How to use a Message Map to succeed in everything

My business partner George Stenitzer and I write frequently about how Message Maps can help your organization get its story heard. In fact, George recently wrote a blog that talks about the many different ways a Message Map can help your company.

But did you know that Message Maps can also help you outside your workplace? Message Maps can help you succeed in everything you do.

A Message Map is a one-page document that helps you focus your message on what’s in it for your audience. And your audience does not have to be your company’s stakeholders. You can use Message Maps to help you with your job search, to persuade your spouse/partner to go on vacation, or to get your family members to try a new holiday tradition.

Use a Message Map to help you get your next job

This is about the last time you interviewed for a job. We usually talk about our goals, where we want to be, etc.

But the interviewer really wants to know how you’re going to help the organization meet its goals. Making a Message Map for your job search ensures that you focus on what’s in it for the company if they hire you, versus what’s in it for you if you get the job.

Let’s use Dana as an example. Dana is an expert in marketing lead generation. Before creating and using a Message Map, Dana might have gone into job interviews starting with the fact that she has 15 years of experience in lead generation. That’s great, but that’s about Dana, not about the organization that may hire her.

As you can see in Dana’s Message Map below, she moved her years of experience to a supporting point, and now her central message, which we call “home,” is: I help companies generate qualified leads that result in increased sales.

Using a Message Map can help you land your dream job.

Dana can then go on to say that she uses her years of experience, the latest technologies and concepts, and her proactivity to help generate those leads.

She can also use her Message Map to help answer questions during the interview. For example, the interviewer may ask for a specific example from her track record. Dana answers by starting with career example 1, and finishes by saying, “That’s just one example of the proven track record I’ve gained with my 15 years of experience, and how I can apply that experience to help you generate qualified leads that increase sales.”

By focusing on how she helps the interviewer and organization succeed, Dana can focus the job interview on the benefit to her audience, versus why she wants the job.

Message Maps can help you get what you want

You can also use Message Maps in your personal life. Do you want to go on vacation? I do. And when I think about that to myself, I think, “I really need a break. Getting away would be so fun. The relaxation. The spa treatments. The shopping.”

Yes, it’s true. We all think mostly about ourselves, and there is research to prove it. With that fact in mind, the next time you approach your family or friends with something you want to do, think about what’s in it for them.

Instead of voicing your internal thoughts about why you need a break, tell them how great it will be for them. Think about what your spouse or partner talks about most when wanting a getaway. You could try home messages such as:

  • I’ve heard you say you really need a break. Do you want to go to (destination they’ve mentioned)?
  • Why don’t we take a vacation where you can practice your (golf, basketball, etc.) game? (You don’t have to mention you might be at the spa…)

Starting the conversation by focusing on what’s in it for your partner helps them focus on the conversation and work with you to make a decision that meets both of your needs.

So, when shouldn’t you use a Message Map? This may be common sense, but Message Maps rarely work on people who don’t have the ability to reason. Sorry parents, but children don’t develop that ability until about age 7. So, Message Maps won’t stop your toddler’s temper tantrums.

Next time you want to persuade someone to do something, try making a quick Message Map.

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