Tip 41: Create key messages
“If you put together messages without a framework, you will probably be mired in wordsmithing before you know it. Instead, begin by working logically from questions to answers. Assemble key individuals who will be involved in your launch, such as the brand manager, thought leaders from your public relations and advertising agencies, internal personnel with marketing savvy, and consumers. Ask each individual to write down any questions they think might be asked about the product, from the global to the specific. How does this work? What’s new about it? How much will it cost? How long will it last? Where can I buy it? Why would I buy this when the competition already has a better product on the market? Who tested the product to prove its efficacy? At this point, all questions are important to consider and none should be disregarded as irrelevant.
“Working with a trained facilitator (from your PR agency or a resource within the company), write all the questions on a flip chart or whiteboard so the group can see them. Review the queries to learn what the group thinks about them. Then ask the participants—working either alone or in teams of two or three—to group all of the questions into buckets. These will most likely address the product’s benefit to the consumer and what is new and different about it. We suggest having two or three buckets, one for each subject.
“Now comes the hard part: the facilitator needs to keep a relatively tight rein on the participants. Break people into groups and ask each team to formulate one sentence with the dominant answer or statement about the subject matter addressed in each bucket. Compare the input from the groups. You will find that the answers are usually very similar and will give you the essence of your key messages. Test each message you formulate by asking this question: If people hear, understand, believe and act on each key message, will it drive sales of the product and make the launch a success? If the answer is yes, you have likely formulated effective key messages. Be sure to take a break at various intervals, as messaging requires time and perspective that can be gained only through discussions about each message and its meaning.”