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AMA: Microsoft Sr. Director, Microsoft 365 Product Marketing, Malli Vangala
on Messaging
October 07 @ 10:00am PST

View AMA Answers

Messaging With Malli Vangala, Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
Top Questions
Can you share examples of Messaging frameworks that you think are best-in-class?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
Sure. While I cannot share internal documents necessarily, I can share a few elements that I think make up good messaging frameworks. 1. Market and competitive context 2. Product strategy/objective (i.e. why we are introducing this particular product/capability and how it fits in broader portfoli...more
What is the difference between messaging and positioning? How do you describe that to stakeholders to get their buy-in?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
Great question and one that took me sometime to figure out as well when i was new to product marketing few years ago! We have used positioning to get clear on who the product/solution is for, what they are trying to address and what differentiates this solution. Messaging can be a simple one-sent...more
How do you like to go about incorporating voice of the customer into positioning and messaging?
Curious to know how customer research works best in your experience and how to drive to actionable outputs like positioning and messaging.
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
We collect and incorporate the voice of the customer in a few different ways: First - the sales team tends to be a great proxy as they are on the front lines and can provide great inputs on what they are hearing from customers, what seems to resonate and what does not. Second - our product market...more
How to validate your messaging and positioning once you've already finalized them?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
We try to validate our messaging and positioning prior to finalizing them. We try to obtain feedback from the sales team (ultimately they will use this messaging/positioning most internally), existing and potential customers, third-party analysts (e.g. from Gartner/IDC etc.), internal stakeholder...more
How do you drive alignment across the exec team on messaging
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
We typically prepare and validate a strong Messaging and Positioning Framework (MPF) document first. Our template typically includes things like the market context, objectives of our messaging (i.e. what we hope to drive/influence), quick single-sentence description of the product etc. Once we ha...more
How do you approach messaging and positioning when your product isn't the market leader?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
I am a believer that your messaging/positioning has to be consistent with how differentiated your product really is. Customers will quickly figure out what is marketing fluff vs. product truth anyway! So - even if your product is not the market leader but your research tells you that you have a k...more
What are the top 3 things you watch out for when you create your content / messaging plan?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
1. Inward focus vs. customer centricity 2. Marketing jargon vs. simplicity 3. silo-ed message vs. integrated messaging across our portfolio Very often - it's easy to get caught up in our internal org dynamics and excitement about a product while creating the messaging around it. We have to perio...more
How do you create brand messaging that appeals to three highly distinct segments?
My company’s product (we’re a marketplace) serves three distinct segments with very different motivations. I’m struggling to create brand messaging that speaks to all three. Any advice on how to approach? Or is this a matter of needing to choose one segment to focus on?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
Great question! We faced a similar challenge a few years ago for one of our suite of solutions. It may boil down to how critical each of those three segments are to your business. Based on your question - sounds like all three are important (otherwise I'd recommend optimizing for the most critica...more
How do you measure the effectiveness of the messaging behind a product? What would you do if you weren't able to A/B (example - if the product's audience were a handful of large Enterprise customers)?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
Great question and not sure I have a very scientific answer here! I'd say we use a combination of things to validate effectiveness of messaging: feedback from customers (gathered via surveys, live conversations etc.), sales team (particularly on what is resonating/not resonating with customers), ...more
Do you have a repeatable process you use to develop product messaging?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
We do - however, important to bake in some flexibility/adaptibility as each product/capability/solution tends to have it's own nuances/objectives. Having said that, generally the process is as follows: 1. Collaborate with the Engineering team to thoroughly understand product/solution 2. Develop a...more
How do you think about features, advantages and benefits in the context of messaging?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
We try our best not to get too caught up or carried away with our great product features! Ultimately - it's about the value we deliver to customers and so we try to infuse the business value into the messaging as much as we can. The other thing we try to do (sometimes successfully!) is to avoid j...more
We often talk about product messaging in the context of a new product launch. Can you share your perspective and best practices for repositioning a mature, market-leading product?
Sr. Director, Security Product Marketing at Microsoft
ah yes - that can be tricky! on the one hand you don't want to alienate existing customers (for whom the product and message likely are working) but you also may want to evolve the messaging (perhaps in line with evolving product truth etc.). Product positioning/messaging have to be consistent wi...more