We are all very quick to start writing when in need of content.
However, knowing what you want to say about your brand, products, or services is essential. That’s where a messaging framework comes into play. Messaging and positioning are the most underrated tasks in marketing, yet messaging framework is a prerequisite for editorial planning and content production.
This webinar is for you if you need to learn how to create a messaging framework. And if you already know, you will still benefit from the templates I share in this video.
- Learn about the benefits of a messaging framework
- Understand the steps needed to create value propositions
- Tie product features and benefits to customers’ pain points and challenges
My simple process will help you:
- Rationalize your value propositions across product/service lines and bring clarity to your sales and marketing teams
- Decode product features and benefits
- Identify your customers’ needs and map them together to create a framework for your team to create content.
BONUS: features vs benefits and messaging vs value propositions.
As a B2B Marketing Consultant, Author and Speaker, I focus on helping marketers to build marketing and sales alignment. I also help global companies tailor their marketing to a local audience. In addition to my YouTube Channel, I also write blog posts and own my podcast. Check out blog posts and podcast episodes and subscribe to Apple Podcast.
Want to see how I can help you? Schedule a call with me. Let’s talk.
Hi, this is Pam Didner. Welcome to my monthly webinar. For today I want to talk about messaging framework. So he thinks we’ll touch number one, what is messaging framework? Number two, why do you need it? Number three, what are the templates that you can use so you can get started? All right, let’s dive in.
Today we are going to talk about the messaging framework. And there are three things I want to cover really.
Before I get started, I want to do a quick intro about myself, a panda right here, yay, from Portland, Oregon. I’m a b2b marketer, so I went through. Can you tell? So, in general, I help a salary marketing’s contribution to sales via content marketing, account-based marketing or sales enablement. I do that through training, keynotes, working with clients in the trenches, setting up the process and doing whatever is necessary to get things done.
And if you are interested in trends of some walks, I have written number one is global content marketing, which is how to scale content across regions. The next one is effective sales enablement, how to support sales as a marketer. And I also wrote a book about artificial intelligence is kinda like a high-level introduction to trends of how artificial intelligence can be leveraged in the landscape of b2b marketing.
So if you’re interested in any of these books, check them out. I also have a Facebook community, so whoever is interested can join.
It’s really about building your marketing skills to get ahead.
If you have any questions about digital marketing or the specific discipline of digital marketing, how to build alignment between sales and marketing, or how to enhance your marketing skills, come to the annuities and ask me any questions. I answer all the questions myself.
And the three things I want to talk about today, number one, what is messaging framework? And why is it important? Number two, what are some of the benefits you need to understand in case you need to create why, and you need to explain to your internal teams why we are doing this together or collectively as a team? Number three, it’s about some of the templates I want to share with you that you can do with DIY without my help. And those are the templates I have used with my clients.
So I want to share what I use with my clients so you can get a sense of it. Let’s get started.
Number one, what is a messaging framework? It’s very structural way of representing your products, unique promises and differentiators. It is a very structural way to look at your products and then weave them into customer challenges. And then, you determine what you want to say about your products. That’s really what messaging framework is and why we need it. In general, if you have a solid messaging framework, it will guide multiple different departments and groups within the organization so that they can basically move in the same direction or communicate consistently.
If you have a messaging framework, the PR team can use that to write PR releases. The marketing team can use that as a baseline to write your blog podcast or video scripts. Salespeople can take the information they know about the specific product and what they need to highlight as key differentiators or talking points. Customers can understand your differentiators and know how you are different from other companies that provide similar services to your competitors.
So the key benefits are the consistency of minimizing confusion and a way to guide your editorial and content planning.
Most of the time, messaging frameworks tend to be overlooked or even underrated. That’s because it’s not sexy. That’s also because it’s a lot of work. I’m going to share the templates with you. You will understand why it is so much work. And then, not a lot of people make an effort to focus on that. But yet, at the same time, this is a fundamental foundation of a house that you will build.
If you don’t have that, everybody can say whatever they want. So that’s one having a messaging framework, which tends to be more critical on the b2b side than on the b2c side. On the b2c side, many products tend to be transactional driven, and many products are less complicated when you sell a piece of furniture. Or when you sell a lamp, it’s very easy to articulate the benefit of the lamp, the sofa, the lamp material you are using, and the lanes out there that fit into space etc. is easy to articulate.
