Get to the Heart of Emotionally Compelling Messaging in Three Steps

February 03, 2021

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a look at how to write messaging that resonates with the loves of your (work) life, the apple of your eye and the star of the show: your target demographic. Often repeated in the world of marketing, the advice to, “Write for your audience,” is one that remains ingrained in the back of our minds and placed at the forefront of our strategies. This advice, of course, requires you to know who your audience is. One way to “get to know your audience” is by looking at the facts, including statistical data, industry reports, competitors and previous campaign analytics. While it’s a practical place to start, this research lacks a key element in crafting powerful, relatable messaging—the audience’s perspective. Here are three tips to obtain and optimize that information to better connect with the heartbeat of your organization. 

Make the First Move: Have a Conversation with Your Audience

In many ways, sales and courtship aren’t that different. There’s the initial stages in which you are introduced to one another through a friend (recommendation) or perhaps your eyes meet across a room (advertisement). In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for one of the next stages to include some digital form of communication, such as texting, connecting on social media or, in rare cases, talking on the phone. Marketing tends to follow suit: customers are reached via SMS-texting (if the option is available and they opt-in), social media and emails, too. Despite conscious efforts to say the “right thing” at this stage, if interests run dry the relationship will likely fizzle out. That’s why you’ve got to get to know one another. 

The problem with messaging in the case of branding is that the conversation tends to be one-sided… if you’re not communicating messages that are of interest to them, you’re talking “at them” and nobody wants that. Before creating a new brand strategy or even a campaign, it’s always helpful to take the temperature of the relationship between your audience and brand. Multiple-choice surveys with a comment box can fall short, because you’re, once again, left to do the guesswork at how the individual may be feeling. Hopping on a 15-minute call, however, can reveal so much! 

At Orange Label, we call this the “View From the Field,” in which we set up phone interviews with a sample of a brand’s audiences. These audiences can include current brand advocates, prospects, board members, KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), influencers, etc. In these calls, we ask a series of questions to discover, first-hand, the benefits and feelings associated with the product/service or brand/organization. The key to these questions is to ensure they’re open-ended. Shy away from asking yes or no questions, because they lack sustenance. Having these conversations via phone or video, when possible, will help you get the best, most candid responses. The goal here is not to get something that’s perfectly articulated and overly structured. The goal is to get something that’s real.

Listen to Them Talk About Their Feelings: Sit with Their Feedback 

When you’re involved in a brand as a writer, marketer, owner or team member, you can often get caught up in finding the “perfect” words to portray your message. You sift through alphabet soup, find your soulmate in the strewn-together letters and, sometimes, marry them. The risk of being committed, attached or “married to,” your branding or writing is that you’re unable to rationally see when the words may not be right. Instead, you’re fixated on how fantastic they seem

The end-all-be-all judge of what actually works is your target audience. They will be able to tell you, in their own words, what about your brand is working for them and what’s not. As poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau so wonderfully put it, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” Your customers will be able to tell you their favorite and least favorite elements, simply. Their answers will present you with ideas on not only how to make your brand messaging and offerings even better, but the verbiage that you can use, as well. 

The importance of carefully combing through interviewee feedback is to find “news nuggets,” or tidbits of information that directly appeal to your audience. During each 15-minute phone interview at Orange Label, we place all feedback into an organized, formulaic grid. Once all calls have concluded, we compare notes and build a word-map of commonly used words and phrases from the interviews. In conducting research for our client, Austin-based plastic surgeon and DIEP flap specialist, Dr. Elisabeth Potter, one of the missing pieces amidst the rave reviews was having a peer-to-peer connection along the breast cancer journey. Patients were looking to seek the expertise of not just the doctor, but someone who had already undergone the reconstruction process. Solidifying education as one of the organization’s brand pillars, we were able to use this valuable input to create a Facebook Group for individuals to connect along their journey, and incorporate messaging to pair with it. 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Build Your Message on Common Ground

One of the questions we ask in our interviews is: what media do you use for insights, information and entertainment? This informs us of where our audience “hangs out” and how to best reach them. Balancing marketing expertise with customer feedback, we are able to decipher which media vehicles reach the target audience the most efficiently and effectively. For example, one of our healthcare client’s Facebook page is geared toward their patient audience, which is where that demographic spends the majority of their social media time, while their LinkedIn and Instagram content speaks directly to healthcare providers. 

Equipped with the information from audiences, we can strengthen the brand messaging that appears on each of these platforms by 1) addressing the audiences directly and 2) by incorporating storytelling elements, because, as the adage goes, “facts tell, stories sell.” Instead of saying, “This procedure is minimally invasive and can be completed in under an hour,” we can say, “An hour may change everything for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).” Incorporating the facts with storytelling elements and emotional messaging makes the content more relatable. Thus, helping them align with your brand. Depending upon your customers’ feedback, emotional drivers can include: fear of missing out, feeling hopeful, addressing deterrents that prevent individuals from committing to a purchase (money, time, fear) and emphasizing the elements that led others to become loyal brand advocates.

How can you incorporate emotional messaging into your creative copywriting? If you’re at a loss on how to approach getting feedback from your target audiences or you’re in need of a content marketing strategy for the new year, we would love to help! Contact us today:

Written By: Michelle Komala

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