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How to Make a Marketing Message Resonate

No matter what your small business sells, there's one thing you can count on today: customers and prospects who are already overwhelmed with marketing messages wherever they are, 24/7. Some may be short; just 140 characters long coming via Twitter. Others are much longer. But all of the messages that bombard us are trying to shape our opinion, elicit some action, or both.

Today's technology — and especially social media — fosters constant communication. But easy communication doesn't necessarily translate to messages that are received, understood, and capable of driving action. With so many messages competing for attention, it's all the more difficult for any one message to resonate with your target market.

At a time when people are tweeting, blogging, emailing, Facebooking and texting, the best way to genuinely connect can actually be through in-person presentations. But no what channel you choose to communicate through, you must make your message as powerful as possible. Everyone in involved in your business should know how to present and communicate your basic messages with clarity and passion.

"Great presentations — whether delivered in person, online, or via mobile device – are like magic," says Nancy Duarte, CEO of a Silicon Valley-based firm that helps top brands and business leaders create effective messages and presentations. "It takes a lot of work to breathe life into an idea. Spending energy to understand the audience and carefully crafting a message that resonates with them means committing time and discipline to the process."

Think about it this way: You likely spend countless hours collaborating and innovating to put forth really good ideas. You should spend just as much energy ensuring the message behind those ideas gets heard. "Too many companies are confusing communication with something that's really just noise," says Duarte.

So how can you create and deliver messages that resonate? Here's the key test: If someone can easily recall, repeat, and transfer your message, you did a great job of crafting and conveying it. To achieve this, develop several clear (and repeatable) "sound bites" and weave them into your communications. These should be things that people can effortlessly remember. A great sound bite creates what Duarte calls a "something they'll always remember" (STAR) moment anyone who sees your presentation in person, online, by video or in social media channels.

Here are five tips for creating and communicating messages that resonate:

Craft a rally cry. Your rally cry will be a small, repeatable phrase that can become the slogan for promoting your product, idea or business.

Fine tune all messages. Edit, revise and hone every word so they're as focused and punchy as possible. Picture each person you speak to as a little radio tower empowered to broadcast your key concepts. "Some average-looking people have 50,000 followers in their social networks," says Duarte. "When one sound bite is sent to their followers, it can get re-sent hundreds of thousands of times."

Coordinate key phrases with the same language in your press materials. For maximum impact, repeat critical messages verbatim whenever you can. "Doing so ensures that people will pick up the right sound bites," says Duarte. Treat each presentation as if a TV camera crew were there looking for a 15 to 30-second clip to use on the nightly news. 

Use catchy words. Take time to carefully craft a few messages with catchy words. "For example, Neil Armstrong used the six hours and forty minutes between his moon landing and first step to craft his historic statement," says Duarte. Memorable messages don't often happen by accident. Most are mindfully planned.

Imitate a famous phrase. "Everyone knows the Golden Rule," says Duarte. "Well, an imitation of that famous phrase might be 'Never give a presentation you wouldn't want to sit through yourself.'"
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