The Art of the Key Messaging Platform

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Every business – large or small – should have a differentiating “key messaging platform” consisting of the following:

A. Corporate positioning statement
B. Supporting key messages
C. Supporting proof points
D. Customer value propositions/statements

Together, these four components comprise a business’s key messaging platform. Personally, I never leave home without it. That is, I have a laminated business-card size cheat sheet that states my key messaging platform. If I ever add new employees to my business I will most certainly make a cheat sheet for them as well.

Let’s explore each component:

A. Corporate positioning statement – this highly succinct, 20-40 word statement should clearly and persuasively demonstrate what the company does, why it is different, how it helps people and for whom it provides its products/services. This can also be referred to as the “elevator pitch” because it should be concise enough to articulate in 10 seconds or less. As a PR person, every company I represented either had one of these or I developed it for them so I was able to quickly describe their business and its value to editors and reporters. If you have no other components of a messaging platform, you must at least have a positioning statement.

B. Supporting key messages – these succinct, precise statements support the claims made in the positioning statement. An effective positioning statement will have certain key words that really stand out and help make it unique. These “power” words are typically the ones that correspond to the supporting key messages. For example, if you use words like “…help manufacturing companies increase productivity by…” in your positioning statement, then you must have a key message that supports that declaration. A viable key message in this situation might be something like: “Our widgets speed up the average production line by improving…”

C. Supporting proof points – these bulleted statements or phrases are similar to arrows in your quiver when you are lining up and taking aim at your target. If you don’t have the right ammunition (i.e. an arrow) then you cannot hit your mark. Similar to how the key messages support the positioning statement, proof points support key messages. Each key message in fact must have its own set of proof points. Using the key message above, a viable proof point might be: “Our widgets use a higher performance oil which keeps the assembly line machines running around the clock.” Just like a bow is useless without an arrow, a key message can fall flat without credible proof points to substantiate it.

D. Customer value propositions/statements – these statements describe the actual benefit(s) to the customer from a business’s products and services. Every positioning statement and key message must have one; otherwise the statement might not resonate with your client or prospect. These are the “so what’s in it for me?” sentences that round out the key messaging platform. Using the same key message we developed in paragraph “B” above, an example of a customer value statement might be: “You will be able to produce more products in less time, thereby improving your sales capacity.”

Every Fortune 5,000 company today has a key message platform (in some form or another). Even though you are a small business, trust me when I tell you that you need one too.

By Kevin B. Levi
Winning Message LLC
www.winningmessage.com
www.muckrakeronline.com

Comments

  1. Great article. How often should a company revisit this sort of thing to make sure it’s current and valid?

  2. I think the most important piece of this post is “differentiation.” Because of the sheer amount of businesses and products, you must appear different and build that into your value statement.

  3. Thanks Ed. I appreciate the feedback. A company should revisit its key messaging platform at least annually, however, there are some key exceptions that require it be done right away, for example: In case of merger or acquisition; or in case of market-changing news.

  4. Dan, very well said. The most important component to all business messaging (in my humble opinion) is differentiation. I always look at messaging from the viewpoint of the customer. If presented with the key messages from all top industry players, who would they choose? You’d better make sure your messages (primarily your positioning statement) makes you stand above the rest.