A few years ago, I was working with the CEO of a fast-growing Bay Area technology start-up. After a recent promotion from CMO, he wanted my help with the company’s messaging since he no longer had the time to lead that project himself. While he wanted to focus solely on messaging, I knew that grounding that messaging in a foundation of strategic positioning would ultimately result in a more useful, flexible and strategic tool for his team.

In order to accommodate his messaging orientation, I led an unusual positioning session. Rather than just identifying options for populating the “Five Things:” Target, Unmet Need, Competitive Set, Point of Difference and Reasons to Believe, I simultaneously populated a messaging chart at the same time. It helped that we were in a long, rectangular room that had white boards running the length of both long walls. On one white board, I laid out the positioning and on the other white board, I wrote down all of the potential messages as we were talking about them.

This was the inspiration for one of my clients’ favorite deliverables: The Messaging Matrix. We start by developing a conventional positioning statement. Then, we go one step further and identify analogous messaging examples for Point of Difference and the Reasons to Believe.

If we look at the same example from last month’s post So You Have a Positioning Statement, Now What? Elevator Pitches, here’s the positioning example we used. It’s for an all-girls’ Catholic high school that we called GCHS:

To Chicago parents with daughters 10-14 years old who want their daughters to be successful, GCHS is the Catholic high school that focuses on helping girls excel through 1) a close-knit, all-girl student body, 2) demonstrated academic excellence, and 3) the opportunity to participate in the GCHS Leadership Institute for an even more independent and expansive experience.

Step One: Put the Point of Difference and the Reasons to Believe from you positioning statement into chart form:

Positioning Elements 

GCHS Positioning Statement

Sample Messaging Examples

Point of Difference  We focus on helping girls excel  
Reason to Believe #1 Close-knit, all-girl student body  
Reasons to Believe #2 Demonstrated academic excellence  
Reason to Believe #3 Opportunity to participate in Leadership Institute  

Step Two: Identify sample messages that are analogous to the sentiment expressed in each positioning element. For example:

Positioning Elements 

GCHS Positioning Statement

Sample Messaging Examples

Point of Difference  We focus on helping girls excel

We help your daughter live up to her full potential

We prepare your daughter for a successful future

Reason to Believe #1 Close-knit, all-girl student body

Our students develop lifelong friendships

We’re an inclusive, friendly community

Reasons to Believe #2 Demonstrated academic excellence

An average class size of 15 students means high levels of teacher attention and opportunities to participate

91% of students were accepted at their first choice college

$9.4M in college scholarship awards last year

Reason to Believe #3 Opportunity to participate in Leadership Institute

A program to help our top students go beyond the typical high school curriculum

Develop advanced leadership skills

Many of my clients are looking for ways to make the positioning statement immediately actionable within their company. To that end, while the messaging in the matrix is more basic than what a trained copywriter can do with your positioning statement, the examples help the marketing and sales teams clearly see the kinds of messages that align well with the positioning statement, along with some alternative ways to talk about what makes the company different and special.