It’s not your message. It’s your language

Tap onto this three minute read to better set your expectations from your messaging process. Got Just a minute? Skip right to the 9+1 messaging check list. Founders? Don't miss out on the messaging myth at the bottom.


Many CEOs, fast-growing companies, and especially founding teams have the task of “building their message.” Building your brand and message is one of the most inspiring, dynamic, and uplifting tasks that have great impact on the company’s business outcomes. However, there are a few challenges with this task that may lead to a process that will unnecessarily go on for months and cost way more than initially expected, without providing the outcomes your company needs.

The message building challenge

The challenge of this message-building task is a mismatch in expectations from the various messaging processes, their outcomes, and what they will enable the company to achieve. Many companies approach the process thinking their digital and physical assets are just a few weeks away from a total makeover and that leads are going land on their pages within days after. These expectations are possible, yet they require commitment and a systematic approach.

Messaging is one of my favorite and most successful processes, but it does require some nudging. It’s crucial to understand the client’s expectations and map the outcomes of what they expect the messaging to serve: the egoless CMO won’t  shop for an agency or launch the messaging process themselves until the expected outcome is clear.

So I need to draw the information out of the client: What do you need this messaging for? Is it for a tagline? For marketing messages for your personas? Where will this process put your business and how will it help you reach your KPIs? And what exactly is the expected outcome? Are you using your messaging to motivate your personas to buy? Are you looking for a single sentence that will wham-bam-thank-you-maam – get the stars in the universe aligned and push your customers instantly down the funnel? (If that’s your goal, think again.Hint: There is no such thing. Have you ever encountered five words that made you move from not caring to opening up your wallet?)

So now we know there is no one sentence which serves as the holy grail –   the message,. Instead, we are building a language. A language that is uniquely identified with your company.

Need another reinforcement to the fact that messaging is a language rather than a message? As marketers we are here to optimize our marketing and sales funnels. We are here to serve customer journeys and build inertia for the newly introduced flywheel Hubspot is now preaching for. These are all processes. They are all stages a customer goes through during their decision process – and every step has a different persuasion tactic that works together under the main message. Meaning, we have a conceptual language – i.e message and a whole world of words and phrases that evolve around it. When a word of phrase of this language is used accurately a message is conveyed and motivates our party to act.  

Your 9+1 messaging check list 

To live up to the above challenges as I see it, a messaging process needs to deliver the following outcomes in no longer than four weeks and in no more than 15 hours of the management teams’ time:

  1. A clear company vision – why you and your team are “doing this” and why this is important to the world
  2. A mission statement – what you do day-in and day-out to help your audience/personas/users/customers
  3. A set of values that reflect the vision and mission and that align with your audience’s business or personal goals and objectives
  4. A bucket of phrases and sentences that reflect the process your audience goes through, the experience you give them, and the outcome of your existence
  5. A sentence and a paragraph that connect what you do and why you do it
  6. Copy for at least two of your web pages – your homepage and your about page
  7. Copy for the info area of your three leading social media assets
  8. A content marketing strategy and overall plan to serve your leading customer journey touchpoints (or marketing funnel stages)
  9. A few lead generation campaign ideas to test (if you’re lucky)
  10. Your tagline

What about taglines?

The +1 outcome is your tagline. Funny enough it’s what everyone expects to be the first outcome of their messaging process.

You will often come up with alternative taglines towards the end of the messaging process. However, If you don’t, in the big scheme of things, they are less important at first than you may tend to believe. If you possess the full list above. Remember, it’s a process You will probably uncover your tagline in the following month, and you will most probably have a few alternatives. Test them. However, remember. just like anything in the messaging process, test the outcomes of the content and the visuals that are created on your audience – NOT the opinions of your friends, family, and board members (unless they are part audience or seasoned marketers in your field).

So whatever process you choose, be it with your internal marketing whiz, an agency, or other, make sure to clarify what outcomes you expect. Use the list above and make sure it is the outcome you get. And, make sure you understand what the next step should be – marketing wise –  just like you would do for any journey. Most importantly, make sure that whatever process you commit to is systematic, has a short timeline, and contains a list of outcomes that will serve your business and KPIs.


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