OK, what I’m about to write here is going to sound like marketing blasphemy, but here goes…
Message Development Should be a strategically driven exercise, not a creatively driven one.
Where is this coming from, you might ask. Well, 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 strategic consulting role on behalf of our clients where we shadow an agency process and assist in navigating the strategic hurdles of a given brand or category.
Now, having spent the first half of my career on the agency 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 alone units of eloquently written copy. They need to be crafted together, with a precise articulation and hierarchy to tell the most compelling story for your brand.
In most cases, copywriters are not going to be intimate with the broader strategic issues impacting your brand and that can result in a default approach of treating 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 carefully crafted a few distinct, but compelling stories about your brand and then vet those with a sufficient sample of your customers? If you did not select the latter option, then it may be time to reevaluate your brand story to ensure that it translates to a strategic idea that is larger than the sum of it’s well-articulated parts.