Look, there’s nothing Earth-shattering in the idea that marketing for a company should be consistent. It’s kind of one of those “duh” statements. So why do so many companies — manufacturers in particular — seem to have such a hard time achieving it?
There are a couple of reasons why companies fail to get or keep their messaging house in order and there are a couple of (good) reasons why they need to make the effort.
As we discuss in our campaign about why your marketing isn’t generating leads, internal marketing departments are often simply overwhelmed by the needs of the day. From the moment they get in the door, to when they leave, they are responding to emails, trying to get websites updated, proofing and delivering printing, trade shows scheduled, brochures to distributors and so forth. It’s a death of a thousand tactical cuts that leaves almost no time for thinking, observing the big picture and strategizing.
Likewise, it can happen when some salesperson out in the field just needs a quick thing — a handout for a meeting, a “quick brochure” for a presentation, etc. — and the last thing he or she has time for is to stop and write some witty copy on point with the company’s current messaging campaign. Enough of this and suddenly you have thirty-three different brochures on sixteen topics. And zero retention of message by your customers.
Lastly, it seems manufacturers can get really, really excited about innovations. They’re breakthroughs in technology, smarter lightbulbs, and gosh-darnit, they need logos. The tendency to want to logo-ize every new idea, new gadget, new process creates a visual and cognitive mess for clients and customers.
So why should we take a moment to really plan our messaging and then adhere to it? Why does messaging consistency matter?
1. First, it’s not just logo usage, colors and fonts.
Your brand is more than how it looks. Your brand is how it feels, how your product will make your customers feel and the experience of doing business with you. That last, especially. Take the time to craft these with intention. Stop thinking in terms of features and benefits and instead think in emotions. Because at the end of the day, no matter how smart we are, we are still emotion-whipped creatures. If we weren’t, there would never be such a thing as a panic-selloff in the stock market.
2. Consistency in messaging and branding builds trust.
Frankly, it’s the difference between looking like an amateur and looking like a professional who takes his or her business seriously. You can have the best new widget the market has ever seen, but if you show up in a stained shirt and torn jeans, you’re going to have to work that much harder to convince someone to invest in your company. The same can be said of your marketing. If your messaging is intentional, on-point and relevant with an attention to details, people will expect that same attention to detail probably permeates all facets of your company.
3. Tied to point one, consistency in messaging also means consistency in what customers should think about your company.
It’s clarity. Not every message, every ad, every Facebook post needs to sound and look the same. You can have widely varying design styles, even — campaign looks — and yet have a consistency in messaging and thus marketing. Even if campaign A in the beginning of the year looks wildly different from campaign B running mid-year, as long as both are still pointing to the same emotional and strategic experience you are trying to create, they will feel like they come from the same source. So don’t let the fear of everything being boring and the same keep you from tackling this.
4. Finally, and most importantly, you need a consistent messaging strategy for one and only one reason — to be memorable.
The old rule of seven says someone needs to be told something seven times before they will remember it and take an action. I don’t know if that’s hogwash, but I suspect if it is, it’s because the number is even higher. So if you’re out there talking about your 12 most valuable traits and you talk about each one 3 or 4 times over a year you will still be nowhere near “memorable.” What a waste of money. Pick one thing at a time. Turn it into a metaphorical baseball bat. Step up to the plate. Again and again and again. Until you’ve made a believer out of them.
Being consistent in your marketing isn’t easy. It can feel hard to narrow down to that one thing people need to know about your company and then to stick to it. It takes time to always check back and make sure what you’re saying in every piece is pointing at the right target. And it can mean getting everyone from marketing to sales to customer service (and more) all on the same page. But it’s worth it. It’ll make your company intentional, trustworthy, and, most of all, memorable.