#gxmxp Series

Market Message Mapping

Now that you have your value and selling propositions, it’s time to start developing your market messaging. The first step, which we will cover this week, is creating a Market Message Map.

The goal of a Market Message Map is to develop a list of well-crafted marketing copy for your most important product features. As always, we’ll be describing these features in a value-centric way (not product-centric).

This is about how you can translate your product’s functionality into your product’s value in a manner that will resonate with your audience. In other words, this is about how you can describe what each feature does for the customer instead of talking about what it does or how it works.  

Think of your Market Message Map as your single source of truth that outlines what each of your product’s features do for your customer and the value that it creates.

A Market Message Map is your comms “source code” for talking about your product regardless of medium. Click to Tweet

Having a Market Message Map is critical for creating a consistent message across all mediums and every stage of the pipeline. 

Bringing Your Value into Focus 

When it comes to writing a sales email, a case study, an executive summary, or even building a website, companies often go about creating these materials in a vacuum without thought being put towards a holistic view of all their collateral.

Doing so creates inconsistent messaging across multiple channels and mediums which only serves to confuse the customer. Likewise, it also makes collateral development time consuming for founders who are not trained marketers.

A typical symptom of this problem is when founders have to constantly revamp a piece of collateral every time they send it.

For example, take a look at your current collateral and see if there is a clear and consistent theme or value proposition throughout your content. Ask yourself, with the information you are providing, what misconceptions or misunderstanding might the customer make about your product?

Having the structure and discipline to ensure that you are always messaging your value to your customers consistently is one of the best practices to improve your chances of avoiding friction and ultimately closing new business.

Before you start this exercise, grab your ICP Prioritization document and scroll over and download the Market Message Map spreadsheet from the Resources/Downloads section.

It’s important that you have your ICP Prioritization document throughout this exercise because as you create messaging, you’ll want to reference back to how your customers do their jobs in order to speak to the value of certain product features. 

The ICP Prioritization document is also an important reference because as you begin to craft your Market Message Map you should be acutely aware of exactly who you are trying to resonate and speak with. As we discussed in our ICP posts, the broader your target focus is the more ineffective your messaging becomes. 

As you begin this exercise, if you find yourself trying to fit multiple personas or buyer types into this message map, stop and focus on your main one. You can always create persona-specific messaging.

Having said that, remember that the economic buyer is the person who has the power to write the check for your product. They’re the focus of all your go-to-market efforts.

You should only be writing messaging for the economic buyer right now.

And one more thing before we start the exercise. This is not the place to come up with perfect marketing. Start wide and we can turn this into great marketing later. Just capture the essence of the economic value or business impact of your most valuable product features.

Mining Value from the Customer Journey

In order to do this exercise well you must focus on the customer journey. In this instance we don’t mean the journey through the buying process. Rather, you should be focused on the specific actions your economic buyer takes to do their job.

Focus on time, keystrokes, actions and behaviors that are required to do their job today and how those very specific actions would be impacted by your product features.

Then drill down to answer what’s the business impact for your ICP if they adopt your product. Does it make them money, save them money, give them a competitive advantage, or improve compliance? 

Intro to Map Making 

In this exercise, we’ll identify exactly how each one of your core features ties back to a specific pain point and to one of the four reasons why people buy. Here’s what to fill out for each of the spreadsheet’s columns:

  • Product Feature – This is exactly what it sounds like. Put each one of your product features here (not your overall company value). Start with your biggest, most valuable or “secret sauce.” You want to start with the features that your ICP will get the most value from and work your way down.

For example, Uber connects you with a car that is available and close by. That is its main feature. It also sends push notifications to you when the car is close or has arrived. But push notifications are not their most important feature. It’s that you can get a car to come to you from anywhere.

Also, don’t confuse product adjectives for product features. Machine learning is not a feature in-and-of-itself. Machine learning might power one of your features but that’s getting too deep into how the sausage gets made. The feature it powers is what you’ll list here.

  • How do they currently do things? –Think about how your economic buyer does their job today without the feature you put in the first column. As mentioned above, in this section you really want to focus in on every step they take to complete a task. While you outline this process, identify where they are spending too much time, where errors are likely to occur and where pain points likely exist.

For example, let’s pretend your product is intended for ecommerce retailers who sell the same base product in hundreds of different design configurations. Your product can take any digital design and automatically bring that design to real life on a physical product by imprinting that design on the product without it looking cartoonish. Think of a fashion retailer selling shirts in 1,000 different colorways or a home improvement store selling the same size tile that comes in 1,000 different designs.

Without this feature, how would your economic buyer go about creating life-like images that consumers would want to buy? Let’s walk through the process step by step. In order to take photos, they would have to manufacture the actual good (which costs money), ship and photograph the goods (which costs money and time), and touch-up the photos and place them on their website (again, money and time).