Therefore, you may not need the messaging framework to define the products such as the one I’m pointing out, the lamps or the sofa. On the B2C side, your products tend to be a whole lot more complicated.
If that’s the case, you need some framework or templates that guide people through what you want to communicate and what you want to say about your products and services.
So with that being said, I want to share three types of messaging framework templates with you.
Three, I do share the ready-to-use messaging frameworks and written samples. And I want to share that with you at the end of the webinar so you know where to get them. So number one, it’s all about products. Most of the time, especially on the b2b side, many companies, when they create messaging frameworks that tend to be product specific or product-centric, that makes a lot of sense because, after all, we are selling the products to make money to increase our revenue, there’s a direct correlation between the product you’re selling, and also the revenue that’s going up.
So, a certain way or unique way to talk about your product is critical. This is one template I want to share with you. You started with the name of your product on the top. The second column, or the second row, if you will, is the target audience. Who is the target audience that you want to communicate or you want to market to? What is the specific value proposition for that specific product?
With that value proposition, what kind of customer challenges do you want to address, the messaging positioning and the product features associated with each challenge? In general, I will say three. Identify three major customer challenges you encounter and how your product will address that.
So you have messaging positioning, and you’ll have the product features.
And then the next thing is can you translate the product features to user benefits? The next row I suggest is some of the keywords associated with each product feature and the user benefits. Once you have this information, or you have this created, all of a sudden, the team will understand that this specific product will address these challenges for my customers. These are a couple of features I can talk about. And these are the user benefit I can also use for content creation. And adding the keywords will help the content creators to incorporate that keyword when they write content. While ah, this is a template you can use or one type of messaging framework. So that gives you some specific examples.
Given that this is more about DIY, you are using my template and you are doing this yourself. I’m going to share with you in terms of how you should write this. And the art no right way or wrong way of writing it. I’m just giving you some examples and getting you thinking. Let’s assume you have a specific product, Quality Management Suite. So you put that down. Their target audience is a VP of quality.
Many of my clients want to put five different target audiences right there. For this, we want to make sure we talked to the CEO, we want to make sure we talked to the VP of quality, and we also want to talk to a VP of it.
On top of that, we want to talk to another level of IT managers.
Generally, when I ask or recommend my client to do a messaging framework, you put one or two personas or target audiences. That’s it, preferably just because you are writing or talking about your product to a specific person. Isn’t that helpful if you put the five different target audiences on that specific template? What key challenges do you want to tailor for that specific audience? They might not look at your product in the same way.
So in terms of the target audience, I will say one or two. The value proposition is basically what your product does. Can you write one statement about that? This quality management suite is really about accelerating decision-making with AI. It pays in analysis and real-time reporting anytime, anywhere.
For this management suite, there are two things they want to highlight.
One is AI base. They have artificial intelligence embedded into them to help you decide. They can also provide reports anytime, anywhere, across all devices. So that’s one thing they want to focus on. With that, what are some of the challenges they are addressing? To ensure that corporate quality standards are followed often, there’s a quality standard or quality compliance down at the factory level. And that is set up by the government.
So they want to make sure they comply with that quality standard, which means the VP of quality requires a suite capable of serving the needs of our manufacturing site around the world. So that statement said this management suite is tailored for enterprise usage. You target not just any VP of quality; you target the BPO quality of enterprises with manufacturing sites worldwide. That means the system needs to be consistent across all the manufacturing floors worldwide to monitor the production process, which stores process data for quality and regulatory compliance audits.
The challenge of the VP of quality is that I need a system. I need a system that I can use across all my sites that monitors the quality standard the same way or must comply with that country’s specific quality standard. So that makes sense.
So that is the challenge; the next thing you have to do is – What is my positioning for that specific challenge?
As I said, I targeted enterprise. And so I write one specific statement for that specific challenge, real-time decision-making enterprise visibility. Easy to remember, right there? And what is the product feature that will support that? I have specific product features in MX 350 Advanced Analytics; you know you are engineers, and your salespeople know that, but I don’t know. Outside the company, inside the company, everybody was like MX 350, super sexy, great.
