Product Marketing Rule #25: Create the Right Messaging First

42 Rules of Product Marketing Facebook

Product Marketing Rule #25 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Michael Cannon, CEO and Founder, Silver Bullet Group

What’s typically absent from a product launch plan are the styles, categories, and types of messaging required for market success.

We have all read the research reports from IDG, AMA, etc. that say over 50 percent of the content we produce is not relevant to customers, nor to the field/channel sales teams. It’s exceedingly difficult to have a successful career, i.e., launch and manage successful products, with such a large ball and chain strapped around a product marketer’s proverbial ankle.

A typical product launch plan usually contains deliverables such as a presentation deck, product brochure, white paper, application note, etc. That is needed, but what’s often absent are the styles, categories, and types of messaging required for market success. The result, as the research indicates, is that most of the go-to-market content is product-centric/technical and descriptive. What’s missing is content that is customer business objective-centric and persuasive.

The solution is to create the right messaging first, and then to develop your go-to-market content. Here is how to do it:

Establish messaging as a separate deliverable.

Messaging is a summary answer to the buyer’s primary and secondary buying questions, a.k.a. the key points that must be communicated in order to convince a person to engage/buy, and is integrated into content via the copywriting/creative process. Content, in turn, is the actual words you use, both written and oral, along with support visuals, to persuade a person to do business with your firm. Content can be delivered in the form of documents, audio, and video.

Determine the right styles, categories, and types of messaging needed for market success.

The two primary messaging styles are descriptive and persuasive. The categories of messaging can include: Company, Solution, Platform, Product, and Sales (market segment) messaging. As an example, descriptive product messaging is the typical “what and how” content in a product brochure.

It answers questions such as:

  • What does the product do?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the key benefits?
  • What features are included/optional?

Persuasive product messaging is the “why” content.

It provides relevant, differentiated, provable, and understandable answers to the buyer’s primary buying questions, a.k.a. persuasive messaging types, such as:

  • “Why should I consider your product?” for demand creation
  • “Why should I meet with you?” for meeting creation
  • “Why should I change out my current solution for a new solution?” for opportunity creation
  • “Why should I buy this new solution from your company instead of other competitors?” for order creation
  • “Why should I buy now?” for urgency creation

These “why questions” are at the heart of every prospective customer conversation, be it online or off-line, that both Marketing and Sales must persuasively answer in order to convince a person to engage and buy.

Create and deploy your messaging.

Once you have created your messaging, you’re ready to deploy it into your go-to-market content, such as collateral, campaigns sales tools, and sales/channel support training.

Yes, it’s more work and you already have too much to do. The question you have to ask yourself is: “Would I be more successful if I created less, more relevant and persuasive go-to-market content, using the ideas above?”

The collective answer from your peers is an unequivocal YES.

What they found is that getting the messaging right is truly a silver bullet: it’s the only deliverable that improves the effectiveness of all the go-to-market content. The typical impact is captured in comments like: “We increased our pipeline by over 20 percent and our win rate by over 10 percent,” “We were able to take 15 percent market share from our biggest competitor,” “I now have a lot more credibility with the sales teams and spend less time supporting them,” “Almost overnight we were able to communicate significant competitive advantage.”

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