I’m back after a break for a couple of weeks to change jobs (more on that in a later post) visit my friends in New York and host a rather large group of folks including 4 kids under the age of 5 at my house of the holidays.  I now need a break from my break. Did you miss me?

During the break I also got a chance to meet with a number of different startups that were interested in doing something about their messaging.  They all had similar problems.  When they had launched their product/services they had put a lot of time, effort and attention into primping their messaging to make it as attractive as possible.  But then time passed and that same messaging that was once so radiant started to droop.  By the time it becomes obvious that the messaging is getting a bit, shall we say, mature, the thought of investing the time and effort required to perform a messaging facelift was enough to scare these startups into doing nothing at all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!  What you need my friends is a quick shot of messaging botox. Unlike a full-blown messaging facelift which can take months a quick hit of messaging botox can be done in a couple of weeks.  Sure it won’t leave your messaging looking as spiffy as it did a couple of years ago, but it’s quick and painless and will make your messaging much more attractive.   Here’s how it works:

  1. Make sure you have a problem – Before you go under the needle it is important to make sure that things are as bad as you think.  Remember that you will get bored of your messaging well before anyone else will.  Don’t let the mirror play tricks on you and make sure you aren’t fixing something that isn’t broken.  If your messaging is starting to fade your sales folks and customers will let you know.
  2. Work on the most important areas first – There is a reason why people aren’t getting cosmetic surgery on their feet.  Focus on your lead moneymaking product or service and leave the rest for later.
  3. Determine your top 3 to 5 features from your customer’s point of view – You might think it’s your sense of humor that gets you dates but some honest feedback might tell you otherwise.  Spend a day or two talking to your sales folks, your customers, and your services folks.  Get a feel for what your strengths and weaknesses are from the customer’s point of view and list out the top 3 to 5 of them.  Don’t spend more than a couple of days on this.  Trust the feedback and don’t worry about capturing everything, just the top 3-5 things.
  4. Inject your new messaging into your critical parts – Refresh your home page, your key product/solution pages on your web site and your sales presentations.  You don’t need to re-write every piece of content you have and you don’t need to do a fresh rewrite from scratch.  Keep the 3-5 points you outlined in step 3 in mind and work those points in.  Get rid of the parts of your messaging that highlights things that may have been critical at one point but no longer make your top 5 list.  Remember this is a refresh and the alternative is to do nothing and leave it the way it is.  The goal is quick hit improvements and not perfection.
  5. Recover and update the rest when the opportunity arises – Yes I know there are other important pieces that you need to update, especially whitepapers.  In a perfect world you would update everything at the same time.  But unless you are Michael Jackson, you can’t afford to disappear for a few months while you get all that work done.  There are times when those pieces will naturally need to be updated (when there is a new release for example).  Wait until then and do the messaging update at the same time.
  6. Repeat for the other saggy parts – Once you have your key product/solution updated, move on to the next most important one when you have a couple of weeks with some spare time.

That’s it.  Nothing beats doing a full-fledged messaging update but when you only have a couple of weeks, a quick fix is better than just letting yourself go.