But you cannot talk about MX 350 to your customers. They don’t get it. So you have to translate that to the user’s benefit. So MX 350. Advanced Analytics provides visibility across all sides and uses AI to uncover hidden quality issues. But that is just MX 350. But what is the user benefit really, really is for MX 350 is using AI to continuously monitor the quality data and report potential issues, and then come up with potential recommendations. Do you see how I write the messaging templates and transmit the messaging from challenges down to positioning down to features down to user benefits? They are interrelated.
The key words what are some of the keywords associated with that?
Operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, MX 350, enterprise-wide visibility, ISO 9001, quality, quality certification, all those keywords that can be used or used to create that’s associated with that specific challenge. I’m sharing the templates with you. So you saw that in the previous slide. But you can add elements as you see fit if you write a messaging framework specifically for campaigns. Can you add that? Yes.
Can you add that if you are writing this specific full product launch? Yes, if you have a competitive landscape, you want to align with everybody before discussing customer challenges. Can you add that? Yes. Can you also add another row and talk about references? Of course, there are a couple of things you can edit. You can even say the primary audience versus the secondary audience.
So if you look at these templates I’m using right now, I’m modifying them for a client running a massive campaign.
So we create a very specific message. We still start with a product, but we talk about industry dynamics. We talk about campaign objectives. Then we talk about the value proposition, customer challenges and then etcetera. But you have to think through what your templates will look like.
What additional information do you want to add to align with everybody?
Messaging framework is an internal Communication and is not something you share externally. You won’t find any company sharing the messaging framework with anybody. It’s usually treated as confidential. All right here, pick and choose different elements and make your own messaging framework, I spent so much time creating this slide, I have to rent it again. So that’s template number one.
All right, template number two. Let’s talk about thought leadership. So the first one is really about the product. The second one is the template about thought leadership. For this one, you will see it is a little bit different. Rather than start with the product, you start with the objective of the communication. If you want to create a thought leadership story, what is the objective of that story?
Who is your target audience always there for any marketing you do? You’re always to determine your target audience. The overall narrative is the overall stories you want to tell in that industry is a broad stroke of what that industry or that specific technology and then company-specific narrative, if you understand that overall landscape, the broad stroke of that industry or specific technology, then you can narrow that down to accompany the specific narrative. Then you can still determine the value proposition, but why is a company why product portfolio? Again, the benefit is a company.
That’s why you have to look at it very holistically.
A product portfolio is a company’s mission, then the messaging positioning the impact. If you write the messaging positioning, what is that impact? What is your product portfolio’s impact on the industry or the technology landscape? Then you can determine the specific story you want to tell based on that specific message. And what are the topics that you want to write and also the keywords that are associated with it?
You can see right here when you talk about thought leadership, the key takeaway for this specific slide is really about your narrative. What is your narrative? This is also, in a way, a template, I’m going to read it through, and you should listen, just listen, and try to get a sense of it. It will resonate with you if you are on the B2B side and working on the thought leadership type of content. Objective, address a specific company’s role and is a differentiator in the future of technology or a specific industry.
The target audience is the VP of what quality the VP of Sales doesn’t matter. And the overall narrative, these are some of the sentences you can use. Because you’re writing the narrative, you have to look at the broad stroke, the overall industry, and then narrow it down to your company and the products you offer.
The rise of the technology trend, cybersecurity, is just a call that is revolutionizing certain product categories of yours.
That same technology is also ushering specific segments into the air. What are some of the key trends you want to talk about? Do you see it? It’s kind of like a template to maintain competitiveness. The companies and your customers will need to leverage technology, cybersecurity, call base, whatever to be nimble, responsive, and cost-effective. Those are some key trends that people consistently meet the customer’s challenges or expectations. Then you move on a little bit nearer one of this trend’s essential and critical components.
Whatever you decide to talk about, in the context of your company’s offering, is to reevaluate specific product categories from what to what. So that’s kind of the starting point. So you’re talking about the overall narrative. You move it down a little bit to a company-specific narrative, as you offer solid solutions that can help your customer make certain kinds of decisions. You want to talk about your company a little bit. It’s okay to be self-serving.
