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Diana Smith

Diana SmithShare

Director of Brand and Product Marketing,, Twilio
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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

We think of messaging in three tiers and have different frameworks for each. Product marketing usually collaborates with PR and brand for Level 0 and Level 1, while we own Level 2.

Level 0 Messaging: Highest-level company messaging, found in press releases, first sales decks slides, the “about us” section

  • Mission — Your battle cry; why you wake up and work every day
  • Vision — Where you’re going if your mission is successful, aspirational and inspirational
  • Audience — Who you sell to (be as specific as possible)
  • Key Values — Three key value propositions that you provide for your audience (should focus on differentiators to your business)
  • Category — The market category you fit into (or are creating)
  • Description — Incorporates these elements into a short description or elevator pitch. This is often thought of as your “boilerplate.” Everyone at your company should be able to recite this and be on the same page. (This is easier said than done)

Level 1 Messaging: Highest product-level messaging, found on the website, sales decks, analyst briefing decks

  • The flawed way the world works today 
  • The consequences of this approach
  • The market trend making these consequences dire now
  • The world after your product
  • The benefits of your approach
  • Customer proof

Level 2 Messaging: Lower-level product messaging, found on per-product web pages, one-sheets, case studies, and in product-focused demos

  • Product name
  • Solution family
  • Tagline
  • Description
  • Audience (company size, roles)
  • Customer current approach and problems
  • Negative business consequences
  • New product approach and benefits
  • Outcomes with new product 
  • Use cases
  • Customer anecdotes
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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

These are all interrelated.

Messaging: Includes value propositions, your story, and pitch. Also includes things like naming, alternatives, and taglines.
Value Proposition: These are the top benefits you want to focus on for your product based on customer and competitive unput
Pitch & Story: These should be the same. Your pitch about the world before your product, the current approach, why it’s bad, the business consequences, and the new world with your product should tell a story. This story should hit on your main messaging points and value propositions.

Hope that helps!

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

We find it helpful to have a single messaging document that everyone in the company can access. It goes through our mission/vision/description all of the way down to messaging segmented product, customer type, and industry vertical. A shared document enables all of the teams to be on the same page and tell the same story to the market.

Before we’re ready to share messaging broadly (and put it in the master document), we collaborate with different teams to have the highest confidence that the messaging is going to land. 

Executives — Collaborate on mission and vision, consulted on product naming and packaging
Marketing team — Collaborate on key value propositions, category decisions, and boilerplate, test different headlines and messages via campaigns and our site
Product team — Collaborate on quarterly themes we align to for product development and product launches, co-own the customer-facing product roadmap, work closely on product-level messaging for new products refining the audience, positioning, and key use cases with the PM
Sales team — Test messaging, value propositions, and pricing in market, finalize the sales deck and talk tracks together, identify common objections to create messaging for

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

We match internal promotion based on the level of the product announcement. Small updates are little features that mostly existing customers are excited about. Medium updates are larger changes that potentially open up a small new audience or unlock new revenue potential. Large updates are major product changes or brand new products that require significantly adjusting our go to market strategy. 

Small updates: Monthly email to sales, slack message to success
Medium updates: ^ + dedicated email to sales/success + all company slack channel + join sales all hands recurring meeting to train
Large updates: ^ + dedicated trainings per Account Executives, Sales/Success Engineers, CSMs, Marketing Team, present at the company all hands, create certification for sales, retrain after launch

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

I think you can have two flavors of product marketers. The first are very analytical and business-minded. They identify the key top customer problems and benefits for the product. Then, they might need to collaborate with someone in brand, content, or copywriting to make those messaging points spiffier and more engaging. I am in this camp!

Other PMMs are great wordsmiths who take pride in choosing just the right word to get to the essence of the point they are trying to make. Both can be good product marketers. 

I believe product marketers, at minimum, need to be good at writing long-form content. It’s not only fine but common to ask for help tightening up messaging for short-form like headlines, which is an art in itself.

