If you listened to Part 1 and Part 2 of our Marketing Guiding Statements series—our podcast series where we’re breaking down exactly how to write effective marketing messaging for your small business—you already know that successful marketing requires clear, effective messaging and identifying and understanding your ideal client.
Once you’ve identified your ideal client and understand who you’re talking to, you’re ready to develop your first Marketing Guiding Statement: your talking points.
What are “talking points”?
Talking points are simply story elements that help you lead a potential customer to understand why your product or service is the solution to a problem they face.
As we’ve already discussed in this series, storytelling is one of the—if not the—best ways to keep people’s attention and help them remember things. As a result, you can make your marketing messaging more engaging and memorable when you create it using a story framework. And, in order to write your story, you need to identify your talking points (AKA your story elements).
Talking points consist of eight story elements including the:
- Main Idea - The takeaway, lesson, or thing you want people to remember and—ideally—memorize.
- Question - The question you want your audience to ask themselves when it comes to your product or service.
- Problem - The struggle your ideal customer is facing in relation to your product or service.
- Stakes - The negative outcome your ideal customers will face if they don’t invest in your products or services.
- Guide - How you'll support and lead your customers to a solution to their problem.
- Plan - A three-step plan of action that tells your ideal client what they need to do to solve their problem.
- Call to Action - A clear first step that allows your ideal customer to solve their problem.
- Successful Outcome - A vision that helps your ideal customers imagine what it will be like for their problem to be solved.
How to Develop Your Brand’s Talking Points
You might remember that there are five Marketing Guiding Statements in total. Writing your talking points will likely take you longer to write than any other statement. However, once you write your eight talking points, you’ll have almost all the information you need to complete the rest of your Marketing Guiding Statements.
So that you have an example to work from as you develop your talking points, we are including Treefrog Marketing’s talking points below. If you’d like even more examples, be sure to check out the workbook available in our free mini course: “The First Step to Effective Marketing for Small Businesses: Writing Your Marketing Guiding Statements”!
1. Define the Main Idea
In story, the main idea is a sentence or short statement that explains the meaning or biggest takeaway from a book, movie, or play.
For example, in the movie Finding Nemo, you could argue that the main idea is: You need to be able to trust others in order to live a fulfilling life.
When it comes to your marketing, the main idea is the takeaway, lesson, or thing you want people to remember and—ideally—memorize. Now, when you’re writing your main idea, don’t overthink this. Instead, simply write down what you wish your customers and audience understood. It’s important to keep this main idea very simple and straightforward.
Treefrog Marketing’s Main Idea
Having an effective marketing strategy is critical to a small business’s success.
2. Define the Question
The next story element your marketing messaging needs to include is a question. Good stories are engaging because they include a question the audience wants to be answered.
For example, in Finding Nemo, the question is: Will Marlin find his son?
In your marketing messaging, you need to present a question that makes your audience want to keep reading, listening, or watching to find the answer.
Don’t overthink this. Simply write down the question you want your audience to ask as it pertains to whatever it is that you sell.
Treefrog Marketing’s Question
How quickly could you reach your business goals if you had a marketing strategy that actually worked?
3. Define the Problem
Having a main idea and question are great, but stories only ever get interesting if they include a problem. Because, in order to keep people’s interest, something has to go wrong or unexpected.
If we stick to our Nemo example, the problem in this story is: Nemo is taken.
As we discussed in the audience overview episode of this series, your customers also have a problem in relation to your product or service. It might only be a first-world problem, but your ideal clients certainly have a want or need that you can help solve.
To identify your ideal client’s problem, simply write down what he/she is struggling with in relation to your product or service.
Now, chances are, your product or service can solve multiple problems for your ideal customer. However—for the sake of clear, concise messaging—it’s important to only focus on their biggest problem.
Treefrog Marketing’s Problem
Unfortunately, your plate is full and you don’t have time to learn all things marketing—nor the time to implement a marketing strategy yourself.
4. Define the Stakes
The stakes are another necessary story element. In other words, in every good story, the audience has an understanding of what will happen if things go wrong.
In Nemo, the stakes are: If Marlin doesn’t find Nemo quickly, Nemo will become Darla’s pet, likely die, and father and son will never be reunited.
Just like in a story, your ideal customers need to understand what could happen if they don’t work with you.
For this part of the exercise, we aren’t asking you to be all doom and gloom, but your potential customers need to understand how they will be worse off if they don’t work with you. So, in a single sentence, explain what your ideal customer’s situation will look like without your product or service. We’re simply reminding them that if they don’t follow our advice, they will end up here or stay in this position.
Treefrog Marketing’s Stakes
Without an effective marketing strategy, you’ll likely waste time and money on marketing initiatives that don’t work.
5. Define the Guide
In marketing, this story element is easiest of all, because—congratulations—you’re the guide!
We discussed this before, but in a story, the main character is typically considered the hero. But, a hero can’t save the day or solve a problem alone. As a result, in most good stories, there is a guide who leads the hero along the way.
This might sound funny considering she has short-term memory loss, but in Finding Nemo, Dory is the guide. Ultimately, Dory is the one who helps Marlin travel across the ocean and learn to trust others and be brave.
