Building a messaging matrix

black and red typewriter

What is the messaging matrix exactly? It’s essentially a table you create that outlines the big points that you want to hit in your creative. The messaging matrix is something you should bring to clients throughout the course of the campaign. It acts as another way you can meet them where they are.

Getting started with a messaging matrix

Let’s say you’re doing a commercial that’s focused on a higher education client. You have been tasked with talking to five of their alumni, all who are doing big things in their fields. You’ve already decided on a theme and an overall message, but you realize you need to go deeper. Each alum is going to need a different look, setting, feel, focus, and have different questions. That means each alumni needs to have his or her own message. Why is this the case? Because the script from the alum in Boston is going to be far different from the alum in Colorado. This goes back to what we said in the previous chapter. You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to your message; it will never work. Whether those subjects are in the same building or scattered about the globe, you need different messaging for each of them.

So, Alumni One is in Colorado. She runs a business that focuses on creating tailor-made clothing for female athletes of all ages, religions, and backgrounds. You know you want to film her in her studio, you want to film her sewing the materials, you want to film her talking to customers and her bevy of employees. 

Now, how do you get to her message? Well, you have to do some homework. You got to ask yourself: what is she saying? What is she talking about? What is the feeling I’m trying to capture? What will she be doing?

Building the matrix

Then, you start building your matrix. You think, “OK, with her, I want to focus on how she’s empowering women with her designs. And I also want to focus on how she creates clothing for athletes of all religions and customs, and how she shows that respect for them. Also, I want to focus on how she is competing in a landscape that has always been run by men. I also want to focus on what her alma mater did to prepare her for this business.”

From what I just said, there are four different messaging components there. That’s when you need to begin to break them out.

Column One: Empowering women. Column Two: Clothing Across Identity. Column Three: Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Sports Merchandise. Column Four: The Influence of the Alma Mater.

Out of these four columns, you can begin to add in additional columns under each one. These would speak to what each column is tying say. For example, 

Column One: Empower Women

  • She is doing amazing work in the field and changing the game for women.
  • Women have longed looked for clothing that speaks to their needs and wants.
  • Female athletes across the world range in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
  • The goal here is to have women believe in themselves, make them feel good about themselves, and make them feel confident in themselves.

Column Two: Clothing Across Identity

  • The connection and respect for religion and gender expression and athletic prowess is vitally important to the brand
  • This is a company that understands that all backgrounds should be honored and celebrated.
  • A commitment to diversity is a key component of what she believes, and it’s why her business is successful; everyone is welcome.

Column Three: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  • Sports merchandising has long been the province of male leadership. This woman is looking to change all that.
  • When she started, a lot of people told her she couldn’t do it. She set out to prove them wrong.
  • How did she do it? She saw a need in the marketplace, and went after it. But more than that, she listened to what customers wanted. She knew she was going to
  • First they ignored her; thinking this was just a fad. Then, they realized they couldn’t ignore her anymore. Then, they tried to compete with her. She showed them how it’s done and how she didn’t need them to be the success she is today.

Column Four: The Influence of her Alma Mater

  • If it wasn’t for her university, she would not have gone as far as she did. The university was integral in connecting her with the right mentors and the right alumni, who joined her on her quest.
  • This is why donating to the school is so important to her. She realized she wanted to give back in order to make way for future female entrepreneurs who are coming up in the world. They deserve the same opportunity she had.
  • This University is where she first came up with the idea of this business. She recalls being on the softball team, and realizing how there was so little clothing that really seemed to understand women’s bodies. She remembers talking to a Muslim teammate, who struggled with a uniform that didn’t speak to the customs and traditions that mattered to her.
  • She would walk through the library, soaking up all the knowledge she could. This was where she would learn what it took to be a business person, this is where she would turn her sketches into reality. There is no business if it wasn’t for her university and the people she met there

Reviewing your matrix

As you see, under each column, you have four messaging points that all influence the questions you will ask, the settings you will choose, the story you will tell, and the camera moves you will make. You would carry out the same thing for all additional columns. These points would also live in brochures, strategies, emails, banners, etc. Out of these four points, I’m seeing us filming her in the university, on the softball field. I already know what questions I want to ask her. I’m seeing her walking through the hallways, sitting at the sewing machine. I see her talking to folks in a boardroom. I’m seeing slow-motion shots of athletes of all religions, ethnicities, and body types.

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