How to Create The Product Marketing Messaging Document (Template & Guide)
Question on the template? Ask me and fellow PMs & PMMs in slack!
Out of every pillar article I wrote, the template for messaging was the most requested one, so here we are. If you haven’t read the accompanying article for this, I encourage you to do so (link at the top of this page). For those that aren’t paying Medium members or want the cliff notes, it’s this:
- Your messaging must be audience-in instead of product-out, always start with the buyer needs and craft from there
- You are creating messaging elements, or core essences. These are not intended to be copy-pasted into content. Your content creators will use these as starting points to ensure that the assets they create carry these messages through.
- Your messaging, and consequently your content, should be highly targeted at the persona and where they are in their buying stage. The more targeted, the more success you will have.
- Your goal should be this: 10 different people could write 10 different blogs, targeting the same persona at a buying stage of their choice, and when laid out on a table, it tells a single cohesive narrative… all without your review.
Before we get started, I want to highlight something. I will talk about this from the perspective of giving this to content creators, however I would encourage you to provide this messaging document to everyone in your company: sales, services, support, product management, and marketing!
As you are going through this template, you may ask “where do I get all of this information?” — that’s for a future article!
So let’s look at the template!
Downloading/Copying the Template
S tart by clicking the link to get access to the template on Google Drive’s Docs (View and Save the Template Here)
The first thing you will notice is that you are in “View Only” mode. This helps me protect the base template, so you won’t be able to change this file.
From here you have two options:
- Download a local copy for Word or other text editing software
- Make a copy to your Google Drive (Note: This requires you to login to a Google account to see this option)
For this guide, we will do everything out of Google Drive, so “Make a copy…” Once you click that, you will receive a prompt to copy the document: Give it a name, select a folder, and click “OK”. Now it’s in your drive, you are free to change it.
I will start by walking through each section to highlight what you need for it, and what purpose it serves for content creators.
The first part of your messaging document should be who this messaging document is for, the target persona. If this is also for a specific part of your company, like a distinct business unit or product, add that in parentheses here.
It’s critical that you create highly targeted messaging to be successful. Messaging that targets the “Systems Administrator” is better than “IT Admin” or just “IT”. Same as the “CISO” is better than “Security Leader”.
How many different pieces of messaging do I need for how many personas?
Well… the answer is: as many as you can manage, keep constantly up to date, and the rest of the business will use. It’s better for you to have 1 highly targeted messaging document than 1 generic messaging document. You’re better off having none than a generic document. Now, say you are targeting a CISO. Do you create one CISO messaging document? Or do you create one for CISOs in North America and one for CISOs in EMEA? Again, depends on if you can keep them up to date and if they’ll be used. You’re better off creating only one, if two won’t actually be used.
This one is for your marketing friends across the aisle. They will ask for this because it helps them with their ad targeting. Often you may target a certain persona, that may have different titles at different companies. Take product marketing for example. Some companies have slightly different titles for our position (solution marketing, industry marketing, segment marketing, portfolio marketing), and granted slightly different functional purpose, they’re close enough that targeting us as a larger group would be effective.
This is where you put all the information you want to put that helps give context to the persona this is. Put in a comma-delimited list, all the information people need to know such as the segment (enterprise vs mid-market), region (North America vs EMEA), department (security vs IT), and any other information that will help marketing target this persona in the right companies.
Current Needs & Challenges
Here you will list at least 3 (1 for each) items for the target persona that align to their organizational, departmental, and individual needs.
- Organizational: Needs & Challenges they face as they relate to the larger goals of the business
- Departmental: Needs & Challenges they face as they relate to their own department and the people in it
- Individual: Needs & Challenges they face in their own job and career
We should relate these needs and challenges to things that your solution uniquely solves for, or helps them overcome. It may not be a direct solution (and often isn’t), but because of purchasing your solution it either helps them overcome their challenges or free them up to make overcoming their challenge easier.
Content creators should work these into their assets, in addition to the messaging elements.
These are links to external sites, not written by your company, that provide background information on the topic you are messaging against. For example, if you are a company that solves for ransomware in a new way, you can put links here to educational articles on what ransomware is and why it’s such a big problem. That way, your content creators can educate themselves and pull additional background information from those sources. Your messaging should be focused on the unique pieces that solves your buyer’s needs and pull through your solutions differentiators, not what the market already knows about. If there is something that is already “ accepted knowledge” in the target market, put a link to an article explaining it in this section.
The value prop is something every product marketer is expected to craft, and something every person will look for. It’s one connective tissue across every piece of content for the target persona. This is the statement that describes how your product, uniquely solves a distinct need for the target persona in a way that provides a clear outcome.
That covers the top half of the template, the bottom half is the messaging elements. These are divided into 3 main parts of the buying phases:
Research & Awareness: Why Should I Care?
The first phase of the buying journey is getting a potential prospect aware that there is a problem, and that the problem is big enough to solve for. There should be little about your product included in this phase of the process, and should be mostly about the problem in the market and the needs of customers like yours.
Exploration & Investigation: How Should I Solve It?
Once you’ve convinced someone that there is a problem worth solving, now show them how they should solve it. When realizing there is a problem to solve, people will try to find all the different ways they might solve it. Your goal is to make sure you show them why solving it your way is superior to any other way. This is all about your product.
Justification & Selection: Who Should I Solve It With?
Finally, the potential buyer has narrowed it down to a short listen of vendors, and now convince them why your company is the one they should go with. This is all about the return on their investment, the trust in your business, the partnership and what it means to be your customer now. This is all about you as a company.
In the messaging document, each stage of the buyer’s journey is made of the following two components:
- Inflections Points: These are the questions your potential buyers are asking in this part of the process, both explicitly and implicitly. If the buyer does not have enough of these questions answered, they will never make it to the next stage.
- Messaging Elements: These are the core messaging pieces you will write that answer the targeted personas inflection points at that part of the buying stage. Honestly, this is often the easiest part of the entire process if you’ve done everything leading up to this part properly.
It’s been my experience that your content writers want specific highlights of the offering, which speak to the target persona, that they can weave into the content. You do not want to put everything your product does here, instead only focus on the few things that sets your product apart from the rest of the market. These may also be things that are already covered in the messaging narratives and aren’t specifically “benefits” of your solutions. These are features, so encourage your content writers to go light when including them in the content. They should be lightly sprinkled in, less than 5% of the overall asset.
This is a starting point, and only that! The first thing you should do is review this template with your product marketing team and your content marketers and find out how much of this would be helpful to the overall process and would get used. If they want more… add it in. If they want less… take it out. The key is to focus in on the elements that will move the needle, make a difference, and allow your company to create more highly targeted content than you are creating today.
Once you have come up with how you will do this, work backwards through all of your content and tag each asset by target persona and where it fits into the buying process. If it doesn’t cleanly fall into one (which it most likely won’t), work to make it fit. This may require you to split an asset into 2 or more pieces.
Then keep track of everything, how many pieces you have for each persona at each stage of the cycle, and you can identify gaps in your narrative. This is where the fun really happens.
Good Luck Out There!!