At its most basic, messaging is about answering 3 key prompts:
To me, competitive falls squarely underneath that third bullet point. It's one thing to list the entire list of features for your product, but the real exercise in messaging is to find the differentiating features (i.e. what makes your product different from "the other guys"). Therefore, it's important to map your key capabilities with the competition to understand where that white space is, because that is where your messaging focus should live.
When I am looking for messaging and positioning validation from outside the org, I find that people engage more with a story than with a static framework. And as far as stories go, everyone much prefers pictures to reading dense Powerpoint slides! To that end, putting together a solid "marketecture" is a great place to start. This allows you to paint the picture of not just your product, features and functions, but you can also start assigning value and differentiated messaging to each of them. I find this especially helpful with current users/customers. They know the technical details (i.e. architecture) of your product, but might have a different opinion on the value. Showing them that overlay in a visual is a great way to start a conversation, and get some really rich insights.While Product Marketing should own the messaging/positioning framework, its success hould be measured by everyone in the marketing org (again, this is all a team sport!). A successful messaging strategy affects every stage of the funnel - from awareness to advocacy and beyond. Therefore, I believe there are plenty of opportunities to measure its success. For me, the real question I want to answer is, "Am I enabling everyone on my team on this message, and do they feel empowered to deliver it in market?" That requires close collaboration with various stakeholders, deciding on shared objectives and results, and committing to continual improvement.
I think with anything you do in Product Marketing, you first have to understand what your goals are to avoid being completely consumed by the task at hand. This includes understanding who your audience is, how the information will be used, and most importantly how you will measure success. The same goes with market research. Doing that little bit of prep work and reflection beforehand can really help focus your efforts so you're getting the most out of it.
When I am approaching market and competitive research throughout the GTM process, another question I ask early on is, "Who else has an opinion about this?" Product Marketing is the best job because it is cross functional by nature, so don't lose that spirit when tasked with market analysis. Interview stakeholders from sales, marketing, product, and more. Test out your positioning with trusted peers across your organization for feedback (I always tell them that they are "keeping me honest"). Don't put the weight of market research on your shoulders alone. There are plenty of others who can help carry the load, and your program will be better for it in the long run!
For new products and major features, I find it invaluable to go through a complete messaging exercise. This is an iterative process that involves collaboration with Product, Marketing, and Sales. I've developed a template for this over the years that combines the things I liked most from the past messaging exercises. While this list is not exhaustive, these are the things I have found are most valuable to building messaging that resonates not only externally, but also internally with the teams that need to market and sell the product:
Market and competitive analysis can sometimes feel overwhelming. With so many sources to keep track of, and new competitors popping up all the time, it can be a full time job!
To avoid feeling overwhlemed, it's important to prioritize the competitors and channels that are the msot relevant to your messaging and GTM strategy. What competitors are your sales team coming up against the most? What industry publications does your leadership team (especially product) look to for insights and inspiration? Use those as a starting point, and expand your scope from there.
But the real power of consistent competitive intel comes from the ability to recruit everyone to contribute, and creating a repo of shared knowledge. Too often, PMM feels the pressure to collect and share all of the market and competitive intel. But sales people hear information about competitors all the time. Product Managers do their own research when building justification to build new products. Find ways to centralize that information, such as in shared Slack channel or documentation, so that everyone can benefit.
Two words: customer stories! Product Marketers need to make sure that everyone is united in telling the same story about our product and its value. I always think of it like internal selling. And just like in the field, one of the most compelling ways to convince people is to use customer proof points to validate your position. Whenever I am enabling teams on positioning, I try to incorporate a customer story that revoleves around a few key points:
That last bit is the most important. When you can use numbers to help validate product positioning, you give people something to get behind. It can be a talking point for sales, or the basis of a great marketing campaign. Let the customers and data tell the story, and alignment will follow.
