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What is your strategy for messaging a product that is very early in its lifecycle but is a differentiator for the company?

The promise of it is alluring but actual applications and the back end infrastructure is not ironed out yet.
5 Answers
Stephanie Kelman
Stephanie Kelman
Shopify Senior Product Marketing LeadApril 16

I agree there is value in getting ahead of the market and positioning your new, amazing product early in its lifecycle. This can also be risky if use cases and backend infrastructure are not solid yet. One of the most costly mistakes with messaging is the smoke and mirrors effect. You want to build trust early on with your audience. Don't dupe them and don't make any promises that aren't possible with the product. You need social proof and use cases to message your product confidently. Another risk with messaging a product too early in its lifecycle is that you probably haven't had a chance to validate your messaging with your audience yet.

If it's necessary to start messaging this product early, be honest that this is only the beginning and there is more to come. Lean into the idea that you're looking towards your audience to be pioneers with this product and dream up new use cases.

585 Views
Greg Gsell
Greg Gsell
Attentive VP, Product MarketingApril 16

An old boss used to say "don't let the product get in the way of a good story". In order to stay head of your competitors, you will likely need to future sell. It is important to be aligned with the product team on WHY they are building the product, jobs to be done, etc and articulate that north star in your marketing. The amount of detail revealed is generally correlated to the confidence in delivering the product as described. For example, for an alpha product (we aren't sure this is going to work as it exists today), you should tell a higher level story about the market shifting and how you will solve that problem. For a beta problem (we will ship it but still ironing out some kinks), you can be much more specific about the differentiators and customer testimonials.

490 Views
Kelly Kipkalov
Kelly Kipkalov
BILL Sr Director, Product MarketingApril 17

I think the worse thing you can do as a brand is to have your messaging get too far ahead of the product by promising something that you can't deliver, particularly if it's on a differentiating piece of functionality that could be game changing for the company. If you lean hard into messaging something that's not ready for prime time your customers will lose the trust in you that you've probably worked hard to establish. Trust and reputation is everything particularly in markets where competition is heated.

Notice though that I said that messaging shouldn't get "too" far ahead of product. Sometimes saying nothing isn't an option and will allow competition to move further out of reach. This is where I would stay really close to product metrics on things like NPS, CSAT or Product Market Fit so you know when the product experience is moving in a direction that gives you comfort to put out externally facing messages. Perfection is the enemy of good, so you also don't need to wait for perfection as long as you understand where the friction in the experience is and how you, your sales teams and customer success teams can manage that with customers.

362 Views
Jane Reynolds
Jane Reynolds
Archer Director of Product MarketingApril 17

It's all about clarity. User education is key when it comes to something new where user adoption is vital. Keep it simple and clear.

367 Views
Lauren Craigie
Lauren Craigie
Cortex Head of Product MarketingApril 16

I think the answer here is the same as the answer for all messaging hierarchy—start with what you’re solving, and for whom. Nail the pain and outcomes, well before you get into the detail of “how.”

409 Views
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