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We're in the sales development space and it's hyper competitive. It's hard to create messaging that cuts through the noise of all of our other competitors.
9 answers
All related (67)
Matt Hodges
Head of Marketing, Confluence at Atlassian October 31

Tell a compelling story. A story that resonates with your target audience. Something that speaks directly to the pain they are experiencing and/or describes a future state they want to be in.


You should aim for the right balance of cleverness, clarity, and cheekiness. That balance all depends on your brand and target customer. It's easy to stand out, but less easy to stand out in a way that's a positive reinforcement of your brand. 


Grabbing attention is step one, ultimately you must be able to deliver on the promises and hard claims you make. There's no point spending a bunch of time, energy, and money in acquiring customers if you can't convert them. Your product has to deliver. 


I acknowledge that this is easy to say, but really hard to execute. :)

Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

The key thing is to do what you just mentioned -- grab attention. Do something different. Either tell a bolder story, take a different angle, focus on a differentiator, or show how other players in the market have it all wrong. This is a never-ending battle because your competitors will likely copy any good messaging you put out, so the need for new creative messaging is cyclical. I do think it’s a good exercise to act like a new buyer and see if you could easily tell the difference between your product and your competitors. If not, there is definitely some work to do!

Steve Feyer
Product Marketing Director at Eightfold January 10

I don't think there is a single answer here---it is the fundamental messaging & content marketing concern! As you know, we all see hundreds of commercial and noncommercial messages every day (I've seen an estimate that the average American views 3000 advertisements daily). Breaking through is HARD.

But I have a few thoughts and a framework to offer.

First the thoughts:

KEEP IT SHORT: Your message is better if it's brief and to the point. I'm amazed how often I get inbound email with 6 paragraphs of run-on sentences! Five words is better than 10, 10 is better than 20, etc., almost without exception. Your revision process should always cut down. When I pull these AMA answers into another content format, I'll probably cut them in half and make them better by doing so.

MESSENGER>MESSAGE: The world's best marketers don't say anything themselves, they let others say it for them. This is harder than doing it yourself! My generic advice here is to find 50 "influencers" for your product/market on Twitter, LinkedIn, networking groups, etc. Cultivate them, retweet them, meet them, get to know them, brief them. Keep track of your progress and do this daily. Eventually some of these folks will spread your message when you have something to share.

This doesn't mean the message is unimportant. I'm suggesting that instead of spending an hour tweaking your data sheet, your time is better spent researching influencers on Twitter. Start by following Matt Heinz to learn more about how to do this well---he's great!

All that said, I have a framework I try to use to decide if my message can break through. It's an acronym I call the MEDICAL Method.

A good message---any format, and length---should do 7 things that I remember with the acronym MEDICAL. That message should be:

* Memorable (won't be forgotten right away)

* Exciting (attention grabbing!)

* Differentiated (not just the same thing others are saying)

* Informative (has useful, relevant info, not just "copy")

* Consistent (in line with your brand)

* Actionable (offers something for the reader to do next)

* Localized (targeted to the right audience: persona, geography, industry, etc.)

I run through this checklist anytime I produce something to see if I have done all 7. Usually my first draft is missing 1-2 of these things so I focus on those to make it better and more effective. It's a shorthand that I've found useful even if it doesn't answer exactly HOW to do these things.

I'm sure other writers and marketers have their own "gut check" techniques. Here's mine and I'm interested to learn if it resonates at all with you.

That's it for my AMA, thank you all for the great questions!

Derek Frome
Vice President Marketing at Ouster September 5

I'm going to take a somewhat contrarian view on this and say that in order to really break through in a crowded market, it takes more than clever messaging (though that never hurts). You have to position your product correctly and you have to prove that you are better. Now would be the time to invest in a really solid customer marketing program to tell their stories of success with your product. All the better if they moved to your product from a competitor. Include that question in every win interview you do, and produce "grey label" case studies for your sales team. Those look like "A major auto manufacturer used to use [competitor] but they switched to us and here's what they have experienced - higher sales, lower costs, lower risk, etc." 

