Are you watching The Crown, a biographical series on Netflix about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom? Wrapped within this historical story, there is a marketing lesson to be learned.
Even the most steadfast, traditional “brands”, such as the British Royal family, need constantly to review their messaging – without being blinded by preconceived internal and external beliefs – and to understand how their messaging is being perceived and viewed by the end users, in this case the population of Great Britain.
What is your narrative, and how can you develop a controlled, realistic, effective narrative? Should you even have a narrative?
In developing and interpreting their narrative, “the management team” (Royal and governmental) failed to recognise that the narrative was in need of change and even if those in power knew a change was needed, few within the inner circle would accept that change.
In the end, the change did occur, though it was not a controlled, manageable change but rather a disastrous public confrontation that occurred due to unexpected circumstances—the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The first question you need to ask yourself is: What is your message—not only what is your external messaging but what is your internal messaging and how is your messaging being perceived internally?
Ask your sales team to analyze their messaging and to explain how their sales message relates to the overall corporate messaging. You may be surprised to discover the answer. My experience indicates that about 80% of your sales team has revised your messaging to make it fit their level of comfort in conveying the message (creating a type of personal imprimatur, if you like) while the 20% of your sales team who are likely the most productive are more closely following your corporate messaging.
If you have sales partners, retailers, distributors, and other external outlets, determine how, why, and what they have done to your corporate messaging. Again I think you will be surprised to find out how different your messaging is in the field. For an analogy, think of the kids’ game Telephone, or Chinese Whispers.
Be advised: I am not talking about branding nor your visual icon or “look.” I am talking about your message face to the public, your narrative, your script, your deep corporate soul statement.
Do a self-analysis. Do you understand your own message? Is your story comprehensible? Does your narrative prepare the reader/viewer/listener for the desired end result? Look back to the first article in this series, “Designing your story based on media and message”, and determine if your story comes across as real or is perceived as a fact-based novel that is being read as a work of fiction. You can see the problem.
Are the various views of your message consistent? If not (as in most cases), determine where they are different and how that difference is hurting/hindering your story.
Once you have determined the real-world execution of your messaging (yes, execution in many ways is the correct word), determine what steps you can, will, or must undertake in order to correct any incorrect flow of words or to revamp the story to match your corporate desires and directives. This may be the easy part. Make sure you also take into consideration that the media selected to deliver your messages plays an important role in the message presentation and believability and, in the end, impacts the believably of your brand, enterprise, or corporation.
When you construct messaging, do you see the words you use as direct statements or also as visual, graphic images or icons that relate not only word-based meaning (denotation) but also relay visual imagery (connotation) to add additional value to your wordsmithing?
Need a few examples? For instance, which would you select: sales call, or a profit-based opportunity? Seating plan or office assignment? Start a talk or begin a discussion? Leeching a source or sharing information? The selection and use of the correct words or phrases, visual or not, will positively or negatively impact your messaging.
Using visual wording is a complex and difficult task, since readers/viewers/listeners interpret words in different ways. In fact, many skeptics argue that visual words are make-believe, non-words, words that cannot be defined. Is BOGO now a new icon word that best describes an offer? Maybe. But we now live and purchase in a visual world.
Remember messaging that is incorrect, misstated or untrue has a very serious impact – at least, a reduction in sales; at worst, a loss of profitability
For example, emojis are the first stage in visual wording. These icons allow us to relate quick and simple messaging to fit our needs. But can a tool like emojis work for every corporate enterprise or for every purpose? I think not. For example, I don’t think a smiley face with a halo is going to convince most customers that you have a good product or service to offer.
But words are visions, and visions are becoming more and more important to you to sell your product. So, to help deploy your message, you might want/need to add a few appropriate or clever icons, symbolic terms that are supportive of your message and cannot be miss interpreted.
This link, from Emojipedia, explains how different platforms use emojis instead of words. There are 14 emoji’s that can be used instead of the word happy. There are more than 50 emojis to express confusion. Many are seasonal or event sensitive.
Words can be incorrectly used as well. Think, write and think again – but make sure your message is clear!
Next communiqué: Have you storyboarded your message?
Editor's note: Read the first section here.