Marjorie Wallens 

Creating messaging that goes deeper than a catchy tag line

woman at computer

Great tag lines are inspiring; they beckon you to buy their product. They help focus a buyer’s attention and are relatable. But creating messaging that resonates with your customers should go deeper and reflect a thoughtful process that creates a complete framework to guide your marketing, communications and decisions across the boards-both internally and externally before you create a tag line.

It all goes back to doing the heavy lifting to fully understand your product positioning, key benefits, unique value and sales propositions, target markets and tone or voice of the brand, before putting those catchy phrases together. There is no substitute for sound research.

Firstly understand what are your customer’s needs and wants. Have you done customer surveys, or audits? Talked to your customers? Gained feedback. You need to get inside the heads of your consumer audience to fully understand what motivates them to buy your product or service or what causes them to hesitate or turn away.

Consult your sales reps? Your sales team is on the front line. They should be able to provide input on your product or service and which pitches are the most effective. They will also be the ones to carry your messaging forward so it is important to involve them in the creation of your brand messaging.

Differentiate yourself from the competition. Of course, differentiating yourself from the competition is extremely important to create successful messaging. I might get in trouble with beer snobs for this, but most beer in the same category tastes fairly the same, therefore success in the beer market is based on brand experience and each brand has its own unique message—Molson- I am Canadian, Budweiser–the King of Beers. Notice nothing is said about the taste of the beer—beer marketers focus on the band experience. So whether there are clear differences or differences you need to create, ensure you value and sales propositions are unique.

Identify your tone of voice. Once you’ve done the research and due diligence the next step is to identity your tone of voice—edgy or soft and sexy? Human? Bold? I sometimes ask my clients to identify celebrities or newsworthy individuals that typify the voice and tone of their product.

State your brand promise. A colleague of mine that designs websites promises “websites that you can update yourself’. It’s reassuring and simple. Identity your target audiences—Similarly identify the benefits of your product—using concise sentences that could be used in headlines. And finally, use supporting information and examples that backup the benefits.

Once you’ve done all that—then its time to create that catchy tag line.






How to Get Media Coverage


cliparti1_megaphone-clipart_04If you are a small business and looking for the best way to grow your business while considering various options such as advertising versus public relations, you might consider the advantages of PR.  As a former journalist I have been on the receiving end of many a
pitch and know what makes an editor or reporter take notice. So here are my first hand recommendations.
Media Coverage & PR is cost effective
Public Relations can be a lot cheaper than paid advertising and an article in the media, can lead to an immediate increase in sales and make your company seem more established than you are.
When a story about your product or service appears in the media, it is perceived differently than if you advertised. That’s because the reader views the article as a third party testimonial written and endorsed by an objective journalist, not a company trying to sell something. So the ‘unpaid coverage’ or ‘earned media’ means a great deal more and carries a lot more credibility to the reader or consumer than a paid ad.
Best way to make PR work for you—Tell a compelling story.
The best way to get noticed through PR is to create a compelling story or story line, that identifies what makes your product or service unique or what need it fulfills that will resonate with the editor or writer. There is no substitute for a good story. There are lots of products and services in the marketplace that may be similar. You need to consider how to bring something new or different enough to the attention of the reader. So look for a problem you solve, a story about the creation of the product that is unique, does your service or product link to a recent activity or story in the news that might provide something an editor can ‘peg’ the story too.
Connect with the media. And the right source
Today, you can directly connect more easily to the media using social media by following reporters that cover your field. Send them a direct message about your story. Read what they’ve previously written. Ensure to target a reporter that is knowledgeable about your area. Nothing irks a reporter more than sending a pitch that isn’t relevant to their beat. You can also position yourself as the go to media expert or specialist in your field. Reporters are always looking for spokespersons with expertise to use as subject experts to quote in stories or provide background information.
Create a well- crafted pitch
Keep your pitch simple and to the point remembering to tie you story back to what makes your product or service different or how it fulfills a need. Back it up with two to three facts to support your opening pitch. Don’t pitch your company, pitch your story! Reporters and editors do not give free publicity to your company. It happens when a story about your product or service that speaks to their readers. For structure, look at how a typical newspaper story is constructed. The headline tells the key message of the story, if there is a second headline or sub head it usually provides a fact to back up the headline. Then the body of the story fills in the details. That’s how you want to structure your media pitch.

Keep it short –two to three paragraphs. Who, what, where, when and why!

A lesson in differentiating your brand from an unlikely Masai village in Tanzania

I recently traveled to Tanzania with a not for profit organization focused on improving the lives of Tanzanian communities by fundraising and building classrooms and other educational infrastructure in the Northeastern part of Tanzania near the Serengeti.  

One of the projects involves the fostering of a bead collective run by Masai women who make elaborate native necklaces and intricate bead works that are then sold to tourists as part of Thomson Safari ‘s regular visit to the collective.

What I was looking for was not only bead work representative of my time in Tanzania and the Masai, but something a bit different I could bring back to friends and family.

On long tables displayed much like a North American flea market, the pieces that stood out were the small beaded baskets that were different from similar baskets.   One had a teacup handle on the side, another had an acorn shaped handle on the lid of the basket and still another had a rather abstract collection of spiky beads ringing the outside of the basket. Imperceptible to the ordinary shopper but to me they stood out as examples of wanting to differentiate their products in a crowded marketplace, when the prices were all the same; hoping to sell more than their counterparts.   Maybe I’m exaggerating one bead workers motive, but as a marketer, it resonated.

A bit of product innovation through a slight change in design, made all the difference and I bought them.

 The same goes for differentiating your brand in a crowded marketplace.  You may offer the same product or service and sales support but what can you deliver that is value added that transcends the similarities. Is it a variation in design? Or the added value in providing useful information that makes your customer’s job easier?  It might just be the little things that make a big difference.


Why Social Media for professionals is no longer an add on

I was recently asked to give a talk to a professional group about social media. They were undecided about whether to incorporate social media into their marketing mix and if it was a good use of their time and resources. While all had LinkedIn accounts most did not know how make the most of it and other social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Well, it’s no longer a question of whether it’s worth it, but what is it worth not to have a social media presence for your company.
Consider this:

Millions of consumers & professionals regularly frequent social media sites to make buying decisions.
People are buying products and services, investigating companies, retaining vendor partners or hiring new employees.
The sheer volume of eyeballs with commercial intent cannot be ignored.
Social media networks offer an entirely new way to reach and influence buyers. And is simply no longer an add on.

Further more buyers have gone from being passive.e.g. receiving email and direct mail to becoming informed participants in the selection process. This means traditional marketing efforts alone will no longer work even in the professional services area.Buyers are doing on line research to see what others think of your services and company. Social media also enables your prospects to quickly and independently conduct due diligence on your company and validate that your company is a good fit .  While Social media is another layer of the communications and influencer process, it does not replace your marketing efforts.

 Here are a few simple rules

1. You have to be in it to win it.
2. Research and understand your audience’s behavior.
3. Get a feel for your competitive landscape.
4. Listen before you speak.

5. Engage people with what they’re interested in
  —It’s not about you; it’s about them (and they know it)
6. Don’t be fake.
7. Have fun!