Feng Hong
Global Product Marketing Manager at TikTok July 21

What medium and what specific messaging? Depends on those two things (e.g., emails that capture people's attention vs website messaging that enables a staged, conversion-optimized flow of learning). Plenty of more in-depth stuff here if you could clarify what you mean.

If it's the value proposition itself, then it's a question of how to design the right positioning statement. The "tried-and-true" format really emphasizes the segment you're going after as well as addresses the pain point with the proof point. "For SDRs, [Salerizer] is the [email automation] that [pushes the smartest email recommendations to each SDR when they need it], using the [whatever proof point]."

Actually, speaking of website messaging, I kind of like the expression of the product done right at the top of the hero banner of .

Abner Germanow
Senior Director Product Marketing at Oracle September 27

If I read the question right, you sell sales development services, right? 

Hook me:

1. Show you get my pain.

2. Teach me to be a better customer.

Make fun of the pain felt by [your target] sales and marketing execs who fail to hire you or don't currently have SDR programs... 

  • Sales reps who hate us because our leads are crap 
  • A lack of feedback on why our leads are crap
  • SDRs that can't seem to figure out when to nurture a prospect with more educational content vs a prospect who is ready to dive into the next level of conversation
  • Reps who can't use salesforce well enough to follow up on leads
  • etc. 

Troll us with content that tells us how to do our jobs better from the perspective of an SDR and/or how to succeed (or really fail hard) at buying SDR services. We'll read that stuff and we might even think you are credible because you've demonstrated competeance and you've take the time to make me a more educated customer. I might only purchase SDR services a few times in my career, you deliver them everyday. Tell me what you know.  

Daniel Palay
Head Of Product Marketing at 3Gtms February 13

"Messaging is more effective when it's aligned with the top priorities of your customer (instead of what you think is important)."

Dead. On. 

I'll go even further: When doing persona research, try to discuss your product/category as little as possible. Yes, you read that right. Knowing what they think about the product/category is useless if you don't know how much they think about it. The buyer* conversations should revolve around what their biggest pain points are regardless of their seeming relationship to your product, and be buyer-directed to the degree possible.

It is significantly easier to figure out how your product (and the problem it solves) relate to what is keeping your buyer up at night than it is to convince your buyer that they are worried about the wrong things.

*Buyer is not synonymous with customer, and messaging-related research should always have the buyer in mind.

Josh Colter
Head of Marketing at Woven July 27

The problem that I see in a lot of crowded markets is that players try to one-up each other with new features that the buyer either doesn't fully comprehend or care about.

Start with really good buyer persona research. Personally, I interviewed several customers, recorded their answers, and had them transcribed. Then I organized quotes based on suggestions from the book Buyer Personas.

Now use the language of your customer to communicate to your audience what struggles you can help them make progress against. Messing is more effective when it's aligned with the top priorities of your customer (instead of what you think is important).

Finally, there's a case to be made for defining a more narrow target market in order to build up stronger brand awareness. Brand often wins in a crowded market (either that or price, but that's a race to the bottom you probably don't want to compete in).

So once you're dialed in a message that has some resonance with a tight niche, make the case for more frequency within your market segment. I tend to think of it like watts - 100 watts may cast some light in a room, but it will cut through steel if it's focused in a laser.


Ken Rutsky
Founder at Silicon Valley Go To Market Dojo July 15

   My short summary is that you need to align your STORY so that it is strategic and meaningful to the prospect and teaches them how you can transform their world. You do this by putting the buyer in the Hero's role, and your offering is a supporting but critical one. ONLY After that, you need VERY powerful value based messaging. Lasting, show me don't tell me, no more long form boring whitepapers!. This is a very different discussion if on the MACRO level, how I've answered it, or on the micro level, like an email title. They do eventually tie together though. Well, I could write a book about this, wait I did :), it's called Launching to Leading and it details what I call my Viewpoint story framework. Also, if this intrigues anyone, I'm having an August 14 storytelling hackathon in Mtn View.