Creating a brand messaging framework and taking the time to position your business correctly within your market is one of the most overlooked tasks in marketing.
Often, especially in smaller teams, these high-level strategic activities are pushed aside by the more fun aspects of marketing, namely generating ideas, storytelling and content creation – valuable things to spend time on, no doubt, but not a substitute for a strategic framework that informs everything you do and create.
When a messaging framework is done right, it can provide consistency and strategic direction for all of your internal and external communications. Whether you are creating paid ads, distributing PR or developing a new landing page, established and agreed messaging breathes life into your brand in the eyes of your target customer and removes uncertainty for digital-first staff members who need to act quickly.
What is a messaging framework?
A messaging framework is a clear, structured presentation of the unique differentiators and value propositions (promises) that your products and services can offer. It is a core document for any business – one that is used to guide content creation, develop campaigns, train new starters or even inform top-level strategy. When communicated well, it will inspire your team and engage your audience. You will no longer be another face in a crowded marketplace, but a highly-differentiated organisation that customers resonate with.
The question you are really answering with a messaging framework is why? Why should your audience care? Their minds are already full enough, with a myriad of obligations and responsibilities – what makes your business so special it should have its own place? Does your business resonate enough with the values of your target audience to be remembered?
Famous marketer Al Ries summed this up beautifully in his acclaimed book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind when he said:
“The mind, as a defense against the volume of today’s communications, screens and rejects much of the information offered to it. In general, the mind accepts only that which matches prior knowledge or experience.”
People know what they want, and it’s up to you to give it to them. A messaging framework can help you clarify how you will communicate and achieve this.
Creating your b2b messaging framework
The first step of any messaging framework is to figure out who you are. Depending on the age of your business, this could be an act of remembering rather than creating. In the day to day bustle of growing a business, it can be easy to forget what you set out to do, and why you’re doing it. A messaging framework can help you solve this with a few questions:
- How do you differentiate from your competitors?
- What is your unique value proposition?
- What kind of messaging will resonate with your target audience?
- Who is your target audience? What do they care about?
- Does your brand message tell a story?
- What are your company's goals and objectives?
- What are your company's values – what do you want to be known for?
Getting to know your audience
Once you have a good idea of who you are and where you are going, the next step is to do a deepdive on your audience. You need to know them so well, to be able to anticipate their needs so readily, that they can’t help but give you a spot in their busy minds.
The best way to do this is to develop a set of marketing or buyer personas. Marketing personas are generalised overarching representations of the members of your target market, taking into account the goals, motivations and challenges they are facing. For a b2b company that sells accounting software, for example, a buyer persona could be a CFO at a small to medium-sized business who needs digital support with keeping company financials up to date.
A good rule of thumb is to develop two to five marketing personas. Where you can, try and amalgamate similar job titles into one persona, so you can keep your messaging simple and clear. As you research and develop your personas you will gain a unique insight into the mind of your target audience. You will ‘walk a mile in their shoes’, if you will – an invaluable experience for any marketer looking to add real value to a customer base.
Defining your story
Once you have your personas and you have a clear idea of what your business does, it’s time to put it down in writing. In clear and precise language, write out your brand message, define your unique value proposition and identify the values and themes that give life to your brand identity.
It could be something as simple as this:
- The name of the business/product/service that you are positioning
- The category you will be operating in
- The audience or personas you will be targeting
- Your promises and values
- How you deliver that value
- The results your audience will enjoy
Once you have your brand message written out like this, begin to think about how your messaging connects with your personas. Where do the two overlap? What stories can you create to bring them together? As the dots begin to connect, you will start to see the messaging opportunities available to you; those small, often cramped areas in the prospects mind where your values are identical and there is fertile ground to build a relationship.
Assembling the team
Now that the brand message has been defined clearly, you should present it to the wider team. Often, team members will have a different perspective to you and will be able to chip in where you have a blind spot. Be open to feedback and to modifying your work. By the end of this process you should have a clear identity and business tagline that succinctly summarises what you are about. This can now be used to guide and structure your marketing messages going forward.
Bringing it all together
Congratulations! You’re now ready to create engaging and impactful marketing materials using your new communications messaging framework. When creating any piece of content, remember to keep your message simple, stay true to the values of your new brand identity, and be consistent with your messaging across all channels. This coordinated effort, guided by your new framework, will give your business a personality that resonates with your audience, and allows you to build meaningful long-term relationships with your customers.
Creating a new messaging framework can be exciting but difficult. Let us give you a hand. Our team of marketing experts can help you build a b2b messaging framework that puts you head and shoulders above your competitors and first in the mind of your customers. Get in touch today to find out how.