Subscribe with Email
In today’s episode, let’s talk about website messaging. Let’s see how, by having the right message you can attract the right people. And how having the wrong message can hurt you.
Let’s play a quick game.
I’ll name a brand and tell me what comes to your mind.
What came to your mind.
If the word was toothpaste, you are one amongst 95% of people.
The rest thought of teeth, toothbrush, mouthwashes.
And the one thing common between all of them, is that all of these have something to do with oral hygiene.
What if I told you Colgate is getting into the business of baby good.
Well, they almost did that.
A few decades ago, Colgate-Palmolive was trying to expand its business that was, at that point, almost entirely dependent on soaps and toiletries.
And their biggest competitors? Proctor and Gamble and Lever.
Which had diversified businesses beyond just soaps and toiletries.
Colgate was more interested in expanding into the convenience food market that was valued to be about $4.2 billion dollars.
So in 1982, Colgate started a new label called Colgate Kitchen and introduced new lines of dried chicken, crabmeat entrees, and beef lasagna too. If you went to the convenience stores, you’d now see the Colgate brand not just in the toothpaste section, but also in the frozen food section.
And there was a problem.
Perhaps you can take a wild guess as to what happened.
Let’s just say that Colgate found itself in a strange situation. And that experience taught them a lesson or two about staying in the lane.
That didn't stop Coca-Cola...
A couple of years later, Coca Cola did something similar by introducing the New Coke. Why? Because consumers seemed to like the sweeter taste of Pepsi.
And this is not just about the food and beverages industry.
And then Microsoft did it too...
In the year 2006, Microsoft did something strange too. They introduced the Zune player and MSN Music. This was to compete with Apple’s hugely successful iPod and the iTunes music store.
Perhaps you know how this went too.
But why did these products fail?
Was it because the markets were not ready for them?
Or, was it because the products were not good?
Not really. The markets were ready for more products. In the case of Colgate, it’s competitors P&G and Levers were selling frozen food too. So there was demand. Even in the case of Microsoft, Apple had validated the market. People were ready to spend money on a music player.
So it was not the market.
Neither was it with the products. While we don’t know much about how good Colgate Kitchen Entrees were, we know the Zune player was slick and good.
These failures had nothing to do with the products themselves.
It was the message.
Couple of episodes ago, I introduced you to the MMMA Framework. In the last episode, we took a look at how you can understand your market really fast.
Today, we’ll look at the Message. In simple words, how can you effectively communicate with your market, so they clearly understand your business, your products, and why they should buy them and do business with you.
We are going to do this in the context of your website. Because in the world we live in today, it’s your website that plays a pivotal role in communicating with your market.
That said, the lessons you will learn will work for you even if you don’t have a website. Even if you run a brick and mortar business.
So without delay, let’s look at what we mean when we say Message, or specifically in this episode Website Message.
In the MMMA Framework, Message is everything to do with what and how you communicate with your Market.
But Message does not refer to one specific thing. Line.
When I work with clients on their messaging, they tend to think of the Message as the words that show up on their website. Some even think it’s their slogan, a one-liner, and some others think of the Message as the script that goes into video in their ads or website.
But a Message is more than just these words. In fact, it’s more than words.
In short, everything you have on your website is a part of the Message.
Everything on your product packaging is a part of the Message.
The Message is what you say when you meet clients. It’s in the stories you tell about your products or business. The Message is even in what you don’t say.
No matter how big or small your business is, you need to nail your Message. Not nailing your Message can hurt your business, and potentially kill it. Just like what happened with the examples we started with from Microsoft and Colgate.
So how do you nail your message?
Let’s do that in the next section.
Six Key Elements to Nail Your Message
A quick check before I shared with you the six key elements to nail your message. And here’s the question:
How does it feel to read what’s on your website?
Even better, ask this question to someone you don’t know.
Show them the homepage for five seconds. Ask them two questions:
- what they remember about your website.
- what they think the website is all about.
That’s something you must consider doing before you acted on anything you’re about to hear from this point on.
The six elements of a solid Website Message. Are you ready for them?
Just pay close attention to how I explain these six elements. Don’t worry about taking down notes. We’ve got that covered in the Launch Plan Work
Here are the six elements to nail a good message for your business or brand website:
Let’s look at each one of them in the next few minutes.
1. Let’s start with the Audience.
In the previous episode you learned how to quickly understand your Market. But one of the biggest reasons why brands and businesses fail with their messaging is in not leveraging their understanding of their Market in their Message.
How do you leverage the understanding of your Market in your Message?
By simply calling out your Audience.
Let’s say your audience is “working mothers of tweenage kids.” Remember that example from the previous episode?
If you haven’t listened to that episode, do add it to your playlist.
Let’s say you’re in the food business serving “working mothers of tweenage kids.”
From the exercise you did in the last episode, you know the following details about your audience:
- Their biggest problem is cooking healthy snacks for their kids.
- They want to sit down and have meals with their family, spend time with their spouse, and be able to focus on work too.
- They have tried downloading “quick-healthy recipes” from the internet.
- They hate to spend all their time in the kitchen.
And some more.
The simplest way you can call out your audience in your message is by calling out anything you know about them in your message. Let’s look at some examples.
One way, is to call out your audience in your message. So instead of saying “We create healthy recipes for busy parents,” you can be specific and say “We create healthy recipes for working moms.”
Another example is by empathizing with them by calling out the efforts they’ve taken to overcome their problem. So instead of saying “We create healthy recipes for working moms,” you can say something like “We create healthy recipes for working moms who’re tired of downloading recipes from the internet, only to realize it takes twice as much time to get the ingredients. and do the meal prep.”
Calling out what you know about your audience in your message, is step one. If your message is void of anything you already know about your audience, consider including them.
