Takeaways:

  • Include decision-making types, content ideas and messaging formats in your buyer persona
  • Give your customers a reason to believe in your message through social proofs
  • Catch the attention of your ideal customers by sparking curiosity through a Big Idea
  • Answer the question “why should I buy from you?” by crafting a compelling brand story

Your messaging strategy

You’ve done the work and created the messaging strategy for your business (read that post first because this one will build on those ideas).

Voice of customer research? Check.

USP? Yep.

Brand values? Got ’em.

Tone of voice? Done.

Perfect.

Time to add another layer and give your messaging strategies more depth.

So you can get more traffic. More conversions. And more loyal customers.

Advanced messaging strategies for effective marketing

Taking the time to document your voice of customer research (VOC), unique selling proposition (USP), values and tone of voice is a huge step toward setting your business up for success.

You can keep your messaging consistent throughout your marketing and deliverables by having a documented messaging strategy.

Remember: your messaging strategy is a living document, meant to be refined as you gain more knowledge about your customers and your market

To up-level the assets you already have, let’s look at some advanced messaging strategies that will give you the elements you need to write great copy.

(Though I’m not going to discuss brand design in this post, be aware that the two go hand-in-hand. Get the words right, then base your design around them).

Adding depth to your strategy

For insight into what really makes up a stellar brand messaging strategy, I turned to someone who does this on the regular for her clients: Anna Bolton.

She creates a Copy DNA using (wouldn’t you know it!) techniques she learned from Copyhackers and Copy School.

Anna says that a messaging strategy is an asset every business should have. And it should be optimized for conversions.

“To stay competitive… To get that ROI on your copy and all of your marketing, you need brand messaging that articulates a ‘different and better’ position in your market.”

Anna Bolton

Let’s dive into how you can implement advanced messaging strategies using the four parts (VOC, USP, values and voice) you already have as a starting point.

Messaging strategies that give your VOC more direction

You’ve got the demographics and behaviors of your customers mapped out.

You have a spreadsheet of stand-out messages you’ve found with review mining or heard in interviews.

Now’s the fun part:

Analyzing and categorizing your VOC to create a buyer persona.

A buyer persona allows you to create a fictional representation of what your ideal customer is like.

Having this persona gives you one reader to focus on when you’re creating any branded messaging.

Messaging strategies to create this persona:

  • Gather all of your organized data
  • Look for commonalities across the demographics and behaviors (psychographics)
  • Group these attributes together and list characteristics your persona has (you can see some examples here)
  • Look for: their lifestyle (family, career, social), background, problems, motivators, goals
  • Note down the ways you can help this persona
  • Create messaging this persona wants or needs to hear from you to say yes to your offer

Below is a brief example from Impact.

They’ve included the types of messages “Services Stan” would and would not like to hear and in what formats they’re going to present those messages to him.

Text reads: Messaging: Services Stan.
Tone of voice: Business-like, trustworthy and knowledgeable.
Frame of mind:he is interested in how your process works, and how it will affect his own day-to-day processes.
Turn-offs: lack of detail about process, anything that is not very logically explained and defined, mistakes. It is important that you prove your technical "chops" to him.
Key Content: datasheets describing step-by-step processes, case studies showing success, video demonstrations of features. 
Level of urgency: Low. 
He will want to make a decision at his own pace and have plenty of data to sift through, he will typically enter the decision-making process in later stages to vet the idea, rather than be the trigger.

The next step in adding a layer to this persona is figuring out:

What type of decision-makers are your customers?

Your customers can make decisions fast or slow and based on emotional or logical reasoning.

Knowing this helps you decide what messages you need to show, where they need to be and when your customer needs to see them.

The four types of decision-makers are:

  • Spontaneous (emotional, fast-paced)
  • Humanistic (emotional, slow-paced)
  • Competitive (logical, fast-paced)
  • Methodical (logical, slow-paced)

In this tutorial, Joanna goes through the four decision-making types, where they land on your website and how to address each of them when writing.

Get to know the four decision-making types and see how they align with your already collected data.

Add a decision-making type to your persona. Based on the decision-making type, document how you will communicate with that persona.

In the Services Stan example, he will “make a decision at his own pace and have plenty of data to sift through.”

We can say that Stan is a methodical decision-maker based on this information.

Knowing that Stan is a methodical decision-maker should impact how we communicate with him.

What this looks like in your messaging strategy

Your persona can be laid out however is easiest for you.

A bullet list of characteristics.

A full story about them.

I like to create subheads for each data area and then have bulleted sections.

Messaging strategies to upgrade your USP

You’ve defined what you do, who you do it for and why you’re the best to do it.

Let’s take this one step further by giving information to back up your statement.

Back your USP up with proof

For your USP to get attention, you need to show potential customers it’s true.

Social proof gives your customers a reason to believe in your messaging.

Proof can be:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Credentials and course badges
  • Trust badges (companies you’ve helped)
  • Case studies
  • Data about your results
  • Product reviews

Toms’ USP is “shoes for moving forward.”

They use a version of this alongside their proof.

