What is your overall process when developing a messaging platform from scratch?
There are 3 core areas that I ensure I have a solid understanding of before I create new messaging and positioning:
- Target buyer(s) & their pain points: Get a clear understanding of who my target buyer is (budget, motivation to buy, purchase blockers) and what their pain points are (as it relates to the problem space your target buyer is looking to solve)
- Product knowledge: What features and functionality are we delivering and how does that translate into a unique value proposition and set of customer benefits
- Competitive landscape: What similar offerings exist in the market today and how does our offering differentiate
From there, I leverage a messaging framework that leverages the learnings from above and includes details on the following:
- Target Audience(s)
- Market Trends
- Problem Statement
- General customer challenges / pain points
- Elevator pitch
- Key solution benefits (supported by features) -- I always keep these to 3-4 main ones!
- Competitive differentiation
- Customer evidence/proof points (if available)
I usually go through several rounds of edits after receiving feedback from key internal and external stakeholders (though I typically keep it to key messages when seeking external feedback).
For me, great messaging always starts with two things:
- Point of View - which articulates your perspective on the problem(s) your target market is looking to solve [why is the problem worth solving, what are the key steps in solving the problem, what kind of tech solutions will help you to solve the problem].
- Positioning - which articulates your unique value proposition for your target market
These two things inform the messages you want to deliver for each audience in your campaign [buyers, users, analysts, internal sales reps, partners, etc].
When it comes to developing the messages themselves, the process I follow generally includes brainstorming with key internal stakeholders (depending on whether this is company-level messaging or product-level or campaign-level- this may include the exec team, product team, sales/ customer team, etc.) with the objective of developing as many candidates for messaging as possible.
From there, we’ll winnow it down to two to three top contenders and create assets that will enable me to test out the messages with the market [e.g. sales presentation slides, landing page, etc.]
You have to start with understanding your audience and your product. For the audience – understand their key business issues and pain points and for the product, understand the differentiators / value drivers so you can craft a message that connects your product as a solution for your audience’s pain.
It’s also incredibly important to have a high-level understanding of the competition and their messaging so you can differentiate there as well. As you become more familiar with the industry and your org’s product offering as it compares to competitors, this becomes much easier, but should be revisited with every new launch. If you are successful, you’ll notice that your competitors will start to use your verbiage and messaging as their own. This applies to products too.
Beyond that foundation, there are two additional rules I stick to for messaging: Use the power of 3 and always provide proof. My messaging gets used a lot by our executives for our bi-annual updates, which means I need to keep my content brief but memorable so I stick to the power of 3 – three messaging pillars, areas of differentiation or impact – you choose, just keep it to 3. And last – always provide proof. This can be examples of how your product is innovative or a customer story or an analyst quote, etc. You need to be able to back up what you’re saying.
I'd sum up my process as: JTBD > target audience > buyer journey > market, competitive, VoC > insight > internal positioning > external messaging > GTM strategy
Expanding on the above, here's how I've approached building out messaging for an entirely new product line & audience:
- Start by seeking to understand the relevant jobs to be done in your space & align on the whitespace you can uniquely solve for
- Hypothesize and validate the target audience you want to go after (who has the most pain when it comes to this job?)
- Understand the target audience's journey when it comes to the JTBD
- Deeply understand the market trends, competitive players, and voice of the target audience through research
- Identify & assert your guiding market insight (usually comes out through research)
- Develop internal positioning (data, differentiate, value prop)
- Develop external messaging (short form, long form, reasons to believe / product proof, narrative)
- Develop GTM strategy (channels, tactics, timing)