A message map is a framework used to create compelling, relevant messages for various audience segments. It also serves as an organizational alignment tool to ensure message consistency. Whether you are launching your company, introducing the next big product, or preparing for other major marketing campaigns, messaging mapping is an important step in communicating effectively.
There are numerous variations of message map frameworks out there, some very basic and some quite elaborate and complex. For the purpose of this introductory blog, I will cover the basic, core elements of a message map, applying them to a massively-popular fictitious company called Wendy's Widgets (WW).
WW is about to launch a major software upgrade. They have determined the launch date and key marketing activities, leading with an industry trade show. To prepare for these activities, product management, sales, and marketing meet to create a message map.
5 Steps to Developing Message Mapping
- Identify key audience segments. Because the launch coincides with an industry trade show, there are several distinct groups of people that the WW staff will be targeting, including media, investors, existing customers, and potential customers. For a deeper dive, you can break these segment groups down further into audience persona profiles.
Another consideration is to explore potential roadblocks for these customers. You'll want to truly understand your audience's pain points and what objections they may have so that you can speak to them directly. Need help? Check out this guide to interviewing customers so you can understand precisely the challenges they face.
- Discuss high-level goals for the audience segment. What do we want from the audience? Options include:
- Product sales
- Media coverage
- Word-of-mouth references
- Web visits
- Content Downloads
Our free eBook, Smart Marketing for Engineers: Product Launches dives deeper into goals and KPIs for product launches.
- Discuss core messages and speaking points.
Review your core brand position and message. How can WW software be used? How does it support and relate to your overall corporate message? Make a running list of the major benefits and features of the software.
- Map key message to audience segments. Look back at your audience segments from Step 1. Cluster those features and benefits under the audience segment that would care about the feature/benefit. During this step, be specific and selective. Don't assume that every feature applies to everyone -- it won't. Instead, try and list the most important features/benefits for each audience.
Existing and potential customers will be more interested in benefits and features, while investors want context, such as how the product enhances the product platform or opens new application spaces for the business.
- Create themes and headlines. Review the features you now have listed under each audience segment. What themes relate these features?
Take a next step and write headline messages that make the features and benefits appeal to each specific audience. These headlines can become to basis for your marketing materials -- whether blog posts, news releases, website feature graphics, or additional gated content.
Lastly, write speaking points or supporting details under each theme. This is where you can document industry data, product specs, or application details. Learn more about creating differentiated messages and supporting details here.
Snapshot of a Message Map Summary
Once the group has vetted their WW software upgrade message map, they may choose to test their messages with a limited group of their target audiences and with their sales force, which is often leads to some messaging iteration. The completed message map will be leveraged across multiple marketing activities, such as PR, email marketing, advertising, and presentations. It will also be distributed to sales to gain full alignment behind messages.
As the WW software launch is underway, marketing will measure results of individual activities and gather input from sales. This may lead to further messaging enhancements.
Way to go, Wendy's Widgets, in using message maps to develop and hone messages, forge organizational alignment, and ultimately grow software revenue.
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Developing message maps requires knowing your business goals, buyers and key differentiators. Start developing your marketing foundation by downloading our ebook, "Smart Messaging for Engineers." This ebook starts with corporate positioning and takes you all the way through to creating targeted messages mapped to specific audience segments.