Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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It seems like marketers are always going on and on about brand identity, doesn’t it? Well, there are many reasons for that, but one that non-marketers, or new marketing professionals, may not fully understand is the need for consistency in your brand’s look, feel and voice.

Startups and small businesses who are trying to do much of their marketing internally are the most susceptible to brand messes. Usually it’s a matter of these companies trying to save money as they get up and running or grow, but by not giving brand look, feel and voice consistency enough importance they tend to end up with a hot mess! Their messaging across copy, collateral and elevator pitches tends to be inconsistent and look like it’s representing multiple companies. In some case, their materials might not even look or sound like they’re talking about the same product!

If you’re messaging is inconsistent, than your employees won’t be giving consistent visions of who you are or what your product does. This effort to save money is more likely to cost you more than what you would save by creating materials in-house as needed by whomever needs it.

Let There Be a Guide

I recommend that early-stage startups and small businesses take the needed time to craft a comprehensive messaging and branding document. If you need to save money by creating marketing pieces in house and you can’t afford to hire a full-time person to create those pieces for everyone in the company, than this document can act as a guide in helping multiple employees or contractors you hire for specific pieces to stay consistent.

To include in the messaging and branding guide, I find these 12 items to be the most helpful:

  1. Mission: The company’s present moment, broad spectrum goals for success and how they’ll achieve it.
  2. Vision: The company’s future, broad spectrum purpose in the market space.
  3. Value Proposition: A statement on why a consumer should buy your specific product/service as opposed to a similar/competitor offering.
  4. 5 to 8 Key Company Messages: Statements that communicate, to target audiences, who you are, what you are selling and what differentiates you from competitors. These along with product/service messages will be the guiding ideas behind items like website copy, advertisements, case studies, sales presentations, etc.
  5. 3 to 6 Key Product Messages: Statements that convey how the product works, what need or want it fulfills, how it fulfills it, features, etc. These should be in addition to the company messages but should be more specific to the actual product itself.
  6. Benefits: A list of the benefits buyers would get from your product. If you are a B2B company than these should include benefits to your customer and the end user of the product.
  7. What It Is, What It’s For and How it Works Descriptions: These should be short paragraphs that cover exactly what the titles imply.
  8. Target Audience Description: The reason you’re putting this together is because you can’t hire an agency or a marketing content professional to create all of your collateral, so include a short, basic description of each audience you are trying to speak to within your different collateral pieces to help the people who will create the pieces understand exactly who the pieces should be aimed at.
  9. Corporate Positioning: A summary of how you want to be positioned in the market space based on knowledge of the industry, competitive information, company objectives, etc. This ties directly to company strengths and reinforces objectives and strategies.
  10. Brand Personality: Create a list of descriptions about your brand as if it were a person. What traits would it have? How do you want people to view your company/product?
  11. Brand Voice: A short description of how your brand would speak if it was a person. How do you want people reading about your product to think of your brand? Example: If your audience is mostly lawyers who want to feel that your company is serious and solid in your market stance, perhaps you want everything written in very formal English, without slang or creative sentence styles.
  12. Brand Design Theme: Create some basic design templates for documents, presentations and any other types of collateral you’re considering. Choose a color scheme and font style that everyone should use when they create collateral. Be specific about heading styles and bullet points, etc.

There are many more things you could do, but as a general guide for multiple people who are not professional designers, writers or marketers, this should help you keep some consistency across your public-facing materials.

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More Stories By Christine Fife

As I drove off to college I never would have guessed I would end up here! But it’s been a fantastic journey. My career has been richly diverse giving me an advantage over marketers who are siloed into niche positions. I strive to be a true Renaissance person—I love to learn about everything and trying new things comes naturally. My career has been no different; I’ve successfully launched enterprise software and medical device development startups, improved communications processes for the regulatory department of a major financial exchange, increased client business and product development for several international exchange program companies and founded an international educational non-profit organization. My master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from Golden Gate University gave me a broad understanding of traditional marketing best-practices, but my BA in theater gave me the skills to understand how people communicate with one another and the importance of promoting a brand in a voice that is right for the audience.