For organizing and keeping track of launch activities, I created templates that I have carried with me from company to company. They contain all of the best elements from past launches (both my own and other PMMs I have learned from). And frankly, there is nothing fancy about them - they are mostly just spreadsheets! It's not to say that there aren't tools that can help streamline processes - I've seen launches effectively organized in Trello and Asana, for example. But what I like about my collection of self-made templates is that they are easily customizable and flexible to fit my immediate needs. I also feel connected to them, which helps me feel confident in implementing them.
However, as important as templates are to provide a single source of truth, I believe that the real trick to ensuring continual alignment is to find spaces for constant communication. For many PMMs this usually means weekly (or even daily) launch standups. For me, I've found success in ritualizing a weekly "What's Shipping" call with all of the key stakeholders in the org (Product, Sales, Marketing, Success, etc.). This is a standing meeting where we check in on all launches in flight, review the launch plan spreadsheets, perform retros post-launch, and more. If we don't have any launches to talk about, we don't have the meeting. But by creating a constant touchpoint, it builds a habit within the org that we are always thinking about launches. As a result, everyone feels more confident with how launches is progressing and can pass on relevant information to their teams so everyone is in the know.
In short, it's all about constant communication!
Just like in marketing, sales enablement is all about knowing your audience. At the top level, that means understanding what motivates them (i.e. closing more deals, expanding existing customer base, etc.), and tailoring your enablement to help them understand how a new product/feature will help them achieve those goals. To refine this, I like to bring sales stakeholders into the enablement creation process so they can advocate for their team's needs. The side benefit of this is that it gives your enablement program a better chance of success.
Additionally, remember that there are different audiences within a revenue org. It's not just salespeople, there are often technical sales and customer success personas. In some cases, I find it helpful to break enablement into those smaller groups to cater to their specific needs. For example, sales aren't as interested in the technical nuts and bolts of a product or feature, but for technical sales it is crucial they understand the inner workings to build effective demo stories. For that reason, I often have separate "technical enablement" sessions to best meet those needs, as opposed to trying to lump everything together and risking the chance of losing people along the way.
Finally, I think we sometimes forget that humans all learn in different ways, and none of us fully understand something the first time we learn it. For those reasons, I try to find ways to present information in different ways, and not be afraid to repeat myself in various forums. For example, some people might learn best visually with slides, others might be auditory learners and love a podcast-style training session. And no matter the mediums you use, be sure to share them widely across various channels (email, Slack, sales enablement platforms, etc.).
I am hoping that some of my other answers have made this clear, but in case they haven't - market research, just like everything else in Product Marketing, is a team sport. The more you can show the value of this kind of research (i.e. how it will help sales win more deals), the easier it will be to recruit sales to join that team. From there, you can find a process or cadence that works for everyone to ensure that you are getting the engagement you need without stepping on any toes.
But there is an even better solution to this - you can get sales to do some market and competitive research for you! When I build competitive intel materials (e.g. battlecards), I like to schedule a working session with our customer facing teams. We start with a working draft of all of the information we have gathered so far, and then give sales, success, support etc. the opportunity to collaborate, contribute, and give feedback. This lets everyone feel like they are part of the process, but more importantly enables them on the framework we are using for thinking about our competitors and the market. From there, encourage those teams to continue to share what they hear, either in a shared Slack channel, or even on battlecards themselves. This ensures the content stays fresh, and that you have a truly cross functional research program!
Let the data tell the story of your ICP! Use your existing customer base as a starting point. Take your best customers and look at them in aggregate - what patterns emerge across industries, company size, tooling adoption, maturity indicators, etc.? From there, you have a great base to help inform outbound targeting efforts.
If you're starting from scratch, then lean on internal expertise across the org (Sales, Product, Exec) and market data to build your hypothetical ICP. From there, you can validate with external research, or test via ABM programs.
In either case, it's all about finding a diverse set of data sources, letting that data guide you to a hypothesis, and continually testing and iterating.