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How do you get to creative, consistent and differentiated messaging?

Do you believe in brand positioning/purpose as a north star for messaging?
9 Answers
Diana Smith
Diana Smith
Hashi Senior Director of Product MarketingJuly 16

You asked exactly the right question as the best messaging is all three (consistent, creative, and differentiated). Getting there isn’t easy. I try to break it down step by step.

I start with differentiated. What’s different about us that’s valuable to our customer? Then creative: how do we express this in a creative way? Finally, consistency: now that we’ve figured out a creative way to express our differentiated message, let’s make sure it’s the same everywhere and everyone in our company can recite it back to us.

Case study: What good is bad data?

At Segment, one of our key differentiators is that we help companies with their data quality. No company in our space (broadly the customer data platform market) does this. As a result, quality data has become something we wanted to focus on in our brand messaging.

The brand team then helped us come up with a fun way to express this which took the form of a campaign with the tagline “What good is bad data?” We have outdoor ads in SF that say, “Good Morning, LA” in Austin that say “Good afternoon, Dallas” and so on - with the tagline “What good is bad data?”

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(This is in SF, tagline says "What good is bad data?")

https://twitter.com/DianaHSmith/status/1113507553449631744

We’re also starting to pull in this messaging everywhere on our public facing site. You’ll see the concept of good vs. bad data cropping up on our homepage, product pages, blogs and sales pitches.

2860 Views
Michael Peach

Yes - I think there are 3 things you need for good messaging:

  1. A clear understanding of who you're targeting. The target persona, not the vendor is the "hero" in your story. Product marketers too often make their product or company the main character.
  2. A clear understanding of how your product is differentiated. What are the 3 - 5 specific things that you do differently from competitive/existing solutions.
  3. A compelling brand/company vision. What is your broad POV on the market? How is it different (note this is different from product differentiation)

If you have these things, then it's a much easier exercise to put together memorable messaging that resonates.

1478 Views
Natalie Louie
Natalie Louie
ICONIQ Capital Product & Content MarketingApril 13

We have our brand messaging and corporate messaging which ties to our company purpose and we use it as our north star and map all related messaging to that. It’s important to work in an integrated way so that messaging is consistent and aligned across the company and the products we sell.

We spend a lot of time creating our Messaging Template - a source document our PMM team uses and that we send to all cross-functional partners so they can create content and copy aligned with our messaging.

Once our Messaging Template is created and in a good shape, we create the related 1st call deck for sales, the story and talk track to bring it to life. This is where the creativity comes and where we bring in valid data and proof points from our messaging template to tell the story. We’ll compare the deck to the messaging template side by side to make sure we aren’t missing anything. All other bill of materials we create then continue to spin out from these documents, i.e. data sheets, executive leave behinds, white papers, guides, webinars, live demos, blogs, press releases, explainer videos, etc.....

Beyond the standard testing and iterating of these deliverables with various stakeholders, our PMM’s will do internal competitions. If we are working on new messaging, we’ll have 2 PMM’s present their version of the 1st call sales deck and message to the rest of our team and then vote on who’s was better. We’ll all give thoughtful feedback in the spirit of unlocking our best messaging.

Our PMM team will also do collaboration sessions, working sessions with other teams, work with 3rd parties, hire consultants, bring on contractors and experts, attend workshops, read books, study other frameworks and really be open to any idea to uplevel our messaging game! While we may be good writers and storytellers, we have a strong growth mindset on our team and are always looking for ways to uplevel our messaging chops. 

1132 Views
Charlotte Norman
Charlotte Norman
Canva Head Of Product MarketingMay 20

I do believe in having a north star to help guide all your messaging. Having a clear brand and positioning DNA which is the overarching narrative for your entire company, will help ensure there’s consistent messaging across the entire business and that all positioning is helping tell your company's bigger purpose and mission. Your company’s messaging DNA should be the foundation from which you build your product positioning.

You can use your brand DNA foundation as a north star to guide your feature or product-based messaging. A strong brand DNA foundation will include the following:

  • A vision

  • A mission statement

  • Your core USP

  • Your category

  • What problems you solve 

  • Your brand belief 

  • Who you’re targeting

Once you have this foundation for your entire company you can build your product positioning off the back of this. The brand DNA is something that you should always refer back to ensure you’re aligned with the bigger picture and your individual product positioning helps ladder up to the north start messaging.

