Time Well Spent: Messaging and Positioning
Posted By Marian Hughes on January 18, 2024
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When it comes to launching something new — whether it be a new company, product, or campaign — most teams are fired up to jump in and quickly get moving. There is so much to do, and time is often not on your side. But this pressure to hustle can lead to a critical mistake: starting to create assets without first taking the time to formalize your messaging and positioning as it relates to your company’s overall corporate goals and strategies.
So if the clock is ticking and you’re feeling the pressure, here’s why investing in messaging and positioning as the first step of your communications planning process will set your company up for long-term success.
They serve as a strong foundation and the north star for future communications materials.
The importance of messaging and positioning is similar to building a solid foundation when constructing a house. You would never start putting up the walls before laying the foundation, which supports the entire structure and offers stability to stand the test of time.
In the same way, strategic messaging and positioning are the cornerstone of a strong communications plan. They create a north star for all future communications materials and reduce unnecessary friction in the story development process.
They help you define your story in a unique, captivating way.
The ultimate goal of unveiling something new is to educate, inform, and engage your target audience(s). You want your news to be relevant and differentiated from the competitive alternatives in a game-changing way.
Before shaping a story, we like to gather key leadership team members for a messaging and positioning workshop. During this deep dive, the group analyzes how the competition tells their stories and communicates their differences. With that information, you and your key stakeholders can review, respond, and come to a consensus on the white spaces you can own and the important elements of your story that differentiate your brand.
Strive to develop a clear, concise statement (a.k.a. your elevator pitch) from this workshop that defines:
- Who your target audience is, and what they struggle with (that is relevant to your company or product).
- How you describe your company or product — and the problems it solves.
- How your company/product is different from the competition in a meaningful way.
They enable you to gain consensus on what matters most.
The beauty of an exercise like a messaging and positioning workshop is that it requires executives, product teams, and the marketing team to be in the same room for several hours, constructively debating points and building upon each others’ ideas.
As communications professionals, our role is to help guide the group to consensus on the main storyline and why the desired target audience(s) should care. With everyone on the same page early on, written and visual materials will consistently align to the storyline and can be created more efficiently.
They ensure long-term message consistency.
The outcome of a messaging and positioning process is a clear, crisp positioning statement and three to five key messages for each of your target audiences that make your announcement relevant. With this foundational work in place, it’s amazing how swiftly the creation of supporting materials will flow, from the press release to talking points, FAQs, and more. And because the positioning statement and key messages have already been approved, the editing process for these documents is often streamlined.
They're an investment with proven results.
Strong messaging and positioning lie at the core of every successful communications program. Before jumping into developing assets for important milestones, ask yourself, “Do I have what I need to tell this story well — clearly, concisely, and in a differentiated way? And, do I have consensus from my stakeholders on the story being told?”
If the answer is no, your first step should be to define your messaging and positioning. Doing so will lead to smoother campaigns and clear, compelling and consistent message pull-through, signaling a job well done and time well spent.
Looking for guidance on your next big launch? Let us know: