“Never. Stop. Tweaking.” This was the final bit of great advice Mark Evans gave us at last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture on marketing communications and business-to-consumer sales. I’m sure it will stay in the minds of many entrepreneurs and for many reasons, not the least of which should be because every entrepreneur wants to “look, sound and seem different from everybody else in the marketplace.” Messaging is key to accomplishing this.

Why does messaging matter so much? 

  • It answers the “So what?” question for the customer.
  • It highlights your unique qualities.
  • It differentiates you from your rivals.
  • It positions you within the marketplace.
  • It sets the table for marketing.
  • It affects the customers’ perception of you more potently than reality.

Why is messaging so challenging for startups? 

  • They are unclear about what messaging actually does.
  • They place emphasis on features instead of benefits.
  • They often lose third-party perspective, through not making the time and not having an interest in hearing criticism.
  • They have too much of an ego and a “me, me, me” type of messaging.

How should messaging be approached?

  • Make the customer king.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  • Collect ideas from everyone. (You can start by thinking of every question that your users might ask.)
  • Be open to new ideas.
  • Get unbiased perspective.

What is the process for creating messaging? 

  • Discovery, which answers the following questions: What do you do? What problems are you solving? Who needs it? What’s in it for me?
  • Market research, which involves conducting a SWOT analysis and a competitive ecosystem analysis, talking to customers and creating personas to help identify your target audience.
  • Brainstorming with your team.
  • Focusing and setting goals.

Other things to consider 

  • It’s important to be unique, different or both.
  • Draw a line in the sand. (Your messaging may change, but that’s OK.)
  • Be clear, coherent and consistent.

Of course, by now you already know that you should never stop tweaking, because both customer perception and your marketing communications will continue to evolve. To hear more of Mark’s advice on messaging, watch his lecture video from last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 event.

Produced by MaRS.

Need help with your messaging and building an overall marketing communications strategy? Build your ideas with the help of seasoned entrepreneurs and your peers in The MarCom Toolkit workshop. Contact workshops@marsdd.com for more information.

Next lecture: Go-to-Market Strategy on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

Resources: 

Want to connect?

Gina Leslie

Gina was the interim manager of MaRS’ Entrepreneurship & Innovation Series. Prior to joining MaRS, Gina worked in the small business and startup space in a variety of roles, with a focus on business development, project management and communications. She recently completed her MBA at the Rotman School of Management. See more…