Marketing Simplified: 5 Tips for Better Messaging

This is Part Two in our series on effective messaging. Click here for Part One.

Here are five key concepts to remember as you sharpen your messaging:

1) It’s not about you – it’s about your customer. Effective marketing tells a story, and every story has a hero. The mistake most business owners make is that the hero of their story is themselves and their business. But to create a truly compelling story and marketing message, your customer has to be the hero. Your role in the story is the trusted guide – think Yoda, Gandalf, or Mr. Miyagi – that is helping your hero overcome the obstacles, defeat the bad guy, and ultimately live happily ever after. One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, wrote a book called StoryBrand which explores this idea in depth. I highly recommend it.

2) Focus on the benefits that your business creates, not the features and specifications. Apple does a great job in this area – their commercials never focus on the technical specifications of their devices. They don’t talk about processor speed or motherboards or anything technical. Instead they focus on how Apple products make their customers feel. Innovative. Cool. Creative. Resist the temptation to talk about how everything works, and instead focus on how your products or services are going to make life better for your buyers. Again, customers don’t want to know how the sausage is made – they just want to know that it tastes delicious!

3) Speak the right language. Remember our poor astrophysicist, struggling to explain the complexity of the universe to an average joe? They’re both speaking English, but it might as well be two different languages. At Spotlight Branding, we work with lawyers who often have a similar problem. They’re so highly educated and so focused on the complexities of their legal work that they sometimes forget how to talk to the general public. Most business owners make similar mistakes. You need to make a concerted effort to think like your customers and clients, to speak like them, and to write like them. If you don’t already have this ability, you need to develop it quickly. The best way to do this is to immerse yourself in their world. Subscribe to the magazines they get. Go to the events they attend. Watch the TV shows they watch, read the books that they read, listen to the podcasts they listen to. This can be the difference between your message resonating perfectly, or being completely incomprehensible to your target audience.

4) Paint a clear picture of success and failure. What good things will happen to your buyers as a result of your products and services? Will they feel better, look better, save money, make money? Will they experience new opportunities and adventures? Will they gain respect and status? Create more security and safety? What deep, emotional wants and needs can you meet for your clients? Conversely, what happens if they don’t hire you? Are they putting themselves, their family, their stuff at risk? I always prefer to focus on the positive, rather than the negative, with my messaging. But there is a time and a place for clearly defining the stakes, good and bad. Depending on your industry, you may need to spend most of your time talking about the disasters that could befall your customers if they don’t hire you. The appeal of home security systems, fire alarms, and most forms of insurance is entirely based on avoiding bad outcomes, and effective messaging will clearly make this case.

5) The more specific and targeted you can be, the better. Your audience is going to be more engaged if they feel that you are talking directly to them. I pay more attention if you address me as a Minnesota Vikings fan than as a football fan, and even less attention if you address me as just a sports fan. But even sports fan is better than nothing! If you already target a very specific niche, this won’t be a problem for you. But if your target market is broad, you may want to develop sub-messages for various demographics. At Spotlight Branding, we target solo and small firm lawyers exclusively. If we ever decided to pursue customers in different industries, such as financial services or real estate, we’d probably create a separate website and separate messaging to focus on each industry separately, rather than lumping everyone together.

BONUS: A Simple Formula to Create the Perfect Magic Statement

The struggle to clearly communicate what you do is more obvious when you’re out networking and somebody asks you what you do. So many business owners just don’t know how to answer this question effectively! Often, they know that they don’t have a good answer, which is why so many people get nervous about networking in the first place.

So here’s your simple formula:


As a criminal defense attorney… I help people who were charged with a crime to fight the charges and stay out of jail.

A CPA… I help successful business owners pay less in taxes so that they can keep more money in their pocket and take better vacations with their families!  

A basic budgeting app… Our app gives young professionals more control over their money and helps them make financial decisions with confidence and clarity.

Who do you help?
How do you help them?
And how does their life improve as a result?

Want to know more? Click here to sign-up for our exclusive Weekly Marketing Hotsheet. It’s packed with tips and ideas to help you sharpen your messaging and take your marketing to the next level.

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Danny Decker

I work with business owners to create real, practical marketing plans – and create systems to make sure the plan actually gets executed. I’ll help you put a strategy in place to create predictably positive cash-flow, to generate new leads consistently, to create more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing, and much more.

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