Whether you’re early in the product development cycle, are nearing the finish line, or have already launched, it’s absolutely critical that all of your marketing materials and PR outreach are working in sync with one another, that all stakeholders are “on the same page,” and that you have a solid handle on your company’s brand narrative. This is where internal messaging sessions come in. By drawing out the overarching narrative of your firm and its products, internal messaging sessions can serve as an invaluable tool in distilling your firm’s message to its essence while ensuring consistency in your communications with the public.
Although it is ideal that you conduct an internal messaging session before diving into your marketing initiatives, sometimes the need for one does not become readily apparent until you’re already in the midst of a marketing initiative and you realize all stakeholders need to get on the same page.
What does an internal messaging session consist of? At the highest level, an internal messaging session seeks to answer some seemingly basic (but often contentious) questions about your company and its products. We like to think of these as the “who/what/where/when/why” questions. They are the raison d’etre of your company and its mission, encompassing the purpose behind all that you do at your company—its goals, its history, its philosophy and motivations. During your messaging session, feel free to let the ideas flow: good ideas, bad ideas, strange ideas. You can choose “the winners” later, but during the brainstorming session it’s important to avoid shutting down potentially valuable ideas.
Messaging sessions will also seek to address educational gaps that may make it difficult for investors to understand your products. This can be a tough area for investment professionals, as they are often so close to their own products, or so specialized in their area of expertise, that it can be hard to put themselves in the shoes of a relative novice that is encountering their product for the first time. An external marketing agency or consultancy may be helpful in identifying educational gaps that may not be immediately obvious internally.
Finally, a messaging session will attempt to anticipate all of the difficult, skeptical questions your firm might face from the public and reporters in the course of marketing its products. In brainstorming these questions, it’s important to remember that while you may have the complete story behind your products, most people will not, and they will naturally want to completely understand them before making an investment or writing a story. Similar to questions regarding educational gaps, an external marketing agency or consultancy may be a wise choice when it comes to anticipating tough questions from reporters. At the end of the day, the goal is to be prepared during a difficult interview, and to not be caught off-guard by a somewhat hostile question.
The end result of your messaging session should be an internally-facing messaging document (not for public consumption) that answers all of the key questions—big and small—about your firm and its products: who you are, why you do what you do, and any skeptical questions you can expect from the press in the course of your marketing and PR campaign. By laying out the framework for your company’s messaging, you’ll be well-positioned to produce marketing materials that communicate the essence of your brand identity, all while keeping your spokespeople on the sample page when it comes to your company’s narrative.