Effective content can help you build a rapport with customers, establish your credibility, and answer common questions, among other benefits. You’re likely already doing content marketing as part of your overall digital strategy. However, juggling your content can be tricky with so many digital platforms and types of content available. With message maps, you can refine your content strategy to make sure the right messages hit the right audiences. Here's how to get started.
What is a Message Map?
A message map is a chart or diagram containing your main message and its supporting messages, as well as evidence for each. If you were making a message map for your unique value proposition, you would put your key differentiator at the top of the map, followed by key points that illustrate it.
These maps are core to your messaging strategy because they help you identify which parts of your message will resonate with different audiences. You can use them to better communicate with potential customers based on the features of your product or service that would most appeal to them.
4 Reasons Why You Should Develop Message Maps
Message maps aren’t just great for content. They can help you refine your whole marketing strategy, crafting clever copy that resonates. Consider these benefits of message maps for your business.
1. Relatable Messages That Resonate With Your Audience
Content marketing is one of the most popular marketing tactics employed by 82% of companies. It’s important for content and other advertising copy to catch an audience’s attention. In the olden days of marketing, you had fewer channels and had to appeal to a broad audience. If you were advertising in the newspaper, your aim would be to create a message that resonated with the highest percentage of readers.
Now, most customers expect personalization from brands. Customers are more likely to buy from companies offering them personalized experiences, which may include advertising. According to McKinsey research, the companies that get personalization right see 40% more revenue than average.
Digital marketing platforms such as social media, connected TV, and pay-per-click ads allow you to segment your audience based on their interests, demographics, and other criteria. With a message map, you can determine which aspects of your product or service matter most to people who meet these criteria and tailor your messaging to their interests. Knowing your audience allows you to create relevant and engaging content that can drive interaction with your brand.
2. Aligned Messaging Between the Marketing and Sales Teams
Consistent messaging helps solidify your branding and helps you foster trust with your audience. You want your sales and marketing teams to communicate with the same tone, image, and voice to create a cohesive customer experience.
Aligning your messaging between the sales and marketing teams also helps reduce communication errors that can impact sales. For example, say you own a car dealership. If you hire an advertising team to create a series of ads promoting a certain deal but fail to disclose the terms and conditions to your sales team, you risk upsetting customers who want to come in to get the deal.
Your sales team needs to know what your marketing team is highlighting in content and ads so they can craft effective sales pitches. Message maps also give your marketing team the tools they need to create customized content for the sales team based on their needs. Each team can use its unique insights to inform the message map and refine messaging strategies based on where customers are in the sales journey and what types of information are most important to them.
3. Consistent Communication Throughout Channels
Maintaining a consistent message throughout digital marketing channels helps to strengthen your brand and make it more memorable. With a message map, you can help ensure that your core message is at the heart of every post and every ad campaign.
This way, your customers will recognize your brand regardless of where they hear about it. Having consistency across social media, digital ads, content, and offline marketing efforts allows you to reinforce your core message. When potential customers interact with your brand through multiple platforms, they hear your messaging in different ways, which helps them remember it and makes it more likely that these customers will associate your message with your brand.
Offering cohesive messaging also helps you create more effective marketing campaigns. Over half of people report doing more research before buying, so these potential customers will likely interact with your brand through multiple platforms. Additionally, engagement doesn’t stop after a customer makes a purchase. Over 75% of customers report engaging with a brand post-purchase and uncovering aspects of the brand that make them more likely to be loyal after they’ve already made a purchase.
4. Effective Risk and Crisis Communication Management
Message mapping isn’t just good for branding. It can also help you out during those times when parts of your business have gone off the rails. Perhaps someone with a high position in your company did something problematic, or you ended up on the wrong side of an investigative report. With a message map, you can better navigate these situations with clear, consistent messaging.
Many of the steps in the crisis management process involve communication. After you’ve assessed the potential damage to your brand, you will need a media communication strategy, an internal communication strategy, and a social media strategy.
Message maps serve as visual tools that allow you to draft these strategies. You can identify concerned parties and respond to common questions with a consistent message. Using a message tree allows you to identify key issues based on the situation and develop messages around each. With this tool, your public relations and communications team can organize their response to potential inquiries in times of crisis and better promote discussions about the situation without coming across as defensive or untrustworthy.
How to Create a Messaging Map in 6 Steps
Now that you know the benefits of message maps for every part of your marketing and communication strategy, you are ready to create one. These steps will help you map messages that solidify your marketing efforts. Use them to create an effective message map for each of your core marketing strategies.
You will likely create multiple messaging trees based on your target audience. Your marketing department likely targets more than one audience using various channels. You can create multiple message maps based on your marketing goals. Since everyone in your marketing department understands the core message, your message map marketing can remain consistent even as you develop messaging strategies for different audiences.
1. Define Your Target Persona’s Demographics and Psychographics
The first step in creating an effective message map is to know your audience, which typically starts with buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your best customer. You can create these personas by audience profiling with thorough research.
First, assess your best customers. Categorize them based on similarities they share, such as:
- Spending Patterns
- Stage in Life
After you’ve analyzed your current customers and digital followers, assess the competition. Learn who your competitors are targeting and where they reach them. Break these users down by demographics and psychographics as well.
Knowing these characteristics about your target customers will help you identify a core value proposition that speaks to their needs. Let’s continue with the car dealership example. If your dealership’s best customers consist of young families in their early 30s, you would likely position your business to appeal to their needs, such as reliability, cost-effectiveness, and safety.
