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January’s coming, so it’s time to change our messaging.

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Fall is the time we usually hear this call to arms when marketing departments go into their planning cycle for the following year. As a marketing communications consultant, the most helpful question I can often ask is, “Why?” Or, “When did you last change it?” If the answer is “last year,” then some tough follow-up questions are in order. Has the market changed, and have you changed your positioning to meet new customer expectations? Are you targeting a new customer segment? Do you have something game-changing to say? Did last year’s messaging miss the mark?

 

“Yes” answers to any of these questions signal that it may indeed be time for a messaging overhaul. But proceed with caution. It can be an expensive undertaking that, to be effective, should ripple through all of your marketing content, from your web site to the boilerplate copy at the end of white papers and data sheets. Plus you’ll need to invest in pushing your new message out to your marketplace, which takes a bigger budget than building on the momentum you already have going.

 

And there’s the rub. Momentum—or the potential loss thereof. If the reason you think it’s time to change your messaging is that it just feels stale to you, or because January is coming and you’ve always done it that way, those are red flags. The adage that it takes “repetition, repetition, repetition” to get your marketing messages to rise above the noise still holds true. So if your messaging feels stale to you, it may just be getting the attention you want it to. Proceed with caution. Instead of change, think refresh. And invest in building momentum with new content or new channels rather than a premature rip-and-replace messaging overhaul.

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