There’s a reason why writing effective marketing messages is so hard. Within the span of a couple short sentences your key messages have to summarize the entire essence of what your brand provides.

In our normal lives, we never communicate with that level of precision.

Ask entrepreneurs to speak about the value their business provides and you can expect at least a 2-5 minute monologue. At an average speaking rate of 150 words per minute, you’ll have listened to 300-750 words to sum up the brand’s value proposition.

But when someone reads your ad or lands on your homepage they might give you 5 seconds of attention before they move on. This is right around the time it takes for someone to read 20 words

That’s quite a gap between how we normally think and speak and how we market via copywriting.

Being a succinct storyteller is a fantastic skill to have in life, but it’s not necessary to survive. In the business world however, your ability to tell a short, compelling story may in fact determine your brand’s survival.

Are you able to distill down the most important aspects of your brand into quick, digestible statements? 

With so much to say and so little room to do it, crafting the right message can feel like packing a car for a long road trip…or after stocking up at the grocery store. Space is at a premium and every inch counts.

Because of that it’s helpful to have some rules of thumb to check your messages as you write. These are the checks and balances to make sure the messages you craft will have the best chance to succeed. 

Here are 5 questions that you can use to audit your copy and see how well you’ve packed your messages.


1. Does the message strike an emotional chord?

Key Message Theme: Immediate

Why This Is Critical:

When someone discovers your brand, their decision to stay or go happens on an emotional level first. Your messages need to appeal to that aspect of your customer’s thought process to improve the odds of them sticking around.

Ways To Do This:

What To Avoid:

  • Basic descriptions of the product or features
  • Technical jargon or industry terminology
  • Leaning into long, wordy messages


2. Can your customer identify a clear point of difference within the offer?

Key Message Theme: Unique 

Why This Is Critical:

Our natural instinct when we encounter something new is to try and classify it in comparison to things we’re already familiar with in our life. But if your offer sounds just like all the other offers your customer is consuming, it’ll be hard for them to justify spending energy engaging with you. 

Ways To Do This:

What To Avoid:

  • Broad descriptions
  • Generic descriptors like “the best xyz…”
  • Using messages that are too short to have meaning


3. Is it easy for customers to imagine how the offer fits in their lives?

Key Message Theme: Obvious

Why This Is Critical:

It’s easier to imagine adopting something new when it’s clear what role it would have in our life. Your job as the marketer is to make sure there’s an obvious slot for this new offer in your customer’s life to simplify the thought of adopting it.

Ways To Do This:

  • Reference a category of offers that customers already know well
  • Speak to the time and place when the offer would be used
  • Convey that integrating this offer would be pain-free

What To Avoid:

  • Explaining a new category type without familiar touchpoints 
  • Digging into complex dependencies
  • Being vague about the benefits it provides


4. Could someone remember and repeat the message back a day later?

Key Message Theme: Memorable

Why This Is Critical:

Even if you can grab someone’s attention and make a relevant connection, if the message is hard to remember it’s probably a sign that it’s either too generic or too complex. Your customer doesn’t have to remember every word, but they need to remember the idea and sentiment behind it.

Ways To Do This:

What To Avoid:


5. Could a customer turn around and sell the offer to someone else after reading the message?

Key Message Theme: Clear

Why This Is Critical:

Marketing messages aren’t just for the reader, they also serve as a tool to make that person an evangelist. One of the best tests of the effectiveness of your message is that someone can read it and then use the message to sell another person on your behalf. 

If your offer is B2C, you want customers selling their friends and family. If it’s B2B, you may need someone to sell their team or leadership. Either way, in order to grow you need to make it easy for customers to spread your message. 

Ways To Do This:

  • Write messages that naturally lend themselves to being spoken 
  • Create a clear story around life before and after your offer
  • Make sure the message feels like a complete offer

What To Avoid:

  • Dependence on multi-step descriptions
  • Requiring extensive subject matter expertise
  • Making the customer feel overly inadequate if they identify with the problem


Refine, Iterate, And Balance Your Key Messages

Your message will always be evolving. As your offerings mature and as you get feedback from your customers, your messages will continue to improve and become more effective. It’s critical to review and iterate on your messaging frequently to ensure it’s aligned with both internal and external factors.

It’s also important to keep in mind that good messaging strikes a balance. 

Your message needs to be evocative but still highlight concrete value. It should be easy to see how your offer relates to your customer’s life yet still show how it’s different.

In other words, you need to find the right balance to make your messages:

  1. Immediate
  2. Unique
  3. Obvious
  4. Memorable
  5. Clear

If you take these guidelines into account as you craft your marketing messages, you’ll make stronger connections with your customers and make better use of your marketing budget.

Get Help Crafting More Effective Messaging

If you’re ready to build stronger connections with your customers, reach out for a free consultation. We’ll help you craft your brand’s positioning and messaging and translate that into your website and other marketing materials.