One of Marketing’s primary jobs is to develop the positioning and messaging for the company and its products and services. The key messages and supporting points are often captured visually in what is referred to as a message map.
A quality message map serves as a tool to ensure consistent messaging cross-functionality internally and across channels and touchpoints externally, supporting your customer-facing teams and preventing them from being ambushed when they engage with prospects and customers. Examples of this would be sales personnel being told in a meeting with a prospect that they heard about an issue with the product from a competitor or your customer support team being informed by a long-term customer that the competition is questioning the quality of your service.
A comprehensive message map anticipates potential counter-messages by competitors. Marketing should incorporate potential competitor responses into the message map and include both offensive and defensive messaging. You’ll need to create your message map first. Then you can begin to create effective counter messages. If you’re new to creating message maps and counter messaging, here are five steps to get you started.
How to Create an Effective Counter Measures Message Map in Five Steps
We highly recommend using this approach in a workshop-style environment, ideally with an objective third-party facilitator.
If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, scour your competitors’ websites, read press releases and articles written about them, and check out their social media pages. If you have additional resources, invest in research and regularly conduct competitive audits.
Use this research to produce an image that looks something like Figure 1 for for each audience and competitor. This is the beginning of anticipating your competitors moves and your counter measures.
For example, let’s say your competitor uses a product message that claims their product eliminates more impurities than your product with evidence to support their claim.
How Your Map Helps You Go on the Offense
There’s another valuable purpose of this kind of message map: it creates an opportunity for you to lay landmines and ambushes for your competitors.
As you create your map, you’ll be identifying important holes in your competitors’ messaging that you can exploit to your advantage. While brainstorming ways to counteract their criticism with product-to-product messages, you might find that you have strengths in areas where they are weak. For example, perhaps your map reveals that you are stronger in the onboarding or implementation process. Explore how you can use this information to go on the offense. This approach enables you to turn the message map you’ve created into a competitive weapon.