Think of some marketing projects you genuinely love. Commercials. Print ads. Full-fledged campaigns. Great marketing takes many forms, but there’s one feature they all share: a message that inspires. At its best, marketing takes a simple idea that resonates and delivers it to an audience through thoughtful creative. That’s the essence of message-first marketing: finding a single idea that strikes a chord with your audience—and building all creative assets around it.
Find a smart message and market it to the world. Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s one small catch: the message is hard to track down. It demands a strong understanding of your audience—and the types of creative that resonate with them. It also should be unique enough to stand apart from the creative your competitors are using to flood billboards, inboxes and radio waves.
Ready to find your message and start creating more consistent, impactful creative? You’re in the right place! To help get you started, here’s a simple guide to message-first marketing from us, your friends at Upswing Creative.
Step 1: Critique Your Market
If you’re going to craft a masterful piece of creative to inspire your audience, it’s best to start by looking at what’s working in your industry. Run through the results of your most recent marketing efforts. Which executions made a strong connection—and which completely flopped? Self-reflection is smart for a few reasons, but the main thing we’re looking for here is data on which messages and channels click with your audience.
From there, take a look at some of your competitors’ campaigns. Is it all snore-worthy, or are there some interesting ideas? A touch of competitive analysis can help kick your creative muscles into motion—and ensure the message you create stands out relative to the market.
Step 2: Ideate Your Message
With any luck, your brain will be swimming in creative concepts by now. (If not, that’s OK; you’ll ramp up over time.) It’s time to develop your message—the single idea that encapsulates your next marketing push.
This message doesn’t have to be brilliant, but it should be easy to understand and resonate with your audience. Most importantly, don’t constrain yourself to a single message at this step—let the creative juices flow for now (and rip your list to shreds later).
The key to message ideation is putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. What do they rely on your brand for? Security? Efficiency? Business impact? And what’s the emotional through line behind those deliverables? If you can tap into those concepts through your creative, it’s much more likely to generate results.
Step 3: Distill & Test
Now, it’s time to start distilling. Look for overlap between your creative ideas to cull and combine concepts. If an idea takes more than one sentence to explain (run-ons count as two), then go back and simplify it. Once you have one to three messages you love, run them through this checklist:
- Is it inspiring?
- Is it honest?
- Does it align with your brand’s values and mission?
- Is it unique from what your competitors are saying?
- Does it provide value to your audience?
If your messages pass all of these tests, you’re sitting pretty. Now it’s time to glean some first impressions and feedback.
Run these ideas – along with some supporting imagery – by members of your team and target audience. Do they understand it intuitively? Does it excite them? Request and gather as much feedback as possible from trusted sources to find the idea that works best. Even a single, small focus group can unlock new insights to guide your final decision.
Step 4: Finalize & Produce Your Creative!
Congrats! You’ve just crafted your message—the foundational activity for your message-first marketing campaign. From here, you’ll need to define a few creative ways to execute that idea. Keep the preferred platforms of your audience in mind to ensure that you get the most impact possible from your marketing dollars.
Once you have a list of creative executions that complement your message and your budget, it’s time to start producing! Coordinate with your marketing team to start assigning duties—or get in touch with us for help! Upswing specializes in strategic messaging, commercial video production and everything else you need to bring your message to life.
Craft Your Message with Upswing
Want to learn more about how you can leverage message-first marketing to set your brand apart from competitors and engage your audience? Then be sure to contact Upswing Creative today. We’d love to hear your story and connect you with more resources to inspire your creative marketing efforts.