#1 Rookie Mistake You Don't Want To Make In Your Messaging

Early in my career, I worked for a large consumer packaged goods company that was not known for innovation. To turn this around, I was a part of an innovation team that led the development of new platforms that would generate $200 million in sales.


One of the first initiatives we developed was a meal solutions platform that led to a complete meal in a box new product, which at the time was revolutionary; 5 minutes of prep, 25 minutes of oven cooking, and you were the hero, providing your family with a home-cooked meal. Research testing was through the roof. Consumers loved the many benefits of the product: convenience, a complete meal including bread, vegetables, and meat, easy preparation, and providing your family a home-cooked dinner. We were eager to launch this amazing new product into a number of test markets, rolling out an aggressive marketing campaign. Unfortunately, we broke the “too many messages rule,” requiring consumers to take in too much information when making their purchasing decisions in a matter of seconds.

From my learnings, here are a few strategies to ensure your brand messaging hits the mark with your audience.

Listen To The Article

Get To The Core Of It

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Understanding your unique selling proposition (USP) can make your brand stand head and shoulders above the crowd. A USP makes a strong first impression with your customers, making it easy for them to purchase your brand over your competitors. Your USP is all about answering, “Why should I choose you?” Keep in mind that your USP is the core personality of your brand. It is the reason why people will spend their hard-earned money on your brand. Check out my article on How To Stand Out From The Crowd With A USP.

Keep It Simple Stupid

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It all starts with the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle coined by the Navy back in the 60s. With any marketing message, your goal is to educate, entertain, and engage consumers. Consumers are busy, so much so that they spend less than 20 seconds making a purchase decision. If your message is complex, overly communicated, or even inconsistently communicated, you can guarantee it will be ignored. No matter how complex or technical your messaging is, there is incredible value in the simplicity of your message.

Kantar Millward Brown, a research agency, showed that the more messages you try to communicate in an ad, the lower the likelihood of communicating any single message. Too many messages can dilute communication as our brains can only really think about 3-4 things at once. The more messages an ad attempts to communicate, the lower the likelihood any single message will be communicated strongly. Source

Ruthlessly Cut

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When you start crafting your message, ask yourself this: “What is the essence of what I want to say?” Ruthlessly cut copy that is long-winded, repetitive, hard to understand, highly detailed, and uses filler words. Here is an example of ruthlessly cutting:

Bad Copy Example:

“It is my opinion that we should support the war.”

Okay Copy Example:

“I believe we should support the war.”

Better Copy Example:

“We should support the war.”

Best Copy Example:

“Support the war.”

Getting To The Heart

People buy emotionally, even if they don’t realize it, and then justify their decision rationally. In fact, 50% of brand experiences are based on emotions. Emotions influence a decision and urge people to act. That’s why it’s an effective marketing technique. Here are three reasons why getting to the heart of your consumers is so effective:

For steps on how to create a strong emotional connection with your brand, check out my article.

In the end, we adjusted our messaging for our new product. Our new product was a success selling over $125 million across four test markets, driving share for the category up 10%, and was the best new product per IRI allowing us to roll out nationally, earlier than expected. Remember: get to the core of your messaging, use the keep it simple stupid (KISS) principle, ruthlessly cut copy, and get to the heart of consumers by emotionally connecting with them. Start building your brand leadership today. You’ve got this!

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Weird Advice For Young Designers
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I recently worked on a pro bono project for a friend, and it reminded me of a time early in my career and how lucky I was then to get such great advice from the more seasoned pros around me. Advice that ultimately saved me from some major pitfalls. I made mistakes here and there over the course of nearly 20 years of projects, but with each hiccup came a lesson. Here are some takeaways from my lessons learned and all that sage advice.

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