Do you use any specific frameworks for your messaging/positioning? If so, which and how does the process look like?
I have used several different messaging frameworks, but one that we are leveraging quite a lot these days is the Jobs to be done framework, accompanied by durable, evergreen messages that are centered around our key customer personas and their pain points. In this framework you start by:
- First, Understanding your ‘who’ (aka your key buyer personas) - who they are, what are their goals, their challenges, what keeps them up at night and what pain points they are most struggling with. We get super detailed here, with understanding how our buyers make software purchase decisions, where they go for information, what their key influence points are (e.g. website, review sites, analyst relations, buyer enablement content etc.)
- Second, Develop your ‘why’ - Our next step is then to articulate how we help our key personas solve for their jobs to be done and what makes us unique in doing so. These take the shape of ‘durable messages’ or ‘messaging pillars’ that explain the distinct value of your product or service and why a customer should consider your solution to address their JTBD. Top tip to get to this is by listening to prospect calls (Use Gong if your company records them, you’ll start to see patterns emerge)
- Third, Develop your ‘how’ - This is where you go into details to explain with 2-3 simple examples of how a customer can use your product/service to help them solve their jobs to be done. Top tip here: If you focus on a specific industry, vertical - use the opportunity to explain how you have brought value to customers here. Always include output data points (e.g. time saved, efficiency gained, ROI, Revenue) where possible to measure impact
- Put it all together - Using the insights and info you have collected, put together
- Elevator pitch - 1-2 sentences that explains the job your product/service does, who it is for, and how it is differentiated
- Messaging pillars - 3 pillars that explain the value you bring to your target customer
- Used cases - real life examples of how you deliver value with outcomes
- Reason to Believe/Proof - Include customer testimonials, reviews & ratings, analyst relations
The frameworks that I use for positioning and messaging have changed over time, as I've advanced in my marketing career in enterprise tech. Earlier in my career (when I was in product marketing), we would approach positioning and messaging for a major product launch. There were a few frameworks that worked well for me here:
- Elevator Pitch - tell me what your product does in (25 words, 50 words, 100 words)
- 9-box messaging framework - call out three benefits that your customers experience from your product/solution and provide proofpoints for how your product supports those benefits. I've found that this internal document is best socialized for buy-in across larger marketing and product teams.
- Draft press release - forces you to take a more outside-in approach when you're coming up with new positioning and messaging.
While each of these items/assets will help you build stronger positioning and messaging; what's most important is to align and set expectations with your cross-functional stakeholders and broader marketing team.
As I've advanced in my career in marketing, I've had the privilege to partner with third party agencies and brand teams to refine the core positioning assets above. You'll be amazed at how much perspective these teams will provide you in overall positioning and messaging. I'd highly recommend early-in-career product marketers who are handling a major launch to proactively take this approach.
The other major component of positioning and messaging is around internal comms. It's up to you to show your work to cross-functional stakeholders, and inform people that good marketing doesn't just come out of thin air. Once you're done with all of your net deliverables I'd make sure to inform a broad cross-functional team of what you've brought to the table. You will get more visiblity and feedback from this; which will ultimately make you a better marketer.
I've written about this in detail on my blog here, so I'll summarize my thoughts below! Messaging and positioning work is never complete, so always treat your positioning doc as a living document that will evolve with your business.
The framework I like to use involves starting with jobs to be done:
Step 1: Start with the ‘jobs to be done’
What: Define the ‘jobs’ your product can be ‘hired’ to perform
Why: As Peter Drucker once said, customers don’t buy products or features, they buy benefits. Jobs-to-be-done helps you look at your product from your customers perspective, making it easier to separate the benefits from the features.
Step 2 Segment your TAM
What: Segment customers in your TAM using obvious and visible characteristics.
Why: For segmentation to be effective, it needs to be based on obvious and visible characteristics to accurately validate your messaging.
Step 3 Map jobs to be done to benefits
What: Map the ‘jobs’ each segment cares about to the benefits delivered by your product or feature.
Why: Each customer segment does not care about all the benefits you have to offer. Mapping helps you identify which products or features, and therefore benefits you highlight when positioning your product to a particular customer segment.
Step 4 Analyze competitive alternatives
What: Analyze alternatives available to each customer segment for these jobs
Why: You can’t identify and articulate benefits in a vacuum.
Step 5 Articulate your value
What: Articulate the value your product provides relative to the alternatives in a way most likely to resonate with each segment.
Why: This is where you bring your positioning home. Having identified the jobs to be done, benefits, customer segments and competitive alternatives, it’s much easier to articulate the value of your offering.
There are plenty of free training resources available, such as this B2B Messaging Course.
April Dunford's book Obviously Awesome is an affordable way to get the foundations in positioning right.
CXL and PMA also have paid courses on the topic but the free one is the 80/20 yo get them up to speed.
Another way is to run an internal workshop in the topic, combined with an actual messaging exercise you guys are working on internally.
Great question! I am a HUGE fan of templates and frameworks. I create templates and then modify them for each company so it better suits the needs of the business. I've written a couple of articles on this topic (see below):
Part 1: https://medium.com/projectproduct/the-power-of-a-message-house-for-product-marketers-8b9bfe01e5a4
Part 2: https://medium.com/projectproduct/the-power-of-a-message-house-for-product-marketers-part-2-bca8f3ea9ad7
I have found holding a cross-functional workshop to be very helpful when developing and finishing the "message house." You might need to hold a few different workshops depending on the depth/breadth of your document and the number of colleagues you need to involve.
I use and teach a positioning framework that was developed by my partner while he was at Microsoft. We have evolved and enhanced it over time, and I have taught the framework to more than 1,000 marketers and product marketers worldwide.
The positioning framework addresses several problems commonly found in B2B software and technology marketing. Here are some of them:
• Failure to differentiate;
• Long sales cycles due to market confusion; i.e., copycat positioning;
• Multiple benefit claims that compete against each other for prominence and effectiveness.
• Claims that fail any reasonable test of credibility;
• Marketing campaigns fail because the message does not matter to the target audience;
• Spending hours debating what to say in the next marketing campaign;
• The marketing team can’t keep up with demand for lead-generation programs and campaigns;
• Lack of understanding about what will resonate with the target audience.
You will find the well-documented framework to be simple, logical and easy to learn. The framework can be boiled down to simply answering seven questions below. You’re ready to answer them when you know your target audience’s most pressing problems, how your competitors are positioned and challenges in the sales cycle. Here are the questions:
1. Who is the target buyer?
You’ll answer the rest of the questions from the perspective of the No. 1 target buyer you’ve selected.
2. What problem does our offering solve?
You can’t successfully position your offering unless you know the answer to this basic question: “What is my target prospect’s most pressing problem?”
3. How do prospects solve that problem today?
If your offering solves a bona fide problem, then customers already have a solution. You need to know how they currently solve the problem.
4. Why is our offering a better solution to that problem?
Your goal is to position your offering as a better solution to an existing problem.
5. What is your product? (Product category)
B2B prospects need to recognize your product category, otherwise confusion reigns. Ideally, you can place your product into an existing category or one that represents a natural evolution.
6. What does your product do? (product description)
A short description of your product’s functionality can help prospects imagine how people in their organizations might use the product.
7. What does it deliver? (a benefit and your product position)
Prospects won’t purchase until they can understand the main benefit. Why make them figure it out for themselves? Make it short, simple and sweet —tell them in your positioning statement.
Now you need to test your positioning statement. Read my article to learn more about the seven questions and the four criteria you use to determine if your target market will respond favorably to your positioning statement: