Your team brainstormed an idea that will knock it out of the park — clever, disruptive and engaging.

Congratulations! In the excitement and energy of the kickoff, it can be easy to throw caution to the wind and dive right into creative development, deciding which social media platforms to use, how to track audiences’ behavior and many of the other tactical details of implementation.

But the most important indicator of success for an integrated marketing campaign truly has nothing to do with the visual bells and whistles. Rather, the most important part of your campaign development is identifying your message platform — ultimately, the story you want to tell.

This can appear easy, at first, but often becomes the most challenging part of getting started. How do you talk about your company, product, or service offering — is that your message? Most organizations have a mission statement, or vision statement — is that your message?

Here’s how to define your message for a great start.

Start with your audiences.

Your business may have multiple and diverse audiences that are important to the bottom line — customers, investors or donors, influencers, elected officials, board members, staff, prospective staff or customers, and others. But most often, your marketing campaign is targeting some of these specific audiences, because a campaign that targets everyone can easily become bloated or diluted (not to mention expensive).

Of course, you wouldn’t speak to your staff in the same way you’d speak to a donor. Different messages appeal to different audiences in building trust or motivating someone to take action. That’s why defining your audience is key. Larger campaigns may require market research or focus groups, but even smaller campaigns can benefit from a team brainstorm.

Start with a larger list of all the segments that come to mind, then narrow down to two to four audiences that you can impact through your specific campaign efforts.

Identify what’s important to these audiences.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, dig into their mindset. What keeps them up at night? What matters in their decision-making process? What are their pain points that your company can alleviate? Understanding what your audiences want or need will allow your team to begin to tell the story of how your service, product or offering can help.

For a nonprofit organization, for example, a story about the impact for an individual client may serve as a powerful way to connect with a donor who wants to support programs for homeless women and children. For a prospective customer in IT, a message of efficiency may serve greater impact by speaking to the ability to meet tight deadlines and remain within budget.

Explain how you can help.

Effective messaging comes down to the ability to communicate how your offering — and your offering uniquely — meets an identified need. If you serve women and children in need, how does your organization do so in a way that someone else isn’t already doing? If you purport efficiency in IT services, how does your approach differ from your competitor? What is your unique selling proposition?

This is the stage where it’s easy to fall into jargon, clichés and often-used marketing buzzwords. Resist the urge! Instead, pause and rethink. Consider a brainstorming session or even a gut-check with individuals who aren’t as familiar with your industry, or those who can provide an outside perspective. You can also research how others are talking about a similar need or problem.

Give yourself some space.

There may not always be time to step back and give your marketing message room to breathe for a few days, especially in fast-paced agency life. But if you’re able to leave your ideas and return to them later, a fresh perspective will help you to identify issues and may even help you refine your message to be more concise.

This is also a good time to do a quick Google search and trademark search to ensure your message and/or tagline aren’t already being used in the market.

Once you feel confident and comfortable with your message, then is the time to gather your teams to brainstorm strategies and tactics for deployment. How can this message be carried through branding and design, blog posts, social content, video, media relations and other forms of outreach?

Your campaign planning can truly begin, set on a foundation of one core, powerful message that will be communicated consistently and cohesively across all elements.

And that’s what drives success.

Not sure where to begin with it comes to campaign creation? Let’s talk.