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What internal messaging efforts have helped you shift your company's mindset from a product company to a solutions or platform company? What worked the best? What mistakes did you make?

7 Answers
Nipul Chokshi
Nipul Chokshi
Fourth CMOSeptember 8

I found that making the shift to “solutions” or “platform” requires becoming more business outcome focused in terms of your messaging. Rather than speak to individual user-level features/benefits (e.g. “the app launches 2x as fast”) you want to speak to the business impact that it delivers (e.g. “enable 2x increase in pipeline or revenue”).

The key mistake most folks wind up making is not really connecting the dots between what your app does and the business outcome it helps to deliver [or worse, you “connect the dots” in an non-credible way]. E.g. if your app enables you to launch campaigns faster, how exactly does that increase pipeline or revenue?

That’s why I believe the most compelling way to communicate these outcome-focused messages is through customer stories and examples. That makes your pitch a lot more credible.

1166 Views
Natalie Louie
Natalie Louie
ICONIQ Capital Product & Content MarketingApril 13

It starts with the PMM team to come up with messaging that positions the benefits of your solutions/platform. PMM’s own the WHY and not the WHAT. Please refer to my other answers on frameworks and best practices to get to good messaging and positioning here.

Once we have your messaging in a good place, our PMM team works very closely with our marketing, sales, sales enablement, product, partners and strategy counterparts to amplify our messaging. Part of the PMM’s job is to make sure our messaging is easy to understand and sticks with all of our internal cross-functional partners, because they are the ones amplifying and scaling our messaging.

When I know I’ve made a mistake: If I share our messaging and train our wider marketing team on it -- then I read campaign copy they created that isn’t aligned and I’m spending a ton of time making edits...that’s on me as a PMM. I haven’t done my job in properly setting up our campaign team for success to amplify our message. Either my message is not clear or the tools I’m using to deliver my message isn’t working. It’s up to me, the PMM, to figure that out, course correct and keep iterating.

When I know I’ve done a good job: Now, when my campaigns team sends me copy to read and it’s spot on and I’m making very light edits -- then I know I’ve done my job in getting them to amplify our message correctly. This is how you scale good messaging. This is very satisfying and should be the goal of every PMM!

611 Views
William Davis
William Davis
Workato Vice President of Product MarketingSeptember 28

When moving your messaging from product-centric to solutions-centric, you're going to bring in experts in the solutions you're trying to organize around. Whether that be industry, departmental or some other orientation, you will need the people who live and breathe these domains to ensure the messaging/content you develop resonates.  

There can also be individuals that act as sales overlays or technical field resources to provide a level of domain expertise in customer conversations that will help in deals focused around these specific solutions. 

Internal messaging to motivate the different stakeholders on why to "buy-in" or invest in this transition and communicating why it's valualbe to them is critical. These transitions can be hard and take time so ensuring the broader team knows why the company is going down the path (accelerate growth, expand market, etc.) is communicated is critical. Also, taking time to repeat this and constantly reinforce it is critical....not a one time communication but something that needs to be revisited often. 

446 Views
Vishal Naik
Vishal Naik
Google Product Marketing LeadJanuary 25

Great question. To be frank, even for companies with a reputation of being open and extensible, this one is always a challenge when you're in a Platform role. Because at the end of the day, the Platform is less about what products your company creates and more about what a customer can do. Thus you're always in conversations with stakeholders who have a POV that the products your company creates are the things that enable customer success. So there's the nuance where you need to decouple product creation from customer output.

I wouldn't say that DocuSign has fully solved this need, but where we've made progress is in showcasing the business impact driven out of the platform, based on the same KPIs that the rest of the company looks at, specifically what senior leadership is looking at.

An example is we ran some messaging research on our platform and APIs, and one output was some interesting data on decision maker consideration and preference. A persona that we don't typically market platform products to. This opened some doors with our Global Demand team. Opening those doors led to some added internal marketing channels that we could leverage. Those new channels led to larger campaign results. Which led to us revisiting how we look at our historical data so that we. could show impact to the org.

So it was really one step at a time, each time the next step being bigger and broader than the last. The final output of multiple steps together is starting to see change. While a team effort, the end result is now we can tell the Platform story based on conversion rate of a developer lead vs the conversion rate of other inbound lead gen sources. We can compare ACV of a developer lead vs other inbound sources. We can compare LTV/churn of a platform customer vs all customers. We can show lift in usage from customers after Platform marketing content is consumed.

So the goal is really around how we can understand the decision making criteria that our company leadership is considering when building our top-line strategy and then aligning our platform story around those same KPIs.

The mistakes we've made have been where we think we have a silver bullet. A new stat, a new data point, etc. that will drive change. There is none, it has to be a continual and iterative story where one item builds on the last. I'd also add that a mistake made is assuming that the powers that be are going to be OK with the answer that "the platform business is different and thus needs to be viewed differently" because change at the company wide level is only going to happen if the company believes, from the top down, that being a "platform company" will equate to more business opportunities than being a "product company".

812 Views
Jack Wei
Jack Wei
Sendbird Head of MarketingJanuary 10

Embrace repetition, and get influential stakeholders on board. I've been lucky to have worked in very collaborative, supportive cultures where any repositioning and messaging was broadcasted at major internal events, then re-broadcasted at subsequent opportunities. For example:

  • Unveiling: Annual sales kickoff (delivered by PMM)
  • Follow-up 1: Company all hands 2 weeks later (delivered by CEO)
  • Follow-up 2: Roadshow at team meetings (delivererd by leaders)
  • Follow-up 3: Inclusion in bi-monthly enablement track and certification (by Enablement)
  • Follow-up 4: Company all hands beginning of following quarter (by CXO)
  • etc.

I don't know if there were egregious mistakes, but I would always welcome even more customer feedback.

303 Views
Indy Sen
Indy Sen
Canva Ecosystem Marketing LeaderDecember 21

What a great question, and having seen this shift happen at a few companies, I don't think it was necessarily just a messaging effort that caused the mindset to shift. To be sure, there was a combination of go-to-marketing strategy and storytelling we needed to bring to the table, but it was above all the output from our ecosystem that really kicked off the flywheel: from the insane business potential coming out of our ISV partner ecosystem at Salesforce, to the innovation fueled by our developers at Box, to the interoperability provided by our integration partners at Google Workspace to help us meet our customers where they are. The key was how we sourced and stimulated that output.

A couple of vignettes for you:

  • At Salesforce, what I think worked best was that we had tried and failed a few times to make the AppExchange marketplace work for us. Despite being on the right track from a product concept/offering standpoint (hey, let's make the App Store, but for enterprise), our packaging and presentation layer was wrong. Prior to 2009, nobody had skin in the game, and due to channel conflict issues, we made it hard for partners to collaborate with our own account executives... so much that we earned the internal moniker of "CrappExchange".
    But once we figured out a way to properly monetize partner apps in a way that incentivized our AEs, and on top of that put a new spin on how we went to market with partners, that paved the way for explosive growth. It also helped that from that point on, we could grow our own marketing and sales operations and treat our division as a business within a business.

  • At Box--by contrast we had the right offering and packaging pretty much in place from the get-go. We had a modern stack of APIs that was timed precisely right for the market. This was in 2012 where Stripe, Twilio, Parse were all emerging as API-first platforms and APIs were leading a cambrian explosion in software development. From an enablement perspective, it was pure gold and we didn't have issues getting the right developers aligned. But figuring out who those right developers were and how to acquire them was the hard part. We had an API, but so did Dropbox. Our company ended with -box, so did Dropbox! And they had so much more brand awareness than we did!
    So we had to think about our story and how it was applicable to the developers we wanted. Dropbox customers were on the consumer/creative side, whereas Box was focused on enterprise. Dropbox had an order of magnitude more users than we did, and so naturally attracted way more developers. We knew it wouldn't be realistic for us to target the same. But what we could do was help developers who were focused on enterprise to partner with us because we had that focus that Dropbox didn't. We went for quality vs quantity. So while our integrations weren't necessarily the eye candy you'd see on the consumer side, we were very strategic to position ourselves as the enterprise startup that helped other enteprise startups. We not only enabled our developers with APIs and tools that focused on security and user-level permissioning, but leaned precisely on the stuff that was unsexy to consumers but sexy to the enterprise. That's what put us on the course of expanding our ecosystem of apps and even generating revenue from them in under two years.

844 Views
Paul Rudwall
Paul Rudwall
DocuSign Senior Director, Global Solutions MarketingJune 4

This is a great question. The conclusion I've come to is that while internal messaging is critical, it's not sufficient on its own to drive a significant shift. Incentives play a crucial role, and aligning them requires a full-company effort. Simply put, messaging alone won't be enough to make the change.

That said, messaging is still very important. Here are some key lessons I've learned:

  • Leadership Buy-In: The shift must be driven by your CEO, with full support from your Executive Leadership Team (ELT). It's a big shift and anything less will likely run into headwinds.

  • Visionary Storytelling: Develop a visionary story that clearly outlines the benefits for everyone involved in driving the change. People need to know where the company is headed and what’s in it for them.

  • Customer-Centric Approach: Center your messaging around customers. People remember stories, so ensure everyone in the company knows the stories behind your top 5-10 customers. This has an outsized impact.

  • Incentives Matter: Having the right incentive structure is crucial. If incentives are misaligned, people won’t respond, no matter how compelling the story is. This applies to Sales, Marketing, Product, and all other departments.

  • Solutions + Products: Continue to emphasize great marketing at both the product and solution levels. This is a yes/and decision, not an either/or decision.

In summary, I think great internal messaging is necessary but not sufficient for making the shift. If you want to be successful, it has to come from the top and everyone in the company needs to be rowing in the same direction.

550 Views
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