Writing a Strong Messaging and Positioning Framework (MPF)
I’m Paula, a product marketing strategist who spends my time overanalyzing all of my words (and your words too, if I’m going to be honest).
When Amy and the Wheels Up team asked me to write for our blog, I jumped at the opportunity and quickly sprung into action. And by action, I mean:
I developed a list of key contacts who I could interview to get their input for the blog.
I reviewed past blogs to get a sense of their tone and voice.
I considered our audience and what problems they’re looking to solve.
And finally, I developed three pillars - that is, the top three things I want readers to know.
Ok, ok, maybe that’s a bit much for what’s supposed to be a fun and engaging blog, but these are some of the steps any marketer should take when developing what is possibly the most important asset for their team: a messaging and positioning framework (MPF). But before we get into that, let’s cover the basics!
What is a MPF and why do we use it?
An MPF is a single document that defines the key messaging points most central to your business, from your overall mission statement and brand promise to the value propositions and key features of your products and/or services. It’s a resource that your entire marketing team – and anyone they work with – will pull from as they develop content for anything and everything, from product one-pagers to website and ad copy to press releases and more. Plus, it doubles as a primer to help new team members quickly get up to speed on the company’s brand identity, their products and services, and the ways you speak about the offerings.
Key elements of a strong MPF include: company mission and vision statements, tone and/or brand voice descriptors, value propositions, key product features, and a few versions (short, medium, and long) of a brand messaging statement.
As for the why behind the MPF, it’s pretty simple: as a marketer, do you want to spend your time constantly coming up with new and clever ways to talk about your company’s products and services? Or do you know that consistency of message is key to attracting your audience, and you can use your creative juices elsewhere? Simply put, having a resource that includes standard language will make your job so much easier. Whether you’re providing a company description for an industry event program, or you’re writing messaging for a lead generation campaign, you’ll save yourself time and effort by nailing these in the MPF.
And it doesn’t end there. An MPF becomes a resource not just for your internal marketing team, but also external vendors, freelancers, sales reps, public relations professionals, and others. When everyone is referencing the same document, cohesive messaging becomes easy, and brand identity strengthens.
While it’s a living, breathing document, an MPF typically has a fairly long “shelf life” of 1-2 years; it should serve as your marketing team’s holy grail for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that your organization’s stage and growth trajectory will have an impact on the shelf life of your MPF. Start-ups may find themselves tweaking their MPF every six months or so, give or take.
How to craft a rock-solid MPF
Now that you understand the why behind building an MPF, let’s talk about the how. Here are three things you must do to ensure your MPF is top-notch, and to ensure you achieve rockstar status within your organization:
Befriend Google and industry insights. It’s critical to understand the industry landscape before diving in too deep with your MPF. That means doing a fair amount of research prior to getting started. Look at your company’s competitors, get a feel for the current market and your products and/or services position within it. Garner as much information as possible about your customers and their needs.
Interview, interview, interview. It doesn’t matter how much of a wordsmith you are - in order to develop an MPF that’s spot-on, you want to involve all the key stakeholders within your organization. For most companies, I’d recommend talking to your heads of product, sales, and client services at a minimum, as well as your non-C-suite team members within these departments. Anyone who has regular contact with prospects and customers can give you a ton of insight about customers’ challenges and how your product or service solves their problems.
Time travel. Ok, you don’t really need to buy a Delorean and travel into the future with Marty McFly, but you DO want to think about what your company will look like 2, 5, or even 10 years from now. The words you use in your MPF, and especially your company’s boilerplate language, should be aspirational. Is your organization providing used computers to schools in low-income communities today, but your dream is to provide universal connectivity across the globe? Talk about your company’s vision for the future, not simply the nuts and bolts of what you do today. This will help prospective customers dream and grow with you.
Get buy-in and approval. This one’s a no-brainer, but it also can’t be overstated. While a marketing team may “own” the MPF, this document should be the result of a shared vision, and incorporate insights and feedback from various stakeholders. You’ll likely go through several edits and iterations before arriving at the perfect words. Once it is in a good place, be sure to share it with your executive team and go through your organization’s standard approval process.
That’s it! Rockstar status achieved!
Need help crafting your organization’s MPF? Wheels Up is here to help! Drop us a line.