How do you refine your messaging and get the latest one adopted even after launch?
Honestly, the sales team is going to do/say whatever they want. It's nearly impossible to enforce that a sales team says the exact messaging you want them to, or that they use the exact slides and resources you want them to.
When we do further message testing and make refinements, I try and make sure the truly imperative messaging elements are communicated, and WHY they are being changed. If something, in particular, wasn't resonating with customers, we make sure to communicate the reasoning behind the change, in the hopes that sales teams will be motivated to use the messaging we know resonates with customers.
Change the messaging where you can, but don't count on people saying exactly the message you want. It'll save you a lot of headaches!
It starts with a super close collaboration between PMM and PM. Then I'm a big fan of using existing frameworks and templates like messaging & positioning documents, etc. There's a ton of them on various channels like the Product Marketing Alliance and others. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Pick a framework then focus on being creative and finding your voice.
A messaging document really becomes your go-to for any positioning questions. Also helps having approved soundbites to then be quickly copied into AR/ PR decks and other content. And helps with the overall approval process.
Of course, how to get the right message to the market can be tricky. There's three ways to do that. One is a lot of qualitative feedback, spend time talking to your users, your stakeholders, the decision makers, doing executive leadership workshops. The second one is analysts feedback, you're lucky enough to have a seat with one of the industry analyst firms. Then you consolidate feedback from them. Finally do internal testing, test your headlines, your calls to actions, your Adwords with your digital team can do a lot of AB testing in there.
How do you ensure your latest messaging gets adopted even after launch? Now that’s where you can use a Revenue Intelligence platform like Gong, where you're actually able to see what rep is using what messaging, and how does the message resonate with your audience. I know it sounds a little promotional but I do believe it’s the only proper way!
I'll give you a personal example of how I am using Gong as a product marketer.
A few weeks back, we introduced a new messaging to the field solution sending type of messaging. We call that use case messaging. And we needed hard metrics on adoption and quality checks on talk tracks. So we did that with a pretty solid process.
First, we used Gong to really get clarity and visibility into who's adopting the new messaging to make sure every team member is accountable. Second, we are able to replay certain portions of some sales calls to see what piece of the messaging really resonates with the prospect or the customer? Finally, how do we measure the true business impact of that messaging? Basically we did AB-testing to compare the average win rate for the reps using that messaging, with those who are not using it much. And in our case, the improvement in win rate was actually huge!
Successfully adjusting messaging is the hardest component of a Product Marketer's job. Doing so requires a huge amount of partnership and trust from customer-facing team members. While there are several hurdles to get over in this process, here are a few components that will be universal:
- Lead with candor and empathy. Especially when rolling out the new messaging to customer-facing teams like sales and customer success, keep in mind that they likely just got comfortable with the messaging used during launch (hopefully). Hesitancy will be a perfectly natural reaction.
- What, Why, and How. Be open with your evidence and information that led to the new messaging. The "what" is obvious in this scenario: the new messaging. The "Why" will also be clear, but make sure it answers the question "What's in it for me". The "How" is a critical component of building enough trust to facilitate change and adoption. Explain the process, your analysis, and the results of any message testing you completed.
- Pilot to create a champion. You should always field test your messaging and doing so will be even more important when you're trying to change messaging. In this case, you'll want to partner with a customer-facing team member to test the messaging live in the field. You should be part of these meetings/calls so that you can gather information first-hand. It will also benefit you to do this testing with a team member who has some influence and will be willing to share the results with their peers. Think of this like building an internal case study for the new messaging.