A Messaging Framework is a tool that helps you record and visualize ways of communicating with your organization’s target audience(s). It has two primary benefits:
1) It helps you map your objectives and pair them with the key themes and messages that will resonate best with your target audience.
2) It gives you one story to tell, regardless of platform, so that your audience has your key points reinforced each time they see a message from you.
You have a good idea of who your audiences are. You also know what your organization needs from customers, investors, and partners. How do you connect the two?
Hi, I’m Bryan Rutberg, the founder and principal of 3C Comms- the customer connection company. Today we’re going to talk about building a Messaging Framework.
A Messaging Framework is a single source of truth document that tells you, and reminds everybody in your organization, the way you want to come across to the folks that you need to reach most: your customers, or partners, or employees. Whether you are promoting your company, a project, a product, service, or some initiative that you’re running, a Messaging Framework reminds you how you’re going to talk about it.
Developing one takes you through the exercise of finding the things that are to be most impactful to the audience you want to reach: what’s going to make them want to engage with you, and what’s going to give them a single story across all of the touch points in your relationship? The best way to go through it is to actually go through it, so let me walk you through the development of a real simple Messaging Framework for a restaurant I’d love to really open someday which I called Bryan’s Rut-Burgers. It’s a different kind of burger joint.
I like to start with the themes. You start in the middle, and you get to go up into greater levels of abstraction. Think about it like this: it’s like going from about 5000 feet up and 25 or 30,000 feet, then you can go down into very specific things that reinforce the themes – at ground level are where you find stories and supporting points and theme-specific messages – how people actually experience whatever it is your Messaging Framework is about: your company or product, project or services, and so on.
In this case, I decided that the things that are going to make a difference with my audience are that the food is delicious; it is sustainably-grown and locally-sourced. I’ve got new cool things to try, and it’s not your typical fast food atmosphere. Let me show you what that means as we fill in the top the top of the Messaging Framework, and it does get you to greater levels of abstraction.
We delight customers by letting them create unique and delicious meals in a comfortable and classy atmosphere – the target audience identifies who I think is going to show up and who’s going to be driven to emotion and then the action as I message and market and communicate with them. The desired perception is super important; that is what gets you to what do you want people believing? What would you want them to say after they encounter your message?
Messages need to be encountered multiple times to really cut through the clutter, but ultimately, I want people who get my message to think that they’re getting food that’s good for them and their family, they can try things they’ve never tried before, they get healthy food at a good price and it’s good to bring the kids or to come on a date night and it’s part of a full evening’s entertainment.
The benefit statement, overall key message, the value proposition we looked at a moment ago, all of those things are relatively similar. Remember, the point is for you to think these things through and enjoy the struggle a little bit to come up with unique articulations of your value and the benefit that your audience is going to get. That makes you a crisper communicator when you start to get into the details, which we do here where I take a key message that I explode out from the individual one word or short phrase theme.
Then, I start to articulate how I want to come across as I get into levels of detail with delicious – every burger’s prepared to your specifications and satisfaction, cooked the way you want with your own choice of condiments. There are new things to try – I want people to associate me with comfort food but to know that they’re getting a mix of the familiar and some new stuff that’s going to be in a familiar package, like a burger, but it’s going to offer them something different. Maybe we’ll put an eggplant or fried egg on the burger. Maybe they’ll choose to use one of our 63 different condiment choices – not just mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. We’ll get into those details as we get to the supporting points of stories that you tell.
Look at new things to try: because we’re a different kind of burger joint, we’re offering seven different kinds of patties. If I want to promote lamb on Twitter this week, and I want to promote chicken burger on Facebook, in both cases I’m emphasizing that I have new things to try. You can see it ladders up to the theme of new things to try. If someone wants to try ghost pepper hot sauce, or they want to try out Sriracha, or the next hot new thing. All of these things that you see here including items under delicious, a winner of Seattle’s best burger from Seattle Magazine; or new things to try – an award winner for the most creative menu in the family dining category; we’re emphasizing we are delicious, we source sustainably, locally, there’s all sorts of cool stuff that goes beyond the average burger; and we are not the kind of place where you need to worry about how clean the place is.
All of these things become part of a Messaging Framework that, together in total, represents the story I want to tell someone who is engaging with us across social media, my website, if I’m giving a presentation for a big tradeshow, if I put together a commercial or a video online, or putting posters up around town – all of these things should ensure I am always getting the same key points across to my audience so that they recognize me and they start to know my story in a way that builds a connection with that customer base.