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

You asked exactly the right question as the best messaging is all three (consistent, creative, and differentiated). Getting there isn’t easy. I try to break it down step by step.

I start with differentiated. What’s different about us that’s valuable to our customer? Then creative: how do we express this in a creative way? Finally, consistency: now that we’ve figured out a creative way to express our differentiated message, let’s make sure it’s the same everywhere and everyone in our company can recite it back to us.

Case study: What good is bad data?

At Segment, one of our key differentiators is that we help companies with their data quality. No company in our space (broadly the customer data platform market) does this. As a result, quality data has become something we wanted to focus on in our brand messaging.

The brand team then helped us come up with a fun way to express this which took the form of a campaign with the tagline “What good is bad data?” We have outdoor ads in SF that say, “Good Morning, LA” in Austin that say “Good afternoon, Dallas” and so on - with the tagline “What good is bad data?”


(This is in SF, tagline says "What good is bad data?")

We’re also starting to pull in this messaging everywhere on our public facing site. You’ll see the concept of good vs. bad data cropping up on our homepage, product pages, blogs and sales pitches.

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

You nailed why platform products are difficult to message. This is also why I think they are more fun than working on “point solutions.” (Please forgive me for using that heinous jargon.)

In the best-case scenario, you can identify an overarching value proposition for using the platform that resonates with your primary audience and helps them quickly understand the space you’re in. Then you prioritize use cases/solutions based on how frequently customers adopt them or their revenue value to your company. You want to make it easy for each customer group to be able to find the relevant use cases or value propositions for your platform. This can be done through website navigation, collaborating with your growth teams on which campaigns drive to which pages, and helping your sales team identify what problems or customer characteristics would cause them to focus on a particular use case over another.

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

Messaging that speaks to everyone rarely speaks to anyone well. I’d prioritize your top segment to focus on, make sure your brand messaging resonates with them, and ensure your other customer segments can find messaging for them via pathing on your site or other targeted campaigns.

I've seen most marketplaces have their first message be targeted toward the demand side and then have the supply sides be secondary way at the bottom. 


If you're really supply constrained, you might change your focus there. You can see that Uber and Lyft's sites focus on drivers right now:

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

I agree that a product marketing-minded person is very helpful in the early days of a startup. PMMs tend to be good generalists because we own messaging and go to market planning. We also need to deeply understand the market, product, and customer base.

In the early days as the first marketer, you need to not only make the plan but deliver the plan completely on your own. From writing content to creating emails and ads, it’s all on you. Having a strategic mindset for customer needs, market context, and messaging can definitely help here. That said, don’t expect to only do traditional PMM tasks as the first marketer. You’ll have to dabble in demand gen and brand as well.

If you're on the hiring side, make sure that the PMM is willing to manage all of these end channels as well as the message. If you hire a PMM first, the next best hire is usually someone more growth-oriented. 

I was the first marketer at Segment. I actually came from a public relations background and morphed into PMM due to my proximity to customers and our product team. I found I liked PMM best. PMM and PR minded folks are likely strong on the content and brand side but may have less experience in demand gen. In the early days, demand gen is also very important unless you are blessed with viral word of mouth growth.

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Diana Smith
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio July 16

The key thing is to do what you just mentioned -- grab attention. Do something different. Either tell a bolder story, take a different angle, focus on a differentiator, or show how other players in the market have it all wrong. This is a never-ending battle because your competitors will likely copy any good messaging you put out, so the need for new creative messaging is cyclical. I do think it’s a good exercise to act like a new buyer and see if you could easily tell the difference between your product and your competitors. If not, there is definitely some work to do!

Credentials & Highlights
Director of Brand and Product Marketing, at Twilio
Top Product Marketing Mentor List
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In San Francisco, CA
Knows About Competitive Positioning, Platform and Solutions Product Marketing, Vertical Product M...more