So, you’ve invested in a shiny new brand. Or, maybe, your latest ad campaign is getting ready to roll off the shelves. Do your employees know about it? And, more importantly, do they know how to talk about it with others?
These questions often get answered with a hesitant “no,” followed by a moment of panic, but don’t worry. There are two tools we use to empower your best ambassadors—employees—to speak consistently and powerfully about your company.
These are the guiding themes that help employees remember which factors to highlight when waxing poetic about your company. They demonstrate your key differentiators—operative word there being demonstrate.
Message strategies aren’t the nice succinct sound bites you hear (For that, see Talking Points below). Instead, they answer customers’ questions of “Why should I believe what you’re telling me? What proof do you have?” They identify HOW you will communicate the key points, but they don’t specify the exact messages or language.
For example, if your brand, positioning statement or ad claims you provide “compassionate, skilled professionals,” then two of your message strategies would be:
- Highlight the compassionate approach employees use during interactions with customers
- Detail the schooling, certifications or skills-tests your employees are required to have.
Message strategies create powerful communications materials because they tell you what to DO to communicate your ideas to your customers. For example, if you want your customers to understand that you have compassionate, skilled professionals, then you need to follow both of the message strategies listed above.
You can use message strategies as a checklist for measuring the strength of your collateral materials. Ask yourself if a particular brochure or sales flier accomplishes each of the message strategies. If it does, the chances are that your customers will be able to more easily understand the messages you’re trying to get across.
Talking points are detailed statements that provide consistent, clear ways to talk about your business, and always tie directly back to the customer benefit. They also support individual message strategies. In the example above about “compassionate, skilled employees,” a sample talking point that fulfills message strategy #2 would be:
“Our customers have peace of mind knowing they’re in capable hands because all of our staff have attained the highest certification available in our industry. They also are required to complete 120 hours of continuing education each year.”
When we develop talking points, we carefully craft the most powerful language because this is what your employees will actually be saying and what your customers will actually be reading regarding your company. The talking points are a living document and likely will evolve over time as new research, data and stories are uncovered.
Since everyone is working off of the same talking points, your message will be clear and consistent no matter who is communicating it. Talking points also help in cross-selling because employees can speak about the values and benefits of an unfamiliar service line simply by knowing its talking points.
Talking points become the basis for developing collateral materials, including sell sheets, brochures, Web site, etc. They also become the sound bites that employees use during sales pitches. To make the talking points even stronger and more relevant, each employee can personalize them with their own perspective and stories.
Next time your company has an important message to get out, help your employees take the lead!