Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: April 15, 2019 How to

Here's how to use a message map to communicate your company’s story

Nancy Marshall

Is your business team able to tell your company’s story consistently? It’s important to communicate what your business does and what it represents in the same way every time. That’s how you build brand awareness and understanding.

A handy tool to keep your entire team on point is a message map. It maps out all of the things you want to communicate about your business in an easy-to-follow graphic. As I like to say, it keeps them “singing from the same song sheet.”

A message map is a great tool for sales meetings, developing content about your business, public speaking opportunities, networking and especially media interviews.

If you’ve ever been interviewed by a journalist, you know that sometimes the questions being asked can move you away from the points you want to get across. A message map can help bring the discussion back on track.

A message map’s visual format makes it easy to follow. It’s basically a series of bubbles on a page, with the most important message at the center and supporting messages surrounding it. It should be short and to the point.

When I am developing a message map, I try to limit that main message to no more than 21 words in length. It takes roughly seven seconds to speak 21 words. If you are familiar with broadcast news, then you know TV and radio reporters love seven-second sound bites.

One way to structure that central message is to create it in the form of an “XYZ” statement. An XYZ statement conveys what you do (the X), who you do it for (the Y) and how what you do benefits your customers (the Z).

Here’s an example. We create strategic marketing plans for businesses statewide and nationally so they can grow their profits.

In working with my clients to craft their main messages, I tell them to think of themselves as “white knights” ready to swoop in and save the day for their clients. Think about what keeps your clients up at night and how you can bring them peace of mind.

Once your main message, also called a value statement, is solidified, it is time to develop the supporting proof points. First, divide out the main message into three or four pieces.

Try putting the message into short phrases:

  • We create strategic marketing plans …
  • for businesses statewide and nationally …
  • so they can grow their profits.

Place these phrases in individual bubbles surrounding the message at the center, leaving room within each to list out four to six supporting messages.

For “we create strategic marketing plans,” supporting bullets might include unique aspects of the process used to create the plans and how long the process takes. “For businesses statewide and nationally” could be supported by a list of businesses that have had a plan developed. “So they can grow their profits” could be supported by examples of results generated through implementation of the plans.

After your message map is finalized, explain the purpose of the map to your entire team, and teach them how to use it to communicate with customers and other stakeholders. You might consider formal media training using the message map as a tool. Post the message map in a prominent place.

Keep in mind that a message map should focus on concern for your customer. If you share points that meet a critical need or concern, your target audiences are going to remember those points. Repeat your key messages over and over again in the same manner. That will reinforce the message.

Nancy Marshall, the PR Maven, owns Marshall Communications, with offices in Augusta and Portland. She can be reached at

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF