Communicate. Connect. Convert.These three stages of marketing are drilled into us from the moment we step into the digital marketing world. You could fill a library with the number of strategies and tactics people use to move people through these three stages. The goal? Take a stone-cold stranger and turn them into red-hot repeat buyer who snatches up anything you put out there.
From organic posting to paid traffic to sales retargeting, every piece of content you put out to your target market serves a purpose. Organic content communicates and develops rapport with your audience. Paid traffic like Facebook ads connect and get the stop. Sales funnels and retargeting move the audience to convert.
But no matter how many different strategies or tactics you try - and some strategies and tactics work better for certain industries and offers than others - there are two things ALL marketing strategies use.
Messaging and copy.
Whoa now, hold on a minute, Christa. Aren’t those the same thing?
Nope, but that’s a common misconception. Messaging and copy are not the same thing. They’re separate concepts with specific purposes, yet many entrepreneurs don’t know or don’t acknowledge the unique roles messaging and copy each have in a marketing strategy.
Messaging Vs. Copy
Understanding the difference between messaging and copy means you can present an amazingly cohesive and compelling offer that’s backed up by your social presence and your ads. The best, most profitable campaigns I’ve ever seen have a good grasp on how to use messaging and copy together, and every stage of a marketing strategy needs both messaging and copy.
Have you ever come across a piece of content from an influencer you follow that just felt, well, off? Imagine Russell Brunson dropping the f-bomb in a Facebook Live. It would really strike nerve because it just doesn’t seem to fit with what he usually puts out there, right?
That is a classic hallmark sign of there’s a disconnect between the messaging and the copy. And when there’s a disconnect, the audience gets confused and wanders away in search of something else. Often, they end up out in the rain getting deluged with other offers. You don’t want that. So let's just talk a little bit about what messaging is, what copy is, and how they can work together to create really solid content.
The Messaging Umbrella
Messaging is any type of communication you put out there about your brand. Think of it like an umbrella. It can be written, audio, or video. It encompasses every communication you put out there, right down to your body language and facial expressions. Messaging is used to communicate about your brand (including your offers) to let your audience know what your business is about and what you stand for. Any communication that conveys the overall feel and function of your brand, business, and offers can be considered part of your messaging.
Copy, on the other hand, is different. Copy is the part of your messaging that performs a specific function. It’s the workhorse of your communication with your target audience. Your messaging contains many different pieces of copy, and each piece of copy has one goal and serves one purpose. Copy includes individual items like social posts, Facebook ad copy, funnel copy, email retargeting campaigns, a single Facebook Live.
If messaging is like an umbrella, then copy are the ribs that radiate out from the center to perform a specific purpose.
Understanding how messaging and copy work together is the key to consistently resonating with what your audience wants and needs, having a solid, engaging social presence that backs up your campaigns, and running high-converting paid advertising and retargeting.
When all the content you put out is consistent with your messaging, you're continually building trust, connection and authenticity with your audience. No matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s service or brick and mortar or e-commerce, understanding the difference between messaging and copy and then learning how they work together is foundational.
So to break it down very clearly, messaging:
Is broad, overarching, and all-encompassingContains all types of communication - words, signals, body language, facial expressionsHas multiple goals and objectives from connection to communication to conversion.Is enduring and constant.And within the overall messaging, copy:Is the action-taking support system for all your messaging.Consists of words only, although it can be presented in video, audio or written form.Has a narrow focus. Each piece of copy has one specific goal and one ask.Can be temporary and changing depending on what the goal is. Copy is tested, optimized, tweaked, and changed often to get the best results - but always within the framework of the messaging.
When each piece of copy you put out there is consistent with your messaging, your audience feels safe and happy under the umbrella. They won’t feel the need to look outside of what you offer, because there’s a level of trust and constancy there.
Your audience knows what to expect when your messaging and copy are aligned. They feel supported and validated by all your content, and when the opportunity arises, they’ll tell their friends that you and your offer are the solution they’re looking for too.
But if you go off the reservation and start throwing random asks in there or put out a quick offer that’s not in line with what you usually stand for or represent, the audience gets confused. They often duck out from under the umbrella of your messaging to see if they’re really still standing where they thought they were standing. And sometimes they even abandon your umbrella altogether and go looking for another message to shelter under because they no longer feel safe. And if they don’t feel safe, they won’t recommend you to their friends.
Now that you see the difference between messaging and copy, it’s time to assess where your content is at. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is this piece of copy aligned with my brand’s overall messaging?
Does this offer fit with what I say I stand for and represent?
Am I partnering with others who support the same types of ideals my business does?
Do I have a problem keeping my audience engaged and following?
Do people bounce out of my funnel right away?
If someone saw a piece of my content without my name attached to it, would they still recognize it as belonging to me?
The more you dial in on exactly who you serve and how, the clearer your messaging becomes. When it’s time to put your offers out there into the world, you can use your overall messaging framework to create individual pieces of copy aligned with!
Christa Nichols is a messaging expert and high-ticket sales copywriter. She loves helping entrepreneurs take a deep dive and dial in on their target audiences to discover exactly what their ideal clients and customers need to know in order to answer questions, crush objections, and remove any obstacles to purchase. She and her husband and two teenagers live on a farm in Iowa.