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A Word about Messaging January 5, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Messaging.
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In straightening up my office, I ran across a gem buried in my filing cabinet.  It was an early “aha!” moment for me in my marketing career.

Marketers need to guide the target audiences up the messaging pyramid. To jump to the close before establishing awareness and relevance will only lead to heartburn.

Years ago while working on a product launch, my team ran into some messaging trouble.  Our task: to introduce a new product to a new market segment and steal marketshare.  Clear enough.  Yet we struggled to understand why our marketing efforts weren’t getting enough traction.  After a dismal quarter, we stepped back to do a complete post mortem on our launch activities.  The problem we found was with our messaging.  Specifically:

1)  While our product was well received in market segment A, segment B had no idea who we were (even though we thought they did), and

2) When we did an impromptu segment B focus group, we found they were confused and disbelieving of our messages.  Thus, they ignored them.

The team was incredulous.  After all, we were one of the biggest companies around.  To solve our problem, we had to check our egos at the door and focus (again) on the business problem the prospects were trying to solve.  After much gnashing of teeth, we realized that we couldn’t just go for the quick sale.  We needed to invest time with the new segments in order to earn the right to sell to them.

We needed to establish awareness (and relivance!) for our company in segment B.  Only then would we have a firm foundation on which to compare our new product with the various incumbents.  And only then could we showcase our differentiators with confidence.   

To keep us on track, we produced a message hierarchy chart similar to the one shown here.  This helped keep us humble and helped us to define a winning marketing blueprint that worked.  And it worked very, very well!

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