James Huddleston

AMA: Checkr Head of Product Marketing, James Huddleston on Messaging

December 16 @ 10:00am PST

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Top Questions
What are some exercises that help you move from the research collected (market, buyer persona, jobs to be done, etc.) to writing messaging?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
For me personally, I like to use a messaging framework to help consolidate my thoughts based on the research I’ve done. There are a lot of good messaging frameworks you can utilize but the one I start with is typically the one that answers the questions ‘for’, ‘who’, ‘provides’, ‘unlike’, and ‘on...more
What are some of the best messaging 'success stories' of your career?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
I’ve always had the most success when making sure I am putting myself in the shoes of my potential customer and framing the message within the context of a story. This means making sure you understand your buyer and audience very well. Specifically: what problems is your product solving for them?...more
When various audiences have differing levels of required depth or technical literacy and interest, how do you organize your messaging so that the most relevant information, reaches the intended audience?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
This is where your work on buyer personas is critical. If you’ve done your research and understand what makes a specific buyer persona tick, then you should be able to adjust your messaging accordingly based on their unique interests. I’d also say this is where partnership with your demand and di...more
Do you have advice for developing product messaging when your brand awareness is still low with your audience?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
Be very clear and transparent about what it is your product is and what it does. I’d give the same advice for companies with greater brand awareness as well, but I think the problem is even more acute when you don’t have the benefit of that awareness. Avoid jargon, buzzwords and make it super eas...more
Do you have any books you'd recommend to get better at messaging?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
The books that have had the biggest impact on me aren't always specific to messaging but provide greater clarity into the importance of storytelling and psychology. One of my favorites is Michael Lewis' "The Undoing Project". It really helped me understand the psychology that drives people to mak...more
What are some ways to solidify a messaging shift with the field?
We did a fairly large rebranding/messaging shift. We feel that sales can 'pitch' the message well, but we have noticed they can't pivot well. We believe this is because they haven't truly internalized the messaging components. We are doubling down on personas and industries in the context of our messaging. We hope that this will give them more maneuverability in the field.
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
One way I've found some success in rolling out to the field is using one of my better reps as a champion of the new messaging and having the "pitch" for the new messaging come from them. Instead of it feeling like the messaging is coming from marketing or product, if you can arm one of the most r...more
How do you ensure that product marketers you manage are creating great messaging, and hitting the right milestones?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
I ask them a lot of hard questions to understand how they came up with the messaging they did. I want to hear from them what customers they talked to or surveyed, who else they worked with internally to refine the messaging, and I try to poke holes in the benefits they cite to pressure test it. I...more
How do you do the first-hand research (what's your process) for developing messaging around broader buyer trends instead of buzz words with a short shelf life?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
I try to keep a finger on the pulse of broad macro trends that could impact my buyer. This information can be accessed through a variety of different sources including media, analysts, or influencers in the space. To avoid the buzz words I try to break down those trends to what they really mean i...more
What's your cross-channel messaging development process?
How much do you tailor the messaging for your specific marketing channels, what informs this and how do you measure that it's effective for the channel?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
I probably spend more time tailoring for the audience than I do the specific channels. When thinking about different channels, I put a lot of thought into how that information is consumed. Obviously messaging in a digital ad is going to be consumed differently than via email. I work closely with ...more
How does Marketing messaging differ from PR/Comms messaging?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
I’m not sure I’d draw a strong distinction between the two actually. As a product marketer, my teams and I are building the messaging framework that supports all types of external comms including PR. I work closely with my PR counterpart and/or PR agency to ensure that we are using that framework...more
Who should a product marketer work with to QA and approve product messaging?
James Huddleston
Head of Product Marketing at Checkr
The approval process may differ depending on your company, but I believe it is incredibly important to get input from various stakeholders throughout the process. Not only can you uncover interesting perspectives but it also gets those stakeholders bought into the process which will help them act...more