We’ve developed a few of our own frameworks over the years based on jobs-to-be-done. It’s an approach that runs counterintuitive to classic, persona-based marketing, and does so purposefully. Focusing on customer attributes really means focusing on what you want to sell, rather than what your customers actually need. Those customers come from a variety of backgrounds, industries, and verticals, but their one commonality is their motivation, the Job-to-be-Done.
I had to fundamentally change my approach when I joined Intercom. For me, the easiest way to grok the Jobs-to-be-Done methodology was by watching Clay Christensen’s famous milkshake video and understanding what “job” people buy milkshakes for. You can read more about Jobs-to-be-Done on the Inside Intercom blog here: Focus on the Job, Not the Customer: https://blog.intercom.com/when-personas-fail-you/
And, here’s a recording of a talk and podcast I’ve given in the past about how we apply JTBD to our go-to-market strategy.
How to market the Job-to-be-Done: https://blog.intercom.com/marketing-the-job-to-be-done
How Jobs-to-be-Done Informs Intercom Marketing: https://blog.intercom.com/podcast-intercoms-go-to-market-strategy/
As we continue to grow, our products mature, and we learn more about the problems we’re trying to solve and for whom, we’re constantly adapting our frameworks. As an example, we’ve recently created an internal document called the “Solution Guide” for each of the solutions we take to market. The guide answers the following questions:
Solution Positioning & Messaging
In addition, as we think about how to best position ourselves against alternative solutions (products) to the problems we solve, we make use of the 4 Forces model. You can learn more about that and our approach to comparative marketing here: The right way to challenge your competitors - Inside Intercom: https://blog.intercom.com/comparative-marketing/
Of course, there are many other, more established frameworks available to you. One thing I have heard good things about is Pragmatic Marketing (https://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/). My advice would find a framework that feels good and adapt it to your business because everyone is different. :)
We think of messaging in three tiers and have different frameworks for each. Product marketing usually collaborates with PR and brand for Level 0 and Level 1, while we own Level 2. Level 0 Messaging: Highest-level company messaging, found in press releases, first sales decks slides, the “about us” section
Level 1 Messaging: Highest product-level messaging, found on the website, sales decks, analyst briefing decks
Level 2 Messaging: Lower-level product messaging, found on per-product web pages, one-sheets, case studies, and in product-focused demos
A couple to try out. Here’s a combined messaging source doc that I use every time I start working with one of our portfolio companies. Inherited from Citrix days and then adapted over time. Hope it’s helpful!
The second one is one I've been working on for a year and am sharing with the Sharebird community before publishing for feedback. The core idea is that I've that that a lot of messaging focuses too much on product/benefit and not enough on fitting the narrative into a broader context of how a customer views their world, their priorities, and setting the table for the new world. Interestingly, there are all kinds of tools for salespeople to essentially become a consultative partner to their customer - Command of the Message, Challenger Selling, etc. As marketers, we don’t really have a single framework to help us build a narrative in the way that these sales frameworks do.The net of the issue is that we don’t stay focused on answering the 3 big ‘why' questions that a rep needs to answer to close a sale: 1) why buy anything, 2) why buy now, and 3) why buy you. The idea is that if your messaging/story can answer these three questions better than your competition, customers will buy from you.Over the past couple years, I’ve been working with a couple dozen startups here at Unusual Ventures and see the same problem at play with our founders. So, I wrote a new messaging guide that we’re going to be publishing (for free) called “Three Why Storytelling”. It’s a simple storytelling framework that nets out 6 steps to crafting a story that wins customers:Why Buy Anything1. Start with an authentic founder insight2. Align on shared view of impactWhy Buy Now3. Connect problem to business urgency4. Show current solutions to be ineffectiveWhy Buy You6. Frame new approach to solve the problem7. Prove unique offering and valueIs this rocket science? No. You’ve probably seen each of these concepts in various forms all over. But this framework strives to simplify and codify the building blocks of a story that, when laid out together, form an airtight, irrefutable narrative that is purpose-built to lead customers to your solution as the best choice.By the way, if I had to pick one ‘Why’ that is most underrepresented in messaging, it is most definitely Why Buy Now. We are conditioned to think in problem/solution terms. But the reality is that there are two types of problems - big problems (we’re moving from on-premises software to SaaS) and urgent problems (my business units are going around my IT team and signing up for SaaS apps like Dropbox and Concur, cutting us out of our core function!). Big problems are market-focused while urgent problems are customer-focused. Companies that obsess on Why Buy Now typically have a solutions marketing mentality that starts with the customer initiative and works back to product vs. the other way around.Here’s the draft .pdf of 3 Why Storytelling. Would love any feedback!
There are a lot of messaging frameworks out there. If you are on the hunt for templates, check out the Product Marketing Alliance or April Dunford's website (Obviously Awesome is a must-read of Product Marketers). In general, a messaging doc should be the single source of truth and act as the building block for any external-facing language used in your marketing. Also, it's likely that you won't always be there to walk folks through the document, so it should be as clear and self-explanatory as possible. With that in mind, I like to include the following in a messaging document:- Customer insights- Product details- Value proposition- Key messaging idea- Key benefits- RTBs- Dos and Don'ts (usually informed by your legal team)
Andy Raskin broke down our Zuora messaging framework perfectly: The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen This messaging framework we use has 5 elements:
Another good messaging framework Andy Raskin breaks down well is a keynote by Elon Musk
Elon’s framework also has 5 elements:
At Zuora, we use a version of both of these frameworks in all our messaging.
Positioning also has its own framework. Notable resources are “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore and “Positioning” by Al Ries. A positioning statement has 7 elements:
ELEVATOR PITCH FRAMEWORK
A elevator pitch has 4 sentences:
Good overall book Kyle Christensen, Zuora’s CMO, recommended to me is “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Lots of good frameworks on making sure your ideas stick! I read it 10 years ago and I'm actually reading it again right now.
Hmmm … this depends on what you’re launching. The most important things to understand when you’re creating any messaging is who your audience is, what is the benefit to them, and how you'll reach them. This is a great read if you’re just getting started (and something I make my new hires read): https://medium.com/startup-grind/people-dont-buy-products-they-buy-better-versions-of-themselves-2ce85fdb5ff1
In general, the framework is only as important as the message you’re trying to deliver. Play around with what works best for you and the people you work with. Don’t be too beholden to the process.
For sales messaging, I haven’t encountered anything better than “Command of the Message” which you can google.
With messaging, simpler is better. Messaging should be crisp and devoid of jargon. There are three resources I use, and the resource would depend on the project, e.g. company messaging vs. product messaging:
Pro tip: Keep your messaging in a Google doc or similar. Note the date you've made updates and where that text is located.
I usually have one or several resources of the following resources open when I'm developing a new messaging strategy.
1. Doug Kessler's "Irresistable Content for Immovable Prospects " [Slideshare]
2. Andy Raskin's "Promised Land " pitch [Medium]
3. Donald Miller's "Storybrand " template [Blog] - I recommend you buy his book for it to fully make sense
I also developed my own product messaging framework which I use to audit/teardown existing a company's existing messaging.
I would recommend using it if you know your messaging isn't working but you can't really pinpoint where or why. It's been a useful way for me to evaluate where a client's messaging falls apart, and it's definitely something you can bring a cross-functional team together to do on your own.