Is your company message delicious and sticky? Or, is it watered down and bland?

As a child one of my favorite events of the spring was making maple syrup. As the snow would begin to melt, we would head out into the woods. Holes would be drilled in trees for the spouts that would gather sap into buckets. Then, we would drag 40 gallon barrels through the woods to collect the sap.

In the middle of the forest was the sugar shack. This housed a firebox with a vat on top. The sap would be poured into the vat. Over the following hours the sap would be boiled down to create the most delicious substance on earth: maple syrup.

It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The sap tastes like the melted ice after finish a soft drink. There is a little bit of sugar, but no one would say it is delicious. Maple syrup, however, is sweet, smooth, and sticky—pure joy.

Your company message needs to be delicious and sticky. Creating this message is very similar to making maple syrup.

Here are three things we can learn from the process of making maple syrup.

1. Start With the Your Ideal Clients

Maple syrup begins at the source: the trees. In your business, the trees are your clients. What is important to them? What outcomes do they want? What are their biggest aspirations? What are their largest challenges? These are the ingredients for your message.

Look, you can make fake maple syrup by mixing some high fructose corn syrup with some artificial maple flavor. You can buy it for about $3 a bottle. Guess what? We all know it’s fake.

Similarly, you can sit in a conference room and mix up some corporate buzzwords to create a marketing message. To your clients it will be as genuine as cheap pancake syrup.

Start with what your ideal clients want. Listen to what they say. Write down their specific words and phrases. These are the ingredients to your message.

(More ideas in this article: Value Is In the Eye of the Beholder.)

2. Boil It Down

In Find Your Yellow Tux, Jesse Cole says that we need to simplify our message. You know your message is good if a five year old can repeat it back to you.

How do you simplify the message? You take the raw ingredients of what your clients want and boil it down. This takes time. Bit by bit, you remove the non-essential parts. What remains is the good stuff.

With maple syrup, the process of boiling slowly removes the flavorless water. What remains is the sweet syrup.

Most corporate messages are watered down. They need to be distilled. 

Start with a 30-second elevator pitch. Then, Cole recommends that you boil your message down to a sentence. You know you’ve arrived if you get it down to a word.

3. Test Your Message

In the sugar shack a seasoned expert is responsible for tasting the syrup. The taster determines if it is good. 

The taste-testers for your message are your clients. As you distill your message, get feedback from your ideal clients. Does it resonate? Do they get it? Are they inspired? If not, keep boiling it down.

Maple syrup takes work. Creating a focused message that resonates with your ideal clients and prospects takes work as well. In both cases, the work is worth it. At the end you have something delicious, unique, and valuable.