Conversely, what many companies in this position do is skip the beginning stages all together and just put digital design swatches on their website. What is the cost of that? Let’s see! The economic buyer takes digital design file and places it on their website. Customers come onto their website to buy products. The customer cannot see exactly what the product will look like because all they see is a swatch. The customer does not have enough confidence to buy the product so they don’t make a purchase (lost revenue).

Alone, both those scenarios might not seem like a big problem. But now start to add up the cost of those steps. The time it takes to do that process 1,000 times for that many configurations. Now compound that by having to do that every year or possibly multiple times per year for each season. When you add up those steps, that’s a lot of lost time doing manufacturing, shipping, photo shoots and photoshop touch-ups when the economic buyer could be focused on what actually drives revenue which is new design creation. In this instance there are multiple cases for opportunity cost. Either the economic buyer won’t be able to create as many designs as they are capable of doing or they won’t be able to publish good enough content on their website which will result in lower online conversion rates.

The last sentence written in this column should be related to one of the four reasons people buy : losing money, not making enough money, falling behind the competition, or legal problems.

  • How would they do things with your product? – This is basically going to be a mirror image of everything you listed in the last column. This time, describe every step the economic buyer would take if they had your product and as you compare it to the previous exercise, identify where the business impact is made. Let’s continue with the same example.

The economic buyer has new digital product designs. They import those design files into your product. You product uses machine learning to automatically lay those designs onto physical products that are ready to be uploaded to your website in seconds (which saves time which in turn saves money). Your customers can see exactly what all of your products look like so they have confidence in buying your products which increases conversion rates (makes more money).

In this example, the product eliminates several steps in the image asset production process from printing the product itself, to shipping, hiring a photographer and paying someone to do touch-ups. Skipping all of these stages saves time which in turn saves money. Now you can jump to the even greater business impact. What would your customer do if it was faster and cheaper to publish product images? What would they do with their time or the capital resources that now have been freed up? The last sentence here should be one of the four reasons people buy that’s the opposite of what you put in the last column.

  • Primary Value Statement – This is the most basic version of your learnings from the last two columns and should be at the core of any messaging you create regarding a specific feature moving forward. Put another way, if you describe a product feature to a customer and ask them to explain it back to you in one sentence, the primary value statement should be their main takeaway. Again, don’t worry about wordsmithing here. This can be as simple as “[Feature] helps [ICP’s Specific Title/Role] [one of the four reasons people buy].” In this example, it would be “auto-image asset creation helps online merchandisers save money and increase revenue.”

Quick note: The Primary Value Statement is different from your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). A UVP is a company-specific value whereas the Primary Value Statement is product-feature specific.

  • Secondary Messages – This section is where you can begin to add some marketing spin on each feature’s value. The primary statement is still the core but now you want to create a few examples of how you can transform that core messaging into something more polished and contextualized while still being concise. Try something like “With this [Feature], [Economic Buyers] can save time and increase utilization, which helps them earn more money.” For our example, we would write something like, “Automatic image asset creation reduces the cost per image asset, enabling ecommerce merchandisers to increase margins while also improving customer confidence and conversion rates.”

It should sound like something you could see yourself putting in an email or on your Website. And we always recommend that you come up with about two or three of these for every Primary Value Statement so you can use them in different scenarios later on.

  • Links to Collateral – These last columns will most likely be left blank for now. Eventually, you’re going to start creating actual copy, and as you do that, link it back here. Making this a habit will force you to regularly come back to this document and determine if these features and value statements are still the truth. Another reason you want to keep links to your collateral here is that it helps you ensure your message is consistent. If you were to click on all of the links you put here, the message’s essence in each one should be the same.

Finally, having these links in this column will help you and your team see examples of old collateral and copy. This becomes very helpful anytime you or a member of your team goes to create new collateral which again can be very time intensive. As you build more messaging, you shouldn’t have to create it all from scratch. If you already have good copy, use it wherever you can.

It’s very important that at every stage of the sales process and in every piece of collateral you are consistently messaging the same core value statements. It takes a lot of repetition for people to remember exactly what you do for them so you need to reinforce those points regularly.

You’re Ready to Message!

Once your Market Message Map sheet is completed, you can begin creating collateral. You should also compare what you wrote here to any existing collateral you may have, starting with your Website and pitch deck/sales presentation.

Integrate these messages to those pieces as soon as possible. You’ll probably find that your previous messaging was very product-focused. This messaging should be totally different. 

Start testing this messaging conversationally with customers. Be intentional about it by saying the actual words and phrases in this document to customers and tracking their reactions. This is a great way to quickly test and iterate your messaging in a lean manner before building our a ton of collateral that then needs to be updated.

Next week on #gxmxp we’re going to build a conversational framework from your Market Message Map to enable a potential customer to come to the conclusion that you are the one to help them solve a problem.

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