Navigate the Messaging Minefield

Ever been here? … marketing stakeholders disrupted and disconnected from what should be a common messaging platform… having to navigate how to support one product launch in the context of another… or worse?

It should be simple, straightforward, but often isn’t. Case in point, our tech-industry Marcom team was asked recently to troubleshoot a technology messaging discussion which required that two adjacent Business Units align to support the launch of a new product family into a downstream Channel segment in the context of many previous months of OEM messaging. The minefield: mediate and message the same underlying technology against different end-customer value propositions.

Adding to the urgency were: tight deadlines, changing market strategy, a complimentary product acquisition, and a silo’d marketing motion hampered by geography, new managers and new organizations.

The BU team tasked with the new product family launch loudly maintained that marketplace messages weren’t yet defined, and that messaging was yet to be written – despite production and distribution of several FLASH modules, a press release , a product sales promotion flyer and a global, customer rollout looming just six-weeks away. The OEM-side BU team was baffled that the Channel team seemed to want to ignore the market conditioning and technology leadership context build previously, and disputed that the market audience targets could be isolated. gbwhatsapp

None of the leads were inexperienced; all believed in doing the right thing. What resulted, however, was a clear disconnect and loss of opportunity to leverage previous messaging groundwork. While BUs drive messaging, Marcom can/should drive the process of getting there, sanity checking the strategy, and to write craft both a message matrix and the respective message specifics, given target audiences.

I offered up the following framework to prompt cross-BU collaboration.

A brief briefing call: 30 minutes. Get the principal stakeholders in a room/on a call and talking. Keep it small, just the core team who really care. Don’t presume alignment from previous discussion. Start fresh. Ignore all the previous calls and emails. Start completely over. I asked the Channel launch lead for a 5 minute summary of his marketing requirements/needs; then the OEM lead took 5 minutes to paint the context and previous market conditioning. The remaining time was a free-flowing discussion.

First, propose themes, not messages: Following the client discussion, get in a corner w/your internal team and brainstorm themes, not messages. Avoid the clammer to jump immediately to copy writing. In this case, our internal Marcom team devised four messaging “themes” then did a brief follow-up call w/the core BU teams/leads to discuss, tweak and finalize. The goal was to establish a benchmark approach against which the later specific messages could be validated.

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