By Dr Thomas Brown | November 30 2016
The importance of consistent messaging across channels can't be overstated, giving prospects and stakeholders a clear picture of who you are and why you're relevant.
First impressions count for a lot. Journalist and author Chuck Palahniuk says it best:
"Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It's all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self portrait. Everything is a diary."
Everything you say leaves an impression in other people's minds. They build a mental picture of you based on the language you use, how fast you talk, the way you stand, the people you quote, how you choose to dress.
The same is true of your business. There's a reason your brand's tone and voice are so important. (Read what our Content Writer Victoria Lotay has to say about why you need to choose the right writing style for your business.)
But that's only half the picture. First impressions only go so far, and as Chuck so eloquently puts it, everything you do shows your hand, so you'd better believe your buyers are looking for a consistently positive experience when interacting with you.
Imagine you fall for someone on date one and they're a completely different person when you next meet. Confident to shy. Happy to sad. Cool, calm, and collected to a desperate mess. (We've all been there...)
In the corporate world, this is the equivalent of winning someone over with one article, only to turn them off with the next. Or to engage them through your marketing, only to lose them when a sales rep starts speaking a different language.
This is what we mean by brand consistency, and whether you're in the demand or lead generation game, it really highlights the importance of consistent messaging across your channels.
In this article I’ll explain how keeping your content consistent helps get your prospects to understand you and trust you well enough to stick around for the long-term.
If you've cracked your content marketing, your articles are going to be the first touchpoint for many of the visitors coming to your website.
The way those articles are written is going to inform your readers' impressions of your brand. They may not have heard of you before, and probably haven’t spoken to any of your employees or had direct experience of your product or service. So their first impressions come from your online presence — mainly from reading your content.
But those same readers are going to moving around your website. They'll be engaging with your video marketing, browsing your service pages, and downloading your offers.
Aligning your messaging across your content and website copy is therefore crucial for helping your prospects to understand you and your offerings, building trust, appearing credible, and helping your prospects to remember and recall you.
Learn how to build an effective content strategy in 40 steps.
Most of your first-time visitors won’t know anything about you beyond your industry or location. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to work out who you are, what you do, and how you're different from your competitors.
That can be achieved partly through the way your position yourselves and your products, and partly through the clarity of the information you present. (Read more about the importance of having a unique value proposition.)
But an equally big component is around not contradicting yourself. Unless they're subject matter experts, people can be easily confused. If you describe yourself variously as foresters, arborists, woodland managers, and loggers all in the same article, they may well wonder which it is and what exactly you offer/do.
NOTE: Bear in mind that people tend to skim through web content and articles. They rarely read every single word but look for the information that is relevant to them. In other words, they won’t even read everything you say, so the bits they do read on your blog had better match up to the bits they read on your website.
No one ever willingly bought something from someone they didn’t trust — unless they really didn’t have a choice. But your customers do have a choice — that’s why inbound marketing is so effective in the first place. (What is inbound marketing?)
Hopefully you're working hard to build trust by showcasing your satisfied clients, making your website smart and contemporary, and through providing valuable, standout content that establishes your credibility.
But all of that good work can be undone if what you say isn't uniform. If your messages are all over the shop, or you outright contradict yourself, the impression you give is that you aren't professional. And if you’re not professional, why would someone trust you?
Trust can also be built by using a consistent voice in all your content. Your prospects will start to identify with you more quickly if the tone of all your communications is consistent.
Are your articles chatty or strictly professional? Do you use humour or play it straight? Do you reference popular culture or draw on the credibility of well-established experts? Having a consistent tone of voice will in turn help make your messages consistent, which will help make your content recognisable regardless of which medium you are using.
Remember, the more you build trust, the more likely your prospects will buy into your products and services, and the more likely they are to become a customer.
Hear something repeated often enough and you will start to associate those words with whoever spoke them — that’s why slogans exist. But the same principles also apply to your key messages. Keep them limited, keep them simple, and keep saying them.
Want to increase customer satisfaction? Repeat positive language and imagery that helps your prospects to feel better about themselves before they've even bought from you.
All of us are already surrounded by information overload, and anything you can do to minimise the clutter in your communications will make them more effective.
People want to buy from brands that they know. But it's hard for people to feel like they are getting to know your company unless you're a ‘steady Eddie’ in your messaging. How well do you really know yourself and your brand story?
We're getting underneath the messaging here, looking at the positioning at the core of your business. There's a reason we dig into this extensively across our strategy phase when working with a new client for the first time. If your messaging is inconsistent, it could be a symptom that you haven't clearly identified who you are as a business — or communicated this clearly across all your company's levels and functions. (As an example, read more about diagnosing the rivalry between sales and marketing.)
If, as Chuck says, everything you do shows your hand, doesn't t make sense for everyone to be singing from the same hymn sheet?
Putting together a communications strategy for your business is the easiest way to define brand consistency. Download it now.
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Head of Content at BabelQuest responsible for steering and implementing the content roadmap. PhD Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and novelist with Sparkling Books.
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