So you’ve got your message architecture in place. You love the value proposition and the messaging hierarchy. You have a good understanding of how to speak to your target client, and the emotions that your firm is selling. You even understand how your teams’ values overlap with their customers’ needs.
But what do you do with it, now that you’ve got it?
The risk, when you receive a message architecture is that it looks good, you’re excited, but you honestly don’t know what you are doing next. Inevitably, you put the architecture in a drawer and forget about it.
Worst case, it takes on the same element of “nice but useless” as that business plan you haven’t looked at in a hundred years.
Build a checklist to help you question your message architecture
One way of getting great use out of your architecture is to build yourself a checklist – or get your strategist to build one for you. It gives you an immediate reference, so that you know that you are creating your works in the right way.
If you get your strategist to build one for you, you will learn that element of critical questioning so important in the interrogation of documents.
Let’s make no bones about this: Interrogating your own documentation is hard work, especially if you were the creator. It’s easier to “overlook” things, or answer in a positive way because you have a positive intention.
How to develop the checklist
Work from the start of your message architecture and use it to inspire questions. For example, you might have a value proposition that tells you that your business is a professional, customer‐oriented organisation, that is down‐to‐earth, savvy, and reliable.
This statement gives us a lot of scope. You can ask a lot of questions just on this segment. Your Message Architecture will be vastly more extensive than this, and will talk to tone, perspective, customer needs, and a whole lot more besides.
But, we’ll run with this short sample for explanation purposes. Here are some example questions we can develop:
- How does [item] demonstrate that your organisation is customer‐oriented? What evidence of this orientation does it provide?
- How the evidence or commentary demonstrate a commitment to a customer‐oriented perspective?
- What elements demonstrate that this is a professional organisation? Is there anything that takes away from this perspective?
- Is there any evidence for the organisation’s professionalism? What is it and why do you point to that?
- What does down‐to‐earth mean to you? Can you find that “down-to-earth”-ness represented in [item]?
- In what ways is the organisation savvy? What evidence can you find to support that assertion?
- … and so on.
Your message architecture is a compass and a painting of your destination
Getting your architecture to work for you means being able to question your existing materials. The Message Architecture gives you the ability to do that. You have to be focused, and work on one item at a time. You can’t realistically interrogate all of your marketing materials all at once; it just doesn’t work.
The exciting thing is that once you get the hang of using your architecture to interrogate existing materials, you can start to use it back the other way**. If you are creating new marketing materials, or new communications, keep your architecture (or strategist‐created guides) handy.
Note your purpose with the item, and what your customer needs are. Then, using your Message Architecture, ask what elements, text and evidence you need, the tone and style it requires, and how it is going to be distributed or used.
Staying focused is more important now than ever
This critical perspective enables you to stay laser‐focused on your goal. Representing your company according to the clients you want to attract, and as to where you want to be, might be difficult. But it is also some of the most valuable work you will do.
It is ideal that you would have worked on a whole project with a Content Strategist, instead of small pieces. On a whole project, you would have templates and checklists created for you. We recognise that sometimes it’s not possible to bring someone in for a whole project. Contact us for more information about financially accessible content strategy.