Strategic Communication: How to Develop Strategic Messaging and Positioning - Deepstash
Why care about strategic messaging and positioning

Product/market fit also means message/customer fit

Messaging is a key part of building any great company. Every business organization has a purpose and vision which leads it to develop products that solve the pain of specific types of customers (or create such customers). 

As Peter Drucker pointed out — “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer”. The process of creating a customer is a process of communicating your vision and values to the right set of customers in the market. Strategic messaging facilitates this communication.

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One of the main attributes of strategic messaging is consistency. Effective messaging is always simple and consistent. The best way to evaluate your current messaging is to look at how consistently your organization talks about your products and compare that with how your current customers talk about your product.

Effective Messaging = Simple + Consistent

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The Goal of Marketing = Controlling Perception + Changing Behavior

Strategic messaging is a value-based communication framework that companies employ in all interactions with stakeholders — employees, prospects, customers, partners, and investors. 

Strategic messaging communicates product value to the customer by describing the solution to a problem.

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Positioning is a way of manipulating what’s already in the mind. Founders often present their ventures as "Uber for X" or "Airbnb for Y" positioning is not even about your product, it is about the perception of the prospect, customer, or investor regarding your product. It is a simplified concept that translates an oversimplified message to penetrate your prospect’s mind and build certain perceptions about your product. Positioning techniques are widely used in politics,

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  • Messages should be consistent. Consistency reduces opportunities for miscommunication. Consistent messages are more likely to become memorable.
  • Brevity and simplicity lead to clarity. Avoid fancy words and use more conventional language.
  • Define, don’t assume. Don’t assume that your audience understands the terms that you use in your communication. 
  • Avoid superlatives and buzzwords.

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Positioning does not explain all the details of what a product does and especially how. Positioning is not even about your product, it is about the perception of the prospect, customer, or investor regarding your product.

This is a critical point: the answers to a positioning problem are outside of your product and even your company; they are in your prospect’s mind. In other words, the way you describe and position your product should be dictated by your customers and prospects, and not by product features or internal expertise.

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  • First, you have to pick a set of tools that you will be used consistently throughout this process. You will need to select a target customer profile and a strategic messaging framework. 
  • Based on your initial discovery interviews, you will develop detailed target customer profiles.
  • The rest of the process involves careful fine-tuning of your value statements by validating your assumptions with another round of interviews. 
  • Only when your value statements are finished can you move on to designing higher-level messaging such as your positioning statement, 25-word description, and tagline.

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You should have plenty of notes from your discovery interview. It is now time to look for common themes. Look into overlapping feedback from your interviews. Always put customer and prospect responses above answers from your team. 

When multiple target customer personas are involved in the buying process, you will need to include all of them in your strategic messaging map. Complete your Target Customer Profile for each persona involved in the buying process.

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Categorize all the feedback you collected during discovery interviews and identify the main value categories.

  • Great quality is not a value.
  • Amazing customer service is not a value.
  • Cheap price is not a value.
  • Easy integration is not a value. 

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A 25-word description statement is a one-sentence description of your company. This sentence will appear first on the “About Us” section, it can be present in full or partially on your homepage, and it will be a part of your company description across social media profiles and in your PR.

Many companies also have a longer version 50-word description. It usually consists of 1–3 sentences and provides little more information about company values, target customers, and the problem it solves.

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Your first full strategic messaging map is likely to be far from perfect. It is time to gather sufficient, high-quality feedback from your team and outside stakeholders. 

While you are likely to encounter people jockeying for their perspective to be included, it is important to have a clear vision and the confidence to defend difficult choices. 

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Strategic messaging speaks in your buyer’s language and provides two key elements that lead to effective content: 1) who is the audience? 2) what do they care about?

The notes you have collected during customer interviews should be a great source of content ideas.

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