find it simple to communicate…” and your communications “should easily reinforce…” But “should” isn’t the same thing as “will.” Merely having a messaging platform doesn’t mean that you or your team will use it or use it appropriately. In fact, too many organizations invest in messaging, but neglect to include training as part of the deliverable. You’ve probably seen it happen: After a flurry of engaged energy, the team finally agrees on the messaging platform content.  Everyone celebrates. And then the platform sits on a shelf, unused, practically forgotten. You might as well not have it at all.

Using your messaging platform as a communications guide and metric – for formal documents, advertising, emails, social posts, presentations, proposals, sales conversations and more – won’t be easy and intuitive at first. It takes practice to learn to frame your communications in terms of messaging. You have to get used to measuring what you write and say in the context of established messaging.

People are uncomfortable changing the way they’ve always done things. So, it helps to role-play scenarios with a messaging expert who can help people find the balance between their personal communication styles, the core messaging components and the overall brand.

Bottom Line: You Can Transform Scary into Sensational

When you have a clear, well supported messaging platform and your teams are both familiar with the platform’s content and comfortable with how to use it, some amazing things happen:

  • Your communications become more consistent – without feeling unnaturally scripted.
  • Your identity becomes entrenched among the people with whom you communicate.
  • Reinforcing the company’s core messages will feel natural to team members.
  • Team members will better understand and express what distinguishes your business.
  • You’ll hear far fewer outdated perceptions and misconceptions.
  • Communications will go more smoothly.
  • Gaps between your expectations and customer perceptions and experiences will shrink.
  • Your audiences will ask more of the right questions.
  • Those same audiences will be readier for and more receptive to what you have to say.
  • You may even find yourself enjoying a competitive advantage.

Creating a great messaging platform and making sure your teams know how to use it usually requires time and money. But, the combination of the platform and well-trained team members can give your business an essential and valuable communications advantage, well worth the investment.