Who’s using Message Maps? How do businesses benefit?
Meet Ron Rubin, a successful entrepreneur who has been using Message Maps for decades in his businesses – including The Republic of Tea and The Rubin Family of Wines.
“Message Maps have added to our success over the years. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Ron says. He is among the pioneers who started using Message Maps in the early 1990s, working with Message Map co-creator Tripp Frohlichstein.
Ron bought The Republic of Tea business in 1994 and built it into a powerful brand that’s in Whole Foods, restaurants and high-end retailers. “What we’re all about is enriching people’s lives through premium teas, education and innovation,” Rubin says.
The Republic of Tea Message Map
With the help of a Message Map, The Republic of Tea has kept its message absolutely consistent. Its home base message is to enrich people’s lives through The Republic of Tea experience.
The Republic of Tea achieves that through:
- A “sip by sip rather than gulp by gulp” tea experience
- Dozens of premium teas and herbs
- A focus on health and well-being
- The work of its Ministers (employees).
Message Maps helped The Republic of Tea make its story more powerful and consistent. “It’s just a fantastic tool. It’s your road map. I mean, you don’t get lost.”
Here’s The Republic of Tea Message Map, which captures the brand’s story on one page. The Republic of Tea keeps its message fresh by updating the Message Map each year.
After two decades of using Message Maps in the business, “It’s just part of the DNA of the company.”
“Whether you’re doing a radio interview or TV interview or talking to your sales team or a newspaper writer, it’s like it’s your Cliff Notes. It’s there in front of me.
“We put the Message Map on our bulletin boards. We train people about the Message Map. We have little index cards that we carry to talk about enriching people’s lives through premium teas, education and innovation.”
Building a business in premium teas
Of course, it takes much more than a great message to build a business. As tea drinkers know, The Republic of Tea brand has distinguished itself with many innovations:
- Great-tasting premium teas
- New flavors and types
- A unique round unbleached tea bag with no staple or string
- A mail-order catalog that always includes a free sample of tea
- Recyclable packaging
- A tall round tin to keep the tea fresh
- A distinctively shaped bottle for tea served in restaurants.
With The Republic of Tea growing successfully, at the age of 62 Ron pursued his 40-year-old dream. It’s a dream he first had as a student at the University of California-Davis, where he majored in enology (the study of wines): to own a winery in Sonoma County.
In 2011, he bought the winery now known as The Rubin Family Vineyards and Winery in Sebastopol, California. He designated his employees “the dream team.”
In 2015, he handed over the reins of The Republic of Tea to his son Todd, who now leads the company as Minister of Evolution. Today Ron focuses on building the winery business.
Co-creating the message with employees
“The first thing I did after I bought the winery, we took a trip out to California and sat down with everybody – the winemaker, assistant winemaker, the national sales manager, operations manager. We wanted to basically agree on a message and start our own Message Map for the winery. Of course, this was new terminology for the winery staff, and Tripp led us through it,” Ron says.
“We were trying to come up with something a little bit different so that everybody this early could understand what we were all about. It just came out that it’s all about a beautiful experience – we’re all about education, innovation, enriching people’s lives.
Having input and agreeing on the message of the company “made them feel like owners themselves in this message of the company that they’re devoting a great amount of their life to. They have a say in what we’re all about. The esprit de corps went up.”
A Message Map makes your job easier
“By the way, the Message Map makes it so much easier for them. They’ve all told me that. It gives them so much more confidence and ability and consistency.
“The consistency is so important because the same message that I’m delivering about the winery, everybody else is delivering about the winery. I think that that’s what employees like.
“It’s like, ‘Ron is saying the same thing that I said. Joe is saying the same thing that Ed said.’ We’re basically delivering the same story. That just makes it that much more powerful and consistent.”
Consistency is one of the big benefits of using Message Maps. Neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon notes that consistent messages earn a special place in customers’ brains, in their “place cells.” What’s important about place cells is that, unlike short-term memory, place cells never run out of capacity.
When you give marketers and PR people a Message Map, “You’ve just given them something to make their job a lot easier,” Ron says. “One of the key things is how you use it.”
The Rubin Family of Wines Message Map
The Rubin Family of Wines uses its Message Map to tell its story in many ways:
- The winemaker and assistant winemaker use the message in speaking to the public.
- The national sales manager and sales team use the message with customers.
- The message turns up in letters from the winery.
- The PR agency uses the Message Map to answer reporters’ questions.
- Content on The Rubin Family of Wines website comes from the Message Map.
Here’s The Rubin Family of Wines Message Map. It’s all about:
- The commitment to customers
- The vineyard
- California premium wines
- The Rubin Family
- The dream team of employees
- The family of wines
- The commitment to partners.
Ron even extended the idea of Message Maps to MBA students at St. Louis University. He taught a course in entrepreneurship for 7 years and invited Tripp to be a guest speaker.
The Rubin Family of Wines and The Republic of Tea are two of the many businesses that have made their message concise, compelling and crystal-clear with a Message Map. For more than two decades, Message Maps have added to Ron’s business success.
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