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Developing a Message House



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This slide deck provides a brief overview of how to use the message house format to develop marketing messages.

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Developing a Message House

  1. 1. Richard Hatheway © 2017 All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. The message house is a format used to help develop marketing messaging and positioning by focusing on the overall umbrella statement (or value proposition) that you want to convey, as well as the key core message(s) (or benefit statements) and the facts, evidence and proof points that support them. Developing a message house makes it easier for all marketing functions to stay on track and in alignment when developing marketing materials, as it provides the basic construct for all messaging about a product or service. The message house format also allows marketing to more easily create messages that are specifically aligned to different customers or customer constituents, as this helps focus on what is important to that customer. The key to using the message house is to ensure that all points are clear, crisp, and concise.
  3. 3. Unlike building a real house, the message house structure starts with building the roof first and then works from the top down. This process allows you the marketer to define the key message to be conveyed about the product or service (the umbrella statement, or “roof”), and then follow up with the supporting core messages (“walls”) and proof points (“foundation”). Note that there are also several optional sections that can be added as needed to help clarify the messages being developed.
  4. 4. The “roof” is the key message or overall theme/idea that you want to be communicated to customers and the market The key message is developed by answering questions such as: ◦ Who is the target audience? ◦ What are their needs, concerns, care-abouts? ◦ What does our product/service do better/differently than any other product/service? ◦ Why does our product/service matter to customers in the larger scheme of things? ◦ What is the most likely criticism we will face (from customers, from the market, from the competition)? ◦ How do we respond to or preempt that criticism? ◦ What is the call to action (CTA) that we want customers to take? Tell them what you want them to do (i.e., go to a website, schedule a sales call, sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, etc.). Be specific, concrete, brief and precise.
  5. 5. The “walls” are the core messages that support the “roof” (or key message) you want to be communicated to customers and the market The “walls” are the main messages that form the heart of the messaging. There are usually 3-4 walls (messages) The core message is developed by answering questions such as: ◦ What information does the target audience need to help them move along the purchase path ◦ What technology do we use? ◦ How does our product/service improve the customer’s efficiency, increase operational readiness, reduce costs, be more productive/effective, etc.? ◦ What is the immediate benefit and value of our product or service? ◦ Etc.
  6. 6. The “foundation” provides the facts, evidence, proof points or arguments that support the messages (“walls”) The foundation is developed by answering questions such as: ◦ What customer references do we have? ◦ What do our case studies and white papers prove? ◦ What do industry analysts say about our product or service? ◦ How does our product or service compare to the competition? Features Implementation Compatibility Support Etc. ◦ What specifically does our product or service do or provide that the competition does not? ◦ Etc.
  7. 7. Use the following structural diagram to build the message house Plug the various messages that you have developed (roof, walls, foundation) into the relevant areas of the house Determine if they are the “right” messages and that they flow upwards and support each other Review and revise as required Publicize as needed
  8. 8. FRAMING WALLS BASEMENT SUBROOF ROOF 1) Core message 3Core message 2Core message 1 3) :1) 2) OPTIONAL: This is a general statement that describes the problem (i.e., the opportunity definition) that customers are facing and how your product or service addresses that problem This is the core theme or key message that you want to be communicated to Customers and the market about your product or service These are the core messages that support the core theme and are used to form the basis of all messaging that is developed OPTIONAL: These are where additional value prop statements can be added if they are needed to support each core message FOUNDATION OPTIONAL: This is another statement that can provide additional depth to the facts and undergirds the foundation These are the facts, proof points, evidence and arguments that support the core theme and on which all the messages depend
  9. 9. Building the message house is an iterative process This process works best when a team develops the message house Messages developed can be used in many formats Using the message house keeps the primary message in the foreground and helps maintain consistency across all messaging and positioning The message house provides an “at a glance” view of your key company message(s)
  10. 10. 1. Is the message house the only communications document I need? No. Think of the message house as the foundation for all other communications materials that are developed. All of them are derived from the core message developed in the message house. The message house is not the only communications tool, but it’s the most important one, and the one created first. 2. Should the message house be developed by a team? Effective message houses are almost always developed by a team. 3. Do I need different message houses for different audiences? In some instances you may need to create different message houses for different audiences if the key message is substantially different (such as products/services sold to both commercial and enterprise customers), so be clear on the target audience when developing the message house. 4. Can the message house be used for other types of communication? The message house structure may be used across your company to prepare for events, for a media interview, for press releases, etc. In short, for anything important that must be communicated. 5. Do I have to use the messages verbatim? You may use the messages verbatim or use the messages as the basis for what is said. The message house provides the core message, but often not the exact words (ex: a tweet vs a longer article or blog).
  11. 11. 6. Is the message house too simplistic? No. Effective communication requires crisp, clear, concise messages. The message house provides a simple structure to develop the messages, but it is not the communication tool itself. You will likely use other types of communications documents, so the message house should inform all those other documents. 7. Does the message house ever change? Yes. Message houses are not static, they are dynamic and change with the business. The message house should be periodically reviewed as your business, product or service evolves. 8. Should everyone in the organization have access to the message house? After the message house is developed, it may be beneficial to locate it in a central repository that anyone in the organization can access. This helps ensure that everyone is communicating the same message. 9. Does a message house need to stay confidential and internal? The message house itself is usually an internal document. However, the messages that are developed through it are used to inform all company messaging and positioning.