Think one clever tagline will suffice for your product message? For an effective sales and marketing effort, it won’t. Instead, you need a Product Messaging Map, a go-to, internal document that ensures everyone in the company communicates your story consistently.
Why you need a Messaging Map
I refer to a Messaging Map as the source of truth for your message. Creating a brochure? Turn to the Messaging Map. Writing website content? Pull out the Messaging Map. Onboarding a new salesperson? Give them the Messaging Map.
A Messaging Map ensures everyone talks about your product or company the same way. That consistency is key, especially when launching a new product.
In my work with early-stage technology companies over the years, I’ve learned that most companies don’t have one. They might have a single high-level message, but no supporting messages – and therefore no consistency.
Without a map in place, writing a brochure becomes a debate. Do we say this? And if we do, how do we say it?
With a map in place, the hard work is done. You have the consistent truth. You can hand off the map to a copywriter or your sales team, and you’ll know that the landing page copy or sales pitch they create will be spot-on.
The Key Components to the Messaging Map
This is an unshakeable, universal truth that is true across the spectrum for your target customers.
If you imagine the Messaging Map as a pyramid, the core premise sits at the top. All other messages sit below and support it.
If you were selling office commuters a teleporting machine, your core premise might be this: “Commuting every day in traffic sucks.” Could your prospects possibly disagree?
I once worked with a client that provides network analysis software. Our ideal buyer had their staff sifting through thousands of alerts every day to identify the few critical ones. Here is the core premise we created: “It is humanly impossible to track and understand thousands of changing system metrics in real-time.” This statement got nothing but head nods from our target customers.
Once you have a core premise, you have the foundation to build an irresistible value proposition.
Your positioning statement identifies what your product is and who it’s for.
Positioning is the place that your product owns in your buyer’s mind. For example, on-demand car transportation. What company do you think of as the leader?
Building your positioning statement will require deep competitive research. But don’t underestimate the importance of having conversations with your customers or future prospects. Their input is the best way to define how your company or products are different.
If your product is a new concept, the positioning statement must attach the new idea to a term that people already know. Think device vulnerability management or electric car.
The brand promise is both the ultimate promise to the end-user and what your core organization is all about.
BMW promises the ultimate driving machine; their cars are all about performance. Whole Foods promises fresh and healthy groceries. Apple promises innovative technology.
Each value pillar describes in one or two words the benefit that customers will get when they buy from you. I try to stick with just three pillars to keep the messaging focused.
Here are the value pillars I developed recently for a cybersecurity client: Prioritization, Risk Visibility, Orchestration. This boiled down to the simple acronym “PRO,” which made the value proposition easy for their sales reps to recall.
Once you determine each value pillar, write a value statement – one sentence that explains each pillar – followed by value details, the supporting benefits and product features.
Messaging by Persona
Decision makers, key influencers and end users have different needs and challenges, and therefore they value different use cases.
Using the “PRO” value pillar example, the Chief Information Security Officer at your target company will care most about Risk Mitigation. While the Director of Security Operations will most value these two pillars: Prioritization and Orchestration.
The Messaging Map ensures that you talk to both groups in a consistent way.
This artfully and succinctly combines all of the above: core premise, positioning, brand promise and value pillars. It is often tweaked based on the persona you are talking to, but it is always consistent.
You say you can do it, so prove it. How long have you been in business? How many customers have you served? Who are your biggest clients?
It’s a Living Document, and It Will Need to Be Updated
A Messaging Map isn’t a one-and-done. The market will tell you when it needs to be revisited and updated. For example, your sales team might learn about additional value points after talking to customers. If you don’t evolve over time, people might stop engaging with your content.
Your Messaging Map is a living document.
Just don’t undertake major changes to your assets (sales materials, website, etc.) unless/until your Messaging Map has also been changed.
If you have any questions about Messaging Maps, please reach out.