They’re donating 1/3 of their profits and have helped over 100,000,000 lives.

Text reads: since the beginning of TOMS, our community has had a positive impact on over 100,000,00 lives – and we're far from finished.  Ground-up change starts with us.
Today, TOMS commits 1/3 of profits for grassroots good, supporting people building equity at the local level, and driving progress from the ground up.  That’s why our shoes are really something special—especially our classic Alp, which we like to think of as the shoe that started it all.  Every purchase helps create a more equitable tomorrow, so let’s keep moving forward together.  1/3 of profits for grassroots for good.
Source

Proof shows customers you’re passionate about your solution and serious about delivering results.

The way you leverage this proof and your USP can shape how you appear in the market.

Positioning your brand correctly

Positioning is all about how your brand fits into and stands out from your industry.

Take a look at the messages you’ve created for your USP section already:

  • Your USP
  • What sets you apart from competitors
  • The big problem you’re solving for customers

Now, think of how your brand will be known. What will come to mind when customers think of your solution?

This becomes your reputation and allows you to differentiate from other businesses offering similar products or services.

“Effective brand positioning happens when a brand is perceived as favorable, valuable, and credible to the consumer.

The sum of those three becomes unique to your business, and as a result, your customers carve out a place for you in their minds.”

HubSpot

Positioning is done correctly when you can find something that sets your brand apart and use it as a focal point in your messaging.

Tesla is a brand that’s positioned itself well.

The auto industry is saturated, yet Tesla has created a large following and gained customers.

They’ve focused on the quality and technology in their vehicles rather than the standard features every car has.

Image of road winding through treed area. 
Text reads: 405 mi. Go anywhere with up to 405 miles of estimated range on a single charge.
15 min. Recharge up to 200 miles in 15 minutes at Supercharger locations.
30,000+. Superchargers places along popular routes.
Range
Go Anywhere
Travel farther on a single charge than any other electric vehicle—and keep going with access to 30,000+ Superchargers globally. By combining up to 405 miles of estimated range with Tesla fast charging technology, you’ll spend less time charging and even more time on the road.
Source

They also address customers’ concerns about how long the car battery will last.

What this looks like in your messaging strategy

Adding positioning and proof pages to your strategy document is fairly simple.

Your positioning page should describe your brand and what sets you apart.

Put this page before the proof so readers can reference them after reading your brand’s position strategy.

Keep this page simple enough for all stakeholders to understand and remember. Bulleted lists are always handy.

Your proof page includes any of the social proof listed above.

And make sure to note why each proof is valuable to your customers.

What benefits or objections do they address that will bring your audience closer to saying yes?

Messaging strategies that add more value

You’ve got the main values your business believes in and your mission.

Plus, they’re all written in your brand voice.

To advance the values you already have, we will look at creating the overarching theme for your brand.

Your Big Idea

The Big Idea is what you’re doing to solve your ideal customer’s number one problem.

And it’s stated in a way that catches the attention of your ideal customers.

Joanna describes it as having three distinct qualities.

“It’s the one thing the reader wants most.

It’s stated in a way no one else has said it before.

And it opens up cognitive dissonance. That is, the reader becomes suspended in a state of curiosity.”

Joanna Wiebe, Copy School lesson

The Big Idea sometimes isn’t easy to get to right away.

It requires using your VOC research and talking it through.

Try to bounce ideas off of someone just as knowledgeable and invested in the brand as you are.

A good example of a Big Idea is Saddleback Leather.

Their Big Idea is to create bags that will outlive you.

The product is for people who are tired of replacing their bags.

Even though there are loads of other bags to choose from, how many brands will give you a 100-year warranty on that bag to back up their Big Idea?

Image of brown leather with stitching and a badge nailed in place with the text "Saddleback Leather Co.". 
Text reads: Saddleback Leather.
Love 41.
They'll fight over it when you're dead.
100 year warranty. No breakable parts. Over-engineered.
Their tagline also sparks a lot of curiosity in the customer!

What are you promising?

Creating a brand promise is an excellent idea, not only for employees but also to show your customers.

You’re giving customers something to measure your solution by when you make a customer-facing promise.

The promise is something your business stands behind.

“You, however, should be clear about what you’re promising and under what conditions.”

Anna Bolton

You’re giving your audience an idea of what life could look like after using your product or service.

The Girl Scouts has a full Brand Playbook where they outline their promise to everyone participating in scouting.

They include a pyramid showing how the members will feel at each stage –

Promising that they will achieve these if they participate fully in the activities.

