Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You’re reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
If you’ve spent any time researching marketing messages, you already know that there is an overwhelming amount of information at your disposal, and for good reason. Your message is what introduces your service to the world, and you may only have one chance to get it right with your potential clients before they move on to the next thing.
But before you fall down the rabbit hole full of marketing “quick tips,” you should know that a marketing message is only as good as its foundation. You can simplify the process when you understand the following five steps and use them as the building blocks to create compelling marketing messages for your business.
1. Know your audience
Before you decide what to say, you have to know whom you’re talking to. Your ideal customers have goals, motivations and frustrations that your offering can address. You need to gain a deep understanding of who they are, what they value and what they need to help take them where they want to go. There is a mountain that your client is trying to climb; you need to identify what this is so that you can provide him or her with the right tools to get to the other side.
The key to understanding your audience is to build a detailed ideal customer profile. You may have some grasp on what makes your target audience tick, but to gain a true understanding, you need to listen to them. The good news is that finding your ideal customer and hearing his or her struggles is now easier than ever before.
First, build your ideal customer profile. Be specific and really dig into the weeds in this activity. Not only do you want to identify the customer’s larger goals and pain points, but you’ll also want to list his or her demographic information such as age, location and education level.
Once you’ve gotten clear on who your customer is, it’s fairly easy to figure out where your customer likes to “hang out” in order to gain more insight. For instance, if your customer is a working mother of young children, you can follow social media that targets this audience and listen to the conversations taking place on those accounts. Don’t just eavesdrop; be present and actively engage to better learn your client’s struggles and how to speak his or her language.
2. Play your position
For every problem your ideal customer has, there are likely hundreds of companies offering a similar solution. Your offering may be very similar to someone else’s, but that doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle; you address this by crafting your marketing message to show your audience what makes you and your solution unique. Ensuring that you run this thread through all of your messages helps solidify your position in the market.
Much like your ideal customer, you may have some idea of your position, but sometimes who you believe you are is out of touch with how you’re really presenting yourself in the market. Conducting some research will help you to hone in on your true place.
Take a look at what others in your industry are offering. Do you stand out in the crowd or blend in with everyone else? If your service isn’t adding anything unique, what can you highlight to begin to differentiate yourself within your industry?
Talk to your existing customers, especially those who fall in line with your “ideal.” Ask them what drew them to your business and why they chose to purchase your service over someone else’s in your niche. Their responses will help you begin to identify areas that you can highlight more through your messages to make your business stand out.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
3. Create your marketing message
Once you’ve identified whom you’re talking to and what unique benefits your service provides, it should be easier to create a message that drives home this benefit to your ideal customer. Your message should clearly communicate your offer so that your ideal customer understands and receives it.
This step sounds simple, but it ends up being the place where a lot of businesses go wrong by focusing on the “features” of the offering. Instead, messages should focus on the outcome that those features provide. The best way to make your message compelling is to paint a picture of where your client is now and create an image of where he or she will be once he or she takes advantage of your solution.
4. Pick your platform and tailor accordingly
After you’ve created your message, you can adjust it to fit the platform you use to communicate. Remember, the substance of the message remains the same across all platforms. If your course will help aspiring restauranteurs run five-star kitchens, that message remains the same no matter where you take it.
What you are changing is the way you’re relaying the message on each platform. For instance, you may share some insight about the restaurant industry in a blog post on your website with a call-to-action at the end. You could take that same information and talk about it in a longer video on YouTube that you cut into a shorter video for Instagram and turn into a short message for a tweet. Once you determine what you say and whom you’re saying it to, you can adjust as needed to suit each channel.
5. Evaluate and adjust
Getting your message out into the world is just the first step to creating a compelling marketing message. Allow your message some time to gain traction and analyze its effectiveness across your platforms. After some time (and make sure you give it time), you’ll start getting an idea of what’s working and what hasn’t been as effective. Make small tweaks to your messages so that you can measure the effects of your changes and make your message even more compelling to your audience.
Related: 3 Reasons Marketing Is The New Sales