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Amy Garrick

Published on

October 21, 2020


market research, public relations

Have you ever seen an unoriginal tagline or mistook a brand message for one brand when it actually belonged to another? One of the many things LEWIS does is review brand messaging and communications as a part of a larger PR plan. Too often, we see messages that are generic or that may be applied to any organization, rather than clearly indicating a specific brand.

How Message Testing Can Achieve Your PR Objective

To avoid this type of mistake, LEWIS Research advises companies to use market research, a PR tactic, to perform message tests. Message testing helps organizations uncover what their customers and potential customers are thinking about their products, corporate communications, and messaging. Using message testing can help determine what messages will resonate best among a target audience.

survey book on a wooden table

Related: The Four Types of Market Research: Which One is Right for You?

Why Your Strategic Planning Should Start With Brand Tonality

Before we begin message testing, we may also conduct a brand tonality project to review the current messaging environment to better understand what key terms and phrases are frequently used in the competitive environment. This type of research is a tactic that helps us review the landscape and to identify the best areas to focus on for an effective communication strategy.

Let’s Start With an Example

Company X is looking to launch Product Z, a new product that they are excited about bringing to market. They have already built a strategic plan around the launch when someone reads one of the messages and realizes it isn’t original and sounds similar to Company Y, their competitor. Will their target audience be able to know the difference between their campaign and their competitors? Is their message easy to understand? They decide to pursue message testing before they launch Product Z, as a way to improve their marketing strategy.

The key objectives they set out to achieve during message testing are:

  • Uncover which messages resonate best with their target audience
  • Adjust or change any messages that are unclear or that don’t tell the story they want to tell about Product Z
  • Create a measurable way to analyze messages in comparison to one another

Message testing can be incorporated into a bigger market research project or it can be a standalone study. Market research message testing technology has become advanced and respondents can now highlight which parts of the message they like or don’t like. They can also provide open ended feedback so that the PR team can review if a message is being interpreted correctly. Quantitative measurements for each message can help the PR team decide which message to use on specific platforms or media channels and to help them identify and build a strategic public relations plan. Messages can be shown as a part of a bigger content marketing strategy as well with imagery and graphics if needed.

When To Incorporate MaxDiff Analysis

If a brand needs an advanced analysis, the research team can incorporate a MaxDiff analysis. MaxDiff analysis is an advanced way to measure different messages or statements relative to each other. The results rank the messages in comparison to one another by having respondents pick a best option and worst option between several statements or messages.

person holding a gold star against a blue backgound

What’s Next?

Once the results are in, the organization can analyze the information and adjust their strategic communications to ensure their PR campaign hits the right notes. An effective public relations product launch can lead to lots of media coverage if the product ends up selling itself and strong strategic communications are a part of that process.

Let’s go back to our example. Company X decides to test five messages among the general population and uncovers that Message 2 resonates strongly with a younger demographic and Message 4 is more appealing to an older demographic. This information can now be used to target select demographics with advertising across different media channels. Message 3 is unclear, and they decide not to use it and Message 1 is a message that appeals to everyone. Message 5 is too similar to their competitors and they decide to go back and refine the message. If we go back and review our objectives, we have met each one and can now utilize this information moving forward.

Media outlets may also be keen to write about a product if they have additional stats or information about the product they can use. Market research is also a great tool to use in corporate communications to provide branding or product metrics that can be useful to internal or external teams. A strong PR plan incorporates market research at various steps in the process to test and verify hypotheses and to evaluate messages so improvements can be made. Strategic planning means building research continually into your PR strategy as a way to avoid missteps and to get a pulse on how your target audience is feeling.

Research can be a power PR tool, leveraged to elevate your PR strategy, pinpoint your brand identity and ultimately spread greater brand awareness. Explore our arsenal of market research services and let’s chat.

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