One of the most important elements in any marketing strategy is messaging. And yet, this is where many small businesses and entrepreneurs fall short, they don’t create a strategy for what their messaging should be. Most of them believe they know what their product is and so assume that they can adequately talk about it in any situation. And although they do know those things, the problem lies in the fact of not having a strategy can often have you rewriting your messaging on a regular basis. This can prove confusing in the marketplace.

Entrepreneurs that want to be highly effective communicators about their brand and their products know that they must have a strategy for how that communication will be handled. At AMI we call this a Message Map.

Message Maps have several key components. But before you can make a Message map you must first know and understand who your target audience. For more on target audiences check out Do You Really Know Who Your Customer Is? Are You Sure? Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience you can begin to formulate your Message Map. Here are the basics you’ll need to cover.

  • Terrain – You need to clearly define what problem or concern that your target audience has. This lets you know what kind of terrain you must cover to show them that your brand or product provides a solution. It’s the question you plan to provide the answer for. This doesn’t have to be a complicated explanation of the problem. You just need to do it in such a way that’s concise and easy to understand for not only yourself but for anyone else you will communicate about your brand or product.
  • Vehicle – Whenever starting out on a journey you always need to know your mode of transportation. In terms of your Message Map, we are referring to the style and tone you are going to use when communicating. Some brands and products warrant using a knowledgeable tone, others an authoritative tone, while some call for a playful tone. If you know this going in all the rest gets easier. It is important to note that the same brand or product may use different styles and tones with different target audiences.
  • Base Camp – Before you start any journey you need to be to build a base camp from which to operate. When it comes to a Message Map this base camp is your central story. It’s the story of what your brand or product is? What is it trying to achieve? How it solves the target audience’s problem? Your central story should not only resonate with your target audience but provide a solid foundation on which to base all your communications with your target audience. Until you have a good, solid base camp you are not ready to set out on your journey.
  • Trail Markers – Along the way on this journey you will need to have trail markers so that you know you’re headed in the right direction. In the case of your Message Map, these are the supporting points of your central story. These are the other things you can say that help show how your central story is accurate. These should be short and easy to remember. You can think of them as sound bites.
  • Destination –Every journey needs a destination. And in the case of your Message Map, this is the mindset you want to create with your target audience. What do you want the end result to be off all the things you are going to tell them? What do you want them to do, believe, or think after hearing your messaging of how your product or brand solves their problem?

You will often have more than one Message Map. Because you should have a Message Map for every target audience that you serve. Think of these Message Maps as being combined into your own Messaging Atlas. This is the place you go for guidance each time you’re communicating about your brand or product.

These maps aren’t just used when communicating to your target audience but also when you’re communicating to your employees or people that you hire to do projects for you. Like designing your website, handling marketing for you, or even a virtual assistant who answers emails for you. Anyone who represents your brand in any way in the marketplace should have a copy of your map. That way everyone is on the same page and headed to the same destination.

One of the great things about a Message Map is that it serves as a reference for you anytime you need to communicate about your product or brand. It also saves you a lot of time because you aren’t reinventing things. Tomorrow we will talk about what to do with Message Maps once you have created them.

By: Amy Matthews, CEO, AMI LC