How do you balance succinct simple messaging with a complex technology product and or set of products.
I love this question! This is one of my favorite parts of product marketing - getting to translate deeply technical concepts into what actually matters. As much as possible, I encourage you to dig into the technology. Spend time with your product and engineering teams to really understand what is being built and why. And don't be afraid to ask lots of questions! That's how we learn. And continuously asking why something matters or how it's different is a great push on those teams to get crisp on their responses to customers too.
Take the time to stay up on the latest in the industry too. Check out presentations from competitors and listen to podcasts/webinars/etc. It's a great input to get ideas on what works and doesn't. And a great way to uncover more questions or new information on technologies.
And always review your messaging to see if it's too jargon heavy or if you're simple describing a feature. What the feature is matters much less than the impact it has on customers. Start with why it matters before trying to talk about your own product.
As counterintuitive as this may sound, simple messaging isn’t always the way to go. It really comes down to your target buyer(s) and the set of messages that resonate with them, which may need to be simple for a line of business buyer like Marketing or HR or more complex/technical for an IT/Developer buyer. But it always comes back to understanding your target audience and their pain points, and ensuring you're tailoring your messaging for them.
Also, depending on the channel/medium where your messaging is shared, it may necessitate varying altitudes. For example, Social Media is a clear channel where you need to keep your messaging short and sweet whereas a blog is a channel where you can go more in depth.
I think the key to writing messaging for complex technology products boils down to understanding, in layman's terms, what pain point your product is solving and translating how the feature delivers the key benefit. This definitely requires peeling the onion in terms of the underlying pain point you're solving. For example, we have a predictive analytics feature that leverages various inputs to produce a score that helps users understand the likelihood an account will turn into an opportunity. Having this score helps sales and marketing prioritize the accounts they care about because a higher scoring account is more likely to buy. In our messaging, we focus less on describing all the inputs needed or algorithms to calculate the score, and instead focus on the benefits of using that score like better prioritization, time savings and less wasted spend.
The other key factor is understanding who the audience is. Simple messages work for the majority of people but if you have a buyer who is more technical, adding the more technical details they care about may make the most sense. To balance this, you could start with a simple message that speaks to the key benefits and add supporting proof points that are more specific and technical.
After working through Positioning, I will build Messaging from the bottom-up. The bottom-up approach automatically encourages you to elevate your messaging from technical details and features. More specifically, I build in this order: Features -> Benefits -> Value -> Message.
Some definitions that might be helpful:
- Features: This is what your product or service does. Even though I talk about these as features, be sure to expand your thinking to include all capabilities related to the offering. For example, if you offer white-glove support when competitors don't, that better be on your list of features.
- Benefits: These are the typical benefits you'll see in B2B marketing. Save time. Save money. Increase Visibility. All those ROI calculator line items.
- Value: This takes the benefits a step further and articulates what your target buyers/users will get from the benefits. This should be framed in terms of what your audience cares about. Can they actually enjoy a vacation because they can truly unplug? Will this improve the likelihood of them receiving a promotion? Getting to this step requires truly knowing your audience.
- Message: This borders on being a tagline. It's a brief statement that articulates the value(s) and creates a feeling or aspiration to realize them.
This approach has served me well to create a natural balance between technical details (Features) and emotion (Messages).