Creating Benefit-Focused Messaging
The message map is a writing tool that helps you structure your content, writing or story in ways that appeal to our audiences. At the center of the map is the university's core value proposition: "UofSC is home to individuals who challenge themselves and each other to go beyond what is expected, so that collectively we are a force multiplier in advancing the world." Your story should always connect to this core value proposition.
Supporting your Point
Beyond the core value proposition, we shape messages around three pillars that make South Carolina distinct: our mission (what we deliver), our approach (how we deliver it) and our aim (the larger goal that keeps our institution moving forward). We then support those pillars with specific messages as to how an individual, the community and society benefit from what we offer. Based on the needs of the target audience and the specific message we need to deliver, we can determine appropriate secondary messages and proof points that validate our message.
It is important to craft benefit-driven messaging to reach our audiences. Our audiences only care about our attributes (the things we do and the things we provide) if there’s a benefit to them, our community or our society. We should never assume that the value of our attributes is self-evident; instead, it is our job to explain why what we offer matters.
What the message map is:
- An internal tool to help South Carolina communicators develop both written and verbal content
- A way to capture the bigger ideas that we need to communicate
- A flexible framework that is meant to grow with the brand and flex to its various extensions and entities
What the message map isn't:
- The exact words we use in our communications (but the words can be used)
- An external-facing communications piece
Understanding the Message Map
At the center of the map is our core value proposition: what we offer and why it matters.
The top half of the message map lays out the attributes that collectively make up
what we offer. The bottom half demonstrates the benefits that flow from those attributes.
Each attribute connects to the benefit below it.
Core Value Proposition
All of our messaging — from social media posts and digital boards to brochures, e-newsletters
and long-form stories — should align with and support the university's core value
Attributes: "The What"
Our attributes are “the what” of our core value proposition. They encapsulate the
unique essence of what we offer.
Benefits: "The Why"
Our benefits are “the why” of our core value proposition. They encapsulate the benefits
of what we offer: in essence, why what we offer matters.
Read the message map from top to bottom, with each attribute (top) aligning with its
corresponding benefit (bottom). Our mission — creating innovative models of learning
and research — is the first of our three key attributes, or pillars.
Pillar One: Our Mission (What We Deliver)
Starting from the upper left column, this attribute/benefit relationship can be paraphrased
as: UofSC creates innovative models of research and learning so that we can develop critical
thinkers who create knowledge to drive innovation and positive change.
Pillar Two: Our Approach (How We Deliver It)
Our approach — a welcoming and intellectually stimulating student experience — is
the second of our three key attributes, or pillars. Starting from the top of the middle
column, this attribute/benefit relationship can be paraphrased as: UofSC offers a welcoming and intellectually stimulating student experience so that
our graduates become part of a lifelong family bound by fierce loyalty to those who
came before and those who follow.
Pillar Three: Our Aim (Our Larger Goal)
Our aim — driving entrepreneurship and visionary leadership in a thriving capital
city — speaks to our economic and social leadership and is the third of our three
key attributes, or pillars. Starting from the top right column, this attribute/benefit
relationship can be paraphrased as: UofSC drives entrepreneurship and visionary leadership in the thriving capital city
so that the university can serve as an economic and social engine for our city, state
Make It Your Own
As a whole, the message map [pdf] lays out our core value proposition, attributes and benefits that support that proposition, and supporting points that validate our attributes and benefits. As you develop messages, think about how the stories in your own area support our core value proposition, serving to validate the key attributes of the university and the benefits of those attributes to our audiences.