Kristen Ribero

Kristen RiberoShare

Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, Handshake
www.joinhandshake.com
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Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

There are a number of messaging framework templates available these days. I shared an article that I like to reference (link is below again); I also suggest you check out posts from Andy Raskin (https://andyraskin.com/) who I've worked with previously or check out this recording of Tiffany Spencer doing a talk at Heavybit. It's a handful of years old, but still relevant: https://www.heavybit.com/library/video/getting-to-a-messaging-framework-and-value-prop/. 

More than having the right template, however, the critical second piece to the question is about driving home messaging to internal stakeholders. Messaging projects should not be done in a vacuum. As a product marketer, you have the responsibility and superpower to be closest to what's happening in the market, with your buyers, at scale. Take that information, distill it down into insights that are easily digestible and then use that to take your internal stakeholders along for the journey - show them how the messaging you've helped develop is differentiated from your competitors and they will get excited. 

Another way to drive messaging home with larger groups is through certifications. Every one of my sales teams has had a certification process and messaging/narrative is definitely a part of that. Align with your sales leadership on this. 

https://medium.com/@jamiecatherinebarnett/your-must-have-core-messaging-framework-a-guide-for-high-tech-startups-6eb39a6d0864

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeJuly 18

In my experience, it varies based on your product portfolio/customer segments...


When my company had only 1 product we were separated by function (i.e. pricing/packaging, sales enablement, product launches, market research, etc.), but in other companies we were focused on segment (enterprise vs SMB product marketing and then had teams that supported us).


Other roles that i've seen in smaller companies - customer marketing, content, even PR/AR (bc product marketing is usually the keeper of the message)

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

The first step here is to share the WHY behind a messaging project. If you can get every group to align on that and the outcome, getting ‘approval’ is much easier. I start with a kickoff meeting and have often shared this article (linked below), particularly in startups where you may be dealing with multiple stakeholders who have not been through this type of project before. All those orgs listed - Product, Sales and CS - are key inputs of forming your unique value prop, but ultimately it’s up to the product marketing organization to bring it together. 

To that end, I also share a set of core beliefs philosophies during the kickoff meeting. Below is a sample list I’ve used in the past:

  • We communicate value and benefits over features

  • We’re aspirational, but also rooted in truth. Let’s not get in the habit of marketing and selling future roadmap

  • Iterate on our learnings; messaging continually evolves

  • But, we don’t message in a vacuum based off solely internal knowledge 

  • We know when to stop arguing over words

Finally, make sure to take those orgs on the journey with you - set regular meetings, share pieces of your research or your output. Your final meeting shouldn’t be you presenting something the group has never seen before, reacting live. It should be a culmination of data, their input knowledge, and your product and market expertise. Customer validation always helps to get alignment too!

https://medium.com/@jamiecatherinebarnett/your-must-have-core-messaging-framework-a-guide-for-high-tech-startups-6eb39a6d0864 

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

This will depend on what your product/service/platform does and who the target audience is. For instance, in one of my previous roles, we had one product for one audience. Of course the platform was extensible, had different feature sets, but the value was easy to articulate to one audience. On the other hand, in my current role at Handshake, we have a three-sided talent marketplace with very different products and audiences. We tackle this by having one company value prop and then tailor specific messaging to each side of the business.

Remember that messaging should not be a feature list. From the article I shared in another question, try this exercise to get started on determining your hierarchy:

  • Define your target audience(s)
  • Articulate their problem statement(s)
  • Describe how your product/service/platform helps said audience with said problem 

This is, of course, an over-simplified exercise (you’d also want to understand the competitive landscape and what makes your product unique), but it helps get to the value. Once you complete this for one or multiple product areas, try and draw some similarities across to ladder up to a company value prop. Your business should be able to take all of that and distill into 1-2 sentences to describe itself to your buyer (and even to someone outside of the space).

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

Insights are extremely important and should always be an input into your messaging architecture or recommendation. Market and customer insights are one of the best ways to make a case for your recommendation, in fact. 

So you don't get stuck in an analysis paralysis state, I'd do a quick audit to understand the current state of data and insights as it pertains to your product/market/etc. Find out:

  • What research is complete and available? This could be something like a survey to your database that was run in the past, research you paid for, data and analysis from things like a TAM anaylsis, investor/board meetings, etc.
  • Where do you think the biggest gaps are that research would help you fill? Is that gap something qualitative or quantitative research could help you figure out. One example of this is understanding key performance motivators of a persona - you would probably get way more talking to 5 to 10 people live vs looking at quantitaive data here.
  • How much time do you have? Again you don't want to be stuck in analaysis for months and there are ways to accomplish developing these types of insights thoroughly or quickly.

From there, you can put a quick research plan together as part of your larger messaging project plan. Try tapping those in your company who've been there a while, have that tribal knowledge, as they may know where to point you for previously completed research and what customers/prospects to talk to. 

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

I’m a big believer in experimentation in any marketing activity. And messaging should be included in that. I see a lot of enterprise product marketers get caught up in taking on a huge messaging and positioning project/revamp that typically cuts across multiple teams and stakeholders, which can feel difficult to pull across the line. These projects take time, but this is where experimentation comes in... it’s easy to test messaging in your digital channels and that's a great place to start. I suggest working with your digital team members or an agency to start out with banner ads and landing pages. 

  • Define what you’re testing, your target audience and how for long you’re running your experiment 
  • Ensure you have the proper tools in place to track results. For digital channels, you’d want to work with that colleague mentioned above, but metrics would likely be click-through and conversion  

This will give you solid data from which you can make a case to use your learnings and improve messaging across other channels. But I wouldn’t stop there. I really like using my sales team as a way to experiment with messaging. Note that this can get tricky if your company uses a slidesharing tool like Clearslide. I typically tap two reps and equip them with 2 decks (the narrative is what’s different here, product doesn’t change, but how we tee up the landscape, problem statement, etc. does) I usually have them use their respective decks for about 5 first calls each and then gather qualitative feedback from them.

One thing to always be mindful of is the channel you’re using will likely dictate how you tweak your messaging - just because something works in an add doesn’t mean you should use those exact same words in your sales deck.

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeOctober 29

For my company, it's currently shared between product, product marketing and design, but that's mostly a factor of being a startup and in the process of building out each of those functions. I think about it in two ways:

  1. Is the in-app copy descriptive of the product itself? Things like feature names, onboarding wizard copy, CTAs make sense to cut across the three teams I mentioned, with product and design having a heavy say in those decisions.
  2. Is the in-app copy meant to drive conversion activity / sales conversations? To me, this fits more with product marketing.

Ultimately your company's voice and brand should be consistent inside and out of product, so even if product marketing doesn't own it, I highly encourage being part of the approval process. 

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeJuly 18
Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeJuly 18

I typically do them by myself without the sales person or product mgmt. I find the customer is more open about product and sales process that way pm and sales contribute to info we want to gather though

Kristen Ribero
Kristen Ribero
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, HandshakeJuly 18

I’ve worked with Diane at dimensional research at a couple different companies - http://dimensionalresearch.com/. Very thorough and collaborative

Credentials & Highlights
Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Handshake
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Oakland, California
Knows About Influencing the Product Roadmap, Messaging, Solutions and Platform Product Marketing,...more