What exactly is a message strategy and why do technology companies need one?

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere”.

Lee Iacocca, author of those words, famously worked in the automotive industry, but his wisdom applies just as well to today’s technology sector.

Technology – brilliant ideas, lost in translation?

Technology companies have brilliant ideas, products that are truly smart, innovative and with the power to change business and lives. Yet many struggle to communicate in anything other than their comfort zone of ‘bits and bytes’, ‘speeds and feeds’. They’re not using communication effectively to explain the impact of their solutions and are missing out on opportunity.

There are, of course, some exceptions, like the brilliant, and oh so simple: ‘Imagine carrying your entire music collection in your pocket’ with which Steve Jobs launched the iPod. Nothing about technology, everything about how it would transform listening to music.

So as a technology company, how do you ensure that you are communicating like Steve Jobs, and not as a ‘speeds and feeds’ merchant?

A strategic approach to your message

The answer is to have a message strategy. A clear and customer-focussed message doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result, like many things that look simple, of planning and strategic thinking.

Developing a message strategy is the process of applying a strategic planning approach to what you are going to communicate.

A message strategy plans and documents what you want to say about your company, your clients, your products and your ‘raison d’être’. It ensures that you have thought about your message from all angles. It ensures that your communication is consistent – consistent over time, across all formats, and from all who deliver it. A message strategy ensures that your communication:

  • Is aimed at the right people
  • Shows that you understand their aspirations or their problems
  • ‘Talks the language’ of your audience
  • Communicates the why as well as the what
  • Sets you apart
  • Explains the benefits, how your technology will change the business, or lives, of those who use it

Five reasons to have a message strategy

What do technology companies stand to gain from having a message strategy?

1. Increased sales opportunity

There are seven parts to a great message – but if you are communicating only some of them, you risk missing out on opportunity. Your message may not resonate as strongly, might be missed by some of your target audience, or might not be fully understood. Most technology companies, for example, are good at communicating about their product, but if they don’t clearly explain the benefits, or if they are not speaking the language of their target audience, they risk ‘preaching to the converted’ and only communicating with those who already know about them.

By making sure that their message is based on all seven elements, they can potentially open up new opportunity that might otherwise have been missed.

2. Reduced risk of wasting budget

Without a strategy behind it, communication can be random and disorganised. Not only does a scattergun approach undermine the very message that you are trying to communicate, it risks wasting valuable marketing dollars. Money spent on message content that is not part of an overall plan is not going to generate a return on your investment. Content that is part of a strategic and well thought out message plan will reap higher rewards.

3. Getting the best from your team

A message can also be undermined by the organisation’s own staff. If your team doesn’t understand the company message, they simply deliver their own version, again risking a scattergun approach and confusion amongst your audience. A message strategy will ensure that your team are all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ and delivering a consistent message.

It’s also a big plus in terms of motivation – one of the key things that employees want is to understand their company’s strategic direction – a message strategy helps you tell a strong story to your team.

4. Trust and confidence

Technology is developing at an ever increasing pace, and tech providers are often in the position of having to educate their market and build trust in new technologies. Communication that is clear and understandable is proven to increase trust and confidence. Clear communication very rarely ‘just happens’. Like Steve Jobs’ ‘Imagine having your music in your pocket’ speech, it is the result of thoughtful planning.

5. Attracting investment

Nobody buys something they don’t understand. Similarly, investors are not going to put their money into something they don’t understand, or that is not well communicated to the market. A clear message strategy helps to position an organisation not only to prospective clients, but also to potential investors.

 

As message strategy, like any other strategic plan, lays the foundations for future action. It clearly states a company’s message, from all angles, maximising the chance of connecting with its audience and opening up opportunity. It ensures that their communications aren’t random, or scattergun, but that every piece of content is clear, customer-focussed and consistent. And that means more understanding and more business.