Growth Foundations: Messaging Matrix

Anthony Bertolino
9 min readJan 3, 2024

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Growth Foundations series. We’ve already covered how tech behemoths harness Acquisition Loops to grow virally, how quality User Activation allows you to successfully activate and onboard users, and how Habit Loops can be a magnet that keeps users engaged and retained. Now let’s dive into messaging.

The Basics of Messaging

The power of effective messaging cannot be overstated. A well-crafted message can resonate deeply with a user, building a bridge between the brand’s vision and that user’s desires. But how do teams ensure their messaging remains consistent, impactful, and aligned with their business goals? This is where the concept of a Messaging Matrix comes into play.

A Messaging Matrix is not only a tool; it’s a framework that can guide your business towards harmonizing its communication both internally and externally. In today’s attention economy, customer engagement and brand perception are pivotal, and a Messaging Matrix serves as a compass, directing all messaging efforts toward a cohesive and compelling brand narrative. It ensures that every piece of comms, be it for marketing, product, sales, or support, comes across consistently and targeted for the unique user who is receiving it.

Summary

Section 1 — The Role of Messaging in Growth

Section 2 — Understanding the Messaging Matrix

Section 3 — Building a Messaging Matrix

Section 4 — The Art of Crafting Effective Messages

Section 5 — Creating a Messaging Matrix

Section 6 — Implementing and Utilizing a Messaging Matrix.

Section 7— Measuring the Impact of Your Messaging Matrix

Section 8— Best Practices and Common Pitfalls

Section 1: The Role of Messaging in Growth

The Impact of Consistent Messaging

Consistent messaging is the cornerstone of brand reliability and customer trust. It’s not just about what you say; it’s about ensuring that the message is uniform and resonant across all platforms, channels and teams. This consistency fosters a strong brand identity, making your products or services instantly recognizable and reliable in the eyes of customers. This is one of the foundations that helps fuel growth.

Real-World Examples

Below are a few examples where effective messaging strategies have played a crucial role in marketing and product development:

  • Apple: Focuses on innovation, simplicity, and the user experience. This consistent messaging across product launches, advertising, and customer service has helped Apple create a loyal customer base and a distinct brand identity.
  • Airbnb: The “Belong Anywhere” message transformed the company from a simple lodging option to a platform for unique travel experiences. This message, reflecting across their marketing and product offerings, resonates with travelers seeking more than just accommodation, but also community and adventure.
  • Slack: Their messaging strategy revolves around improving workplace communication and collaboration. Their focus on creating a user-friendly, efficient communication tool, reflected in their marketing campaigns, has helped them stand out in a crowded market of productivity tools.

A clear and consistent messaging strategy can not only elevate a brand but also drive significant growth by resonating deeply with the target audience.

Section 2: Understanding the Messaging Matrix

Overview of Matrix

A Messaging Matrix is a framework that enables businesses to map out and align their communication strategies across different platforms, channels and stakeholders. It often lives as a chart or document that encapsulates a brand’s unique value proposition, key messages, and the specific needs of different audience segments.

A Messaging Matrix serves as a guide to ensure that every communication, whether it’s a marketing campaign, a sales pitch, or customer service interaction, is coherent with the overarching brand narrative and desired messaging. It’s all about maintaining a consistent message.

Agile Aligned

The Messaging Matrix fits well with modern technology companies that follow agile frameworks and are constantly looking to iterate towards success. This means it’s not an ossified document, but a living artifact that evolves with market trends, customer feedback, and the brand’s own growth journey.

Section 3: Building a Messaging Matrix

Identifying and Categorizing Stakeholders

The first step in constructing a Messaging Matrix is to identify and categorize your key stakeholders. These typically include Customers, Investors, Partners, Employees and more.

  • For Customers: Understanding the diverse segments of your customer base.
  • For Employees: Ensuring internal communication is in line with external messages.
  • For Investors: Tailoring messages to resonate with financial stakeholders.
  • For Partners/Suppliers/etc: Aligning messaging with those who are integral to business operations.

Recognizing the unique needs and perspectives of each stakeholder group is crucial in crafting messages that resonate and drive engagement.

The Importance of Stakeholder Personas

Developing stakeholder personas is necessary to make an effective Messaging Matrix. Personas are often created as semi-fictional characters that represent the different segments of your stakeholders. They are built on market research, user research, and real data about your existing (or ideal) customers, employees, partners, etc.

Creating personas involves understanding not just demographic information, but also psychographic data like interests, pain points, motivations, and behavior patterns. This deep understanding allows for more targeted and relevant messaging. For instance, the message that resonates with a long-term customer might differ from that of a potential investor or a new employee. Personas help in fine-tuning these messages so that they are not just heard, but also felt and acted upon.

By developing a nuanced understanding of your stakeholders through personas, you can ensure that your Messaging Matrix is not only comprehensive but also empathetic and effective in reaching hearts and minds.

Section 4: The Art of Crafting Effective Messages

In crafting messages, it’s crucial to understand a few basics, various optional guidelines, and different types of messages.

Messaging Basics

  • Clarity and Brevity: Messages should be straightforward and easy to understand, avoiding jargon or complex language.
  • Timeliness and Relevance: Information should be delivered in a timely manner and be relevant to the current situation or audience’s needs. This is why having your messaging matrix be a living document is so important.
  • Empathy and Assurance: Showing understanding and empathy towards the audience’s concerns can build trust and confidence in your brand. This is why doing user research is so important.

