Most small business owners are so busy making sure that their business runs smoothly that they often don’t prioritize important elements of communication planning including defining the companies key messages and tailoring those key messages to each stakeholder group.
Homeroom Small Business Solutions is a key example.
Developing a strong communications plan with supporting key messages was something that Teya had always wanted to do. However, prior to having an in-house communications consult the task had naturally fallen by the wayside as more important matters, such as taking care of clients bookkeeping, had popped up.
What are key messages?
Key messages are a set of concise, stand alone and well thought out statements that help you achieve the goals you set out in your communications plan.
They need to be clear, memorable, relevant and compelling without any spin, jargon or buzzwords.
Avoid weak statements, promises you can’t keep and long winded sentences.
In most cases for each new communications campaign you should develop around 3-4 key messages that you can then adapt to cater to the different groups of people (stakeholders) with whom you will communicate.
Additionally it is recommended that you develop material that will support your key statements so that you have further information to back up any claims.
Why are Key Messages Important?
As a business owner creating key messages will help you focus your correspondence, learn more about your target audience and help you ensure that all business communications are consistent.
More importantly if delivered correctly key messages help focus your audiences attention, get your staff and customers on the same page and help your customers understand your position.
You are a cleaning company that is currently cleaning your clients homes using chemical based products and you want to change over to 100% natural products. Although this is a great idea and healthier for everyone the cost of the new natural products is higher than the cost of the chemicals you are currently using. As a result you need to increase the price of your service.
Without defining your key messages and developing a strategy for delivering the news of the impending change you run the risk of loosing clients who may become disgruntled and confused when you tell them about the price increase.
However, if you develop strong key messages that address why you are increasing the price, the benefits to their health & safety and why their support is so important to your company you will have a better chance of ensuring a smooth transition.
How do you determine your key messages?
Determining your key messages is a difficult task as there are so many different factors that you need to consider including:
Who is your audience?
What do they need to know?
Why do they need to know it?
What is their call to action?
Once you have determined all of these things you then need to make sure you structure your messages in a way that is effective and fits within the guidelines I detailed earlier in this post. You then need to determine how you are going to test them and measure their success.
In most cases it is often easier for small business owners to hire some outside help to assist them with developing key messages and creating communications plans.
However, paying for outside help is not always an option. If that is the case then don’t loose hope, there is a lot of information and resources available in libraries and on the internet that can help you move forward with this aspect of your business.
Take the time to do some research so that you can familiarize yourself with the process then together with your staff sit down and begin developing your key messages along with some strategies on how you can deliver them to your customers. Test them on your friends and family first then use their feedback to fine tune your sentences. Once you are confident that you are getting the correct messages across you can begin delivering them to your customers.
As a communications specialist I can’t stress enough how important it is for the growth and longevity of your business that you find time to define your key messages and develop a workable communications plan.
Although finding the time can be challenging in the long term you will be happy that you did.