Think Like a Customer

Getting to the Heart with Core Messaging

Michiana is an agricultural service and supply company from northern Indiana. They build and outfit barns for poultry and swine operations. They send out a hobby farm and a commercial supply catalog every year. After-service and solar installation are also key offerings. 

Several years ago Michiana’s owner, JD, attended an Anabaptist Financial workshop led by Rosewood founder, Roy Herr. JD says, “Roy really brought out the ROI in marketing. That was when it clicked. How much of my marketing is really bringing in revenue? I decided it was time to work with a professional marketing company.”

JD came to Rosewood and joined the Marketing Guide Path.

First Stops on  the Marketing Guide Path

The Rosewood onboarding process begins with two key components to put our clients on the Marketing Guide path: (a) Marketing Strategy Consultation and (b) Development of a Core Messaging Document. The Marketing Strategy Consultation is a broad-spectrum analysis of the company’s market conditions and positioning, complete with a marketing strategy and annual marketing plan. 

The Core Messaging Document is a descriptive build-out of the ideal customers, competitors, and the messaging foundation we will use to speak to these customers. Rosewood’s core messaging provides key insight for our clients’ internal understanding of their market. It is also an invaluable reference guide for Rosewood’s writers and designers as they create marketing materials.

As the team at Rosewood began the Messaging development process for Michiana, clarity began to emerge. “There are often obscure pieces that are key to understanding how the ideal customer thinks, how key competitors are communicating to this prospect, and how we should customize our message accordingly. Our core messaging process lifts this out. It’s always amazing to see how this process brings clarity and depth to the marketing message,” says Luke, one of Rosewood’s messaging consultants.

“There are often obscure pieces that are key to understanding how the ideal customer thinks, how key competitors are communicating to this prospect, and how we should customize our message accordingly.”

The Puzzle Pieces of the Message 

Discovering Michiana’s core message took many hours of research, discussion, and whiteboard diagrams. Luke says, “It is a natural inclination to speak about ourselves in marketing in a way that makes our company the hero, in an attempt to gain the attention of our ideal customer.” 

Luke shares further, “But it is important to zero in on what really matters to the customer. The core messaging document lifts these things out and provides the guidance to communicate in a way that makes the customer the hero.”

Michiana’s Core Messaging Document distills the key messaging information for the company. It: 

1. Defines Michiana’s brand. 

2. Explains Michiana’s unique selling proposition. 
3. Profiles Michiana’s customers (personas) and competitors. 

4. Shows which products connect with which personas.

5. Lays out components in a StoryBrand-inspired master messaging script.

Personas–The Folks Whom Michiana Serves

The most difficult but most important part of the core messaging process was profiling Michiana’s personas.  

We divided Michiana’s ideal customers into five distinct categories based on their interests, needs, tastes, and pain points. For each category, we assigned a persona1; for example, Peter Plaingrower, Carson Growermann, Ivan Integrator, etc. 

“The biggest thing is making it a habit to think from the customer’s perspective.”

The process included anaylzing the demographics2 and psychographics3 of Michiana’s customers. We explored the goals, common objections, and problems that each persona faces as they shop for Michiana’s products and services. We showed how each persona will reach success and avoid failure by choosing Michiana. 
Deeply understanding each persona enables Michiana to “speak their customers’ language” so their customers will say, “They get me. They know what I want. They can help me reach my goals.” 

The Invisible Puzzle Piece 

Luke says, “One of the unique things that the core messaging process identified for Michiana was that they didn’t only work for the end users.” Michiana needed to take into account another persona that Luke dubbed Ivan Integrator.

In the confinement farming industry, integrators are companies like Tyson Foods. While the integrators don’t buy directly from Michiana, they advise their producers (Michiana’s customers) whether or not to choose Michiana depending on Michiana’s reputation. Luke says, “The integrators are an invisible piece that holds everything together.” 

A clear, consistent professional message on Michiana’s website and ads signals to these integrators that Michiana is a high-quality installer. In the end, getting the integrators on board could gain Michiana many customers. 

What Makes Them Tick?

In both the commercial and the small farm categories, Michiana serves two personas: one non-Plain and one Plain. While each persona may buy the same products, they have very different reasons for doing what they’re doing. 

Take Peter Plaingrower and Carson Growermann. Plaingrower’s operation enables a lifestyle he wants to preserve for his family. Growermann is also a family man, but his operation is a side hustle to bring in extra income for family vacations with his RV. Luke says, “Understanding subtleties like that make all the difference when writing ads.”

Thinking like a customer isn’t intuitive. It needs to be rooted in research and relationship. JD says, “What I’ve really discovered working with Luke. . . He’s always saying, ‘Who’s the customer? How are they thinking?’ The biggest thing is making it a habit to think from the customer’s perspective.” 

Is It Time to Find Your Message? 

Before JD began the messaging process, he already knew that he needed to clarify who Michiana is and who they serve. However, defining Michiana’s core message helped him focus. “It reassured me that narrowing down our product line would better serve the customer,” says JD. “I would recommend Rosewood. They were very professional. It was all about meeting our needs and serving us.” 

Do you know who your clients are and what they really want? Begin the process of discovery today. 

If you are interested in nourishing your business with holistic business strategy and marketing, please contact Rosewood to schedule a call with one of our sales reps. Our sales reps will help you decide if Rosewood Marketing is the right fit for assisting you with your business goals. Visit our website to learn more. 

A persona is a fictitious character that embodies the mentality of a particular customer category.

Demographic analysis is the study of a population based on factors such as age, race, and sex. Demographic data refers to socioeconomic information expressed statistically including employment, education, income, marriage rates, birth and death rates, and more.

Psychographics is the study of consumers based on their activities, interests, and opinions (AIOs). Psychographics seeks to understand the cognitive factors that drive consumer behaviors.

About the Author Cari Hochstetler is a copywriter at Rosewood Marketing. She enjoys seeing creativity bring wonder and hope to the world. Contact Cari at