Whether you are launching a company, product, or service, a messaging framework is a core element you cannot do without.
Your messaging framework captures the reason for the existence of your business. Going through the exercise of creating it helps you to better understand your company—not just what it does but also how and why. Moreover, it helps you communicate all that to the market.
What is a messaging framework?
A messaging framework is a structured representation of what your company and products stand for. The framework exercise is a systematic way of defining the value you bring to your customers.
It not only communicates the what, why, and how of your business to its target audience but also becomes a step-by-step guideline for company introspection about the true value of your business.
Why do you need a messaging framework?
As you set out to define your messaging framework, think of the famous saying, “The journey is more important than the destination.” Going through the process of envisioning, formulating, and articulating your company’s core message allows you to better understand your offerings and the value they bring to your customers, creating a strong sense of commitment to your business. A well-formed framework should give all company stakeholders—from Product and Marketing to Sales and Customer Support—a better sense of purpose, and lay the foundation for your mission statement.
A messaging framework also forms the foundation for all your content efforts: It’s a starting point for marketing campaigns, sales enablement content, whitepapers, and website pages.
With a framework…
By now it’s accepted fact that B2B buyers complete 70% of the purchase journey using their own independent research before they even speak to a sales rep, which means your messaging is more relevant than ever before.
And with aligned messaging between them, marketing and sales teams are much more likely to close deals, and to be much more efficient at doing so.
Try this: Invite members from all your teams to meet together, and ask the representative of each department a few questions…
In most cases, you will hear very different answers from each representative. That range of responses means there is an alignment gap. A clearly defined messaging framework will fill the gap and get everyone on the same page.
Illustration adapted from Hilary Marsh, Managing the Politics of Content
How do you create a messaging framework?
1. Speak to decision-makers
Set up one meeting with each of your stakeholders: the CEO, CTO, CMO, and head of Customer Support. During the meetings, listen their ideas about the company’s brand value and target customer; try to create alignment around each concept. Then speak with the sales, marketing, and product teams to develop insights into each team’s understanding of the customer. In-depth discussions are an important exercise for creating and ensuring alignment, and they provide you with the data that indicates whether your messaging is on point and effective.
2. Understand the customer
Company messaging must reflect not only the company’s own points of view but also customers’ views—particularly about the value you provide to them. Dig deep to develop a nuanced understanding of who your customers are: Call them directly, survey them, and speak to multiple stakeholders in their organization.
3. Study your competitors
Understanding the market is vital to defining your own value proposition. If a competitor is providing a service similar to yours, are you just doing a better job of delivering it or does it have features that your competitor’s doesn’t? A close analysis of your competitors’ messaging will give you insight into the tone (playful, professional, friendly, authoritative?) and language you should be using. Research competitors’ case studies and testimonials to better understand their messaging and customers.
4. Define your messaging DNA
Your messaging DNA is made up of the foundational elements that hold up your framework like pillars—your unique brand values and customer benefits. They must be reiterated across all communication. For instance, at my company, the pillars are alignment (internal and external), expertise (in product marketing and technology), and reliability (acting as an extended marketing arm for our clients).
Company pillars should reinforce all messaging at every stage and via all media and in all campaigns.
5. Map pain points to key messages
Don’t dance around the point of your message—a good marketer goes straight for the jugular! The company behind a website that has a lot of information but doesn’t give you a clear takeaway probably hasn’t created a messaging framework.
Mapping messages to your customer’s pain points is a winning formula. Defining the messages in the framework prior to creating your assets will set the right tone not just for your marketing team but also for your sales reps and support team.
What messaging assets should you have?
Once you complete the previous steps, you’ll be ready to commence writing. Align your teams on your common framework and work on the following assets:
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A messaging framework will inspire your customers as well as your employees. A little work on developing one will go a long way, and you’ll reap the benefits of both internal and external alignment.