Posts Tagged ‘Target Market’

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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In this series of posts, I’m reviewing how to conduct a messaging process.  On July 6, I introduced the second stage of the messaging process, the Strategy Workshop.  Today, I dig into the workshop in more detail by reviewing the workshop agenda.



I like to segment the agenda for the day into two three-hour segments, with about a 90 minute break in the middle.  This enables the participants to focus on the process and produce results — while giving them time during the long break to not only eat, but to catch up on phone calls, etc. 

The trigger for discussion (and ultimately, decision making) is a review of the Discovery findings, which has seven sections.   The Discovery findings are presented using the format of the positioning statement, and we discuss trends, gaps and review relevant quotes from the interviews.  Then, as a group, we discuss what the answer to that section of the positioning statement will be.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds.  It goes like this:

Section 1:  Define Specific Market

The positioning statement opens with a phrase describing the specific market for which the product or service is intended.  In the Discovery Interview Guide, we capture what the content of the phrase should be by answering the following questions:

For: [define specific market]

 1)     What is the target market?

2)      How do you segment that market?

3)      Who are the decision makers (role/title)? 

In the Strategy Workshop, you’ll review the answers to these questions from not only the people that you interviewed, but also from Web sites and other collateral which discusses the target market for the product or service.    Then, guide them through the Discovery findings:

  • Trends:  Commonalities.
  • Gaps:  Disconnects or gaps in knowledge/opinion.
  • Relevant Quotes:  These can frequently be the most revealing, especially the quotes from company executives and industry influencers.

While you are reviewing this information, there should be a lot of discussion among the group.  If there isn’t, prompt them with open ended questions like, “What do you think?” “Do you agree?” “Is this a trend or gap?”  I find it’s most effective to just let the group talk — not over each other, of course, but with one another.  After they’ve said what they have to say, then it’s your job to take them to the next level.  This is where you ask the six million dollar question:

“Let’s complete the phrase.  What should it say?”

Then, guide the group through the process of completing the phrase.

Total time on each section of the positioning statement will take about 45 minutes.  I like to cover four sections in the first half of the workshop, take a break, and return to the final three sections in the second half.

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In this series of posts, I’m reviewing how to conduct a messaging process.  On June 19, I discussed the Discovery Analysis aspect of the messaging process.  In this post, I pick up where that post left off as we launch into the second stage of the messaging process, which is the Strategy Workshop.


Prepare for the Strategy Workshop

When you started the messaging process, you will have selected and involved team members based upon role (see my post June 16).  For most projects, team roles boil down to (in order of depth of contribution):  Team Leaders, Core Team, Extended Team and Influencers.  This implies a hierarchy of importance by role and helps prioritize the weight given to input and involvement for each team member.

The people that are usually invited to the Strategy Workshop are the Team Leaders, Core Team, and select Influencers who are essential to buy-in for the new messaging.  About a week prior to the Strategy Workshop, you’ll distribute the Discovery findings to attendees for review.  The workshop will take about six hours, so I like to structure 3 hours in the morning, a long mid-day break, and then 3 hours in the afternoon.

Purpose of the Strategy Workshop

The purpose of the Discovery stage is to find the patterns and trends of messaging and to identify any gaps.  Gaps are those items where opinion, information or messages diverge or don’t exist.

The purpose of the Strategy Workshop is to get everyone moving in the same direction.   As the leader of the process, you’ll need to bring a very different mind-set to the workshop than what you brought to the Discovery stage.  In the Discovery stage, you gathered and analyzed information.  In the Strategy Workshop, you’ll unveil the patterns, trends and gaps and will be seeking to bring people together, resolve differences, and get everyone going down the same path.  I call it the “Pied Piper” effect, with one key difference — you may not know where you will end up.

Focus, Focus, Focus

Happily, there is a way to get everyone moving in the same direction — focus them on a task.  In this case, it is the task of putting a positioning statement together (check out my blog on March 30 regarding positioning statements).  This isn’t an arbitrary move.  Firstly, focusing everyone on a task engages them in the process and in the end they will feel not only a sense of their own contribution, but they will also feel ownership in the messaging itself.  This is why and how organizational alignment is one of the primary impacts of a messaging process.

Secondly, the task focuses attendees on creating the postioning statement because it is the foundation of all messaging.  Essentially, a positioning statement aggregates all elements of a marketing plan and addresses all the questions that a prospect or customer will have about your message: the target audience, the value proposition and the competitive differentiation.  So, you can already see that this session was aptly named a Workshop — it’s definitely not “death by PowerPoint” and attendees will be continually engaged.

In my next post, I’ll walk through the agenda for the Strategy Workshop and how to guide the team in building a positioning statement.

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When I speak with marketing professionals, one of the chief benefits that they point to in implementing a messaging process is that it helps them align their organizations around one message architecture.  And when one message architecture is in place, it’s much easier to get the organization moving in the same direction.

But how do you get all these executives, influencers, company employees and partners aligned?  Just what are the mechanics of the messaging process?

