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Who Are You? The 5 Key Components of a Core Messaging Document

Will Davis | May 21, 2010

With apologies to rock icons The Who – and I suppose the CSI TV franchise as well – this is one of the biggest challenges many companies face.  If you think about it, I’m sure that you see this all the time too. Whether it’s an elevator pitch at a networking event that leaves you wondering what it is that this person does or a disjointed marketing effort that just doesn’t hit the right chords – a lot of people out there have a messaging problem.

When working with a client, one of the very first places we start is to take a look at their messaging — It’s critical that their messaging is consistent.  When done right, everyone in the company should be singing from the same hymnal on who the company is, what they do, and most importantly how their clients/customers benefit from using them (more on that last one in a moment).  To address these pieces, we create one place where this all lives — a Core Messaging Document.

This document then guides everything you do from a marketing perspective, and serve as the platform for all of your messaging.  Everything you do moving forward will be anchored to this, so you want to make sure you take the proper approach.

With all that in mind, here are the 5 Key Components of a Core Messaging Document

1). Unique Value Proposition & Key Benefits

Right out of the gates this is where a whole lot of people fall down.  In this section, you should be able to describe in just a few sentences the unique tangible value people get from your product or service.  Make sure it also passes the “so what” test – meaning it has to grab people and be interesting.

Your Unique Value Proposition should be benefits focused.  This is also where a whole lot of people go wrong.  They can’t wait to tell you about all their features instead of telling you the benefits they provide.  Features don’t grab you – benefits do.

Since you may have many benefits, often it will make sense to outline a number of key benefits below the value proposition, and a sentence that supports each of them and how they resolve a potential customer’s pain point.

2). The Elevator Pitch

The next piece is the Elevator Pitch.  This is your 30 second response to the “what do you do” question and should fall directly out of the value proposition and benefits you outlined in the step above.  Again, make sure you focus heavily on the benefits here – why should I take time to care what you do? – once they care then you can get into the details, (features).

3). Boilerplate

This is the short 2-3 sentence description of who you are and what you do, and again falls right out of the value proposition.  The places people use most frequently are in press releases, or short online directory submissions.  Company X is a ……… etc.

4). Buyer Personas, Pains and Your Solution

This part will likely be the largest part of your document, but don’t let that scare you.  In this section, start by listing out each of the buyer roles (i.e. marketing), and representative titles (i.e. VP Marketing, CMO, Marketing Director).  Then create 3 columns, one for Buyer Goals/Objectives, one for Buyer Potential Pains and one for Impact of Pains on Goals.  Depending on how your brain works, you can start by listing out all the Buyer Goals or all of the Pain Points.  Whichever way you start, populate the other column with the corresponding Pain Point or Goal, and then the Impact of the Pains on the goal.  For example:

Buyer Goal: Generate a high volume of leads at a low cost

Buyer Potential Pains: Budget is too small to generate the volume of leads I really need

Impact of Pain on Goals: Low budget means you stay conservative with lead generation choices and you generate a low volume of leads

Once you have addressed all of these, add in a new row at the bottom for your product or service.  In the Buyer Goals/Objectives column list out your solution and how it addresses those goals and objectives.  In the Potential Pains column list out the impact you can have on resolving those pain points, and in the last column list out examples/case studies that prove these out.

Continue this until you have done so for all your different buyer personas and you’ve completed this valuable section that helps you understand how to address all your audiences.

5). Competitive Positioning

Last but not least, list out your key competitors, what their key messages are, and how you are different from each.

With a solid messaging guide containing these 5 key components you are now ready to move forward and tackle that networking event or marketing campaign.  So, as the song says “Tell me who are you?”

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