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We Don't Just Make this Stuff Up

Having a strong message that resonates with your target audience can make all the difference between success and failure. But how do you figure out what messaging will work best with your target audience? And how do you make sure it accurately represents your client’s experience? (Hint: If it doesn’t, you could be in big trouble!)


Research should be the foundation for your brand platform, which includes your messaging. And messaging extends past the words you use. Tone of voice, visual and audio cues, and your actions all are part of your messaging. Consider this scenario: You run a digital ad with an effective message and inspiring graphics. The viewer clicks on your ad with the intent of getting a free sample of your new product. Unfortunately, the click leads to your website’s home page instead of a custom landing page where they can easily request the free item. Your visitor went from interpreting the message as, “they have a great new product that’s perfect for me,” to, “they might have a great new product, but I’m confused and don’t want to waste time searching for it; it must be a bait and switch.”

So how do you develop messaging that is effective across your audiences? Start with research.

  • While one-to-one messaging is ideal, that is not always practical based on the available data, so consider audience personas. You are still having a relevant conversation. Remember messages may differ by product line or service offered. Ideally, you want your message as narrowly targeted as feasible based on the data you have, your timeline, and your budget.

  • Talk to your existing customers, past customers, team members, your leadership and other close stakeholder groups. This might be in the form of a survey or a focus group/engagement session. What do they like about your products/services and how you do business? What causes them headaches? What trends do you hear as you listen to them? Watch for differences by persona.

  • Read online reviews about your company and products/services. Can you identify patterns that might help refine your messaging or make improvements? (You should stay on top of these reviews as they come up and respond, as needed!)

  • Engage relevant influencers and ask for their input/feedback.

  • Consider cultural differences. What resonates for one audience may fall flat – or even offend – another. This is especially true if you are operating globally.


Once you have some themes and messaging options developed, test them by audience.

This will help make sure you are on target. Review the data, continue to listen to your audiences, and refine your messaging.

Don’t assume once your messaging is tested that you are done. You will likely need to refresh your messaging periodically as your products and services shift, technology changes, and audience preferences shift. Think about doing new messaging research about every 2 years, with customer satisfaction surveys more frequently. If you need assistance developing new messaging or revitalizing your existing messaging, give us a call!

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