To some extent, your company has been working on this product for a long time to help the target audience to do what this type of platform or management suite whatever that is, is one of the key critical components for the trends and technology. You want to talk about how your company catalyzes that transformation.
I’m not saying it is that simple. Even though I’m creating your templates.
That doesn’t mean you can take this and copy it exactly, and then your narrative is done. You have to think through a narrative. Every single word counts. It’s bullet-point driven. In a product-specific messaging framework I’m sharing with you, it is probably a couple of sentences. Bullet points here are a paragraph. You have to write several paragraphs. That’s sensible.
Once you move that on, you can talk about the value proposition. The company paves the way to what kind of specific visions you want to share. The benefit tends to be in the five categories, cause value risk and performance efficiency. Can you articulate your company’s broader portfolio? Why do the companies that the company effort you are doing either decrease the cost, increase the value, minimize risk, enhance performance, and enhance efficiency? Can you talk from this perspective? So for the quality, the VP, the Quality Management Suite, one thing that is very important to them is connectivity.
Their system can connect all the devices. No matter what kind of devices they have, they can connect it from desktops, phones, tabs, to even IoT. So connectivity is the biggest differentiator near the product and is always driving connecting all the tools.
I work with them to think through in terms of what is the impact of that positioning.
That means when you connect everywhere, you can access all levels of data anywhere, anytime, and then you start talking about your messaging in a narrative. This ability to connect all the devices will help the industry in the future by doing what you see and how everything is connected in terms of writing a story. This is, in a way, like the outline of your thought leadership narrative.
But it’s something to think about. It does take a lot of effort to write. As I said, it is paragraph driven. Then the next thing you can do is look into some of the thought leadership topics you want to write about based on your self-discovery or the discussion with your internal team and product category. And the key trends or how certain product categories affect certain kinds of management or industries.
Right, the future of something, you can see this kind of topic tend to be pretty comment when you do a Google search. It’s common for a reason because that’s how people search. And again, some of the keywords related to that. It can be SEO driven. It can also relate to your products, or it can be something less than keyword driven.
Because a lot of thought leadership content, the keyword they use tends to be full, we’re thinking, if it’s a full war thinking it may not be 100%. SEO centric.
So you have to balance those SEO keywords, along with some of the helpful future keywords that you want people to use.
Template number three, we sell many, many, many products. Do I have to create a messaging framework for every one of them? No, you don’t. They really want you to good place. I love that show; such a great job. And I love that show. Okay, I sidetracked, I sidetracked. That’s come back to messaging framework. A lot of time, when you have so many products, in the b2b side of things, that means you might have an E-commerce site, you have E-commerce sites, and you have a different product people can buy or that people can choose. If you actually have an E-commerce site, and you have maybe products in a way, the revenue for all those products tends to be more transactional driven.
If you offer many products, the price tends to be a lot less, and you want people to quickly read through what the product is. And then, they can make a quick decision and determine if they want to buy. That said, it tends to be a catalog or an E-commerce site if you have many, many, many products. And that’s it just look at Ikea. Ikea has many products, and many of you shop at IKEA. They have specific furniture.
But if you look at that all the product-specific information related to that specific piece of furniture, product description, product size, carry instruction environment and materials package details assembly and documentation review and product availability in a way in the E-commerce site and you sell mainly product is probably a standardized template in terms of what kind of messaging and the key talking points you want to share as a part of that product, for example, the product description right here, the sofa is quick, you know, quickly and easily into a spacious bed.
So there is a couple of copywriting. This is more related to copywriting, not necessarily messaging. And you can place this chassis section somewhere else.
So you give them specific instructions and trends about what this sofa is about and how it will be used. And then, of course, the product size, length, carry instruction, etc. In general, in this kind of setting, e-commerce, when you have products, is not about messaging anymore. It’s really about providing the information that the audience will need, you’re not necessarily going to say, Okay, why should I say about this product, if you are in that mindset, in general, it’s a hero product that you’re selling and tend to be higher dollar value. And the last volume for this.
