One surprising insight came up in all our focus groups: Parents feel they have relatively little influence over what happens in their children’s lives, whether it's keeping them safe from street violence or shaping how the school system educates them. It was this insight that led us to a bold message, directly addressing parents’ desire to be able to influence their children’s lives in a positive way: “Looking for an opportunity to take charge of your child’s future? The [name of summer learning program] is a smart choice.” (This message tested well, and many of the districts and their partners used a version of it. Some developed their own main message to reflect their particular program offerings and their knowledge of what local parents are looking for.)
We put that message in the middle of a visual tool called a message map.
As you can see, the main message is supported by four supporting messages. Underneath each supporting message are proof points—brief factual statements needed to make the case.
Your message map is not meant to be shared publicly. It’s a tool that you and your team can refer to when writing a recruitment flyer, for example, or preparing to speak to a group of parents, to ensure your messaging remains consistent.