Do you spent a lot of time on marketing messages? Persuasive marketing messaging is a time consuming activity, isn’t it?. A proven tactic for engaging and influencing audiences is media framing marketing messages. Have you ever given this tactic a try? Let us elaborate.
Framing works because it taps into the human brain’s way of sorting and managing information in a world of distractions. In other words, people see and interpret the world through mental filters constructed by personal beliefs, cultural influences and other aspects of peoples’ character.
If you think of these filters in terms of the framework they provide a person, you can see how and why people come to different conclusions and make different choices — even when they’re exposed to the exact same data.
When thinking how to frame marketing messages, consider these questions:
What you say in a marketing message matters.
How you say it matters equally.
So the way you frame communication, or how you say something, could be extremely effective at persuading people to using your product or service more.
Framing is the simple idea that different ways of presenting the same information will evoke different emotional reactions, and thus influence a person’s decision.
Media framing examples
A classic example of how framing impacts opinion and choice is an experiment by Kahneman and Tversky (1984) that monitored patients’ decisions on whether or not to undergo a surgical procedure. The study revealed that people tend to more often agree to a surgery if risks are presented in terms of survival rates.
Here is the example:
“the odds of survival one month after surgery are 90%” is more reassuring than the equivalent statement of, “mortality within one month of surgery is 10%.”
Although these statements present the same information, they bring drastically different associations to mind. With the former, it’s easy to envision an outcome of survival and thus be willing to go through with the surgery. The latter evokes the thought of dying and people would be less likely to take the perceived risk of the surgery.
Even if both outcomes are the same, people tend to make different choices based on how a scenario is framed.
So, how do you frame messages effectively? First a few definitions:
Framing is how you use a “frame of communication.”
Frames are story lines that make an issue relevant to a particular audience. Framing is putting a particular frame on factual details.
Framing effects occur when a message frame alters someone’s opinion on an issue.
Media framing … how framing applies to marketing design
We have talked about framing messages, but what’s that got to do with marketing? Everything. Frames consist of the words, images, metaphors, comparisons and presentation styles to communicate an issue.
Communications expert Mathew Nisbet, professor at Northeastern University, states:
“There is no such thing as unframed information, and most successful communicators are adept at framing.”
Nisbet makes it clear: Accounting for framing should be a part of your overall marketing messaging strategy.
So how do you frame a marketing message?
Identify Your target audience
First, decide exactly whom you are speaking to. You can identify your target audience in a number of ways. Involve as many of your core team members as possible. Have you done any research on audience segmentation? If so, start by creating a message that will appeal to one of your largest audience segments. If you haven’t discussed your target audience, now is a good time to start.
There is one important rule for identifying a target audience. Your key audience cannot be everybody!
Identify a message frame
Many frame options exist. Choose one, and use it consistently throughout your messaging. Consider these examples of frames:
We know that people make decisions based on more than just the facts alone. Values-based frames access users’ underlying values to motivate them to engage in a desired behavior.
This frame highlights the financial benefits of engaging in a particular behavior.
This focuses on what users will gain from engaging (or not engaging) in a particular behavior.
A loss frame focuses on what users will lose from engaging (or not engaging) in a behavior.
Frame marketing messages with framing elements
Message creators need to consider additional elements when framing a message:
Messages are more compelling when they contain “best,” “worst,” “first,” “last” and other words that create a sense of urgency.
Users should encounter your message multiple times, in multiple places.
Users should be able to easily understand the message.
Use of metaphors
Metaphors make abstract topics more concrete or understandable.
Create strong statement on product or service
What do you want people to take away from your message? You can’t assume that you can bury this under an avalanche of witty euphemisms or roundabout references to what your product does. Be clear.
Incorporate the following principles to create a strong and clear message.
Focus on how great the product is or how important the cause is, rather than how terrible the alternatives are (doing that would just make your product seem less bad, not more good). If you cast stones at the competition, expect nothing but the same in return.
Empower your users
Your message should explicitly show how using your product will give users more control. For example, telling users that your financial management software will put them in charge of their financial future makes for a much stronger message than simply noting how many options the software provides for sorting transactions in different categories.
By avoiding jargon, you avoid assuming that your audience has background knowledge of your product. If your target audience is heavily involved in your field, then you might want to incorporate some industry-specific language to make a stronger connection with those users. You don’t always have to target the lowest common denominator; however, doing so allows your message to be understandable to the broadest number of potential users.
Tell users what you want them to do
Do you want users to purchase something, to get more information, to call their local politician? Be explicit and direct. If you have constructed an effective message, then be confident in stating what you want the audience to do with that information. Your message’s visual design is critical to this point. Are you clearly displaying what actions your users should take?
If you think of marketing message framing as filters for consumers, you can see how and why people come to different conclusions and make different choices — even when they’re exposed to the exact same data.
Spending time to frame your messages is definitely worth your time.
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Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.
11 Steps to Media Framing Messages for Optimum Engagement