There’s got to be templates already set up as a part of e-commerce website updates. I recommend following the existing process and updating the catalog as necessary. There’s a template, like I said, depending on what is shown on your website. This, in a way, is a template that you can use. But it’s not necessarily messaging is more product information related. If you want to do the messaging framework on your own, I recommend selecting one template to use and modifying it as you see fit. When I say to select one template, I’m not talking about my template. When you do a Google search on messaging framework, you will see many templates out there.
And I’m not saying using my is the best for your industry and product and services. So select one, but the most important thing is to modify it. Don’t use any templates, including mine. You have to think about the sequence of the roles you did and how that will help you understand what you are trying to do as a team.
So I want to ensure you understand that when you pick any template, don’t use it as is and modify it as you see fit. Based on this presentation.
I wrote a blog post at the end of 2019 about creating a solid messaging framework, a guide for b2b marketers, and templates. You can go to that blog post if you want to download the templates I’m sharing with you today. And you can download that even if you don’t remember how to create a solid messaging framework, a guide for b2b marketers such a long title, but I wrote that title for SEO. You can always google search messaging framework, comma Pam Didner. And that blog post, I guarantee you, will come up, and then you can go down. And they are templates that you can download. It’s a Word doc; you can download it as a template. And I haven’t made any templates.
By the way, whenever I work with clients, especially on projects, I’m usually in the trenches with the client trying to get things done, even though my role is a consultant, but it’s really more or less kind of a marketing doer in the trenches. And this set of processes. Talk to the customers that create the messaging framework or the content editorial, even set up Account Based Marketing process.
So a lot of times, what I do is work with my clients who say the process to get things done.
And I also do a lot of one-on-one mentoring and coaching the senior managers or the VP of marketing and even marketing directors. They will often lie to get themselves up to date regarding different marketing technology and digital marketing disciplines. And I usually do quite a bit of mentoring and coaching from that perspective. And I also do a lot of training. So if you are interested, reach out to me anytime.
I send out a monthly newsletter; if I have nothing to say, I don’t send out newsletters. So, in general, when I send out a newsletter, it tends to be about the specific things you can do to improve b2b marketing, content marketing, Account Based Marketing or even sales enablement. So, if you’re interested, you can subscribe, go to Pam didner.com all the way down to the end. You can subscribe to the newsletter. Another thing that I want to share with you is that this is a reality, even though I give you a template and I share a lot of examples that you can use.
I want to ensure everybody understands that creating a messaging framework is a lot of work.
And this is not something you can do by yourself. If you are doing this internally and your products are calm, The key that you need to work with your product team is your sales team. Sometimes you even have to interview your customers. It’s a living document, especially if you are in a SaaS-based company, that your company’s product is constantly being updated. And to have a newer generation of products that are regularly coming, your messaging framework needs to be updated on a regular basis.
And by the way, it is a lot of work.
In general, when I work with the client to create the messaging framework, depending on when we can talk to a subject matter expert, when we can talk to a product team, and when we can talk to a customer, the whole process can be two to four months. But that doesn’t mean that you can move things much faster for a smaller company. It doesn’t have to be that long. But in big enterprises, it takes a bit of time to get this done. And the biggest payoff from my perspective is when you have something like that is like a set the consistency, you’re able to drive consistency in terms of the communication outreach with your PR team, your marketing team, and your sales team.
Another thing is the biggest payoff has the messaging framework is that the subject matter experts and content creators can take the information and the right editorial content. Again, incorporating the relevant keywords that you envision in your mind is a sense of consistency. Of course, you have to write it from the perspective of not still serving, not talking about Me Me Me.
It is talking about the customers’ challenges and customer’s perspective on how your product will help them.
Another thing I want to share with you. I hope I didn’t overwhelm you, based on my experience talking to individual marketers who come to me and ask me for templates and doing themselves.
It seems like it’s doable that you can do it on your own. And some of them actually reach out to me and have me help them through a specific project that is feasible and doable as well. But as I said, I’m sharing enough information with you so that you can get this started, which is a very good starting point.
Okay, I hope you enjoy the webinar, and you find the information useful and relevant. If you do, please comment and give me a like. That will be greatly appreciated. And also subscribe to my YouTube channel. I publish content on a regular basis for b2b marketers. I’m sure you will find them useful. Take care, bye-bye.