When most people think of “strong messaging” or “weak messaging,” they are talking about the quality and consistency of the messaging – but what if your messaging is consistent, of quality – but positions YOU as weak?
What brings this to mind is a company here in Kansas City selling business supplies. They have had frequent radio ads for at least three years. The ads – very consistently – talk about how they are a locally owned company, and when you spend money with a local company, it stays in the area, doesn’t go to some far off CEO, you get the drill. The wording changes but the theme never does.
You know what the ads never say?
The ads never say that they are good at what they do.
They never say that their products are of high quality.
They never say that their customers are happy or loyal.
Honestly, they never say anything positive about the company at all – it’s always just the CEO pleading with listeners to buy their supplies with them because they’re a local company. The problem with that is that, in today’s age, “buy local” isn’t a big driver of business for most people. If it was, Amazon would be bankrupt by now. Their messaging positions them as weak, and begs customers to take pity on them because they’re not a huge company.
Now, I’m not against “buy local,” because sometimes it is a difference maker – but it’s seldom a difference maker at a primary level. That’s because “local” isn’t the first thing customers want. What do they want?
They want to know that your products are good and will solve their problems.
They want to know – and expect – that you will provide excellent service.
In short, they want to know – and expect – that you are really, really good at your business. And IF you can convince them of that, then “buy local” might be what pushes them over the edge. The problem is that most people who attempt to use “buy local” do it at a primary level, and when they fail, they blame customers who don’t care about local businesses.
If you want to use “buy local,” do it in such a way that it positions you as a STRONG company, not a weak one. Make your primary message be your excellence at what you do, and then you can say, “and by the way, not only are we better at what we do, you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting a local business.” To do otherwise makes you a weak competitor.