Messaging – the key to establishing a strong foundation before launching your brand
Dodge recently caught up with Troy Moore, chief scientific officer at Kailos Genetics, about a foundational component of the company’s consumer brand launch: messaging. Here, Troy details the benefits—and the tough parts—of Kailos’ messaging process.
Dodge: Kailos invested in a robust messaging effort prior to launch of its gene-based test. Talk to us about your choice to start out in that way.
Moore: We realized it’s a big world out there, and there is a lot of noise generated every day. Unless you have an active campaign to reach out and assert your presence, no one will notice you. When you enter the broad consumer market, you have to create buzz about your company to get your product noticed. It’s a lot of work. It’s not just about opening a website and running some ads. Your outreach strategy needs to be more planned, and it needs to have a concerted effort put into it.
Dodge: Kailos was extremely deliberate in choosing specific audiences. Why?
Moore: You can’t be something to everyone. The decision was a reflection of where we’re at as an organization. A brand new startup trying to raise funds will have different target segments than companies that are established and in need of more customers. For us, we needed to show traction. We needed a customer base, and we needed people that come through the entire system to show that this is a viable strategy since we were making such a big change from our former business.
Dodge: How do you think the messaging process contributed to the website launch and current PR activities?
Moore: This process helped focus our thoughts and properly convey our story in PR activities and website content. The messaging brings it all together. When we start thinking about consumers, there are unlimited ways to segment people. We had to go into this messaging process and figure out who we were going to target and how we were going to focus on them. By really thinking about our audience and our message, we were able to cull some of those whom we initially thought would be interesting targets and add others who were a better fit.
The ability to categorize our customers into personas had a huge impact on the development and management team. Suddenly we had a cohesive language when we spoke about how we were going to communicate to our customers. Before we had a focused message, you could see the level of frustration in our team when it came to ensuring we shared the same stories when approaching customers. Ultimately, the messaging process had as much internal impact as much as it did externally.
Dodge: What about challenges?
Moore: It’s easy to say “we want to reach everyone and see who comes.” When we decided to pick and choose audiences, we had to make hard decisions when we chose not to focus on certain audiences. But you’ll miss a lot more if you make a diluted message that tries to apply to anybody. We’re trying to get down to something very personable even if that means that, over time, we have numerous personalized messages tailored to different customer bases.
Dodge: What would you say to other start-ups planning a significant launch?
Moore: Don’t do it without going through a formal process. Even if you think you know your customers and think you know what you want to say, it’s crucial to put in the effort to go through and formalize the process. It may be eye opening – even revealing – and you’ll feel more confident about it.
As you go through this planning phase, it’s just as important to involve a third party. It’s a tendency among startups to do everything by yourself. The risk of crafting a plan without an outside viewpoint is that you become too shortsighted. Even if they’re just asking questions or acting as a moderator, it is very worth having that validator.
In the end, if you’re afraid to test your message – meaning that you’re afraid to spend a little money on it and be exposed to someone who will challenge and question you – I would say that it’s not right, and you don’t believe in it.
To read Moore’s full interview, visit our latest newsletter “Building your brand: inside, outside and from the ground up.”