Do you see these as separate, complementary, the same thing, or else?
6 answers
All related (60)
Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing,, TwilioJuly 16

These are all interrelated.

Messaging: Includes value propositions, your story, and pitch. Also includes things like naming, alternatives, and taglines.
Value Proposition: These are the top benefits you want to focus on for your product based on customer and competitive unput
Pitch & Story: These should be the same. Your pitch about the world before your product, the current approach, why it’s bad, the business consequences, and the new world with your product should tell a story. This story should hit on your main messaging points and value propositions.

Hope that helps!

Anthony Kennada
CEO, AudiencePlusJanuary 28

Interesting! I'll take a stab at it.

My sense is that all of these fall under the parent bucket of messaging and positioning.

Value Proposition is a subset of messaging that refers to the benefit of the feature or product or platform to the end user or economic buyer. What business impact can they expect by adopting the feature or product?

Pitch (often referred to as an elevator pitch) is a :30 second or so description of the product that roughly tells the entire story. A pitch should captivate the audience enough that they want to learn more.

Story is perhaps a superset of all of this, or at least, a creative skill set that benefit how messaging is developed and maintained.

Again, just my take.

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

This is a great question. As product marketers, I think we often confuse this terminology, and due to the common use of these terms it amplifies the perception they are different. From my point of view, there are differences between positioning and messaging which I’ll cover here, but everything else you mentioned — story, pitch, etc — is either an output of positioning and messaging, or is one and the same.

First, positioning is an internal resource that covers how your product is uniquely different from other solutions on the market and addresses key buyer pain points. At HubSpot, we believe that this positioning comes to life through a story and is often written in narrative form.

Messaging, on the other hand, is the external-facing version of that positioning. Messaging needs to carry the essence of your positioning but should be more concise and oriented around driving the activity you want (free user signups, conversions, etc). At HubSpot, we’ll usually create a pitch deck that carries the messaging of our product/launch but exists as a separate document used by various teams.

Chad Kimner
Product Marketing Director, AR/VR, Meta | Formerly Mozilla, LeapFrogJanuary 21

I like this kind of question becuase so much time is spent at work getting humans to agree that we're talking about the same thing. My particular answers are less important than creating a shared lexicon with the teams you need to mind-meld with. That said, I do like precision and so here's how I parse some of these terms:

Value Proposition: This is the reason that your target audiences should choose you instead of your competition. It's the thing that you do uniquely well and it's the reason someone who lands on your site decides to learn more. Sometimes your value prop emerges so clear and forceful that you don't need to put it through rounds of wordsmithing, but more often than not you probably will. Using an example anyone who has ever seen a single TV commercial break will relate to, Geico's value prop has always looked something like: "we make it easier than anyone else to save significantly on insurance". That used to get translated a lot in their marketing to this famous copy: "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance". Substantiating their value prop that way made it crisper and more compelling. 

Messaging: Typically an outcome of a product positioning process, I think of messaging as the step in which we identify the specific things we want to say to our audience that support that positioning. What are the compelling arguments that make your value clear relative to competitors? What are the features and benefits you need to make clear? The common confusion about messaging is whether it's the same as copywriting and in my experience, it's wise to distinguish those two steps. Messaging is the "what", copy is the "how" in our communiation approach. 

The question doesn't ask about positioning statements, though I often see that term used interchangably with value proposition. I tend to see a couple areas of daylight between the two ideas. I think a value proposition can be broader than a positioning statement that is going to define, in detail, an audience, their unique needs and the competition. 

Daniel Kuperman
Head of Core Product Marketing & GTM, ITSM Solutions, AtlassianJuly 16

Thanks, Diana. 

I see Messaging as a broader element and which can be broken down into:

- Corporate / Brand messaging

- Segment messaging

- Solution or Product Messaging

As for Pitch and Story, I agree that your pitch may include your story however I typically see the "pitch" as your typical sales pitch. I once heard of a good framework: 30-3-30. The 30-seconds pitch (or elevator pitch), the 3 minutes pitch (typically quick overview after someone says 'tell me more'), and your 30-minutes presentation. This last one is where you weave in the 'why change', 'why now', and 'why you' story.

Daniel Palay
Head Of Product Marketing, 3GtmsFebruary 16

Very straightforward question, with anything but a straightforward answer. They are each distinct... with roughly an 80% overlap with one another. The biggest differences are whether they are buyer-specific or general and whether one must precede the other. You need a value proposition to create a pitch, and these are typically developed for a particular persona. Similarly, you need messaging to have a coherent story, both of which can be for a broader audience. 

The main takeaway is that they are all different, but don't be surprised/discouraged/frustrated when they end up looking very similar to one another. I could probably come up with detailed definitions of each, but I think we're best off channeling Justice Potter Stewart's opinion on pornography: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..." Applies quite well to the four items in the question.