Creating Effective Core Messages

By Ramsey Poston, Anachel Partner & Founder Tuckahoe Strategies

How are Messages Created?

The message development process cannot be done in a vacuum.  It requires time and the direct input from the C-suite and obviously must be consistent with the organization’s vision and overall strategy.  The best way to generate key messages for an organization is by conducting a facilitated SWOT analysis to discuss the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.  

Image result for swot

The SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analyzing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, while opportunities and threats are external factors that can have an effect on the overall business. Ideally the weaknesses will be offset by the strengths, the threats should be addressed with a specific crisis protocol and there should be a plan to take advantage of the opportunities.The SWOT Analysis delves into each of the four areas by asking several interrogative questions similar to those provided below:

Strengths:

  • What are organization’s strengths? 

  • What does the organization do better than others? 

  • What makes the organization’s mission unique? 

  • Which people in the organization bring strengths?

Weaknesses:

  • What are the organization’s weaknesses?
  • How can the organization minimize or eliminate the weaknesses?
  • What do competitors do better than the organization?

Opportunities:

  • Identify the organization’s underserved audiences/customers
  • Which strengths could be utilized better to eliminate current weaknesses and/ or threats?
  • What are the changes in regulations or mindset that can help the organization better achieve its mission?

Threats:

  • Which emerging competitors pose a threat to the organization?
  • How could current or future government regulation affect the organization’s mission?
  • How has the media negatively covered the organization?

The Core Message

When the SWOT is completed there should be ample information to create core messages and supporting proof points. Below is an example of a message about March Madness and how messaging could be used to describe it. The primary message is concise, informative and declarative. The proof points support the primary message with facts and useful information.

Key message:

The NCAA Division I basketball tournament known as “March Madness” is the best competition and most enjoyable event in all of sports.

Proof points:

  • All 68 teams have an equal opportunity to win the championship.
  • To win the championship, the team must win six straight games.
  • The tournament has compelling storylines and buzzer beaters over nearly three weeks.
  • It has to be the greatest, it’s called March Madness!

Message Deployment 

Once the message development process is complete there should be three or four core messages that appear in all of the organization’s internal and external communications.  Message consistency is essential to convincing audiences to take positive action. Messages are not just for the media. The organization’s core messages should be adopted by the marketing team, used in advertising, social media and executive presentations.