Start with messaging and work backward
If you want customers and investors to believe in your product as you do, start with a messaging framework. This post is a walkthrough of how to create a messaging framework and use it to sharpen your story for your target audience. And, how first finding the right message that customers believe in can be a powerful guide for product development.
What is a messaging framework?
A messaging framework captures what your buyers expect to see, hear, and learn about your product and in what context before they decide to buy.
The goal is to uncover what questions your buyers have and the answers they need so you can deliver a message that goes much deeper than me-too benefit statements. Buyers will love you if you can help them make a decision and make it feel effortless. That’s what a messaging framework is designed to achieve.
Specifically, a messaging framework is your buyer’s response to the following questions:
- Customer definition: What best describes your buyer?
- Goal definition: What goal can you help your buyer achieve?
- Problem definition: What is stopping your customers from achieving that goal?
- External pain: What physical or tangible pain does your buyer experience as they reach for that goal?
- Internal frustration: What emotional frustration do your buyers feel from living with that external pain? Buyers will form a deeper connection with your product if you speak to this internal frustration.
- Alternatives: Why aren’t other products on the market good enough to help your buyers achieve that goal?
(Notice one thing: we haven’t even started talking about your product yet! Okay, here it comes..)
- Product definition: What does the product do? How does it work? What level of detail does your buyer expect to see online vs other channels?
- The benefits: How will your buyer’s life change as a result of using the product?
- Supporting features: What features or services do you offer that will help customers realize those benefits?
- Plan / Process: What plan or process should your customers follow to realize the benefits of the product?
- Reason to believe: What makes your product better than the alternatives? Perceived barriers: What decision barriers do you have to help your customers overcome?
- The risk: What risks are customers taking if they don’t consider your product?
You might be thinking that you already have answers to all these questions and filling out your messaging framework will be a breeze. You’re absolutely right: simple answers can easily be attached to each question above.
However, if you want a truly differentiated approach to marketing then you’ll base the answers on 1:1 buyer interviews with direct quotes to support each finding. And I promise you, you’ll be surprised with what you discover.
Why does messaging matter?
Customers will experience what you say about your product before they experience what you’ve built. When we know what messaging will drive customers to buy then product requirements and marketing strategy can naturally develop.
A messaging framework forces you to start with what your customers want and work backward from that. It acts like an insurance policy against building the wrong thing or getting turned down by investors for unclear market justification.
How can it benefit you?
Clear picture: Once you know what messaging will get customers to respond, making a pitch to investors or B2B buyers becomes easy. After all, investors and B2B buyers can’t picture success unless you have a clear story for delivering customer value first.
Testable: A messaging framework allows you to rapidly test and tweak your assumptions as you learn new things about your product/market. It’s a lot faster and less expensive to test your messaging framework than testing a prototype or MVP.
High ROI: After validation and final tweaks, your framework can be used repeatedly for product development, investor pitch decks, sales pitch decks, branding, copywriting, website design, marketing strategy, demand gen, PR, and even creating a well-aligned company culture.
How can you apply a messaging framework?
You need a clear messaging framework so others can help you. Otherwise, your promising idea that we’ve worked so hard for will never become a reality. A messaging framework is like a building blueprint.
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?
Just like a blueprint, everyone who works on your business can use your messaging framework for guidance, staying aligned, and ultimately bring your vision to life.
And just like the essentialism of a blueprint, your messaging framework must be written in plain words. No ad copy, no puffery, no vagueness.
Here’s a messaging framework can help each functional team:
- Product: Simplify product strategy, inform feature prioritization, reduce development and re-tooling costs.
- Branding and design: Easier for experts to give your product emotional appeal which hits the mark
- Website layout and design: Significantly reduce website design costs and improve outcomes.
- Demand gen: Acquire customers cost-efficiently through lead gen, paid ads, social media, and content marketing. Sales enablement: Increase conversion and reduce sales cycles