Good Messaging

“Five Dollar Foot-long”

“Just Do It”

“Where’s the Beef?”

“It’s Huuuuuge!”


Good Messaging

A key component of my agency’s strategic planning exercise (which we execute for every client campaign) is coming up with a key message that clearly and concisely describes the company, product/service, audience, unique selling proposition and benefits in order or priority. Some call it the “elevator speech.” We call it the “key message.” We suggest the key message as, ultimately, the words that get tattooed on every employee’s chest are recited in the morning as they face the mirror for the first time. For executional purposes, the key message is translated into condensed, poignant copy and creative—sometime a tagline, in others, a campaign’s headline or catchy phrase. Good marketing, in my opinion, (i.e. print ad, mobile marketing campaign or direct mail piece) screams the key message to the target audience. I must be clear, memorable and engaging. Some key messages are better than others. And, when you nail the execution you know it. So just what is good messaging? And, how do you know it?

To better illustrate good messaging, think about the few headline/tagline/catchy campaign phrase messages from various eras that led this piece.

  • “Five Dollar Foot-long” Heck, I can even mime that one and everyone would know what I am talking about and where I’m going to purchase lunch. You have to admit, $5 for a foot-long sandwich is a great value.
  • “Just Do It” a timeless call-to-action that motivates the consumer to not only get active but to also… a purchase of a Nike product in order to do so. Brilliant!
  • “Where’s the Beef?” The benefit was what the messaging was not. It begged the question of all competitors and leveled the playing field. This inevitably pointed to the one with, the most beef; a unique selling proposition that was hard to ignore or argue with.
  • “It’s Huuuuuge!” Describing the inventory of local auto dealer Fucillo Auto Mall in an effort to communicate great variety, low prices and high value. I’m sure they don’t own the trademark on these two words (it’s also used in a broadcast ad for Il Primo pizza) but nonetheless, the intention and influence are memorable and viral.
  • And, then there’s “Nine-Nine-Nine.” Love it or hate it including what it does/doesn’t stand for, it’s catchiness begs curiosity. It’s simplicity answers a pressing question. And, its conciseness illustrates confidence. Not surprising that a business entrepreneur from the food industry contributed it.

Good messaging is further pronounced by reach and frequency. I’ll never forget the local campaign for Germain car dealership “The Name You Trust.” I was new to the area at the time. Most car dealerships have a negative stereotype. However, I trusted Germain for some reason. Perhaps it was the pounding of messaging into my brain with each radio and TV spot that reminded me. It overcame my stereotype of car dealers. It was simple and concise. I started believing in it with little to substantiate my thinking. It was good messaging.

Designing Your Own Good Messaging

Designing your own good messaging is not easy. It requires strategic planning and comprehensive thought. Be sure to take into account all of the essentials of marketing including knowing your audience, risks and challenges, tone/manner, etc. (see Marketing Planning). Here are a few other suggestions on how to design your own Good Messaging:

  • Include Your Key Differentiator or Unique Selling Proposition: Think about what makes you different from the competition and/or what’s your one unique selling proposition. Is it defendable? Can you use it in your messaging in one-two words? Can you prove it?
  • It’s NOT About You: Remember it’s about satisfying your customers’ needs and not your own. Which need will you satisfy? How will you do it? Consider including that as part or your good messaging.
  • Be Concise and Simple: if it’s not simple it’s likely customers will not give it a chance or consider recalling it. Try to get your messaging to five words or less as a rule of thumb.
  • Engage Your Audience: Be sure to draw your target audience in. Solicit a response. Provide an experience or better yet a call to action. Just Do It! Is pretty engaging.
  • Make it Memorable: Recall is probably the most effective metric of any good message. The more a customer remembers your message the more likely chance you have they will respond to it.

Wrap Up

Good messaging can add significant promotional value to a product, company and/or campaign. Be wise. Think it all the way through. And, be consistent!

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit or call 239.963.9396.

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