Once you have taken an internal look, which includes auditing your current messaging, interviewing staff, board members and other stakeholders, and analyzing your materials, you are ready to take the second step and look outward.
A proactive messaging process should include assessing competitors’ messaging. We’ve discussed analyzing your competitor’s messages extensively here.
But you also should conduct as much market research around your customer base as your resources allow. By checking in with your current and potential customers you will avoid developing your corporate story and messages in a vacuum.
First, do you know who they are? Identify as much demographic information as you can.
After figuring out who you are trying to attract investigate what influences them and why. Besides conducting customer surveys that ask what they thought of you be sure to ask them plenty of questions that get to the heart of their world. Hundreds of revealing questions exist, such as:
- What tone of voice resonates with them the most? (e.g. humor, sincerity, outrage) And, why?
- Who do they pay attention to? (e.g. celebrities, peers, academic experts) Who else is influencing them?
- Do they use social media? (e.g. topical forums and message boards, Facebook, LinkedIn?) Or, are they more apt to use more traditional channels? (e.g. evening news broadcasts, radio shows, newspapers, trade journals)
- What are their pain points? What do they wish was different, better, more?
- Where do they spend their time, and why?
- What are their values?
- What causes them to part with their resources (e.g. time, money, attention, referrals)
Making sure your messages work means making sure they work for your audience and not just look good on paper.