The message house is a format used to help develop
marketing messaging and positioning by focusing on
the overall umbrella statement (or value proposition)
that you want to convey, as well as the key core
message(s) (or benefit statements) and the facts,
evidence and proof points that support them.
Developing a message house makes it easier for all marketing functions to
stay on track and in alignment when developing marketing materials, as it
provides the basic construct for all messaging about a product or service.
The message house format also allows marketing to more easily create
messages that are specifically aligned to different customers or customer
constituents, as this helps focus on what is important to that customer.
The key to using the message house is to ensure that all points are clear,
crisp, and concise.
Unlike building a real house, the message house
structure starts with building the roof first and then
works from the top down.
This process allows you the marketer to define the key
message to be conveyed about the product or service
(the umbrella statement, or “roof”), and then follow up with the supporting
core messages (“walls”) and proof points (“foundation”).
Note that there are also several optional sections that can be added as
needed to help clarify the messages being developed.
The “roof” is the key message or overall theme/idea that you want to be
communicated to customers and the market
The key message is developed by answering questions such as:
◦ Who is the target audience?
◦ What are their needs, concerns, care-abouts?
◦ What does our product/service do better/differently than any other
◦ Why does our product/service matter to customers in the larger scheme of
◦ What is the most likely criticism we will face (from customers, from the
market, from the competition)?
◦ How do we respond to or preempt that criticism?
◦ What is the call to action (CTA) that we want customers to take?
Tell them what you want them to do (i.e., go to a website, schedule a
sales call, sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, etc.). Be specific,
concrete, brief and precise.
The “walls” are the core messages that support the “roof” (or key message)
you want to be communicated to customers and the market
The “walls” are the main messages that form the heart of the messaging.
There are usually 3-4 walls (messages)
The core message is developed by answering questions such as:
◦ What information does the target audience need to help them move along
the purchase path
◦ What technology do we use?
◦ How does our product/service improve the customer’s efficiency, increase
operational readiness, reduce costs, be more productive/effective, etc.?
◦ What is the immediate benefit and value of our product or service?
The “foundation” provides the facts, evidence, proof points or arguments that
support the messages (“walls”)
The foundation is developed by answering questions such as:
◦ What customer references do we have?
◦ What do our case studies and white papers prove?
◦ What do industry analysts say about our product or service?
◦ How does our product or service compare to the competition?
◦ What specifically does our product or service do or provide that the
competition does not?
Use the following structural diagram to build the message house
Plug the various messages that you have developed (roof, walls, foundation)
into the relevant areas of the house
Determine if they are the “right” messages and that they flow upwards and
support each other
Review and revise as required
Publicize as needed
Core message 3Core message 2Core message 1
3) :1) 2)
OPTIONAL: This is a general statement that describes the problem (i.e., the opportunity definition) that
customers are facing and how your product or service addresses that problem
This is the core theme or key message that you want to be communicated to
Customers and the market about your product or service
These are the core messages that support the core theme and are used to form the basis of all messaging that
OPTIONAL: These are where additional value prop statements can be added if they are needed to support
each core message
OPTIONAL: This is another statement that can provide additional depth to the facts and undergirds the
These are the facts, proof points, evidence and arguments that support the core theme and on which all the
Building the message house is an iterative process
This process works best when a team develops the message house
Messages developed can be used in many formats
Using the message house keeps the primary message in the foreground and
helps maintain consistency across all messaging and positioning
The message house provides an “at a glance” view of your key company
1. Is the message house the only communications document I need?
No. Think of the message house as the foundation for all other
communications materials that are developed. All of them are derived from
the core message developed in the message house. The message house is
not the only communications tool, but it’s the most important one, and the
one created first.
2. Should the message house be developed by a team?
Effective message houses are almost always developed by a team.
3. Do I need different message houses for different audiences?
In some instances you may need to create different message houses for
different audiences if the key message is substantially different (such as
products/services sold to both commercial and enterprise customers), so be
clear on the target audience when developing the message house.
4. Can the message house be used for other types of communication?
The message house structure may be used across your company to prepare
for events, for a media interview, for press releases, etc. In short, for
anything important that must be communicated.
5. Do I have to use the messages verbatim?
You may use the messages verbatim or use the messages as the basis for
what is said. The message house provides the core message, but often not
the exact words (ex: a tweet vs a longer article or blog).
6. Is the message house too simplistic?
No. Effective communication requires crisp, clear, concise messages. The
message house provides a simple structure to develop the messages, but it is
not the communication tool itself. You will likely use other types of
communications documents, so the message house should inform all those
7. Does the message house ever change?
Yes. Message houses are not static, they are dynamic and change with the
business. The message house should be periodically reviewed as your
business, product or service evolves.
8. Should everyone in the organization have access to the message house?
After the message house is developed, it may be beneficial to locate it in a
central repository that anyone in the organization can access. This helps
ensure that everyone is communicating the same message.
9. Does a message house need to stay confidential and internal?
The message house itself is usually an internal document. However, the
messages that are developed through it are used to inform all company
messaging and positioning.