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How do you ensure that product marketers you manage are creating great messaging, and hitting the right milestones?

9 Answers
Jeffrey Vocell
Jeffrey Vocell
Panorama Education Head of Product MarketingDecember 10

Great question. This gets at the heart of managing others, while also is central to our role as product marketers.

As a manager, it's your responsibility to ensure that the right milestones are being hit which means that was the right process followed for creating messaging? Did that product marketer do background research, or run a research report to inform their positioning? Did they talk to any customers, prospects, or closed-lost accounts? Did they share the messaging with the right stakeholders?

These are just some questions that come to mind, and as a manager, you should define the systems and process around them (and other questions that tie-in to your business).

For me at HubSpot this translates into:

  • Regular weekly 1:1s where I make sure to ask about what their goals are for the next week, and any elements of content/messaging/launch that are at-risk. The answers to that latter question especially can be informative because it allows you to jump in and help clear roadblocks proactively before they become bigger problems that can have a significant effect on your launch.
  • Stoplight chart. We use a spreadsheet which ties together every marketing aspect of a launch from positioning to paid ads to individual blog posts, and emails. Within this spreadsheet we can easily see at a high-level what is on-track, delayed, and at-risk and then drill in further by team or asset to understand more detail.
1158 Views
Kevin Garcia
Kevin Garcia
Retool Head of Product MarketingApril 16

1. Make talking to customers integral to their role. By keeping your team as connected as possible to the customer, they will develop 1) sharper intuition and 2) a network of customers they can tap into for feedback on future projects. 


2. Give them space to develop messaging that matters. Clean, clear, concise messaging is not every PMMs strong skill. You need to let people work through their messaging, test it in the wild, and hear broad feedback for them to learn quickly what works best.


3. Create a culture of peer review to scale best practices. Each PMM is going through different messaging journeys. By creating a culture of check-ins and sharing within the team, you allow them to share learnings and avoid pitfalls. It sharpens the whole team and brings them closer. 


4. Give them the context, not the answer. It is so easy as a leader to try and force a certain messaging framework through the whole team. But it ends up creating really shallow messaging skills in the long term. A better approach is to offer your team the full context you have. You'll be surprised at how quickly they will arrive at the same messaging values and you've empowered them to add value without you needing to hover. 

1487 Views
James Huddleston
James Huddleston
Skedulo Head of MarketingDecember 16

I ask them a lot of hard questions to understand how they came up with the messaging they did. I want to hear from them what customers they talked to or surveyed, who else they worked with internally to refine the messaging, and I try to poke holes in the benefits they cite to pressure test it. I am also very critical about making sure we are leading with value and that the messaging is extremely clear and consice. 

407 Views
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadJanuary 25

The biggest thing I consider is that the messaging created is about the customer and what they are thinking/feeling/experiencing. Rather than what we are building and what we are selling.

I've kept a messaging template from a previous org where we focused on market context, customer pain points, a customer's unmet needs, and how all of those funnel into your org's differentiated point of view. Your product supports all of this, and your product tells a story of how your organization (nuance: not just the product you are crafting messaging for) solves this customer need. So if you're telling a security story, a mobile story, a context switching story, etc.--you're keeping that macro point at hand and introducing your new feature or product as part of that story. (obviously safe for the new launch to be a big part of the story, but not the overall story)

So the new SDK we just launched that is easy for a developer to get started with isnt the complete simplified developer onboarding strategy, its a pillar of it. And we tell the launch story of this new SDK around how we continue to simplify how developers get started, and the new SDK is the hero of the story, but other features are also included and recapped. So its a combo of completeness of the story and newsworthiness of the launch.

And from there, to ensure it checks the appropriate boxes and solves the greater need the team has, ensuring that the appropriate number of cross functional stakeholders are included in the approval matrix. 

781 Views
Catlyn Origitano
Catlyn Origitano
Fivetran Senior Director of Product MarketingApril 13

I am a project manager at heart. So I push the team to be the same. We have our roadmaps which we present and then turn into tickets for overall tracking. We also have a monthly reivew on areas of the business - so this let's us check in on how things are going and what is getting done. 

For messaging and materials in particular, we do a quarterly review of our materials. We try and make it fun - we listen to different music, everyone picks a song, and we go through and update and verify our materials. Building in those mechanisms are important so that they actually happen!

319 Views
Danny Sack
Danny Sack
SAP Director of Product MarketingJune 15

If the marketing machine has been created correctly, this should be fairly measureable. In a prior role we had an excellent demand generation team who tracked how different messaging worked over time. We could run little A/B tests on our dotcom and outreach to see if any messages were particularly effective.  

All of this is really nibbling around the edges though. Your product messaging needs to clearly articulate the problem customers face, and how the product helps them.  

A colleague once said that his rule of thumb is that the solution needs to drive 10X the value to a customer over status quo in order to close the deal. So if you're selling a $1,000 you need to be able to demonstrate 10X in cost savings, revenue growth (or whatever value creation you deliver) to a customer.

416 Views
Jack Wei
Jack Wei
Sendbird Head of MarketingJanuary 10

When the customer nods in agreement with messaging, it's good. When they pull out a credit card or sign the contract, it's great. 

Ultimately, a product marketer IC, leader, CMO, or CEO can opine on messaging all they want. None of it matters until it's put in front of a blunt customer or battle tested with dozens of prospects.

321 Views
Apurva Davé
Apurva Davé
Aembit CMOMay 25

I'll focus on the creating great messaging, because frankly that's the most challenging part of the job. Especially given the noise out there with so many products, and so many companies being funded, it's really hard to stand out. I think there are lots of ways to create great messaging, but it all comes from the same place:

  • Great insight into your customers drive great messaging.

That's it. So then the question is, how do you get there? For me it means holistically understanding the environment around your user, and then being able to connect the most differentiated value of your product to their world.

That means your product marketers must have a deep understanding of the customer as well as the demands and challenges they face, combined with a deep understanding of your own product, and finally the overall environment (competitors, legacy products, substitutions).

When this comes together, messaging must be defensible (it's true) and must be differentiated (you couldn't slap a competitor's name on it and have the market believe it). Finally and most importantly, it must matter. The customer must care about your why's and how's.

Over time as a marketing leader you develop a sense if a product message meets these requirements, but the only real proof is testing it with your customer base and proxies for the base. Proxies include product managers, good sales people, and analysts. Use them! And then when you're ready test with willing customers, and then finally with prospects who don't know they are getting the new stuff. Don't be afraid to get the message out there.

Finally, I would say that I'm not a huge fan of A/B testing messaging through ads or web pages in the early days. While you may see which one gets more clicks, you won't know why. Having real conversations allows you to ask the follow on questions that give you the insight needed to improve your messaging.

30269 Views
Lawson Abinanti
Lawson Abinanti
Messages That Matter Co-FounderDecember 13

The easiest way to ensure that product marketers you manage create effective, compelling messaging is to establish a formal internal process for creating positioning and messaging including how determine what works and what doesn't. A formal, evidence-based process ensures that the proposed position and messaging you come up with will stand out from the competition and resonate with buyers.

I use a positioning framework that my partner developed when he was an early Microsoft employee. We fine tuned it when I was director of product marketing for Navision in Denmark. I engaged him to work with my teams to position more than 10 products over an 18-month period.

You can go to my website: messagesthatmatter.com to download a short white paper about my positioning framework. I also offer a free on-line course that takes you through my positioning framework step-by-step.

138 Views
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