Well-Constructed Personas and Effective Message Maps Are the Backbone of Your Communications
In a previous post, we discussed buyer and user personas and why they are a valuable tool for pet health marketers. Well-constructed personas help you and your marketing team focus on your key target audiences which, in turn, allows you to create messaging that’s relevant to your customers and prospects.
HOW RELEVANT IS YOUR CURRENT CONTENT?
Message relevance and consistency is critical for today’s pet healthcare marketers who are striving to deliver a multichannel experience for their business-to-business (B2B) customers. Content marketing can play a key role in helping your company build its audiences and engage its customers. But to be successful, you need a content strategy, a plan to enact that strategy and a handful of related elements such as a message map, defined target market and personas, and content editorial calendar and production framework. Why?
Research from SiriusDecisions shows only 35 percent of the content created by a B2B organization is actively used. Or, said another way, 65 percent of B2B content goes unused. That’s a lot of wasted time, effort and dollars. The reason so much content goes unused? It’s unfindable — that is, it’s difficult to find and/or users don’t know it exists — or it’s unusable — that is, it’s irrelevant to your audience or of poor quality.
To reduce content “waste,” you can use well-crafted buyer and user personas to guide and align your marketing messages with customers’ and prospects’ pain points, interests and questions. We’re not talking about hyper-personalization marketing, although we all know that creating one-to-one communications tailored to a specific customer or prospect is the be-all and end-all of marketing. What we are talking about is delivering consistent, targeted messages by creating and using a messaging framework to guide your marketing efforts across every piece of content and every channel.
CREATE MESSAGING THAT TELLS AUDIENCES WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM
A messaging framework, sometimes called a message map, messaging architecture or message matrix, is a communications tool that helps an organization simplify, align and prioritize its most important messages. A message map helps people in all departments — not just marketing, sales, public relations and customer service — deliver consistent messages. It also helps you address different personas with consistent, clear and relevant messaging, which is key to authenticity and essential in building brand trust.
Most importantly, a message map answers your target audiences’ ultimate question: What’s in it for me?
There’s no single definitive messaging architecture or framework template that every marketer uses. Many variations of messaging frameworks exist. Some are very basic, while others are elaborate and complex. Your company may have a preferred format, but if not, check out the examples and templates online or even create your own.
One simple, visual and scalable message map template to consider is the one-page message map developed by Tripp Frolichstein and George Stenitzer about 25 years ago that’s still used today.
STEP 1. Identify your main message
By design, the Frolichstein-Stenitzer message map is centered around a home base, which is the one main message that’s emphasized in all communications. (Remember the rule of seven?) This central point is the overarching idea you want to get across and answers the question “What’s in it for me?” for all of your personas.
STEP 2. Identify three or four positive points that support your main message
Home base is supported by three or four positive points. No more than four; no less than three. Why no fewer than three? Psychologists have found that the human brain is a pattern-seeking machine, and three is the smallest number needed for the brain to detect a pattern. The communications rule of three suggests that words grouped into threes are more appealing and easier to remember. In addition, psychology research indicates that our working memory (short-term memory) capacity is limited to about three to five items or chunks (numbers, letters or words).
STEP 3. Provide proof that supports the positive points
Proof points, the next level out, provide the evidence for your positive points. These are the facts and figures that support the positive points.
STEP 4. Color-code the message map by persona
Once your message map has been fleshed out and agreed upon by the appropriate managers, the next step is to color-code it by persona. Color coding lets you deliver just the relevant portions of your one consistent message to each buyer and user persona, and avoid wasting your audiences’ time by sharing irrelevant aspects of your unique selling proposition or brand benefits.
Here is an example of a message map for the fictitious new prescription medication for dogs identified in our previous post: a heartworm, intestinal parasite, and flea and tick control medication in the form of flavored chewable tablets. This message map can be used when communicating with both buyer personas (e.g., veterinarians who are owners of companion animal exclusive practices, veterinary practice managers) and user personas (e.g., dog owners).
That brings us to the single most important thing to understand about messaging framework: It isn’t all about you (or your company or brand or product). Message architecture digs deep into the “why” behind your audiences’ pain points, what holds prospective customers back, the emotions they experience as a result, and how they define success. Good messaging is always about your target audiences and personas. What’s in it for them.
Creating personas and messaging maps aren’t easy tasks. But they can be the backbone of your company’s marketing and sales communications. And they can help ensure you’re consistently delivering the right message to the right audience.
Need help with creating buyer and/or user personas or messaging framework? Give us a call or send us a note. We’d be happy to help.