Regardless of whether you’re starting a business, product, or service, a messaging framework is a key element that you can’t do without.
Your messaging framework captures the reason your business existed. Creating it will help you understand your business better – not just what it is doing, but how and why. In addition, you can communicate all of this to the market.
What is a messaging framework?
A messaging framework is a structured representation of what your company and your products stand for. The framework exercise is a systematic way of defining the value you bring to your customers.
Not only does it communicate the what, why, and how of your company to its target audience, but it also becomes a step-by-step guide for the company to observe itself about the true worth of your company.
Why do you need a messaging framework?
As you define your messaging framework, keep the famous saying, “The journey is more important than the destination.” Going through the process of introducing, formulating, and formulating your company’s core message will help you better understand your offerings, the value they bring to your customers, and develop a strong sense of your company. A well-formed framework should give all of the company’s stakeholders – from product and marketing to sales and customer service – a better sense of purpose and lay the foundation for your mission statement.
A messaging framework is also the foundation for all of your content endeavors: it’s a starting point for marketing campaigns, promotional content, white papers, and websites.
With a frame …
- Customers know who you are and how you are different from other companies.
- Sales knows the most important differentiating factors.
- Marketing will have a solid foundation for future content resources.
- All teams are aligned with the purpose and mission of the company.
It’s now a recognized fact that B2B buyers complete 70% of the buying journey with their own independent research before even speaking to a sales rep. This means your messages are more relevant than ever.
And because the messages are aligned between them, marketing and sales teams are more likely to close deals and are far more efficient at doing so.
Try this: Invite members of all your teams to a meeting and ask the representative of each department a few questions …
- What do we do?
- What is our goal?
- Who are our clients?
In most cases, you will hear very different answers from each representative. This response area means that there is an alignment gap. A well-defined messaging framework fills the void and puts everyone on the same page.
Illustration based on Hilary Marsh, Managing the Politics of Content
How do you build a messaging framework?
1. Talk to decision makers
Set up a meeting with each of your stakeholders: the CEO, CTO, CMO, and the head of customer support. During the meetings, hear their ideas about the company’s brand equity and target customer. Try to create an alignment around each concept. Then speak to the sales, marketing, and product teams for insights into each team’s customer understanding. In-depth discussions are an important exercise in creating and ensuring alignment. They provide you with the data that will tell if your messages are on point and effective.
2. Understand the customer
Company news needs to reflect not only where you stand, but also what customers think – especially about the value you offer them. Dig deep to develop a nuanced understanding of who your customers are: call them directly, interview them, and speak to multiple stakeholders in their organization.
3. Study your competitors
Understanding the market is critical to defining your own value proposition. If a competitor offers a service similar to yours, can you only provide it better, or does it have features that your competitor doesn’t? A close analysis of your competitors’ messages will give you some insight into the tone (playful, professional, friendly, authoritative?) And language you should be using. Find out about case studies and testimonials from competitors to better understand their messages and customers.
4. Define your messaging DNA
Your messaging DNA is made up of the fundamental elements that hold your framework like pillars – your unique brand values and customer benefits. They need to be repeated in all communication. In my company, the pillars are, for example, alignment (internal and external), specialist knowledge (in product marketing and technology) and reliability (as an extended marketing arm for our customers).
The pillars of the company should reinforce all news at every stage and across all media and in all campaigns.
5. Assign pain points to key messages
Don’t dance around the point of your message – a good marketer will go straight for the carotid artery! The company behind a website that has a lot of information but doesn’t give you clear information probably didn’t build a messaging framework.
Associating messages with your customer’s vulnerabilities is a formula for success. Defining the messages in the framework before creating your assets sets the tone not only for your marketing team, but also for your sales reps and support team.
What messaging resources should you have?
Once you’ve followed the previous steps, you’re ready to start writing. Align your teams with your common framework and work on the following resources:
- Header. Summarize in 25 words what your company does. This is especially effective when building a website. Find words that both communicate who you are and what you do – and get your potential lead’s attention within the first five seconds.
- Elevator presentation. Create an appealing and informative 55 to 100 word description of your company and discuss your company’s goals, mission, history and successes in detail. Elevator parking is especially helpful for your PR team and executives, who should all be using the same expressions to strengthen the company’s brand and values.
- Brand promise. In a maximum of 10 words, define what employees should remember about your company. In many cases, the brand promise is your tagline. In the case of my company, the promise is, “Alignment is at the core of everything we do.” It is not only aimed at customers, but is also intended to reinforce our internal alignment message.
- Mission statement. This is a tough question that many companies and startups want to avoid. The mission statement is a bigger idea than the brand promise. It’s about the impact your organization wants to have on your community, society, or the world. The definition requires a lot of introspection and a deep understanding of the company. Hence it usually comes from the executives of the company.
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A messaging framework will inspire both your customers and your employees. A little work to develop one goes a long way and you get the benefits of internal and external alignment.