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. Think about how that first meal out/walk in the park/night in the bar set the tone for the rest of the relationship, never mind influencing whether or not they called you back or slipped quietly away the next morning.
Everything we say creates an impression in other people's minds. They build a mental picture of us based on the language we use, how fast we talk, our body language, and so on. If you're lucky, they'll fall head over heels. Cue wedding bells.
But that's only half the picture. 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...) This is the importance of consistent messaging across channels when implementing an inbound marketing strategy.
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.
In the world of inbound marketing, your content is your brand for prospects and new customers. People who’ve yet to do business with you form their perceptions about your company through reading your articles, engaging with your video marketing, browsing your website, and downloading your offers.
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.
Getting your content right is crucial, and a big part of that is keeping your messaging consistent. I’ll talk you through the benefits in turn.
Ready to learn how to build an effective content strategy in 40 steps? Let's go.
My analogy stumbles a little here. Nowadays, your first date might feel like they know all about you, thanks to Tinder/Facebook/your social media platform of choice.
The same can't really be said of visitors to your website. Most of your prospects won’t know anything 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 are different from others.
That can be achieved partly through the way your position yourselves and your products, and partly through the clarity of the information you present.
But an equally big component is this — don’t contradict yourself. People tend to be easily confused unless they are subject matter experts. They won’t be sure what you do if you describe yourself as foresters, arborists, woodland managers and loggers all in the same blog post.
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.
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 encourage 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. This is the power behind your brand story. But it's hard for people to feel like they are getting to know your company unless you are a ‘steady Eddie’ in your messaging. How well do you really know yourself?
We're getting underneath the messaging here, looking at the unique value proposition at the core of your business. These are what you use to inform your messaging. If your messaging is inconsistent, it could be we a symptom that you haven't clearly identified who you are — or communicated this clearly across all levels of the business.
The easiest way to maintain consistency is to put together tone of voice guidelines that outline how your business or offering is different from others, what attributes you want to associate with your brand, and what the key messages should be for each of your buyer personas.
Putting together a communications strategy for your business is the easiest way to define brand consistency. Download it now.
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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