When is Counter-Messaging Important?


With all the talk about content marketing and pushing out the right message, we sometimes lose site of the fact that in some cases, the message that is pushed out must be counter-messaging. Whether it is the president trying to defend his healthcare plan or a company whose product is under attack by a competitor, there is a time when counter-messaging is appropriate.

The key is to counter the arguments against your product or company without coming off defensive. That can be a very fine line. Choosing the right words or phrase for your message is imperative. Just as in human interaction, getting angry and just throwing darts at the competition is not counter-messaging; that is counter-productive.

Remember Toyota’s problem of a couple of years ago concerning abrupt acceleration? They took a tremendous hit to their reputation and barb after barb from the competition who challenged them on safety. After they absorbed all of the blows and let the dust settle, their counter message was to institute a 2-year free maintenance plan with every new car. It took some of the immediate sting away and ultimately, over time, Toyota gained back most of their followers.

Every situation is different but finding the right balance for your counter-message is the key. Just as Toyota did, let the dust settle first. We have all sent emails that we regretted before we cooled off. The same logic applies here. Plan your approach with a clear mind and focus on the outcome you wish to achieve. Make sure marketing, sales and the entire management team is all on the same page. Then, go for it.


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