You have an idea. Vetted it with friends, mentors. You set up an LLC, started building/designing/selling. You have a website and even managed to raise money. People are starting to show interest and give you valuable feedback. You may have hired or partnered with a few new rockstars and together, you are ready to take this business to the next level. In order to truly grow though, you need strategic partnerships, financial investments and a general go-to-market strategy. Every goal you set means a different person to speak with. You may understand your ideal customer but do you use consistent language is speaking about him/er. Does the rest of your team do the same? How do you describe your product in an investment meeting. Are you certain that each team member answers the questions they receive consistently?
Man... this is likely starting to get a bit overwhelming. Enter: Key Messages.
Starting a company or leading a company is no small job. It requires thoughtfulness and intentional choices. It means ensuring that every person, in every setting, at every time, uses the same consistent, strong, and accurate language to describe the product and speak to the audience.
Key Messages - Your Communication Bible
Next week, I will be explaining more about a stakeholder analysis and what it entails but once you have truly stepped into the shoes of all possible audience members (your market, decision makers, investors, competition, etc), you must build the communication bible. If you are launching a new product/company, your key messages will be slightly different than if you are a large organization undergoing a change. In either case, the key components to consider are:
- General note about the industry
- Your solution
- Potential barrier to change/adoption
- Stakeholder specific communication (language addressing the concerns of the top 3 or 4 major stakeholder groups)
- Next steps / more information
Process to Build
Complicated and some what tedious, the process of developing key messages can be challenging. As they say, the devil is in the details. When I partner with clients to build their key messaging, I spend a lot of time asking questions. And often, these questions uncover inconsistencies or blind spots. If you are building a start up or managing a major change, you are pivoting constantly. Inconsistencies thrive during chaos. The process of building key messages however, quiets that down. ALWAYS.
- Ask questions - loads of question
- Identify and solve for inconsistencies
- Build a word choice bank (customer/consumer, investor/partner, healthcare/health care)
- Deliver a document crafted with precision
Why do I call it the communication bible? Because, we can all agree that a bible serves as the bedrock for its' religion - whatever that religion may be. Once you have the language (which each leader in the company has access to) you can raise money, build a website, meet with customers, strategize with partners, build an FAQ, write thought leadership pieces, establish a social media presence, build your pitch deck... You can do it all with ease because the hard work was done. You know how to speak about the company you are building - and you know how the message changes slightly depending on the audience. You are prepared.
Now go out there and partner, sell and grow ... just don't forget to bring your bible.