3460 Views
Sarah Din
Sarah Din
Quickbase VP of Product MarketingAugust 12

I did an AMA a while ago that went into detail on how to build differentiated messaging - this talks about a 7-step process that I have created and adapted for use over time with different companies I have worked for. 

You can read more about it here: https://sharebird.com/ama/surveymonkey-director-of-product-marketing-sarah-din-on-messaging

424 Views
Frances Liu
Frances Liu
Instawork Head of MarketingAugust 31

To build consistency, it's critical that everyone in the company believes and uses the brand positioning and mission. For example, at Instawork, our CEO walks through it at every all-hands and uses a recent customer example to highlight how we've delivered (or failed to deliver) on our value prop. It also informs our plans, so what we build aligns with the overall company promise.

Where we can differentiate is how we message to a particular audience. Being a labor marketplace, we work with both businesses and workers. Our business segments span two very distinct industries and range from SMB-to-Enterprise. We've also segmented our worker base into several personas. It's a lot! 

And while having many audiences is why I find product marketing here so fun, it can easily get diluted. So to simplify, we group audiences based on the primary benefit and focus on that.

More tactically, we pull out how our customers talk about the problem space, so we can reflect that in our copy. For instance, we've noticed a difference in how different industries use labor vs. staff. I also proudly "borrow" from our sales reps, especially when they have an interesting way of telling the story.

473 Views
Grant Shirk
Grant Shirk
Cisco Head of Product Marketing, Cisco Campus Network ExperiencesApril 13

Answer one: Iterate, iterate, iterate.

Answer two: Yes, brand positioning and product positioning are inextricably tied. 

A statement that sounds bold but shouldn't be: Product marketing should drive brand positioning. It's the why of what we do, it stems from the problems we're solving, and builds on the uniquie approach you're taking to solving the problem. Brand positoining also resonates down and drives how we build what we build, how we interact with customers, and how our product (and our experience overall!) makes our customers feel.

So, the best messaging comes from trial, error, more error, and even more error. You cannot magically create great messaging and positioning in a vacuum. And the only person who can tell you if it's good is your customer. So write, listen, rewrite, and never assume you're done. Effective isn't perfect, effective is effective. 

366 Views
Jeffrey Vocell
Jeffrey Vocell
Panorama Education Head of Product MarketingAugust 4

Yes, I believe in tieing positioning up to overall company positioning. The way I've described it before to other team members is it's a scaffold -- the foundation is the company positioning and messaging, and stemming from that is platform positioning and messaging, and then product positioning and messaging. These all should latter up to the overall company positioning.

As with everything, there are caveats -- if you're a part of a company that is making a huge shift, or entering a completley new market, then messaging naturally won't ladder up perfectly but that's more of a exception and not the rule.

Consistency comes from ensuring core concepts and messages from your company positioning carry through all your platform and product positioning. Tactically speaking, this can mean ensuring that it's a part of your positioning template so it's visibile and very clear if it does start to stray. In the early days of HubSpot, we were focused on Inbound Marketing, and our positioning around new capabilities all laddered up to that pillar of Inbound Marketing.

The creative and differentiated pieces are the two most difficult -- but also two of the most rewarding as well. There's no prescriptive approach for this, but make sure you consider other opinions that are quite different than your own, look at market data, and consider the way your telling the company story. Most product marketing still tell a story that ties into problem/solution, and in a crowded market, that leads to a lot of companies having very similar positioning and messaging.

Instead think about the way your customers/prospects lives are being impacted and changing and start your story there. It sounds simple, but it produces really remarkable change in the way you position your company and product.

360 Views
Daniel Palay
Daniel Palay
3Gtms Head Of Product MarketingFebruary 17

Depends largely on how long the company has been in business and how many products it has in market. Brand positioning or purpose are useless if they haven't been validated in the market, and counterproductive if they no loger reflect the future of the company, so be careful relying on them (for a longer, better explanation of all of this, see "Andy Raskin").

As far as product-level messaging, the best approach, in my experience, is to look at it from a problem-stakeholder-incentive angle: 

What problem is being solved? 

Which stakeholder(s) must be convinced to buy? 

To what incentives are relevant stakeholders responding (their relationship to the problem)?

With that in hand, you can retell the emerging story such that it reconciles with overall brand messaging (if that even exists). By all means, give the appearance that product-level messaging was derived from brand-level, for consistency's sake, as long as you are, in fact, deriving it from something far more audience-specific. 

432 Views
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