The messaging process has four steps:

  1. Gather the Team
  2. Establish a Schedule
  3. Execution Phases:
    • Discovery
    • Team Strategy Workshop
    • Messaging Validation
  4. Evangelism

1.  Gather the Team

When gathering a team together, it’s best to select and involve the team members based upon role, and to define roles in relationship to the messaging process, rather than relationship to the company.  For most projects, team roles boil down to (in order of depth of contribution):  Team Leaders, Core Team, Extended Team and Influencers.  This implies a hierarchy of importance by role and helps prioritize the weight given to input and involvement for each team member. 

For example, you may have a particular customer who has been extremely active in defining a new product or category – plus they just “get” your business.  You really want their active participation in the project and will weigh their input heavily when crafting the final messaging.  In that case, you may assign them to the Extended or even the Core team. 

On the other hand, you may have a powerful executive within your company.  You need to include them in the process, but their input just won’t be that hands-on.  Therefore, you may opt to assign them to the Extended team or even as an Influencer.

2.  Establish a Schedule

The complexity of your project schedule varies according to complexity of the messaging project, such as how many people are involved, how many brands need to be positioned, and how complex a messaging hierarchy is required.

It makes sense to break the schedule out to align with the Execution Phases of the process:  Discovery, Strategy Workshop, and Messaging Validation.

3.  Execution Phases

There are three execution phases to the messaging process:  Discovery, Team Strategy Workshop and Messaging Validation.  The execution phases involve a lot of tasks, people and documents, so it’s helpful to use some sort of project management tool to help you manage the project.

I’ve developed what I call a Project Navigator, which I would post to my blog as a file, except, my blog subscription doesn’t let me post files.  So, instead, let me just tell you what’s in it, and you can create your own.

Tool:  Project Navigator

Using Microsoft® Excel™, create a series of tabs at the bottom of the document — basically, you’re creating worksheets.  On these, I put:

  1. Project Schedule:  A high-level schedule for the project itself.
  2. Roles & Contacts:  Tracks the role of each team member and their contact information.
  3. Status by Team Member:  Tracks what each team member is contributing and status.
  4. Bibliography:  Provides a repository (bibliography) of all inputs, such as presentations, videos, books, web site articles, etc., and their sources.

It’s a great little tool but you’d be surprised the big impact it can have.  Just tracking the bibliography of inputs can be daunting, especially on enterprise projects.  Plus, in the end, this tool demonstrates what went into the project for anyone who needs to know.

In my next post, I’ll break down the steps to the Discovery phase in the execution of a messaging process.

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Since February, my blog has been talking about positioning statements.  Positioning statements are important because they create the foundation for company, product or market segment messages.  All messages should link to the three sections of the positioning statement:  1) Target Market, 2) Value Proposition and 3) Competitive Position.  My posts over the two months have gone through each section in detail — and now we’re at the point where we can put them all together to create one positioning statement.
So here is an example of a positioning statement, in this case for a fictional company called Cable Company.  The particular market segment represented is “Families.”
Target Market Value Proposition Competitive Position
For: Our offering is: Unlike:
Families music, entertainment, and educational programming broadcast television or analog cable
Who Need: Including: Our Company:
programming suitable for children parental controls provides digital television technology that delivers parental control capabilities.
But: That:  
find that unfiltered content on TV can be unsuitable enable parents to filter TV programming by channel, rating, or programming type  
  prevents access to programming that parents deem unsuitable for their children.  
Stay tuned, because my next posts will talk about translating the positioning into messages.

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My next few posts are breaking down the steps to develop a positioning statement (see the very first post on this topic March 1, 2010).  Value propositions (see post March 9, 2010) are a part of the positioning statement, and this next post talks about the components, features and benefits in relation to the value proposition.



I include components in positioning statements when I’m working with a solution that contains multiple pieces.  For example, if Cable Company delivers both internet access and cable television packaged as “Entertainment Pack,” then two of the components required would be an internet modem and a cable box.  Or, if you are a free clinic, you may want to specify that you provide only urgent care, not family planning services. 

In many cases, you can skip including the components, but I find it’s better to be more specific to prevent people drawing their own conclusions about you.

Features vs. Benefits

Marketers differentiate features from benefits, which can sometimes be confusing.  I like to think of features as capabilities of the product or service.  Benefits, in contrast, are the perceived value the feature delivers to the user.  So, “parental controls” are a feature, but the benefit is what they do – they allow parents to limit access to programming deemed unsuitable for their children. 

Marketers spend a lot of time developing and ranking benefits in order of significance to the target market, and then highlighting these benefits in value propositions.  What appeals to one market segment may not appeal to another segment, and some benefits will have more significance in one market segment than another.  For example, for Cable Company customers, parental controls may be very important to families with children, but to those without children the capability may not be as important.  But, families with children may rank educational programming as more important to them than parental controls.

So, how do you develop and analyze features and benefits?  That’s where the Market Needs Matrix comes in — and that is the subject of my next post.

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