Let’s now move on to the second element.
2. Make a Promise
Have you ever been to Disneyland?
If you bought the tickets at the park, the person behind the counter does two things. They give you the tickets, and then, they give you a pocket map with all the attractions on it.
Let’s look at something else. I have the website of Toms Shoes open in front of me. Three phrases stand out. First, there’s a phrase in front and center that reads “Best Foot Forward.” I see the word “Impact” in one of the menu items in the header. And then, a thin black band with the message “1/3 of profits for grassroots good.” And then a section that has the words “Wear Good: Your purchase supports mental health.”
What you see in the case of Disneyland and Toms Shoes is the idea of a Promise. That’s the second element of a good Message.
What is a promise?
Simply put, a promise is an invitation to your audience to experience your brand.
In the case of Disneyland, the promise they make by giving you a pocket map is the experience. In addition to the map, the brochure will also have highlight some attractions you should never miss. That’s a promise.
With Toms Shoes, the promise they make is to help you make an impact.
But promises work only for a specific set of audience. So your message won’t work if you made the right promise to the wrong audience.
Promises aren't interchangeable.
For example, the promise Toms Shoes makes on their website will not work on Nike’s website. That’s because people who visit Nike’s website are not there to make an impact. They are there because they want to be the best sportsman or woman they can be. That’s why Nike’s promise is not about making an impact, but about “bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.” Nike makes it even clearer who their audience is when they say “if you have a body, you're an athlete.”
That’s how you use a promise to create a better message.
What we covered so far are the first two elements of a good message - Audience, and Promise.
Let’s now look at the third key element of a good Message.
3. Unique Differentiator
After World War II, Coca Cola enjoyed a 60 percent market share for cola.
But by 1983, this share had shrunk to 24 percent. This was largely due to another brand we are familiar with - Pepsi.
As companies do, Coca Cola was under pressure to do something about their eroding market share. When Robert Goizueta became the CEO of Coca Cola in 1980, he urged the company to do brave experiments. That’s when the company did something very different. In 1984, they decided to change the formulation of their cola. They introduced a sweeter version of their cola and launched it with the name New Coke.
What ensued was a disaster. And the company reversed its decision in just over a year.
And that brings us to the third key element of a good Message - Stating the Unique Differentiator.
Coke is not Pepsi. It will never be.
In the case of Coke, its biggest unique differentiator was its taste. That’s why people bought Coke. Not because it was sweet like Pepsi. They bought Coke because it tasted the way it did.
In the case of a drink like Coke, even taste is a part of the message. And New Coke was an aberration.
And that’s what you want to do with your message too. Remove all distractions and aberrations, and clearly state what makes you uniquely different from the competition.
Sometimes this difference could be with “how” you do something. Some other times it could be your promise.
Amongst all the elements of a good message, it’s the unique differentiator that helps your brand stand out. As Bill Schley puts it, a brand is a name with a difference attached to it.
And that brings us to the end of the third element of a good message - the unique differentiator.
We are half-way down this list.
And it’s time to look into the fourth element of a good Message.
4. Show Them It's True & Verifiable
Have you shopped for diamonds?
When you’re in the market to buy diamonds, you don’t go anywhere. You don’t go to just any shop. Instead, you look for a store that addresses your specific need.
Maybe you’re looking for a store that sells handcrafted diamond jewellery. And let’s say you find a diamond jewellery you want. What next?
The next thing you want to do is make sure it’s made of real diamonds.
And that brings us to the fourth element - the element of truth and veracity. In simple words, is your message true and verifiable?
More than the veracity of your product, it’s the veracity of your promise.
In the case of the diamond, you want to verify if the diamonds used are really 24 carat.
Another good example that comes to mind is Blendtec, a brand that makes blenders that can blend anything. Their famous blender ads where they blend an iPad to powder is one that makes their promise verifiable.
That’s the fourth element of a good Message.
Let’s now look at the fifth element of a good Message.
5. Make It Believable
When Colgate-Palmolive introduced the frozen food business line, there was a messaging problem. It was not because their entrees tasted bad. Neither was it because their promise was not good enough. They probably even had a good understanding of their market.
The problem though was with something else. People could not believe that Colgate could make good frozen food. That’s because of the brand’s clear and unshakable positioning in the oral and dental hygiene market.
But if we just changed the promises, the messaging can lead to a believability problem.
🚫 Disney Rides - Move the way you want.
🚫 Uber - the happiest place on earth.
🚫 Mastercard - It’s in you.
If you want your brand message to stand-out, make sure it’s believable.
6. Keep It Consistent
That brings us to the sixth element of a good Message.
The Johnnie Walker challenge
Johnnie Walker, the international Scotch whisky brand has been around for over 200 years today. But in the late 1990s, they ran into a challenge. The popularity of vodka and wine started to impact the sales of whisky. Moreover, there was a growing perception in the market that whisky was for older men.
There was clearly a messaging problem. To add to the trouble, the brand had 27 different campaigns going on around the world, each with a different message.
So Johnnie Walker got to work. That’s when they stopped all existing campaigns, and launched the Keep Walking campaign. A campaign that focused on their target market consistently across the world.
And that brings us to the most important element of your Message - Consistency. In other words, is your Message consistent across your channels? Is your Message consistent across website and packaging. Is your Message consistent across your website, packaging, and what you say when you meet clients.
And a consistent message can have far more impact on your business and brand.
That brings us to the end of the six elements.
What are the six elements?
- 1Audience and their problem
- 2Make a Promise
- 3State the Differentiator
- 4Show them it’s True / and Verifiable
- 5Make sure it’s Believable
- 6Keep it Consistent
And that brings us to the end of today’s episode.