Ajit Ghuman

Ajit GhumanShare

Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio
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Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 11

I used to suck at Messaging, and I don't claim to be a guru at it either even today. But let me elaborate:

At one point in my career, I would attempt to write a product one-pager (circa 2013-14) and my boss would redline the entire thing and hand it back to me. 

I improved a bit. I learned to write about features as benefits, not about features themselves. 


But I was still not stellar. 

My work only increased by a step function when I took a step back and changed my approach.

I empathized intimately with a) the buyer persona's key problem b) the stage in the sales process where an asset will be used c) knowing my product's key differentiators (vs competition) like the back of my hand. 

When I was sure about all the points above, messaging became easy. 

The problem is not that messaging is hard. 

The point is that good messaging is a consequence of knowing your product, its positioning, and your market cold. 

Too many PMMs focus on copywriting, they may even write features as benefits -- but that isn't the same as understanding the "forest from the trees" and "knowing the terrain".

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

The success is positioning is about proving that your work made your employer known for something in the market. 

One of the most common ways PMMs do this is by showing how they get the company a top quadrant or wave leader spot with Gartner of Forrester respectively. Nowadays, G2 reviews and or even reviews by influential developers can help - as long as they buttress your product's differentiators. 

You can also demonstrate by showing how your work let do growth in a certain business segment. For example, did your repositioning help the company move from a nice tool to more of a platform unlocking new use cases and thereby winning bigger deals? OR did your work help the company create an attractive offer against ankle-biting competitions and win much greater market share? 

Quantification based on deal sizes, deal velocity, win-rates is going to be really helpful. 

Downfunnel impact will be more easily attributable, so new messaging in a sales pitch deck can be more easily measured. Start there. Unless you had another big change downfunnel, you generally can attribute changes to a big change in messaging since it overshadows any other smaller tactic and has a multiplier effect because your entire sales team essentially has to shift to new messaging and as a consequence so does their performance.

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

One of the most effective tactics here is to build a product marketecture. Building a marketecture will help you keep the integrity of the two products intact while being able to create a framework for the entire platform.

I've written a detailed blog on this topic, here: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2020/09/15/polish-up-your-product-how-to-win-with-marketecture.html

In addition, the way to utilize the marketecture is to come up with the following levels of positioning and messaging. 

Top-level: Platform positioning (marketecture is in service of this) - Here you describe how your platform will unlock value across multiple use cases for your target buyers in a single unified platform. Then follow up with why you can solve their problems uniquely better than other platforms. 

Product 1 and Product 2 level: At this level, you can maintain somewhat independent positioning and messaging for your discrete products as long as the larger message still trickles down into the positioning for these products. 

For some enterprise buyers, you may find starting with the platform story helps to set the stage in first call situations. For other smaller companies, the specific products may seem more attractive for an initial sales discussion - and a platform discussion may be counter-productive. As a PMM you will need to provide guidance to your sales team on when to leverage which positioning, platform vs product. 

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 11

I generally think of PMM owning areas of responsibilities, a subset of which is key assets. I point this out because assets are tactical elements and may change depending on need. 


That being said, generally, I've seen PMM owning the following assets:

1. First Call Deck

2. Demos and Demo Scripts

3. Packaging Decks/Spreadsheets

4. Competitive Analysis Cheat Sheets/Battlecards

5. One-Pagers

6. Whitepapers

7. Product Videos

8. Feature Decks

9. Pricing Calculator

10. All Product Page Content on Website

There is no single best way to vet assets with stakeholders, but here is one thing I generally keep in mind: 

I try to conduct general stakeholder interviews where they can express any frustrations or issues with an existing asset or process before putting pen to paper. 

Often the folks who feel more strongly about a certain asset will end up objecting if they perceive you've created what seems like a final product without getting their inputs - even if your intent is to create a v1 before getting feedback. 

As a general principle, I have evolved my approach to spending much more time on discovery than in the development of an asset. 

Of course, the approach will change depending on personalities. Some stakeholders take precedence over others. One has to adapt completely to a CEO's style, so if they prefer things to be more fully baked, then that's the way to approach it. 

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

I'm not sure about courses, but recommend the following books:

1. Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind

2. Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

3. Win Bigly by Scott Adams

Outside of that, there is no better training than practice. Relook at the positioning on your website, on sales decks and decide whether it is consistent with strategy and if not, then come up with new positioning and messaging. 

