Each audience suggests separate whats and whys

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message matrix. Each audience suggests separate whats and whys. Filling in the matrix is an excellent group activity. It reveals the domain and range of the message and creates a way for all parties to par- ticipate and air their views. The message matrix exercise is excellent prepara- tion for writing a positioning statement.Positioning statements When working on product communications, I organize the problem statement very much along the lines of classic marketing positioning documents used at Procter and Gamble. I like a positioning statement to follow this form: For [audience], [our product's name] is a [category in which our product competes] that provides [the major benefit of our product] unlike [our major competitor's product]. Another useful tool, the quadrant chart, indicates the position of several products in relation to two axes. Quad- rant charts can show dense spaces where competitors cluster and empty spaces where differentiated positions are available. The value of defining the desired position prior to design- ing the product is incalculable. Simply put, it means you know what you are doing. If the product is then built so that it delivers on the position, developing communications about the product is very easy. Unfortunately, most companies develop products and then ask the marketing folks to figure out the positioning. One exception is Honda. In 1990, The Harvard Business
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Review published an article titled, The Power of Product Integrity. I highly recommend it to anyone responsible for managing products. The article describes how Honda product managers develop a simple product description prior to designing a new car and how they then use that description to guide the car's design. Agreeing on the definition After you've developed the problem statement, you need to be sure to gain consensus on it from all the relevant parties. Failure to get buy-in from all the right people at this stage creates the potential for trouble later in the pro- cess. Someone who hasn't agreed on the definition up front is likely to want to change it later. A primary benefit of these documents comes from using them at creative presentations. The project manager begins the presentation by reminding the group of the problemstatement, creative brief or product position. Then he or she asks the group to confirm the accuracy of the statement. If the group agrees that the problem statement is still accurate, then the project manager presents the creative work describing how it specifically responds to the require- ments of the problem. Likewise the project manager examines any objections to the creative work in light of their relation to the problem statement. Valid objections concern how the creative work responds to the problem statement. Other objections are not valid, unless they lead to reviewing and modifying the problem statement.
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