However, if your main buyer consists of well-off middle-aged people approaching empty-nester status, you might position yourself as a luxury auto dealer offering flashier vehicles with more bells and whistles.
2. Present Features As Benefits for Solving Pain Points
Once you know your audience, you can start identifying features of your products and services that speak to their pain points. Instead of showcasing your product’s features in a bland and unappealing manner, evaluate why these features matter to your audience. Develop messages about how your product is the solution to their specific woes.
A car dealership would achieve this step by considering the target audience. When crafting messages for the first buyer persona consisting of young families, you would highlight car features that appeal to them. Instead of stating that your new model cars come with LED headlights and backup cameras, you would state that your new cars offer robust safety features such as LED headlights that help buyers see hazards in the road more quickly or backup cameras that keep the kids’ bicycles safe in the driveway.
In a competitive landscape, you need a strategy that helps you stand out to potential customers. Drafting message strategies offering solutions allows you to focus on your customers rather than your brand. Businesses that focus on customers are 60% more profitable than those that are not. With a customer-centric messaging strategy, you can subtly communicate your commitment to customer service and build a trusting relationship with potential buyers.
3. Analyze Your Competitors’ Messaging to Refine Yours
Competitive analysis is a must when developing any marketing tool, including a message map. If you’re unsure how your competitors position themselves, you risk playing second fiddle to their strategies. Look through your competitors’ social media platforms, blogs, and other content platforms to get a sense of their focus and the strategies they use to attract customers.
Read customer reviews and social media interactions with each brand to better understand how their customers see them in the market. If you have access to the data, try to assess their target customers. This gives you an idea of how your business fits into the market and also what makes you stand out.
Competitive analysis helps you identify potential gaps in the market so you can develop strategies for filling them. You might notice that your competition has saturated a certain location. As a result, you might decide to stay out of that market, or you might highlight what makes your brand truly unique in an effort to stand out in a crowded landscape. You might also find underserved areas in the market, giving you a clear entry point.
Analyzing your competitors’ messaging also gives you an overview of your industry. You may see new trends emerging in your industry that not many competitors are considering. If these trends align with your strengths, you can jump in and move ahead of the competition.
For example, if you operate a car dealership in a smaller city near the middle of the country, you might not have a lot of electric cars or cars with smart technology. When doing competitor research, you may notice a lot of people in your area requesting these features. You may be in a position to add these vehicles to your inventory, and you can lure these customers away by offering the features they want in a car.
4. Decide on Your Brand Voice and Stick to It
Nailing your brand voice is important because it is the key to consistency. During your message map development, choose a brand voice and make sure everyone in your company sticks with it. As your company grows, multiple marketing team members will likely develop content, sales pitches, press releases, etc. A consistent brand voice is an important way to make your brand memorable.
Align your brand voice with your company’s values, vision, and mission. For example, your brand voice would likely be more technical if you operate a B2B company in a highly technical industry. On the other hand, if you own a neighborhood coffee shop in a seaside location, you might adopt a more casual brand voice that connects with people who are more likely to patronize your shop.
Once you and your marketing team have chosen a brand voice, create a guide with examples so everyone who works on your marketing efforts can be consistent. Everyone who works on your marketing efforts needs to match tone and voice in content to strengthen your brand in customers’ minds.
5. Use a Format That Conveys a Hierarchy of Importance
Many message mapping examples use a hierarchical format focused on a core message. Creating message maps using a hierarchy of importance allows each member of your marketing department to know which elements of your messaging are most important. Then, you and your team can develop messages that speak to your core message regardless of the marketing channel.
Your core message should identify what you offer and how it benefits your target audience. For example, if your core message is “We are an innovative software company offering solutions that save businesses time and money in everyday operations,” each smaller message would tie back into this theme.
Your sales team may create pitches for a new software platform that allows customers to schedule appointments and pay for services with one app. Your team may create messages based on this specific program and its attributes while also highlighting how it will help potential customers streamline their operations.
Meanwhile, your marketing department may be creating a video case study on a client who successfully used your product to cut phone wait times for their customers. The message for this video is different than that of the sales pitch, but it would still be built around offering innovative, time-saving solutions for businesses.
6. Establish an Iterative Process of Evaluation and Improvement
When you make your first message maps, you might not hit on the right messaging strategy. Message map development is a flexible process. You can refine your message maps based on your successes and failures. You might use message testing and discover that your key messages aren’t conveying the right information to your target audiences.
Business landscapes are also flexible. As your industry evolves, competition will shift, and your customers’ needs will change. Keep evaluating your message map to make sure your core value proposition and the key message are the same. As you refine your products and services to meet your customers’ expectations, you might drift into a new competitive landscape. Continuously evaluating your message maps will help you maintain a consistent brand image that aligns with customer perceptions.
Streamline Your Message Map Creation with Compose.ly
Message maps are valuable marketing tools that help you create a cohesive brand image and better appeal to potential customers based on their needs. However, creating message maps is a technical and time-consuming process. Depending on your industry, it may also require specialized expertise.
Working with the right partner to create message maps and the resulting content can help make the process easier. Compose.ly partners with talented writers who are familiar with multiple industries, including specialized areas such as law or medicine. Let our team help you create message maps that will help you connect with more potential customers.
We can also use your existing message maps to create a content strategy that allows you to communicate complex topics to a broader audience while staying on brand. If you're interested in getting support on creating your message map and acting on, we'd love to connect with you and see if we'd be a good partner.