Daily life provides a lot of observations on positioning. From TV ad slots, to political campaigns, to billboards, and even Linkedin or Dating profiles. People are always positioning themselves and the companies they represent to win in this world.

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

I've answered a similar question in the AMA in response to "Are there ways to test our messaging without spending a dollar on external validation?"

In short, there are three main ways to validate messaging in a B2B setting: 

a) Pilot selling with a select set of sales reps 

b) Customer and prospect feedback interviews 

c) Calls with leading analysts in the space (these are generally part of paid programs)

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

The world does trillions of dollars of business for FMCG products every year. They are all commodities, and yet they are continuously fighting a positioning and messaging battle against one another. 

In the first episode of the TV Series Mad Men, Don Draper when consulting for the cigarettes brand Lucky Strike, selects an attribute from the production process - toasting. He then uses that attribute to create positioning "It's Toasted" and associates the product with freedom and youth. 

So the principle is, even if you don't have 10x differentiators, you can select and own an attribute no one else in your competition is talking about. 

How can this work for software? 

I was looking into the security/zero trust space a little while ago and realized that most vendors in the space have nearly identical positioning around security threats and highlighting risk. If you were starting a new company in this space, you could differentiate the product not emphasizing security threats but on the axis of freedom/the ultimate untethered work from home experience, etc. 

One of the books I enjoyed on the topic was Win Bigly by Scott Adams, outside of that you can pick up positioning and messaging from day to day product ads or even political campaigns once you are sensitized to how it's done. 

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comJune 5

It happens to all of us.

As with any type of job interview, practice helps. Additionally, before you sit down to practice you should be using your PMM skills. 

Jot down on paper your answers to these questions.

  • Who is the buyer/company?
  • What is their decision criteria?
  • What is their key pain point?
  • How can you uniquely solve their problem?
  • What is your story/experience, why should they trust you?
  • What are your proof points/success had before in similar environments?

As a Product Marketer, the expectation is that you can position yourself in the market of job seekers and communicate your differentiators succintly. 

Outside of core PMM skills, a large part of the job is soft skills. 

When you practice, ask your practice buddy to comment on how well you listened to the questions, how you built rapport with them, and how persuaded overall they felt after the interview.

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comNovember 10

You don't need to spend a dollar on external validation.

But you do need external validation. 

One of the things I remember from a Pragmatic Marketing course I took early on as a PMM was the term NIHITO -- Nothing Important Happens In The Office

  • If you have customers, asking them for feedback will not cost any money
  • You should also ask feedback from prospects, I generally use InMails to target 10-15 buyer personas. (Linkedin generally gives you the first month free)
  • Analyst feedback is generally harder to get unless you pay them. That's ok - because customer and prospect feedback trumps everything.
  • Finally, the best way to test messaging is to actually try selling with the new messaging. Start by collaborating with a few friendlies in the Sales team to pilot new messaging and see how prospects react. 

Ajit Ghuman
Ajit Ghuman
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP, Twilio | Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.comMay 5

Enterprises and SMBs have interesting trade offs of flexibility, utility and price. 

  • SMBs may have valued an instant deployment self service solution, that accomplished most of their tasks but not bothered too much 24x7 support and/or security. 
  • Enterprises are more likely to value customer success relationships, deployments done right (vs fast), the right compliance criteria and other customers like them (enterprises don't like risk). 

What does that mean for your pricing and packaging? 

  • Are your support and customer success packages going to help them feel secure?
  • Does your sales process set clear criteria for implementations, timelines and their success metrics? Does the SOW list out the feature lists correctly?
  • Are you sure you are not nickle and diming enterprises? They'd likely rather get the right contract than keep re-negotiating with you.
  • Have you considered bundling something like an academy/university/certification? Remember, enterprises don't like risk.
  • Are you assuaging their concerns about needing a custom integration here or there? Or are you going to say a hard no? Having a custom build line item could solve this problem. 
  • As far as pricing is concerened, are you sure you are pricing high enough? (Coming up from SMB, I would actually err to the side of high prices vs setting a low price bar that becomes harder to raise later)

Credentials & Highlights
Director of Product Management - Pricing & Packaging, CXP at Twilio
Formerly Narvar, Medallia, Helpshift, Feedzai, Reputation.com
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, California
Knows About Enterprise Product Marketing, Product Marketing Career Path, Pricing and Packaging