How to create key messages for effective content marketing

Tessa Parry-Wingfield

The Power of Words

An effective content marketing strategy is one of your most valuable business assets. Research shows that content marketers with a defined strategy in place drive 7.8 times as much unique traffic as those without.

But how do you know how to write the messaging for an effective campaign? We take a look at some examples of key messages and how you can develop your own to speak to your ideal consumers.

What are key messages?

There are 2 main types of key messages:

  1. The core message, which is how you talk about your business as a whole.
  2. Audience-specific key messages, which build relationships with each of the different kinds of people you do business with.

These messages are ‘key’ to your business, because they should be part of absolutely everything you do. Key messages must form the backbone of how people within your organisation answer the phone, communicate in emails, post on social media, greet people in the lobby, respond to complaints, present at conferences and talk to each other in meetings. They aren’t sentences that sit in a content strategy document on a shelf – they’re out there, at the very front of everything your organisation says and does.

TPW’s top tips

  • Know who you’re talking to. You have distinct groups of clients or customers (a bank might be talking to fund managers, retail customers and consumers, for example), so make sure you can picture who they are.
  • Once you know who you’re talking to, work out what they care about. What keeps them up at night, what would they never compromise on, what do they want in life?
  • Now you know your audience and what they care about, you can start to look for the why behind your message. Simon Sinek famously said that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. You have to find the why behind what you’re selling. People think that they buy based on logical decisions, but research shows that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. In other words, 95% of the decisions we make are based on emotions and gut feelings. Everything except logic. So don’t sell someone the technical specifications of your brilliant product, tell them how it will make their life better.
  • Your key messages should be short and concise. You need to be able to sum up the problem you solve for your consumer in one simple sentence.
  • Maya Angelou is famous for saying that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make your prospective customers feel welcome by using language that everyone can understand. Replace jargon, industry speak or technical language with the same plain English you’d hear in the pub.
  • Your company has a personality, so let that shine through. Go through the story of how your brand came to be and see what themes pop out. Focus on what makes you unique and then put that out front and centre. This sense of your own personality will become your tone of voice, dictating whether you’re formal, chatty, casual, edgy or downright rude in your communications (we don’t recommend this, but there is a restaurant in Boston, USA where all the staff are encouraged to be as rude as possible to their guests. It is, surprisingly, packed!).
  • Once you’ve created your key messages, give proof and examples of your products in action. The very best proof is user-generated content, such as reviews, product pictures on social media and unboxing videos. Companies such as Marmite are great at encouraging lovers and haters of their brand alike to contribute content to their marketing campaign in a playful way.

In summary, your key messages should connect with your target audience and motivate them to act. It’s all about creating emotion and demonstrating how you can solve their problem, rather than the nitty-gritty of what you do. Only 66% of B2B marketers think about their audience’s needs, choosing instead to prioritise the sales message – get ahead of the game and put your ideal client first!

Examples of key messages

Core message: Apple’s ‘think different’

Apple’s long-running campaign celebrates “misfits” and people who think outside of the box. It doesn’t tell you what the products do or their technical specifications, but creates a feeling of belonging and a desire to break the mould.

This core message sells a powerful idea of Apple consumers as ‘people who don’t follow the crowd, people who challenge the status quo.’ Using personalities like John Lennon, Jimmy Hendrix and Amelia Earhart as part of the campaign adds to the allure of being a misfit.

Key message: Yorkshire Tea’s “where everything’s done proper”

This core message is re-purposed for different audiences and pain points. For those interested in sustainability, the message becomes, “makes a proper difference.” For tea aficionados, there’s a message about “how to make a proper brew.”

This is an excellent example of a colloquial, playful tone of voice that’s proud of its regional heritage. The host of famous Yorkshire-bred personalities who’ve taken part in their video adverts also acts as proof and endorsement for both the brand and their social aims.

Struggling to create effective key messages?

If you feel like you can’t see the wood for the trees, invite people in from outside. And we don’t just mean hiring a content specialist. You can get a fresh perspective just by inviting colleagues from different parts of your organisation to throw ideas around with you.

Key messages are important for the way the whole business runs, so schedule a day when people from across the company get together to create new ideas.

If you fancy finding out how we’d tackle your key message dilemma, get in touch for a chat.

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