Is Your Brand Message Aligned to Your Key Audiences?

By Mark Derks, Partner and Chief Marketing Officer for Words At Work, a full-service integrated marketing communications agency. Derks also is former Director of Global Marketing for C.H. Robinson, and currently serves on the TMSA Board of Directors as Director of Finance & Strategy.

Reflections from facilitating an interactive roundtable discussion at the 2018 TMSA annual conference.

Companies and brands do a lot. They often have many products, services, business lines, geographies and audiences to represent. With so many dimensions to embody, how do you communicate a consistent, successful brand to the marketplace?

Your brand message plays a critical role in delivering the foundation, value and essence of brands. Aligning key messages to audiences makes all the difference in degrees of brand engagement and response. Because audiences are just that unique, having strong and aligned messaging will drive clarity, consistency and a compelling preference to your brand. 

Here are some perspectives from TMSA marketing members on aligning key brand messages to target audiences:

  • Avoid a “whack-a-mole” messaging approach. Be deliberate about messaging and use it as a strategic weapon for your brand. Carefully plan and build your messaging with purpose, and specifically tune it for relevance to your audience.
  • Develop and use a key messaging document. Don’t confuse your customers with broad-sweeping, irrelevant messaging. Detail and record your brand messaging foundation, and use it for all aspects of customer communications. Define your category, marketplace, competitive landscape, positioning, value proposition, brand attributes, customer language, pain points, buyers journey, personas and words used to describe your brand. Most importantly, document and consistently drive deep your primary and secondary key messages.
  • Focus messaging on the customer. Too often marketers and business professionals focus internally on themselves and what they believe the customer wants. Talk to customers directly and find out what they care about, what their world is like, what problems they are trying to solve, and what language and words they use. Let their voice lead the messaging of your brand.
  • Build humanistic, persona-based brand messaging. Brands communicate with many different audiences: customers, suppliers, employees, investors and more. They need to appeal to a variety of professionals including C-suite executives, VPs, directors, and managers. Include audience segmentation in communication efforts and create flexible messaging that speaks very specifically to each audience. They are real people with real interests. Take a humanistic approach to messaging that is empathetic and about them. It’s OK that your messaging is different for your future potential employees than it is for your corporate brand customers than it is for your investors.
  • Leverage your sales team. Sales professionals talk to customers every day. They sell to customer pain points and key initiatives. Leverage that knowledge and get their opinions on customer perspectives. Use and test that feedback with customers to further tighten messaging for specific audiences.
  • It’s about the future, not the past. Keep your messaging focused on the future and what’s in it for the customer. What can your audience anticipate and what value can you offer to those future insights with forward looking messaging? Brands that focus on their heritage and what’s happened in the past are missing a great opportunity to engage today’s customer and the goals they’re trying to achieve now, and into the future.
  • Global messaging. Brand messaging will be different in other regions of the world. Global audiences live and engage in very different cultures, as well as social and business norms. Take the time to align your messaging to global audiences, and use their language to engage them on every level.
  • Brand messaging doesn’t stand still. While staying consistent to your messages by audience is critical, always be looking for ways to refine or improve it. Big swings in the marketplace, customer base, competitive disruptions, geopolitical events and more can be indicators to revisit your messaging and update it to current market and audience standards. 

Is your brand message aligned to your key audiences? Please comment on other strategies you use to align brand messaging to audiences, locally or globally, in today’s marketplace. Thank you to all of the TMSA attendees and roundtable marketers who shared their insights and informed this blog.

Make sure to also check out and attend the 2019 TMSA annual event for more great transportation marketing and sales content.

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