Finishing up 2014 seemed like a very big task to some and a smaller one for others. There are several things to consider before jumping into 2015, including whether or not your message is up-to-date. January is a great time to review your message, update it, and do any media training you feel is important before hitting the streets. Many of us use the time between Christmas and New Year's to organize our homes, but we often forget to organize our messages, and our business goals, as well.
For new organizations, this can mean creating your message and ensuring that what you are communicating is resonating with the audience you are targeting. For other organizations, it may mean reviewing where you left off at the end of 2014 and looking toward your goals for 2015. Clearly defining your goals will help significantly when updating your message. Does your message help to achieve your goals? Is it crystal clear? Can it be readily understood by your potential customer base? Your current customer base? How has what you are doing changed and where is it headed?
While I am not advising that we lay all of our cards on the table, it is important that this is a great time to look at our editorial plans, speaking opportunities, event participation, and more. Every organization that does not create a "game plan" for the new year is remiss in doing their own internal due diligence. What are editors looking for this year? How is your product/service changing the way we function (either as individuals or as businesses)? What is the main crux of your story?
I tell my clients every day that they need to look at and and review their goals. Once they have their goals, we can work backwards from there to ensure we are achieving them in a timely, cost-effective manner. A strong, successful communications and marketing plan begins with a solid strategy. A great strategy begins with a resonating message.
How do we know if your message resonates with the publics you want to reach? There are a myriad of ways to measure this. Surveys are one traditional format, but they tend to take longer. Customer acquisition is another excellent methodology, but it can take a while as well, depending on the product/service and the reach of your message. However, the most simplistic method is to present your message to people who don't know very much about what you do and have them explain your message back to you. If they understand what your message is communicating, and can clearly repeat it back to you in their own words, then you are on the right track. If not, it is time to look at your current message and understand why it comes across differently than you intended.
A message in need of modernizing is not a tragedy. In fact, it is a very normal thing. A strong public relations or marketing person can modify the message (or help modify it) so that it clearly delineates what you want to say in a short period of time. These people are able to take your jargon and turn it into user-friendly lingo, which may have a significantly higher impact on your target market(s).
So when you go back to work tomorrow, or sometime this week, maybe it is time to consider ringing in 2015 with a revised game plan for this year, based on your goals. A game plan that should include the review and potential updating of your message. This can go a long way toward achieving the goals you have defined in your plan. As Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." My wish for you in this coming year is that your message, and your plan, are your lightning.