We live in a noisy, information-overloaded world. Research suggests we are exposed to something like 3,500 advertising messages every day, much of which washes over us and is ignored (actually, the figure is 99 per cent according to The Guardian in the UK which conducted the experiment back in 2005).
Add to the fact our already-busy lives have been made even busier through hyper-connectivity. We listen as much to our friends and peers as we do traditional sources of media. We take in information from such a dizzying array of channels that if you stopped and thought about it for a moment, your head would spin.
And your goal is to get your message through this insane vortex of noise, for it to be heard and understood by your target audience. Do you like a challenge?
This post isn’t about how you go about cutting through the clutter per se –there are hundreds of marketing and PR textbooks devoted to that very subject and we’ve only got 600 or so words.
This post is dedicated to helping you understand why it’s important –no, critical –to get your brand story right, and then to tell it consistently across all channels.
Small business brands have minimal chances to tell their story so you may as well give it your best shot every single time. But first you need a focused story. Secondly, you need to communicate this same story again and again and again and again via the multitude of channels at your disposal, whether online or offline.
Think about it this way:
You have a big chunk of wood, and you have a nail, or nails. Think of these nails as opportunities to communicate your brand message.
Every time you tell your story correctly, you hit the same nail. Every time you go off on a tangent and communicate a different message, you hit a different nail.
THE IDEA IS TO MAKE SURE ONE NAIL AT LEAST GETS BANGED ALL THE WAY INTO THE WOOD.
You will only achieve this if you’re consistent and focused. If you’re communicating different messages all the time –i.e. hitting one nail here, another there –you will never ‘nail home’ your message!
In other words, it’s hard enough to cut through and get your story across, so why make it all the more difficult by communicating mixed messages? You need to give every opportunity your best shot.
Here’s a real-life example:
I was once conducting a messaging workshop for a small but successful consulting firm that had been in business for some eight years. The two partners were concerned they weren’t cutting through with their communications. We quickly discovered the partners didn’t know what their company’s story was, and that they’d been out in the marketplace communicating very different messages about what it was the firm was all about. No wonder the market was confused! Needless to say, we didn’t leave the room until both partners were on one page in terms of what their story was!
So, determine your brand story and back it up with a portfolio of messages and evidence-based ‘proof points’.
Make sure this story is accurately presented across as many channels as possible. We’re talking your website, tweet stream, Facebook page, and blog. Every time you get up and speak in a public forum, make sure whoever introduces you has the correct spiel.
Any editorial in industry journals or local newspapers is an opportunity to reinforce your brand story. Ditto any interview you do on a podcast, or how you introduce yourself at networking functions.
By the way, by ‘communicating the same message’ I’m not suggesting you robotically trot out the same overly-polished phrases time and time again like some rehearsed drone. Our politicians do that, and no-one listens to them. It means you need to be consistent with your story. It’s the spirit or essence of your messaging that’s important, not necessarily using the same words by rote.
I’m a pragmatic man. I understand this is harder to do than it sounds. But, like exercise, the more you consistently flex your brand story ‘muscles’, the better results you’re going to achieve.