Like Dory guides Marlin, you want to guide and empower your clients and prospective customers to solve their problem. And, to do this, you need to establish yourself as the guide by first showing empathy and then by offering a solution to the problem at hand.
To establish yourself as the guide, simply start with an empathetic statement (e.g. we understand, we know, etc.) to show that you understand and feel for your customers. Then, without bragging or being salesy, present your solution.
Treefrog Marketing’s Guide
At Treefrog Marketing, we understand your frustration and how hard you work to serve your customers, team, and loved ones. Because of this, we’ve designed scientifically based marketing systems that will help your small business save time, increase profits, and feel confident in your marketing.
6. Define the Plan
Next, for your talking points to be effective, you need to give your audience a three-step plan. The plan is a critical step in both story and marketing messaging because, without a plan, there is confusion.
For example, if Dory hadn’t told Marlin that they needed to go to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney; trust other fish and animals along the way; and save Nemo, Marlin wouldn’t have had any idea how to find his son. Similarly, unless you present your audience with a clear plan, they likely won’t know how to solve their problem.
To help put your audience at ease and so they know what to expect when they decide to work with you or purchase from you, write a plan that includes three steps, leads potential customers through what it’s like to work with you, and ends in success. This plan of action helps your customer feel confident in their decision to work with you or purchase your products.
To make his process easy, we recommend this format:
- Step 1: Tell your potential customers what to do first so that they can start working with you (e.g. schedule a consultation now).
- Step 2: Give insight into what it’s like to work with you.
- Step 3: Show success.
Treefrog Marketing’s Plan
- Schedule a 30-minute consultation to discuss your marketing challenges and business goals.
- Count on us to create and implement your custom, scientifically-based marketing strategy.
- Breathe knowing your marketing strategy is working—even when you aren’t.
7. Define the Call to Action
Now, a plan is helpful, but to inspire your potential customers to take action, you need to give them a clear first step—a call to action—just like Dory told Marlin they needed to go to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney.
Having a clear call to action is extremely important because in order for your marketing to be successful, you need to inspire your potential customers to act before you lose their attention. You’re telling the potential customer that all they need to do to solve their problems is to connect with you!
Your CTA should be very similar to the first step in your plan, but needs to be more concise—preferably three words or less—so that it:
- Is easy to understand
- Inspires quick action
- Can fit on buttons on your website
Treefrog Marketing’s Call to Action
Schedule a Consultation
Note: “Contact Us” is a typical CTA, but it’s so common and in such an unspecific direction that it’s not very likely to inspire action. When you write your CTA, the more specific you can be, the better.
8. Define a Successful Outcome
Last but not least, you need to show your customers what success can look like so that they can imagine what it will be like for their problem to be solved.
For example, Finding Nemo wraps up with Marlin, Nemo, and Dory happily living in the anemone and enjoying life in community with others and without fear.
In the same way, in your marketing, you need to show your customers what life will look like for them if they follow your advice. And, this can be accomplished with a simple success statement using the formula: When X happens or your customer does X, they will get Y. It’s very important that your successful outcome is written in a way that will help your audience visualize a positive experience.
Treefrog Marketing’s Successful Outcome
When your marketing actually works, you can breathe knowing your strategy is always helping you generate new business—allowing you to fully focus on other important areas of your business and life outside the office.
Are you ready to take your first step in marketing and write your Marketing Guiding Statements?
And, those are your talking points! Once you’ve written these, you’ll have nearly all the information you need to complete the rest of your Marketing Guiding Statements so that you can clarify your message and have marketing that actually works.
We’ll be explaining how to write each of the five Marketing Guiding Statements in upcoming episodes, and we’ll be releasing these episodes one by one over the next several weeks. (If you’re reading/listening to these episodes after their original air dates, you’ll be able to find all episodes here.)
However, if you’d like early access to these episodes and even more help with your Marketing Guiding Statements, take our FREE mini course: “The First Step to Effective Marketing for Small Businesses: Writing Your Marketing Guiding Statements”!
This course includes seven lessons and a PDF download that walks you through every step of writing your Marketing Guiding Statements with examples. At the end of this course, you’ll have the messaging you need to write effective web copy, social media posts, ads, email campaigns, and copy for any and all of your marketing efforts. In other words, you’ll know exactly what to say to convert your prospective ideal customers into paying customers!
If you’re ready for your marketing to actually work, take the Marketing Guiding Statements mini-course now!
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Clarify Your Message with Our FREE Mini Course: “The First Step to Effective Marketing for Small Businesses: Writing Your Marketing Guiding Statements”
- Receive 50% Off Your First Year of HoneyBook
- Receive 50% Off Your First Order from Photographer’s Edit
- Learn More About Treefrog’s Small Business Marketing Resources & Services
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Treefrog Marketing on Instagram
- Follow or DM Kelly Rice on Instagram
- Follow or DM Victoria Rayburn on Instagram
The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.
If you’re a small business owner wanting weekly content about relationships, proven marketing strategies, setting boundaries, delegating, creating an incredible client experience, and keeping your priorities at the core over everything you do, subscribe to Priority Pursuit on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. To ask questions, share your wins, and connect with other priority-driven small business owners, join The Priority Pursuit Podcast Community on Facebook.
For more information about Treefrog Marketing and even more small business marketing resources, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
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