Image of a green pyramid, with four sections, getting lighter in shade as they move to the top. 
The pyramid sections read, from bottom to top:Leadership, Belonging, Bravery, Pride. 
Along the left side a line runs from bottom to top of the pyramid with "functional promise" at the bottom and "emotional promise" at the top.
An arrow points to the word Belonging and has text reading: This is our brand's "first moment of truth" the first moments we associate the brand with.
Another arrow points to Bravery and has text that reads: This is expressed as the payoff of experiences - the aftereffect.  Text to the left of the pyramid image reads: Girls, alumnae, parents, and volunteers associate
Girl Scouts with leadership in everyday moments and
milestones. The big and small times when we find the
courage, confidence, and character to overcome risk,
keep trying, and conquer a challenge. When we come
face-to-face with opportunity and go after it.
In those moments when we are preparing to lead
(our functional promise), we feel a sense of belonging
to our Girl Scout community, practice bravery through
everyday actions, and ultimately feel pride in ourselves
(our emotional promise). Through this combination of
our brand promises, we are ready to take the lead like
a Girl Scout every day.
Check out the full Brand Playbook for Girl Scouts.

What this looks like in your messaging strategy

Have a page dedicated to the Big Idea at the beginning of your values section, as the messaging in your brand should all stem from this one idea.

As you saw in the Girl Scouts example, your promise can take many different forms, depending on the outcomes you deliver to the customer.

Make sure you support your promise with the successes you plan on helping your customers achieve.

Messaging strategies to amp up your voice

You’ve got your grammar rules and brand voice characteristics documented.

You can use these characteristics as a base for building an entire brand personality.

Choose your personality

Customers want to relate to brands on a humanistic level.

This means: if your brand voice sounds stuffy and robotic, customers are going to bounce.

Connecting with your audience and addressing them like an actual human (aka conversationally) goes a long way to winning brand loyalty.

When working on developing your voice, you should focus on a tone that will:

Enact the value your visitors desire…

Engage your visitors by making your site copy more enjoyable to read…

Stimulate positive feelings…”

Joanna Wiebe

When choosing a brand personality, take into account:

  • Voice of customer data
  • Your values
  • Your USP
  • The voice and messages you’ve already documented

Your personality will be the way you communicate your messages to your audience.

Make sure it covers the objectives Jo mentioned above, and you should be good to go.

Skype has a casual, witty and easy-to-understand brand voice.

They use everyday relationships to describe who their brand personality is.

“You could think of us as that overly generous Aunt who always insists you have a third helping.”

Skype Brand Book

They’ve perfected a humourous ‘friend at the bar’ personality (you can learn more about this voice type from Justin Blackman’s course in Copy School).

Image of large blue speech bubble with the words: Tone of voice. 
Text underneath reads: The Skype tone of voice is unique. As a company built around our users, the Skype voice is always plain-speaking and human.
Our products are always explained in the simplest terms. If your mum couldn't understand what is being written, then it's not the Skype voice. 
Humour is an important part of the Skype voice. We don't tell one liners, but employ a gentle wit to engage our users.  For instance "You could think of us as that overly generous Aunt who always insists you have a third helping. We prefer to think of ourselves as a big groups hug, even a present. Yes that's it, we're a present but without the ribbon."  Image of large yellow speech bubble below text with "hahahahahaha" written inside. 
Blue small speech bubble with "hehe" inside. 
Small green speech bubble with "I don't get it." written inside
Skype Brand Book

What’s your story?

Crafting an authentic brand story can pull readers in and make them stay – but only if it holds their attention.

To do this, you need to use a basic story framework:

  • Beginning – set out the problem needing to be solved
  • Middle – the steps you took to solve it
  • End – the feeling of success after you found a solution

Like most stories, it needs to be captivating, connect with your customers and answer the question, “why should I buy from you?”

It also needs to be told by your brand personality.

All great brands have a background story to show the audience why they’re in business.

And why they chose to solve this particular problem.

Take Airbnb, for example.

They tell the story of how they first came up with the idea.

They show what their customers are looking for when they book with them.

And what success looks like after using their service.

Below is a section of a letter the founders wrote detailing how they navigated and adapted throughout the pandemic.

Text reads:
Connection and belonging
When we started Airbnb, it was about more than just travel. In 2007, Joe and I were roommates in San Francisco, and we were trying to figure out how to pay our rent. That weekend, a design conference was coming to San Francisco and hotels were sold out, so we inflated three airbeds and turned our apartment into an Airbed & Breakfast. We hosted three guests — Michael, Kat, and Amol — and in doing so, we became the first hosts on Airbnb. Our guests arrived as strangers, but they left as our friends. The connections we made that weekend led Joe and I to realize, “Maybe there’s a bigger idea here!” Soon after, Nate joined, and we created a way for people around the world to be hosts, just like us.  Since then, we’ve grown from two hosts in San Francisco to a community of over four million hosts all over the world. On the surface, what people come to Airbnb for is a new way to travel, but below the surface, what they find on Airbnb is connection. They experience a deeper connection to the communities they visit and the people who live there. This connection is delivered by our hosts, and they provide guests with a deeply personal experience — after all, guests are welcomed in their homes, and they live in their communities.
Source

The whole package

There you have it.

Advanced messaging strategies (with lots o’ links) that will add depth to your messaging strategy document.

Using the assets in this post and the previous one will help you create a document that forms a base for all your messaging.

Plus, it’s grounded in research and data.

So get out there and engage and convert your customers.

With messaging that makes them say, “Hey! They’re talking to me!”