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What format do you present the messaging for review by internal stakeholders?
6 answers
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Akshay Kerkar
Head of Product Marketing, Platform & Commerce at Atlassian December 22

Messaging is tricky, since everyone and their uncle tends to have an opinion on messaging :) The challenge with not having a clear approval process and roles/responsibilities defined upfront is that the review exercise will then typically lead to a lot of churn and take a long time to boot.

So it’s really important to define the process upfront, including who the final approvers are, who needs to be informed, and who can provide feedback (you can use something like the DACI framework here). Ultimately, the PMM is the driver for the process and needs to be thoughtful about the process they follow based on the specifics of the org and the preference of leadership. For example, if you are a self-serve business where Sales plays a more transactional role then Product buy-in tends to be key. On the other hand, if you are an Enterprise-focused business the feedback and buy-in of Sales leadership is pretty important.

Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Handshake October 29

The first step here is to share the WHY behind a messaging project. If you can get every group to align on that and the outcome, getting ‘approval’ is much easier. I start with a kickoff meeting and have often shared this article (linked below), particularly in startups where you may be dealing with multiple stakeholders who have not been through this type of project before. All those orgs listed - Product, Sales and CS - are key inputs of forming your unique value prop, but ultimately it’s up to the product marketing organization to bring it together. 

To that end, I also share a set of core beliefs philosophies during the kickoff meeting. Below is a sample list I’ve used in the past:

  • We communicate value and benefits over features

  • We’re aspirational, but also rooted in truth. Let’s not get in the habit of marketing and selling future roadmap

  • Iterate on our learnings; messaging continually evolves

  • But, we don’t message in a vacuum based off solely internal knowledge 

  • We know when to stop arguing over words

Finally, make sure to take those orgs on the journey with you - set regular meetings, share pieces of your research or your output. Your final meeting shouldn’t be you presenting something the group has never seen before, reacting live. It should be a culmination of data, their input knowledge, and your product and market expertise. Customer validation always helps to get alignment too! 

Evelyn Ju
Head of Marketing at Persona November 16

It’s important to set expectations up front in terms of what you are trying to accomplish, why it’s important and how it will be used. It’s easy for messaging related discussions to take a life of its own so aligning your stakeholders to the same goals will help focus the feedback you will receive. While PMMs are the drivers of messaging, it’s important to bring your stakeholders along as you test hypotheses and iterate on your messaging. They will often provide interesting perspectives that can help shape the direction. For smaller projects, take advantage of your 1:1s or informal chats with Product, Sales, and CS to get input early on. For larger initiatives, set expectations early and socialize your plans, including when you plan on meeting with stakeholders to collect feedback and go through iterations before getting final approval. Depending on the nature of your exercise, it’s also helpful to determine who from which team should be the final decision maker vs providing inputs. Lastly, remind the group that messaging should be an iterative process, it’s important to test and refine out in the field.

Thomas Dong
VP of Marketing at NetSpring December 8

Set a consistent expectation for what messaging entails. The best way to do that is to establish a common messaging platform you can use regardless if you are messaging a solution, product, or feature. Here is a sample messaging template. Filling out this templates ensures consistency and forces completeness every time new messaging needs to be developed and approved.

The template requires details on target market/opportunity which provides critical context and aligns your messaging to the relevant personas, their key buying agendas and if applicable, industry relevance. The rest of the template provides a well-defined structure to systematically define the business pains you are addressing, your value proposition (including elevator pitch), the key benefits and your competitive differentiators. You can also track customers and competitors, at the specificity of the solution, product or feature you are messaging.

Finally, some of the most important aspects of the template are in the slide's notes section. Listing out keywords is essential for collaborating with other marketing functions, for SEO and to ensure content is effectively tagged. This is also the place to list related products, features and services, to highlight the intended cross-sell/upsell opportunities - certainly something Sales and Customer Success will be looking for.

As far as process is concerned, involve internal stakeholders as early as possible. Product input should be easy, as PMs are generally engaged continuously with PMM on positioning and competitive differentiation. PM thus is often a willing partner in messaging, and approvals come naturally. Then as much as you can make Sales and Customer Success part of the messaging exercise, that sense of shared ownership will only help fast track approvals.

Kevin Au
Vice President Of Product Management at BILL February 20

I develop a 1-slide messaging framework to clearly articulate the key messages. It has a few key items:

1) Key pain point / challenge you're looking to solve

2) Target segment(s)

3) Single minded proposition (SMP)

4) Reasons to believe to support your SMP

5) How is this differentiated from other competitors in the market

I then shop it around with my key stakeholders (via 1:1 or in the regular team working meetings).

Jeffrey Vocell
VP of Product Marketing at | Formerly Narvar, Iterable, HubSpot, IBMDecember 10

Oftentimes once we have a draft of positioning or messaging we’ll share it with a key group of folks (for example, sales & services enablement) for feedback. Usually this will go through a few rounds of revision, and once that is finalized we’ll present it to leadership to gain buy-in. One more thing that we’ve found really helpful — especially for larger launches/projects is using the DARCI project management framework to streamline who is giving feedback, and based on specific stakeholders who are labeled as a Decision Maker (D) using them to drive this forward.