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Go triangular to make the most of your message

By George Hulbert and Mikela Dennison of The Clarity Business

While the circle may be the strongest shape in mathematics, the triangle is definitely the strongest tool for clear and concise message communication.

Why?

Because it encourages clear, simple breaks between the different elements that make up your message and allows you to put that core message - which should be at the very heart of your offer - right in the middle of it all.

At a time when there is fierce competition to win business across all markets, industries and sectors, it is more crucial than ever to ensure that your offer stands out and encourages your target customer, client or audience to choose your services or product.

We use a message triangle to pull out the strongest element of your business and offer, with supporting statements/services around the central triangle, to ensure everything is aligned and supported by a clear track record of success.

How the message triangle works

To examine a message set, you might have some sides to the triangle that include:

  • The service you provide
  • The benefits and/or value you add for your client
  • Why your business is different
  • Core message (in the middle of the triangle): What this all achieves for your clients
The reason the messaging approach is so useful is that it drives you to focus on what the value is for your client, not so much on what your business or organisation does.

The core message is at the centre because it encompasses the three key elements (service, value/benefit, difference) and brings your offer together in a way that cuts through the noise and helps to support your audience to make the decision to work with you.

When you can clearly communicate what you achieve for your clients or customers; whether that's solving or removing a problem, reaching a goal, saving them money or time, or even creating tangible productivity or safety improvements in their business, you are able to demonstrate and answer the question of "What's in it for me?" as you lay the groundwork to pique your audience's interest and more thoroughly describe your business, services and approach.

So, why use message?

An effective message can be applied across a range of communication channels in your business. We use messaging every day to help clients define their offer, hone their proposition and provide clarity for their positioning in the market.

It all translates to winning work, winning contracts and achieving goals. Message is more than a slogan or brand catchphrase; it is an inextricable element of your business and offer that encourages a more cohesive and effective way of working and presenting your service or product.

Here are some of the key areas in which we apply messaging for our clients:

  • Tenders
  • Newsletters
  • Decision-making
  • Infographics
  • Media releases and interviews
  • Social media and blogging
  • Annual reports
  • Award submissions
  • Presentations
  • Brochures and company profiles
Developing and applying message has led to The Clarity Business helping clients win over $1.1 billion worth of work through competitive tender processes in the last four years - and if that doesn't demonstrate the value of using message, then nothing will!

We worked with one of our ongoing clients early last year to develop a strong message set, which was an integral part of their rebranding and repositioning in their field.

They now constantly apply that message to be clear and concise in their actions; from event and programme planning, media interviews to newsletters, to social media and even in their relationships with partners and key stakeholders, the organisation's message is used by all strategic staff to organise their work streams, priorities and strengthen their approach in their area of expertise.

Message can also act as a filter and sense-checker. You can ask yourself: Is this action supporting our message and where we want to be positioned? Is this decision in line with our organisation's core offer or does it detract from the value we deliver?

Just one piece of the communications pie

Message is not a standalone: even the most effective, clear message has to be supported by three other central elements:

1. Everything is driven by your objectives. This provides the roadmap for your business, and demonstrates your aims to your internal and external audiences.

2. Which bring us to the audience: without knowing who you need to talk to in order to achieve your objectives, you might as well be talking to yourself. Whether that is an industry audience, a public audience, an internal audience, a media audience, an influencer audience or even a small tender evaluation team, understanding your audience and what motivates them is central in ensuring your message hits the right note, at the right time, with the right people.

3. Once you have your objectives and audience defined, that's when you can bring in messaging: this brings together your purpose and who you need to communicate with, and provides a short and clear statement that can be applied through your communication channels.

4. These three stages lead to the holy grail of communications: strategy. With a clear plan of intended action, you can meet your objectives, connect with your desired audience, and most importantly - project and live your message.

Once you have these four areas covered, that's when the fun begins and you can start applying and projecting your message in your communications outputs and business operations.

Shape the message with your company

Like anything, your business objectives will change over time – and your message needs to reflect those changes to continue to be effective.

We work with our clients to ensure that their message is consistent with their business objectives, no matter the stage of the business. While some organisations will choose to add to their existing message, and develop the set over time, others need to create a whole new message that accurately reflects their new direction.

This means that all forces are working in the same direction, resulting in a strong and consistent offer that puts you and your company in good stead moving forward.

Like this post? Check out another one by The Clarity Business on new media in a changing business world.

If you are interested in hearing more about how we develop strong, concise and effective messages right across the business spectrum, get in touch with George Hulbert on george@theclaritybusiness.co.nz or Mikela Dennison on mikela@theclaritybusiness.co.nz for a chat, or connect with us via Twitter at@ShapeTheMessage.