Whether you’re an emerging company, an established brand, or a fast-growing startup that can’t keep up with its own pace, at some point you’re going to need a website refresh. Maybe you’ve added services. Or you’ve decided to enter a new market. Or you haven’t updated your website in 5 years and the information is outdated and half the links are broken.
Whatever the reason, it’s tempting to simply update the copy and consider it done. All you need to do is update the “our team” page and change some dates, right? Oh. And add a page about the new product. And re-do the home page so it’s not so long. A copywriter can knock that out in a few days, right?
Not so fast!
Your website is your virtual office and showroom. To build it and scale it effectively, you have to start with a solid foundation. Without a solid foundation, your house will sink into the ground (think: Millennium Tower, SF). Do you want a house build out of popsicle sticks or stucco?
What are the elements of a website foundation?
- Reliable website hosting, content management system (CMS), development, and design
- Solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy
- On-point messaging platform
Those first two ingredients I’ll leave to the web developers and SEO magicians. The third ingredient is where I’m focusing today.
Before your copywriter builds the walls and installs the windows of your website, make sure they’re working on a solid foundation. Who do you want to reach? What problems do they have that you can solve? How do you solve them better than your competitors?
These are some of the core questions answered in a messaging platform. If you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to get this in place before you create or update your website.
What is Messaging?
In plain, non-marketing speak, messaging means getting clear on how you want to talk about your company and how you want people to perceive your company. Do you want to come across as formal-professional, laid-back or science nerdy?
A marketing agency may say a messaging platform is not enough. You need a SWOT analysis, in-depth customer research, a website audit, and a messaging platform, all presented in a huge, pretty package. All these things are useful. If you have five figures to spend and you’re not in a hurry, go all out.
If you’re watching your budget and for right now, you just want your website done before a big conference or a new product launch, go for the ad hoc messaging platform. Your website will not blow away when a strong wind hits with a messaging platform as your foundation.
Elements of a Messaging Platform
The messaging platform consists of the following:
- Value proposition: a short statement that describes what you offer, the benefit it provides, and how you stand out from the competition.
- Mission, Vision, and Values statements
- Target audience profile, aka buyer persona: a synopsis of your primary target customer(s)
- Copy platform: A couple paragraphs that expand upon your value proposition. The copy platform describes the company and its key features and benefits in a couple paragraphs. Copywriters can pull from this platform verbatim when writing website copy.
- Taglines: Two or more taglines to use throughout your website copy, in advertising, collateral, and social media
Developing the messaging platform requires some thought from your team and your copywriter. When I develop messaging platforms, I give my clients a questionnaire so the marketing and/or executive team can start brainstorming on new or revised messaging elements. After that comes a shortish meeting to discuss your responses. And then I get to work.
Next comes a meeting to present the copy platform. The client has opportunity to make comments and suggestions for revision. With the copy platform in good shape, we can hash out a plan for the website.
The good news: much of the work is done. Your value proposition is ideal home page copy. Chunks of the copy platform can fit into your About Us and Services/Solutions pages. Along the way, we’ll get those broken links fixed, make sure all pages have meta titles/descriptions and get rid of those team members who left two years ago.
A from-scratch website or a significant refresh involves much more than changing up the words. To make sure your website reaches its lead generating, converting potential, establish a solid foundation.
Ready to revamp your website? Get in touch.