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Defining Your Key Messages

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.

For example:

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.

Top 5 Social Media Tips

1. Add Share buttons

One of the biggest mistakes many people make is not having social media share buttons on their website.

When you are writing a blog, or posting valuable information the easier you make it for your audience to share your posts on their social media the more chances you have of people seeing and sharing your information.

Depending on which blogging platform you use or who developed your website adding social media share buttons can be as simple as clicking a button or installing a plugin.

2. Find a balance

 

Currently Wikipedia lists 200 networks in their list of major active social networking websites. So it is understandable that many business owners become overwhelmed by the whole concept of social media marketing.

Determining which networks you should use is dependent on several factors including:

  1. Where your target audience can be found.

  2. How much time you have to dedicate to social media marketing.

  3. What type of product or service you are providing.

My advice to you as a small business owner is to start by picking no more than three relevant social networks and get to know them well before trying to expand. .

3. Know your voice

The tone and language you use when talking to your mother is more than likely going to be different to the tone and language you use when you are talking to your best friend.

You may miss out some swear words, you may avoid revealing your true opinion and you more than likely will do your best to maintain a certain image (the kind of image that would make your mother proud)

Majority of the time you naturally change the way you present yourself to a person depending on the situation and your relationship with them.

However, your online personality is different because your reach is so broad you quite often you have no idea who is viewing your posts.

You need to determine how you want the world to view your business and you.

Are you all business or are you funny? Are you an expert in your field or do you connect people with experts? What are the interests of your business? etc.

Once you have your online personality figured out it will be easier for you to set out social media guidelines for your staff, determine who to follow and plan your posts.

4. create quality content

 

The internet is essentially an ocean of content.

You can have the equivalent of the Red Sea in content but if it is boring, poorly written or useless information nobody is going to care, nobody will share it and nobody will stay on your site.

You need to make sure that when you write blog posts you consider your audience’s needs, answer their questions and write well.

This may seem like some harsh advice but you need to keep it in mind. Just because you wrote essay’s in high school that Mrs McDonald marked as an A+ doesn’t mean that you are going to create quality blog content or more importantly searchable blog content.

The best way to ensure you aren’t slowly driving your readers away or killing them with boredom, due to poor content, is to hire a professional writer. If this isn’t an option then make sure you have a variety of people look over your post and provide feedback before you put it on the internet.

5. Don’t become self-involved

 

The biggest mistake a lot of small business owners make when embarking on social media promotion is that they become self-involved.

If all of your posts are about your business and the products you sell then you are going to drive people away.

You need to add value to your viewers lives by providing them with quality content, by asking them questions and by hearing their questions and concerns.

The best rule to follow when posting is the 80/20 Rule, where only 20% of the content you post is self- promoting.

While we are on the subject of self-promotion, I should mention that for help with your social media and communications you can contact us at Homeroom Small Business Solutions. We will make sure that you always have your best foot forward when communicating with your stake holders 🙂

New Services at Homeroom

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We are pleased to announce that Homeroom Small Business Solutions is expanding and as a result we are now offering some exciting new services that will be provided by our latest team member and communications guru Mirey Faema.

Our New Services Include:

Communicating well is the key to successfully maintaining your relationships with clients, staff and suppliers. That is why it is essential to make sure you have a well thought out communications plan.

We will sit down with you and assess your current communication methods,  then provide you with the tools you need to improve your communication strategy and grow your business.

 

Stay tuned for this month’s blog.

This month, keeping in line with the launch of our new services, we will be looking at the Importance of Communicating Well.

We will explore various topics including social media, the importance of key messages and the consequences of having poor communications.

We hope that our new services and this month’s blog topic will allow us to help you grow your business.

If you have any questions about our new services or would like to request a blog topic please do not hesitate to contact us.