Before you start writing any marketing materials, you need to know what you want to say and to who – ensuring it will resonate with their objectives. And you have to be sure that everyone who writes (or speaks) for your brand is saying broadly the same things so your proposition sounds and feels consistent.
This means creating a core set of messages that everyone can use as a foundation for their external communications.
The primary aim of a messaging workshop is to establish what those messages are, and to capture them in a document that’s easy to share with everyone who’ll be writing and speaking on behalf of your brand.
Who should be involved in the workshop?
Unless you represent a very small business, you’re bound to have more than one person with views on what you should communicate to the market. The good thing about a workshop is that it gets all those people together in one room to share their views and come to a consensus.
Different people bring different – but equally valid – perspectives to a messaging workshop. A product manager will have a good idea of what’s interesting about the product. A salesperson or consultant will have great insight into the problems customers need help with. A marketing person may have the best knowledge of what competitors offer and how to stand apart from them.
Can’t we just run the workshop ourselves?
There’s nothing to stop you from running a messaging workshop internally, but the risk is that a lack of an external perspective leaves participants believing that what they want to say is what the customer wants (and needs) to hear.
What the workshop needs is someone external to perform four functions:
- Facilitate the session and tease out information that will form the messages
- Mediate any differences of opinion
- Challenge any messaging that seems self-serving rather than customer-focused
- Provide a balanced, external perspective
When Radix runs a messaging workshop, those are the roles we play: facilitator, mediator, constructive critic, and impartial observer.
So, how does it all work?
Agencies and consultancies run messaging workshops differently, but here’s a rough guide to how Radix does it.
- Pre-workshop activities
First, we’ll arrange a call to understand what you want to achieve from the workshop and how you plan to use the resulting messaging. A workshop for a specific product may have a completely different goal from a workshop to reposition a brand, for example.
We’ll ask who you plan to invite to the session and what roles they’ll play. We’ll also ask who your main competitors are, and if you have customers we can interview – allowing us to get some insight into how your market perceives your brand, product, or service.
We’ll also ask about logistics, such as how much time everyone can commit – our standard workshop session is four hours, but we can make it longer or shorter – and which time zones the attendees will be in.
That gives us enough information to create and share an agenda for the workshop and to start on our pre-workshop research.
For competitor research, we’ll analyse competitors’ websites to help us collectively determine any differentiators and USPs we can use during the workshop.
For customer research, we’ll ask you to set up short interviews with three or four of your business’s current customers. We’ll talk to those customers about why they chose you, their experience working with you or your product, and where they think your strengths and weaknesses lie – this can be a valuable feedback exercise.
We’ll present our findings from both of these exercises during the workshop.
- The Workshop
Regarding the workshop itself, our view is that you’re not creating messages in a vacuum; you want to create a set of messages that resonate with your target audience.
So we’ll spend time in the workshop looking in detail at the following:
- Who your target audience is, and what problems they’re trying to overcome
- Whether there are diverse audience personas who might respond to different messaging
- The different options your prospects have on the table and what might spur them to choose your product or service
- What you’re selling, what it does, and how it’s better than your competitors’ offerings. We’ll also press you for proof points: what evidence you have to back up what you’re saying.
Throughout all of these discussions, we’ll capture everyone’s comments, ready for us to turn into a first draft of your messaging framework.
- The Messaging Framework
This is the output of the workshop: a document that sets out your key messages for your brand or specific products or services.
The format of the document will vary depending on the scope of your messaging project, but typically it might include the following:
- An introduction: What the document is for, how it can be used, and by who.
- A description of your target persona(s): Who you’re selling to, what their responsibilities and motivations are, their buying triggers, and what they’re looking for in a solution or provider.
- Your value proposition: A succinct summary of the value your brand, product, or service offers to its primary audience.
- Key messages: The main things you want the audience to know (or feel) about your brand, product, or service. We can supply these as copy blocks that can be pasted directly into marketing, sales, and PR materials.
- Supporting messages: Secondary messaging to support the key messages, also as copy blocks.
- Proof points: Evidence that shows what you’re saying is true, rather than just telling. Things like customer testimonials, analyst quotes, and certifications.
- Strapline options: Often used as part of the brand mark, the strapline is a concise and memorable expression of your value proposition. We’ll give you at least three options to choose from.
- Elevator pitches: Hardworking pieces of copy that can be used in slide decks, “About Us” pages, press releases, and LinkedIn profiles to explain succinctly what the brand, product, or service is about. We provide 25-word, 50-word, and 100-word versions for use in different contexts
- Approving the copy
It’s rare for everyone to be delighted with the first draft of the messaging. If they are, it usually means they either haven’t read it thoroughly or aren’t invested enough to give it further thought.
You and your stakeholders know your business better than anyone, so it’s unlikely that an external writer will get everything you want to say and how you want to say it on the first attempt. That’s why we allow for two rounds of edits to the messaging framework.
How that works: we give you a few days to review the first draft, then we’ll have a call with you to go through your feedback. You could bring your stakeholders to that meeting or collate their feedback in advance. Either way, we’ll take it all on board, ask you any additional questions, and produce a second draft.
If we’re doing our job properly, the second draft will be very near to the final version. If it’s not quite there, we’ll apply one more round of amends to get it to where it’s ready for you to share with your marketing, sales, and PR teams. We’ll deliver that final document as a PDF, Word, or PowerPoint – whichever works best for you.
Sounds wonderful – but how much is all this going to cost?
Aha, the million-dollar (not literally, you’ll be relieved to read) question. We find that messaging projects tend to differ quite a lot in scope, so we don’t have a standard price for one. But if you contact our team, we’ll talk you through your options.
And if you’d like to discuss a messaging project with us directly, call us on +44 (0)1326 373592 or email email@example.com.