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Stay alert? More like sack the marketing team…

The Government’s latest ‘Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.’ message was unveiled just a few short weeks ago and although plastered across social media and official communications, we’re still scratching our heads trying to work out what it means.

Since we’re not in a zombie apocalypse (…yet), and Coronavirus is an invisible infliction, many have questioned, and criticised, the sentiment of the Government’s latest slogan.

Left confused, people were unsure as to what they could and could not do under the new lockdown rules. With misinterpretation running rife, members of the public were unknowingly breaking the rules until clarification was given in the following days.

But can you blame them?

The consequences of an unclear message

As we all settled on down to watch the PM’s speech, a collective chorus of ‘eh?’s’ and ‘you what?’s’ were heard across the country as he deployed his new strapline to the masses.

The consequence of which was ridicule and confusion.

Which brings us to the importance of a good, clear message.

No matter who you are and what you run, plainly and directly telling your audience what you want them to hear is much more effective than a vague strapline.

While your business might not have the same impact as a government during a global pandemic, unclear messaging will still confuse customers and taint your reputation. In turn, making them less likely to choose you over your competitors.

For example, back in October last year, Innocent let their cheeky personality get the better of them with their “Conker Milk” campaign.

The smoothie seller tried to promote their new vegan milk range with tongue in cheek ads suggesting conker milk was the next vegan trend. However, their efforts backfired as members of the public genuinely believed conker milk was real. The creativity was there, it was just a little too confusing to be considered an effective campaign.

Public rage was heightened when they discovered that conker milk was not only fake but also poisonous, so Innocent had to backtrack and apologise.

But even their apology was confusing…

Don't do a Boris

Innocent Smoothies’ confusing response to the backlash

And much like the Government’s ‘Stay Alert’ message, Innocent fell short as they beat around the bush just a little too much.

The best way to avoid a PR nightmare and keep customers onside? Be clear and understandable at all times.

Oh, and avoid written sarcasm.

The Key to a Clear Message

So, how do you make sure your message is clear?

Does what it says on the tin

Tell your customers exactly what you want to tell them. Don’t be vague and don’t try too hard to be funny. There’s a clear line between fun and confusing, and it’s important you don’t cross it.

Take a walk in their shoes

When you’re developing your messaging, make sure you always have your target audience in mind. Don’t stuff your messaging with jargon they won’t understand, find their pain points and frame your messaging around them.

Think about why

A lot of businesses are great at communicating what they do but to be truly compelling, you should communicate why you do it too. This simple distinction will help you to show off your brand values in everything you do.

Be consistent

Once you’ve got a clear message that resonates with your audience, use it, use it and use it again. This is one thing Boris did get right, their messaging is used across all the coronavirus communications. If only he’d read step one and two first…

But be adaptive

Consistency doesn’t mean copy and paste the exact same words on every piece of collateral. Different audiences have different priorities and require different messaging. And, as time goes on, the mood of the public changes, especially in turbulent times like these, so your messaging has to follow suit.

Top Tip: When developing messaging, write variations for each target persona to make it easier to flip between messages.

Stick to your brand

It’s easy to forget that your messaging is a part of your wider brand identity, but there should be cohesion between your branding and your messaging. It’s all well and good having consistency in your message, but if it looks different every time, your customer might not realise it’s still you.

Make your message clear across your entire business

Have you got it right?

If you haven’t already, now is the time to think about how you’re talking to customers.

With regular changes to our current way of life, your message should adapt as we move through the phases of lockdown and reflect how these changes affect your audience.

If you act now, you have a better chance of prospering once the dust has settled.

Sounds like a lot?

We know, that’s why we’re here to help!

Give us a call to see how we can bring your messaging together in time for the next announcement.

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