Keep It Simple, Clear and Concise

Carmine demonstrating message map

Carmine Gallo‘s Forbes article and video titled “How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds” demonstrates a powerful way to make complex products easier to understand and more impactful. As Carmine puts it: :If you can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying, I’m not investing, and I’m not interested.”

Financial service products are complex. The challenge is to present the concept and position it in such a way that the key value propositions are clearly understood. The example given by Gallo in pitching a complex technology to public safety agencies was this:

Challenge: Conveying the essence of a complex product and its value to the prospect.

Product Attributes: 4G LTE is a standard for the wireless communication of high-speed data based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, increasing the capacity and speed of new modulation techniques. As Mr. Gallo says:

Not one person would have acted on the pitch because they wouldn’t be able to understand a word of it!

Solution: The more effective pitch  – or “message map” that conveyed the value proposition in a single sentence is this:

4G is a mobile broadband technology that will change the way your department communicates, collaborates, and operates.

Result: Apparently, the message was so simple and effective that the company landed several multi-million dollar accounts after their first meetings.

The message map gave everyone (sales, marketing, executive leadership) a roadmap for the customer conversation, and improved the confidence of the sales and marketing teams to articulate the value, mission, and why the product would make a difference.

Gallo’s 3 Step Guide to Building a Message Map

The “message map” is the visual display of your idea on a single page. It is a powerful and tool that should be a part of your communication arsenal.

Step 1: “Create a Twitter-friendly headline.”
The headline is the single overarching message that you want your customers to know about the product.

  • Draw a circle at the top of the message and insert the headline.
  • Make sure your headline fits in a Twitter post – no more than 140 characters.

Step 2: Support the headline with three key benefits.

As I discussed in a previous article, the human mind can only process about three pieces of information in short-term memory. Specifically outline the three or, at most, four benefits of your product. Draw three arrows from the headline to each of the key supporting messages.

Step 3: Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples. Add bullet points to each of the three supporting messages. Rather than writing out the entire story, write a few words that will prompt you to deliver the story.

Application to Marketing

What Mr. Gallo has done is to tap into a solid marketing principle – the use of the Brand Value Pyramid.  In the marketing of complex financial products where it is difficult to differentiate your brand in a crowded field of similar products, it is one of the keys to effective marketing message and product positioning.

Position Using The Brand Value Pyramid: Positioning your message in alignment with your customer’s beliefs and values corresponds to step one of Mr. Gallo’s “Message Map.” You can then drill down to three key benefits and product features, corresponding to steps 2 and 3:

The Brand Value Pyramid: from Scott Davis’ Brand Asset Management shows you how to turn your brand into the driving force behind your company’s growth, operational success, and long-term profitability. Using his principles, I have been successful in driving profitability and market share for financial services products, applying these two principles:
  1. Content must reflect the Voice of the Customer. 
    • To speak in the customer’s voice, you need to capture the customers’1) beliefs and values up front, ahead of the 2) product benefits, and 3) features and attributes, effectively making use of the Brand Value Pyramid shown above.
  2. Allow the customer to drill down and research.
    • Your case can then be briefly supported by testimonials, statistics and data that allow the customer to confirm for him/herself what peers are saying about the product.

Snap! principle of the “Message Map” positioning:

Position your message to your customer’s beliefs and values.

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