What Is A Message Map?
A Message Map is a simple, visual communications tool to help you tell your story better.
Thousands of people have learned to tell their stories better with a Message Map.
A Message Map simplifies and streamlines your story by putting everything on one page. Message Maps help you become an even better storyteller because you:
- See what to say
- Say what you mean
- Keep your story concise, clear and consistent.
Leading companies such as The Home Depot, AT&T and Intel use Message Maps. With a Message Map, they tell their stories in 7 seconds or 23 words — the length of an average sound bite in news media.
A 7-second message prepares you to deliver an elevator speech, a sound bite, a headline, an email subject line — that first tasty bit of information that hooks your audience and leaves them hungry for more.
Why do you need a Message Map?
- Because you need to hook people’s attention quickly by answering their question, “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)
- Because you need one consistent message that addresses all your audiences, including customers, employees, investors and influencers.
- Because you want to be quoted accurately in the news media by telling your story in short, quotable sound bites.
What does a Message Map do? It hooks people quickly, then scales your story gracefully.
Once you win your audiences’ initial interest in the first 7 seconds, you gain their permission to expand your story to 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes or more.
Scale your message up to 2 minutes, and you have content that fits into a blog, news release, a video and more.
Message Maps help you open up your business message like an accordion. Your message fits any length, time or space, in any medium — digital, print and live.
By co-creating a Message Map with your executive team, you gain buy-in from the top. Since your message was co-created, it enjoys support from your leadership team, which makes it easier to succeed in sales, marketing and communications.
A co-created Message Map saves time and speeds up your business communications. It helps you:
- Frame one consistent story for all your communications.
- Rapidly answer questions from customers, employees, investors, news media, analysts and influencers.
- Get people interested in your business message by tying it into today’s news (known as newsjacking).
- Stay on message by keeping your message completely consistent, with all media and audiences.
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The magic of a Message Map: It answers the eternal question: what’s in it for me (WIIFM)?
Everyone you talk to only wants to know one thing: what can you do for them? With a Message Map in front of you, you are constantly reminded of what your audiences need – an answer to the question WIIFM?
By design, a Message Map springs from one main message called your “home base.” Home base is the one point to emphasize in all your communications – the one thing you want people to know – what’s in it for them.
To break through, you need to focus on a single message.
Multiple messages don’t have a chance with audiences – they’re just too confusing, notes neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon. A Kantar Millward Brown study shows the only way an ad can succeed is by delivering a single message.
It will take time and repetition for people to learn, remember and believe your home base message. When you repeat your message consistently, keeping it fresh with variations, your message sinks in.
In fact, a consistent message earns a special place in human brains. Consistent messages earn a spot in people's place cells – where brains store unchanging information.
Place cells store memories such as where your house is and other unchanging facts. What’s important about place cells is that they never run out of capacity.
Other areas of the brain quickly dispose of most short-term memories, which is why people forget as much as 90% of what they learn.
Here's the key: people can act only on what they remember -- which is why your home base needs to be absolutely consistent.
Your home base needs to be supported by 3 or 4 positive points.
Three is a magic number, the minimum number of points that enables humans recognize a pattern.
Two points aren’t enough; they may be a sheer coincidence. More than four points becomes clutter – too much for any audience to absorb.
A Message Map frames your message to make it the perfect size for the human brain -- one main idea, supported by 3 reasons to believe it.
As your Message Map develops, you find 3 proof points to support each positive point. With proof points, you're in command of all the facts and figures
Here’s more on the anatomy of a Message Map.
As you capture your story on a Message Map, you create a single source of truth for the whole company. You enable everyone to speak the same language, tell the same story and stay on message.
Your company won’t be like most companies, where employees work in a Tower of Babel. People in each department speak a different language and tell different stories about the company. Those companies’ unaligned messages struggle to win attention.
Most important, your Message Map helps you tell your story in a way that wins support from all the people who have a stake in your business.
A Message Map puts you in control of your story. It gives you an easy-to-tell storyline that proactively answers the questions on the minds of your customers, employees, investors, and influencers.
By understanding who your audiences are, anticipating the questions people will ask and getting out in front with your story, you’re in the best position to tell your story well.
Once your Message Map is ready to go, it's easy to share your message through digital, print and live media.
Make sure yourmconsistent message appears on your website, social media, news releases, brochures, emails and in meetings, trade shows and events.
Remember, the number one people leave B2B websites is the lack of a message.
Now that you have your Message Map all on one page, it becomes a tool for everyone who talks with customers, employees, investors and influencers such as analysts, bloggers and news media.
With training and practice, you can get your whole choir -- everyone in your company -- to sing from the same Message Map. Your company becomes a place where everyone tells your customers, employees, investors and influencers one consistent, memorable story.
Absolute consistency is how your story gains the power and momentum to earn its unforgettable spot in people's place cells.
What is a message map?
What could you accomplish if your business message became more powerful than it’s ever been before?
That’s the promise of a Message Map. To get help with creating Message Maps, facilitating message co-creation and training people to stay on message, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on message maps, subscribe to our blog.
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