Insight

Developing a Messaging Platform in 4 Simple Steps

Create the foundation for your B2B messaging strategy.
10 . 2 . 2017
Kenny Osborne

Content

Y
ou may have heard a great deal about messaging strategies — about how vital these are for ensuring the effectiveness of your business’ marketing efforts. But what are the essential parts of the strategies, and how do they help you reach more clients? With more than one way to develop a comprehensive messaging policy, there are several key considerations to bear in mind when approaching any systematic messaging exercise. In this post, we’ll cover the benefits of a smart messaging strategy before outlining our tried-and-true method for building an effective plan of attack.
What is a Messaging Strategy?

A messaging strategy is a standardized platform or set of conventions drafted in response to internal assessments and stakeholder interviews. It serves as a template for any future development of marketing deliverables or sales tools. The strategy is the distilled essence of your organization’s core message, and it should factor into everything your marketing team creates. This blueprint gives your team guidelines to reference and general recommendations they can tailor to their specific needs.

An effective strategy consists of at least the following components:

  • A set of customer personas with descriptions
  • A customer journey map
  • A messaging playbook

With these resources on hand, your team can implement policies that reward their efforts and empower your entire business.

Why Formulate a Messaging Strategy?

What do messaging strategies achieve? The simple answer is consistency, but that response only begins to capture the benefits to your business. Yes, messaging strategies work to ensure your marketing team is adhering to your key message and promoting your business’ value propositions and key differentiators. But there are additional advantages to enforcing consistency that extend beyond your marketing department.

Equipping your business’ sales teams with standardized messaging better enables them to sell the services and goods your marketing team is promoting. This symmetry between departments creates a formidable partnership and reduces customer confusion that might arise from the inconsistent use of product terms or benefits. In short, a messaging strategy should not only draw more interest from your marketing efforts, it should aid in achieving more sales conversions.

Finally, a well-researched messaging strategy should speak directly to your target audience in ways that general brand messaging

Without reliable personas to reference, your marketing team is missing the full picture.
cannot. Customer personas give your marketing teams well-defined targets by providing the demographic and value profiles needed to draft meaningful messages for these audiences. You are creating empathy with your audience. Without reliable personas to reference, your marketing team is missing the full picture. Honing a compelling message requires relevant information about the pain points, desires and mentalities of your target audiences. A messaging strategy provides the context from which to glean these crucial insights.

How to Get Started

So you’re sold on the value of a messaging strategy. Now what? The first step is collecting the data needed to draft effective and empathetic messaging recommendations. To ensure your strategy is sound, you should base recommendations on a solid foundation of customer knowledge and internal stakeholder feedback. Interview your company’s subject matter experts to learn all you can about your products and services and the essence of their value propositions. Ask key departments to submit a list of interviewees, then draft questions that will lead your key stakeholders to share the information you need to convey your company’s fundamental story. Collecting the right data requires some forethought, so follow these tips on conducting interviews.

Internal stakeholder interview tips:

  • There are no right or wrong answers: help interviewees open up by soliciting different ideas and opinions.
  • Ask open-ended questions rather than seeking to confirm assumptions.
  • Discuss how audiences are impacted and how they benefit, rather than what they are buying.
  • Go beyond discussing buying decisions to understand the pressures on audience’s minds.
  • Challenge assumptions or clichéd responses.
  • The less you talk, the more you’ll uncover.
1. Building Customer Personas

After interviewing internal stakeholders, start compiling data about your customers. Think about the decision-makers you want your messaging to influence, then identify the types of positions these ideal customers are likely to occupy. Next, draft descriptions of their roles and priorities. This will help you better relate to their needs

A messaging strategy provides the context from which to glean these crucial insights.
and pinpoint the types of services that will alleviate their stress. Adopting the mindset of your customers and inhabiting their points of view places you in the best position to address their concerns. Once you have your customers’ profiles sketched, give each a name. The name are just a little light way to make this exercise more real and less anonymous. These are the customer personas from which you will formulate tailored messages that speak directly to their needs.

Now transfer your customer insights and persona data into a matrix that makes referencing their pain points and professional goals quick and easy. Gathering this information into an accessible spreadsheet will help make building a messaging playbook a painless process.

2. Creating a Customer Journey Map

The second step in developing your messaging strategy involves mapping out a visual representation of your personas’ paths toward conversion. Think of the stages your personas pass through, from initial awareness of your business to final sales conversion and ongoing brand advocacy. Visualize them in a graphical format. Plug in milestones along their unique journeys to mark significant actions or steps toward conversion. Identifying these waypoints gives content developers targets to aim for, and the customer journey map enables you to locate gaps in your existing content. Are certain waypoints underserved? Do you have ample content addressing personas during the initial awareness stages, but nothing targeting them during the post-conversion brand advocacy stage? Conducting a content audit with the aid of the customer journey map will help you identify your needs and ensure you generate content that speaks to the mindset of each of your personas at every stage of their engagement.

3. Writing the Messaging Playbook

You’ve done your homework, conducted interviews and built out personas. Now you’re ready to put your insights into action. The messaging playbook is the culmination of your strategy and achieves the internal consistency and partnerships needed to deliver customers the information and assurance they need to act.

Simply put, the playbook is an easy-to-reference, visually pleasing manual documenting messaging imperatives and serving as the template for all messaging projects. At a minimum, it should include a characterization of all personas, with descriptions, pain points and goals, as well as messaging recommendations that reflect stakeholder insights and satisfy the personas’ professional priorities. Try to match up persona pain points with the corresponding messaging recommendations for quick reference.

4. Putting it to Work

Ideally, the process of drafting new messaging should work like this: a marketing team member references the customer journey map and realizes that one persona lacks recent content serving the conversion stage of engagement. The team member grabs the playbook, consults the persona’s pain points and recommended messaging, and begins to draft content that reflects those insights. It’s a surefire method of generating on-brand messaging that advances your business’ objectives by providing relevant, relatable content your customers crave.

Now you know the benefits and purpose of a solid messaging strategy and are ready to begin drafting your own. Remember, the messaging playbook is only as useful as it is accurate, so don’t rush your discovery process.

Your team will thank you for the effort.

© 2017 AvreaFoster Inc.

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