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Of Message Strategy
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We always talk about how to craft a good message that resonates with your consumer. But how should one go about doing that? 

Before we even start thinking about writing good copy, we need to think about what we want the consumer to do. What exactly is the goal of the message?

We need to discuss message strategy. 

We are going to list nine objectives of message strategy, the goals, and the methods in which to engage. The following information comes from the book, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion, by O'Guinn, Allen and Semenik.

Message Strategy Objectives- Why are we writing?
Objective 1: To Promote Brand Recall
Methods- repetition, slogans and jingles

Objective 2: Link a Key Attribute to the Brand Name
Methods- Unique Selling Proposition
(futher reading- Rosser Reeves and Claude Hopkins are also fantastic sources for this)

Objective 3: Persuade the Consumer
Methods- reasoning, hard sell, comparison, testimonial, demonstration, advertorials and informercials

Objective 4: Instill Brand Preference
Methods- feel-good ads, humor, sex appeal
(even the authors agree that sex in ads isn't very effective, but the point is to tie the feeling of arousal to the product)

Objective 5: Scare the Consumer into Action
Methods- Fear appeal
(and in small doses, fear can actually work pretty well)

Objective 6: Change behavior by Inducing Anxiety
Methods- anxiety and social anxiety ads
(most people would pair this with fear ads)

Objective 7: Transform Consumer Experiences
Methods- Transformational ads
(examples would include the old Coors Light "Train" ads; the product changes how a consumer sees their environment)

Objective 8: Situate the Brand Socially
Methods- slice-of-life, product placement, short video, light-fantasy
(probably the best examples we've seen in a long time was the VW "little vader" ad)

Objective 9: Define the Brand Image
Methods- images (using images more than words or reasoning; mostly used for print or non-interactive ads)

Of course there are probably simpler ways to describe a message strategy. But for those who have had to learn the tricks of the trade on the go, it can be nice and relieving to see that there are methods to the madness. We know that advertising professionals and creatives like to imagine that strategy can come from the gut, or that to be unconventional it means that you cannot abide by structure, but the fact of the matter is,advertising is art tied with strategy, research, and a commercial purpose. That purpose being, ultimately, to make sales to generate a profit.

And we reach that purpose by securing what our message strategy is going to be.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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