Messaging Strategy Document: What It Is and Why You Need One

Writing anything is difficult when you don’t have clear direction.
If you don’t know whom you’re writing for (or how the writing voice should sound, what your goals are, etc.) you’re kind of just winging it every time.

But successful writing doesn't ever "wing it." It's strategic, clear, and powerful.
That’s where a messaging strategy document comes in handy. I recently put one of these together, which is why it’s fresh in my mind.
Messaging Strategy: Client Project
A few weeks ago, the founder of a new software company reached out to me looking for some assistance.
He wanted to know if I could help him get direction on the messaging for the new resource he’s preparing to launch. He needed help strengthening the value proposition, setting basic guidelines for the writing style and tone—and some outside copywriter perspective to tighten up the overall messaging.
I was happy to help—this type of work is one of my favorite things to do.
But it also got me thinking. How many brands out there need a document like this and don’t even know it’s a “thing”?
It’s a thing, guys. So let’s look at how you can make one, too.
What Your Messaging Strategy Document Should Include
First things first: What you should include in your messaging strategy document?
Your messaging strategy document should outline:

1. A 1-3 sentence definition of what your company does. If you need to, start with 10 sentences and whittle them down to the simplest, most concise form.

2. A strong value proposition. Think about your target audience and what exactly your offering has of value for them. This should answer a potential customer’s “What’s in it for me?” question.

3. An outline of how your offering is different from competitors. If what you’re selling is similar to other offerings on the market, outline specifically how you’re different and why your product is unique.

4. A step-by-step process of how your offering/service works. If you can’t explain this simply in 1-4 steps, you’ll be better able to see how to re-work an overly complex process.

5. A brief style guide, including:

  • Target customers and their pain points
  • Your broad and specific goals for content and content formats
  • Notes on language, tone, and style
  • A list of competitors not to reference
  • Key stats to leverage

Once you’ve got all of these pieces, put them together in one central document that is shared with anyone who touches content—internal and external.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be at the beginning of your company history to build a document like this. Putting one together is helpful no matter what stage you’re at in the organization’s timeline.
Why This Document Matters
Having a document like this one helps everyone who writes for the company quickly and efficiently get up to speed on all of the key information they need to know when writing. Plus, it helps give all written content a more cohesive feeling overall.
This is a core asset to a company new or old because it distillsthe most important information into a single place where it can be quickly accessed and understood. It makes onboarding more efficient, and it can help keep all team members focused on the brand’s objectives, customers, and positioning when writing.
If you don’t have a document like this, put creating one on your to-do list.

It’s a simple way to boost clarity in any type of writing—and if you’re a new organization, it’ll help guide team members working on important marketing materials like your website, landing pages, etc.

This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.