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Posts Tagged ‘Proof Points’

People are full of contradictions.  For example, studies show that people will usually believe what they read, no matter the source.  If it’s printed in a magazine, newspaper, blog or company brochure, then they will believe it.

One of my friends even said to me (verbatim), “They can’t print it if it’s not true.”

Be that as it may, when it comes to people parting with their money, they tend to be more circumspect.  When someone is spending money, either their own or their company’s, they want to be sure about what they are purchasing.  Yes, they may be willing to believe what you tell them.  But they will want to see proof of your claim.

“Proof points” do just that.   A proof point is evidence that supports a claim of value that you make about your product, service or company.  These claims of value are called “key messages.” 

Proof points can be formulated in many ways, including:

  • Quotes from a trusted or credible source
  • Research that provides statistics
  • Written material from third parties (newspapers, blogs, twitter postings)
  • Video material from third parties (news interviews, training sessions)
  • Awards and certifications granted by third parties (industry associations, newspapers, rankings)
  • Refererences or referrals from third parties (business associates, customers, friends)

You’ll notice that third parties play a critical role in the creation of proof points.  This reveals a common “human” characteristic — we will accept a supposedly independent recommendation from another source as a validation of a claim.  As a result, companies will spend considerable amounts of time and money to influence the development of proof points via marketing and public relations.

Some examples of (completely fictional) proof points:

Key Messages with Proof Points

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A brand messaging architecture is the first thing you should develop to help you manage your brand image and communications.  It is primarily used by internal departments and external vendors (such as PR firms) who communicate externally to customers, partners, and influencers.  The brand messaging architecture is a formal structure that summarizes and communicates messages about your company, products, and services. 

There are a lot of components to messaging and not all of them will be needed for every brand messaging architecture.  Depending upon your situation, you will choose from the following components to develop the messaging that you need:

– Vision Statement
– Mission Statement
– Positioning Statement
– Value Proposition
– Key Messages
– Proof Points

Here’s an example of a brand messaging architecture for a global non-profit professional association, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (it’s an older version of the brand architecture, so I can share it).

Example: Brand Messaging Architecture

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It’s been a while since my last blog post, and that’s because I’ve been in the process of publishing my new ebook!

I am truly excited to announce the publication of  “Before the Brand: Using Positioning and Messaging to Build Brand Identity.” 

Think about it.  How is your brand perceived?  Unless you consciously define your brand, your customers will create their own perception. This book helps you take control of your brand by defining what your brand is before your marketplace does.  It contains a step-by-step process to create positioning, value propositions and messaging, making it much easier to influence customer perception of your brand.

To learn more, or to purchase a copy ($10 USD), click here.

And there is another change you may have noticed.  My blog brand has changed from “Marketing Magic” to “Before the Brand.”  I’ve had so much interest in the intricacies of positioning and messaging that I’ve evolved this blog to cover that topic more fully.  In upcoming posts, you will learn:

  • How to create a value proposition
  • How to manage brand perception
  • How to position your product
  • What the difference is between vision statements and mission statements
  • …. and much, much more!

I’m pleased to bring my subscribers new, useful tools to help them in their day-to-day work.  Go forth, and make your mark!

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There are a lot of components to messaging, and each component takes good old fashioned work to create.  Yes, each component is necessary.  Yes, each component builds upon the previous component.  But how do you then communicate the components in an easy to understand, easy to use way?

I like to aggregate these messages into a one or two page Brand Architecture.  Quite simply, it’s a cheat sheet.

Use this as a method of summarizing your company, segment, product or service messaging in one, easy to reference location.  I know of companies that post it to their internal Web sites, even distribute it to sales people when they are bringing them up to speed on their next product or service.  It’s the best way to keep everyone in sync — after all, if you don’t make it easy to find, use and understand, your user adoption will be low. 

Cable Company Brand Architecture

Vision By 2012, Cable Company will be the leading provider of integrated communications services for the home.
 Mission Cable Company is the leading integrator of digital communication for the home, by providing cable, radio, internet, and mobile/landline phone services.  We delight our customers with outstanding programming, customer service, and seamless integration of communications
 Positioning Statement

(for the Families market segment)

For families who need programming suitable for children, but find that unfiltered content on TV can be unsuitable, Cable Company’s offering is music, entertainment, and educational programming.  This includes parental controls that enable parents to filter TV programming by channel, rating, or programming type, and which prevent access to programming that parents deem unsuitable for their children.Unlike broadcast television or analog cable, our company provides digital television technology that delivers parental control capabilities.
Key Messages(for the Families market segment) Family Programming Parental Controls
  • Family radio channels 1, 2, 3, featuring animated character guest hosts from the popular Almond Avenue children’s series.
  • 12 educational shows, including 3 animal shows, 1 cooking show, 2 math shows, and 6 educational variety shows.
  • Filter programming by channel, rating, or programming type
  • Available for digital subscribers only
  • Menu driven interface
  • Timer capability allows you to shut off the TV at a pre-determined time.  For example, every day at 7 p.m. programming will shut off but can be turned back on with a parentally defined code.

 

  •  “The best source for children’s TV programming,” Martha Seuss, leading parenting expert.
  • 50% of the programming audience for children, ages 8 – 12, Children’s Television Daily.
  • Winner, 2009 Best Children’s Educational Programming, Education Weekly.
  • Winner, 2009 Best Parental Controls, TV Weekly.
  • “I wouldn’t use any other service,” Parenting Blog, Family Magazine Online.

In my next post, I’ll be moving on to another messaging topic:  preparing messaging documents for the internal company audience.

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Key messages are the next natural progression in the messaging process.  You have your vision, mission, and positioning statements, plus your single sentence value propositions.  Now, you’ll dig deeper, and provide “proof points” against each key differentiator that you have called out in your positioning statements and value propositions.Going back to the Families market segment, we’d first call out our key differentiators:

  • Family programming – product differentiator
  • Parental controls – competitive differentiator

 Then, we add “proof points” against these key differentiators.  Proof points are evidence of the capability, so they should include: A description of the capability and the technology that enables it:

  • Analyst, benchmarking, or market intelligence data that supports your claim to the capability or technology
  • Quotes from industry influencers (analysts, industry gurus, blogs, industry groups) who support your claim

Key messages and their proof points would look something like this[1]:

Key Messages  Proof Points 
  • Family Programming
  •  Family radio channels 1, 2, 3, featuring animated character guest hosts from the popular Almond Avenue children’s series.
  • 12 educational shows, including 3 animal shows, 1 cooking show, 2 math shows, and 6 educational variety shows.
  • “The best source for children’s TV programming,” Martha Seuss, leading parenting expert.
  • 50% of the programming audience for children, ages 8 – 12, Children’s Television Daily.
  • Winner, 2009 Best Children’s Educational Programming, Education Weekly.
  •  Parental Controls
  •  Filter programming by channel, rating, or programming type
  • Available for digital subscribers only
  • Menu driven interface
  • Timer capability allows you to shut off the TV at a pre-determined time.  For example, every day at 7 p.m. programming will shut off but can be turned back on with a parentally defined code.
  • Winner, 2009 Best Parental Controls, TV Weekly.
  • “I wouldn’t use any other service,” Parenting Blog, Family Magazine Online.
     

For those of you who’ve been following my post for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been slowly covering all the elements of a brand architecture:  Vision Statement, Mission Statement, Positioning Statement and Key Messages.  In my next post, I’ll bring it all together!  Stay tuned. 


 

[1] These proof points are complete fiction and are presented for illustrative purposes only.

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