Stop me if you’ve heard this background screening pitch before. “We help companies make informed hiring decisions by protecting them from those that would cause them harm. We do this by offering the best information, fastest turnaround time and friendliest customer service in the most compliant fashion.” (Source: Way too many background screening companies)

Now, imagine if you are an HR professional and you’ve interviewed ten different background screening companies, they all say the exact same thing (or close to it). Their websites all look the same. They all exhibit at the same conferences and say the same thing.

You don’t have to imagine it. This has been going on for the last 20 years and it probably got stale in 2008. And in this highly commoditized environment where the end-users perceive all background screening companies more or less the same, the companies that rely on this generic messaging are only reinforcing this perception.

If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

As many of you know, I have spent the last year helping CRA’s and the data providers that supply them with the information they need to refine their brands and developing marketing strategies that help them drive revenue from new customers and retain their existing roster of clients.  Before that, I’d like to think that I chose the path not taken by our competitors when I oversaw my own brand.

While this one blog post won’t provide you with the secret formula on how to develop a complete marketing strategy, I do want to share how (and why) you should start with the basic building blocks; your key messaging.

Let’s start with why your key messaging is important before we get to how. If your message is stale, confusing or just doesn’t hit the target, how do you expect to stand out from the crowd? It’s never too late to refine your message and the outcome of this exercise will give you the blueprint you need to refine your brand, differentiate your solutions and attract quality customers.

Tips on Developing Your Key Messaging

  1. Start with your Why, How and What – Yes, I’m channeling my inner Simon Sinek here (do yourself a favor and watch the video below), but the advice rings true. Why do you do what you do? And don’t say you do it for the money. Do you think that would inspire your employees or clients? Once you have your why, think about how you do it. And finally, you’ll arrive at what you do.
  2. Develop a New or Refine Your Mission and Value Statements- This is your boilerplate or elevator pitch. If you can’t get this right in a couple of sentences, you’re dead in the water.
  3. Define Your Audience- This is where you really need to look in the mirror. What are the commonalities among the clientele you have? Do you do well in a specific industry(ies)? Are you more effective with companies of a specific size? Is there a geographical commonality? These are just a few examples.
  4. Create Real Differentiators- Now that you’ve defined your audience, what made us successful with this audience? You didn’t earn their business because you told them the same thing every other company heard. There was something specific about your pitch that resonated, and my guess is that certain something hit the mark with a number of your clients.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You should think about proof points, buyer objections (and responses), buyer attributes, brand voice, buyer personas, and much more.

I know you’ve already done this or think you have, but even the best brands continually go back to this playbook and make changes over time. Keep in mind that this should be a collaborative exercise. Set up a small team of key stakeholders in your organization, cloister yourselves in a room for a day and work through this. Once you’re done, ask your top clients for feedback. It’s only good if it resonates with your audience.

The outcome of this basic exercise will influence how you talk to customers and prospects. It will inform your look and feel, the design of your website and the content you use to keep visitors there. It will be used in your sales pitches and your presentation decks. It will be used to recruit new employees and inspire your workforce. The possibilities and uses are endless. When completed, you will be able to tell a compelling story about who you are and what you do.

And of course if you need help with this exercise, I’m just a phone call, text or email away.