Optional Messaging Guidelines

  • Rule of 3: People best remember three key points. Limiting your message to three core ideas makes it more memorable and impactful.
  • 27/9/3 Guideline: Messages should be concise, ideally consisting of 9 words or less in 3 sentences, each with no more than 27 words.
  • Avoid Negative Dominance: Avoid negative phrasing. If negative elements are necessary, balance them with positive messaging.
  • Social Proof and Testimonials: Include customer testimonials, reviews, or case studies in your messaging to build credibility and trust.
  • Emotional Appeal: Leveraging emotions can be highly effective. This involves creating messages that evoke feelings (happiness, nostalgia, excitement, etc.).

Types of Messages

  • Descriptor Messages: Informative messages that provide essential information about products, services, or situations.
  • Differentiator Messages: Highlight the unique benefits or features of your product or service, distinguishing you from competitors.
  • Connector Messages: Aim to build an emotional connection with the audience, often touching on shared values or experiences.
  • Motivator Messages: Encourage action or change, often used in calls to action or to inspire a shift in behavior or perception.

Section 5: Creating Your Messaging Matrix

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Stakeholder Identification and Categorization: List out all potential stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and partners. Categorize them based on their impact and relevance to your business.

2. Defining Stakeholders and Building Personas: For each stakeholder category, develop detailed personas. These may include demographics, psychographics, pain points, use cases, behavior patterns, motivations, values/beliefs, goals and more.

3. Identifying Key Stakeholder Questions: List the potential questions or concerns each stakeholder might have. This helps in tailoring your messages to address these specific queries. This is another area where high-quality user research can help.

4. Developing Key Messages: Based on the personas and anticipated questions, craft key messages for each stakeholder group. Apply the principles of effective messaging discussed earlier.

5. Building the Messaging Matrix Template: Create a template that outlines each stakeholder group, their concerns or questions, and the corresponding key messages. Ensure it’s easy to understand and use.

Tactical Ways to Improve a Messaging Matrix

  • Empathy: Messages should resonate on a human level, showing understanding and care for the audience’s needs and concerns.
  • Storytelling: Use narratives to make your messages more engaging and memorable. Stories can illustrate complex ideas in relatable and compelling ways.
  • Visual Aids: Enhance your messaging with visuals. Images, infographics, and videos can help clarify messages and make them more impactful.

Section 6: Implementing and Utilizing the Messaging Matrix

Effective Implementation Across Teams

Implementing the Messaging Matrix across different departments requires a collaborative and inclusive approach. Here are some strategies you can consider using:

  • Training and Workshops: Conduct sessions to familiarize all teams with the Messaging Matrix, emphasizing its role in achieving business objectives.
  • Integration into Daily Processes: Embed the Messaging Matrix into everyday business operations, ensuring it’s used in marketing campaigns, product copy, sales pitches, customer service, and even internal communication.

Regular Updating and Revision

Remember, this is meant to be a living document. Here are a few ways you can make sure it stays fresh:

  • Scheduled Reviews: Set regular intervals (I prefer quarterly) for reviewing and updating the Messaging Matrix.
  • Feedback Loop: Implement a system for gathering feedback from different stakeholders (internal and external) to help inform potential updates.
  • Market Trends and Changes: Stay tuned to market changes and industry trends that might necessitate changes in your messaging.

Section 7: Measuring the Impact of Your Messaging Matrix

Key Metrics to Track Effectiveness

To gauge the success of your Messaging Matrix, focus on metrics such as:

  • Brand Consistency — Qualitative: Measure how consistently the brand message is communicated across different channels.
  • Customer Engagement — Quantitative: Track engagement metrics on social media, email campaigns, and other marketing channels.
  • Conversion Rates — Quantitative: Monitor changes in conversion metrics pre- and post-implementation of the Messaging Matrix. This can be across both product, marketing and sales channels.

Tools and Techniques for Analysis

Leverage tools and techniques such as:

  • Analytics Software: Utilize digital analytics tools to track online engagement and conversion rates.
  • Surveys and Feedback: Conduct customer and employee surveys to gain insights into the clarity and effectiveness of your messaging.
  • A/B Testing: Test different messages with controlled groups to see which ones resonate best with your audience. I cover A/B testing in the article on User Activation.

Section 8: Best Practices and Common Pitfalls

Best Practices

To maximize the effectiveness of your Messaging Matrix:

  • Alignment with Business Goals: Ensure that your Messaging Matrix aligns with your overall business objectives and brand strategy.
  • Clarity and Simplicity: Keep messages clear, concise, and easily understandable to avoid confusion.
  • Stakeholder Involvement: Involve representatives from different stakeholder groups in the creation and review process for a more inclusive Messaging Matrix.

Common Pitfalls

Avoid these common mistakes:

  • Overcomplication: Avoid making the Messaging Matrix too complex or detailed, which can lead to confusion. Remember, it’s a living document and meant to be iterated upon.
  • Inconsistency: Ensure that the Messaging Matrix is consistently applied across all departments and channels. If a department doesn’t know it exists, then it won’t be utilized.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Be open to adapting the Messaging Matrix as your business and market conditions evolve.

Conclusion

The Messaging Matrix stands as a pivotal tool and a true growth foundation. I hope this article helps you create one and allows your brand to resonate deeply with your stakeholders and market. Remember, your Messaging Matrix is a living document that should see continuous iteration, keeping your brand’s communication relevant and impactful in an ever-changing market.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Anthony Bertolino. I’ve been obsessed with start-ups, marketing, product, and growth since a very young age. For the past 7 years I have been focused on Ethereum and the new open global coordination system we’re all building together. Feel free to read some of my other work, and connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter.

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Anthony Bertolino

Educating people about blockchain technology, crypto assets and the future of finance.