Define your message—before you start creating content
Does this scenario sound familiar? Two months before a new product launch, you need a lot of content, and you need it fast: a web page, solution brief, blog post, infographic, tweets, and more. But your content creation team has more questions than answers.
Sure, you’ve got the specs for the new product. You generally understand what it does and why people will think it’s cool.
But what do you want to say about it? What are the key challenges that it addresses? What are the most important benefits it delivers? Why is it better than competing products? If you can tell your customers only one thing about the product, what would it be? If you’re not sure, it’s time to take a step back—and begin with a messaging document.
Why start with messaging?
Two important reasons dictate crafting a messaging document before diving into individual assets: consistency and efficiency.
Consistency: Your marketing assets need to work together to consistently convey essential ideas to your audience. The three benefits that you highlight in a solution brief should be the same three benefits that stand front and center on a web page.
Crafting a messaging document helps ensure that you retain consistency across assets, even if those assets are created over time, by a range of people. You can distribute a single messaging document to all content creators so they have a single version of the truth to refer to and draw from as they compose new content.
Efficiency: A messaging document can also help dramatically streamline the process of creating individual assets. Once the primary messaging and supporting points are defined and articulated, content creators no longer have to start from a blank page. They can draw from (and sometimes cut and paste from) the messaging document to produce the assets. Content creators can focus on tailoring messages and content for each asset—your key message will probably be expressed differently in a white paper as opposed to an infographic.
The process of reviewing and approving individual assets will also go faster. Team members help fine-tune the key messages and some content as part of the messaging document review process, so there will be less work to do when it’s time to review individual assets.
What should you include in your messaging document?
Messaging document format varies, but most organizations benefit from including the six key elements:
- Audience: Define your audience. Identify the target roles (such as executives, business users, IT administrators) as well as the intended size of organizations (small, medium, large businesses) and any specific industries. If you are trying to engage multiple roles or several types of organizations, consider defining the unique needs or challenges of each group.
- Challenges: What are the key factors that will drive your audience to your solution? Identify any industry drivers and any important hurdles that might make a particular organization likely to adopt your solution. If you have metrics that support your claims, include them along with their proper citations. Content creators can incorporate those metrics into assets.
- Value proposition: Boil down the value of your solution into one succinct statement—the “elevator pitch” or the “30,000-foot view.” In many cases, you will develop this value proposition last, once you’ve established several messaging pillars.
- Messaging pillars: The messaging “pillars” are the three or four top messages that serve as the supporting foundation for the overarching value proposition. These pillars should be engaging ideas that explain how and why your solution delivers the value that you claim it delivers. Aim for a single word or phrase that captures the idea and generates some excitement. Then expand on the idea in supporting text or bullet points.
- Proof points: You might claim that your new server has the greatest performance of any server available, but can you prove it? In this section of the document, include any evidence that can support your value proposition and messaging pillars. You might include metrics derived from tests, survey results, or even testimonials from customers—anything that content creators (and sales teams, down the line) can use to buttress your claims.
- Sample content: Once your team members have agreed on the value proposition and messaging pillars, compose some content that can be used in individual assets. Consider providing content for each of the pillars as well as the overarching value proposition. You might create headlines or taglines as well as 25-, 50-, and 100-word blurbs that content creators can draw from. The more you create now, the less work you will have to do for each of the assets.
When you’re under a time crunch, justifying the process of assembling a messaging document before you start writing individual assets might seem challenging. But by creating a messaging document first, you can help ensure consistent messages across assets and significantly enhance the efficiency of asset creation.
At TDA Group, we help many of our clients create messaging documents before commencing work on individual assets. Working with a single team for both messaging and content creation can further accelerate content creation and improve efficiency.
Ready to hear how we can help your team craft engaging messaging? Drop us a line.