By Janinne Brunyee
It may not be sexy, but messaging may be one of the most important foundational tasks your team will ever take on. This is true whether you’re launching a new company or a new product or service. Why? Because messaging allows you to communicate the value of what you are delivering to each key audience simply and clearly: investors, customers, partners, employees and more.
Your message allows you to answer the question why? Why should your audience care about your offering? What transformation are you enabling for them? It also allows you to explain briefly how you are delivering value and what tangible results your audience can expect.
There are other reasons to develop messaging as well. A well thought out messaging framework that has been socialized within your organization ensures that everyone is in effect “singing off the same hymn sheet” when asked the question: What does your company do?
One client provided a great example: “If you ask each of the 16 people who work in this group what we do, each one will give a different response.” The impact, internally and externally can be quite significant as customers receive different messages and employees are not really sure what they are working on and why.
Another reason for creating a formalized messaging framework is that it acts as a foundation for creating downstream content – everything from customer presentations, web copy, email templates, press release boilerplates and more. Not only does a messaging framework allow you to spin up content quickly, but it ensures that all content consistently communicates the value that your offering delivers.
Messaging: a three-step process
In reality, the exercise of creating messaging is simultaneously a science and an art. At Boost! Collective, we have developed a methodology, the science, that is a three-step process that starts with uncovering your unique value proposition.
First, we gather all existing audience-facing materials, if any exist, so we can see how you have been talking about your offering to date. Then, we review the websites of three competitors. Our goal is to uncover their implicit messaging so we can develop messaging for you that is unique. We also want to understand what category your competitor’s offerings falls into. This is particularly important if you are creating a new category or are trying to stand out in a crowded field. It’s not enough, for example, to say that your offering is a predictive analytics platform. Clearly, this is too broad and barely gets you into the ballpark. You need to add a few descriptors: Financial performance analytics platform, for example.
Defining your unique value
We then conduct a value proposition workshop with your team during which we ask a series of structured questions designed to uncover three unique value promises you deliver to your audience. These value promises are supported by concrete features or services that allow you to deliver on each promise.
Finally, we interview three people who are representative of your targeted audience – customers, investors, partners etc. We ask them similar questions so that we can validate whether they value the same things that your team identified.
Now comes the art.
We take these inputs and use them to fill out our Messaging Framework template, starting with the three value promises and their supporting points. We also identify two or three audience challenges that each promise resolves.
Delivering an elevator pitch
Then, the magic happens. We write the elevator pitch which ends up being a bit of a “paint-by-numbers’” exercise that draws on the promises, the supporting points and the challenges.
The elevator pitch ends up being 3 paragraphs. The first, ideally, is a single sentence of around 25 words. This sentence should provide the following information:
- The name of your offering
- The category for your offering (i.e. marketing analytics platform)
- The audience you are addressing
- The value you deliver (one or more of your value promises)
How you deliver the value (what your offering does)
This first paragraph should communicate everything you need to convey if you only have limited time and space. It should stand alone.
The second and third paragraphs should each convey a bit more information. By the time you’ve finished, you should have used all three value promises and as many supporting points as are useful. Together, all three paragraphs should total about 100 words.
While this process may seem daunting, it can be completed step-by step. Bringing in impartial outsiders to lead the process who have no skin in the game can be extremely valuable. The key step is to define the unique value that your offering delivers as honestly as possible. This is not the time to be drinking any Kool Aid!
Whether you are a startup, an existing company launching a new product or it’s time to refresh the messaging for an existing product, we would love to work with you. We believe messaging is the first step on the journey to driving deep and authentic connections with your audiences. The next step? Using storytelling to bring your messaging
BOOST! COLLECTIVE is a story-driven marketing and communications firm. We work collaboratively to discover, create and tell powerful stories that drive deep engagement.