I hope you’re sitting down for this one, because what I’m about to write here is going to send some of our readers into a bit of a tailspin.
MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE A STRATEGICALLY-DRIVEN EXERCISE, NOT A CREATIVELY-DRIVEN ONE.
I know you probably have some thoughts on this, but please just hear me out first. We’re involved in quite a bit of message development work here at ROF. In some projects, we handle it all internally—developing and testing Communication Platforms for physicians, patients, even pre-launch brands. While in other projects, we’re involved in more of a consultant role on behalf of our clients where we’re shadowing an agency process and assisting in navigating the strategic hurdles of a given brand or category.
Now, having spent the first half of my career on the agency copy side and the second half as a strategic supplier, I think I’m qualified to lay this out there. What often goes fundamentally wrong with message development is that your brand’s core communication platform is generated and refined over time by creatives, not strategists.
This is a huge issue because messages should not be viewed as stand alones of eloquently written copy. They need to be hung together, with a precise articulation and hierarchy to tell the most compelling story for your brand possible. In most cases, your copywriter(s) are not going to be intimate with the broader strategic issues impacting your brand and that can cause a default to approaching messages as individual elements of copy rather than a strategic, cohesive platform.
So how did you arrive at the current message platform for your brand? Did your agency develop a list of messages that physicians assembled into their “preferred” order? Or did you work with someone who pre-assembled messages into a few distinct, but compelling stories about your brand and then vet those with a sufficient sample of MDs?
Your answer could reveal a potential deep-seated flaw with your brand’s communication approach.
OK, now let me have it…