I was talking with a client the other day, who told me that he’d gotten some pushback for creating a product messaging document. Some people didn’t understand why he was spending the time creating an internal messaging document rather than diving right in to creating the outbound content.
It may seem that I am stating the obvious in this blog, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated!
So, with no further ado, here are the top 5 reasons for creating a product messaging map—and getting consensus on that messaging—before beginning content development:
5. A message map makes your marketing team more efficient.
When product marketing gets agreement on key messaging, the marketing team does not have to re-invent the wheel every time it sits down to create new content. The document informs everything from big pieces, like white papers or webinars, to blog postings and press releases. It also helps with the many tedious small tasks like filling out partnership forms, online marketplace profiles, award applications, and directory listings that ask for the same information in slightly different ways. With approved messaging and wording for essential benefits and features, everyone will work much more smoothly, with less review required.
4. It makes it easier to use freelancers.
Need to hire freelancer writers, webinar creators or others to build out your content? With a messaging map, they have the guidance to create material that supports and elaborates on your essential positioning. Your freelance relationships will be more effective, giving you more bang for your freelance buck.
3. A message map keeps the sale team in line.
If marketing cannot give sales everything they need, enterprising sales staff will make up what’s missing. I’ve seen some really interesting emails from individuals in sales–and not always interesting in a good way.
You can discourage improvisations by giving the sales team the essential guidance they need in a useful, accessible and approved messaging document. Ideally, the document should make it easier for the sales team to create any one-off presentations, individual letters or emails that they might need.
2. [Corollary to #3]: It’s a great place to collect sales input.
Some of the sales team’s improvisations are worth keeping. They are interacting with your target audience. They understand the buyer. They may discover information about business pains and buying factors that you did not have before.
By maintaining a common ‘message map’ and soliciting sales input on the messaging up front, you can integrate sales input into the overall marketing strategy. It will make everything else that flows from it better.
And, finally, the top reason to use a message map:
1. A message map accelerates content creation and content marketing.
Any time spent up-front in developing the message map will be repaid in full during the content creation cycle. Content creators don’t have to spend time figuring out which are the most important benefits. Reviews won’t get stuck on messaging issues, but will focus instead on execution. With fewer iterations and faster development cycles, you can more easily develop what you need to support a successful content marketing initiative.
Those are my choices for the top 5 reasons, but I’m sure there are others. I’d love to hear them in the comments! Maybe we make it a Top 10 list instead.