shutterstock_232727407Eager to get their businesses off the ground, many young startups make branding mistakes because they don’t understand the right marketing messages.

Have you defined your marketing message? You may adjust your marketing messages periodically, or you may have different messages for different audiences, but focus on something from the start and be consistent. Here are some guidelines that will serve you well:

Be concise

Don’t include everything there is to know about your business in your marketing materials. What makes you different from everyone else in the market? This will be an important part of your marketing message. Stand out from the crowd and give people a reason to do business with you instead of a competitor.

Be consistent

Don’t confuse people with too many things, and don’t change your message frequently. A consistent message is easier to remember. It takes a while for your message to cut through the clutter and be heard. So if you want your message to resonate, you must repeat the same message time and time again. Be patient.

Focus on the customer

Always create marketing messages that feature the customer, rather than your product or service. It is what’s commonly known as WIFM—what’s in it for me.

For example, let’s say you are a car salesperson and the car you’re trying to sell is equipped with state-of-the-art anti-lock brakes that can stop you from having an accident. Instead of telling your customer the technical features of the brake system, share a story. Obviously, the brakes are a safety feature for when road traction is difficult. So appeal to your customer’s concern for safety. You could explain how your customer’s family won’t be at risk if there is a big snowstorm because of this car’s state-of-the-art anti-lock brakes.

See the difference? As I noted earlier, your key messages may be different for different audiences. As the business owner and primary sales representative, you listen and learn what each audience wants and then you align your message accordingly.

Deliver on your promises

Never guarantee something in your marketing materials unless you are absolutely positive you can deliver on that promise every single time. Establishing expectations with your market and not living up to them will tarnish your reputation quickly. News of bad service travels fast.

In fact, make sure all of your marketing messages match your actions. This is known as brand integrity. Lots of business brands make the terrible mistake of saying one thing in their marketing message and doing something else when it comes to delivering their products or services.

If you tell people in your marketing campaigns that customer service is paramount, but you have people in your organization who ignore complaints or don’t act on orders, then you minimize the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Talk the talk and walk the walk. Stay focused on the customer and be consistent.

AvatarSusan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney.