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The "no excuses" marketing messaging template

The "no excuses" marketing messaging template

Slack and Company | August 17, 2017

New (or newer) to directing the development of marketing content?

Well, turn down your Spotify® playlist and close down your chat windows.

We're going to share one single task—one that takes less than an hour—that will almost guarantee your team's ability to reliably create relevant, compelling, distinctive and defendable content assets.


It's a marketing message grid.

Let it all out.

We understand if you feel like screaming. Go ahead—take five. Curse, roll your eyes, throw wadded-up Post-It® notes at your screen.

Here we are, telling you that the solution to all your problems is to fill out a whole message grid when it's clear that you don't have anywhere near that kind of time.

Just bear with us. We’re going to meet you halfway.

Content creators who have solid message grids will reliably create good, even great, assets.

Here's why this is true.

The discipline of creating a message grid forces you to do two key things:

  1. Whittle down your thesis to a discrete set of points
  2. Defend those points with facts

“Yadda, yadda, yadda,” you may say. “My talented writers can weave a great white paper or solutions brochure out of a few PowerPoint® decks and a sales interview.”

We invite you to listen to your gut. You just know that one of two things is going to happen:

  1. Your content creators spend a ton of time doing the work you should have done, "researching" to back into defendable messaging.
  2. You get copy draft after copy draft that compensates for a lack of true messaging by beating around the bush with statements like "Acme Company's Wonderworld™ solution is the greatest thing since sliced bread because it beats the competitors in 'awesome-isity.'"

Deep breath. There's a workable solution.

Meet our "No Excuses" Message Grid: a simple framework that can be used for either brand or product messaging with just a few easy rules.

Feel free to download here. © Slack and Company, 2017

Here are the rules:

This is not copywriting. Every statement in the second column must be written as if spoken to your audience. Write like you talk. Better yet, pretend you are actually talking to a customer or prospect. If you have to, call a friendly customer and say these things to them. Ask them if they resonate.

No coloring outside the lines. This is a messaging grid, not a messaging canvas. It is MEANT to limit you. Sorry, but no more than three challenges, features, benefits.

We know you can think of more. If you wish to create segmented copy for different audiences and have budget to do so, great. But each gets a dedicated message grid.

If you can't support it, you can't say it. Column three (Support point) is where great content is made. Can you prove with facts that a challenge, feature or benefit is true?

It doesn’t matter if you “know” it’s true in your heart, or even if you've always told customers it’s true. As you complete the grid, either find the quantifiable proof point that all (or at least some part) of your statement is true, or drop it and come up with something else. Because indefensible marketing statements lead to unbelievably bad copy.

Your content is worth an hour of prep

Taking the time to create a basic message grid for every content assignment will do more to improve the ongoing quality of your content assets than any other task.

You can do it. You have the time (and now, the tool). And on behalf of your content developers and content readers, we thank you.

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