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Messaging Research – MMR’s POV

By Susan Sabanos, VP Client Relationships

Why It Matters

Effective marketing messages are the tip of the spear for a successful business strategy.  Messages trigger consumer interest by communicating the brand promise, its unique value and product benefits.  Pre-testing a messaging strategy with a well-designed research approach is essential to ensure that target consumers receive the intended news, facts and brand truths that ultimately generate revenue and brand power.


To provide clients with a wholistic view, MMR’s message testing research recognizes the central role that messages play in business performance and considers brand/product connection, media channel consistency, and campaign continuity.  Essential guard rails for research design include:

– Messaging is the central core of a communications strategy. Whether it has a big ad campaign built around it or is more modestly executed, sound message development and testing ensures that it will resonate with target consumers, differentiate your brand, and drive revenue.

– Messaging should connect to the brand and product-positioning strategy.

– Messaging should be consistent across marketing channels, and testing should occur across multiple mediums to ensure that the target audience is being reached with the same marketing idea.

The Tools

Our approach to message testing reflects where the message is in the development process – i.e., message concept message element to finished ad. Essential performance metrics include appeal, interest, likeability, impact on brand perception, brand fit, benefit delivery, uniqueness, relevance, comprehension, main message playback, likes/dislikes, and very importantly, emotional resonance.

Effective messaging is about creating a connection with the brand, which makes measuring emotional resonance indispensable. Ultimately, brand connection is the only true differentiator in the marketplace. Depending on the stage of development we are in, we have a variety of tools at our disposal to measure emotional response. In earlier stages, we have experienced great success with Morphii®, a validated visual tool that leverages established academic research on Facial Action Coding System (FACS).  In later stages, we often recommend eye tracking with heat-map output to determine what message and creative elements break through to captivate and engage consumers.

Organizations are continuously developing messages for a wide range of purposes, channels, and markets. We help clients develop comprehensive message testing research programs rather than individual one-off studies. A wholistic message testing program provides highly valuable organizational knowledge about what messaging works and what doesn’t work.

An effective messaging strategy is essential for business growth.  Investing in a well-thought-out, deliberate research program that evaluates and refines messaging strategy helps marketers communicate the brand’s most important benefits, integrate differentiating emotional triggers and fortify brand connection.