The Art & Science of Product Messaging

In one of my earlier posts, specifically “My first 100 days as a Product Marketer!” I had said I would be back when I have something to say on product marketing. So, I am back after a long hiatus to share my two cents on messaging, and it’s correlation to the “information sharing” between a Product Manager (PM) and Product Marketing Manager (PMM).

Since I worked both as a PM and PMM, I have a perspective on how these relationships work. Although I have an opinion on many things concerning this relationship, that is a whole different topic for the post. And, this is not that post, so for brevity, I will stick to the messaging piece.

When I was a PM, I always felt that the PMM didn’t do enough justice to the product messaging and positioning. Surprise surprise! Now I am a PMM, and I think that PMs don’t provide enough information for a PMM to articulate the value.

After digging deeper, I realized that neither party wants to undermine the messaging and positioning effort. However, the knowledge gap between the two creates a disconnect that can lead to subpar messaging. Most people think that Product Messaging is an art. I differ. I think it’s both art and science.

IMO the science part to the Product Messaging is what PM and PMMs share during the message building process. If that information sharing happens in a structured manner rather than just a random discussion, then the art part has a better shot at delivering the gold in the race.

There are a lot of messaging frameworks out there, and you can use any one of them. However, if you decide to use one, then make sure that your chain of command agrees to use it. Or else you will end up reworking the whole messaging from scratch.

If you want something more lightweight then creating a list of questions which can uncover the nuggets is a way to go. That way the approach will be more structured and PM and PMM yet open for broader adoption. The structure will also make knowledge transfer more effective. Using my experience, I have come up with the following list of questions to identify the feature level messaging. I have labeled them as The Five Questions for the ease of recall.

  1. What problem (from the customer point of view) are you trying to solve and what type of deployment (if relevant to your product) is affected by this problem?
  2. Why does the problem happen in the first place?
  3. What positive changes will customer experience if they use the new feature?
  4. What are the negative consequences of not solving these problems?
  5. Do your competitors solve this problem? If yes, how is your solution better then theirs?

When you want to go beyond the product features and product messaging itself, these questions may need some tweaking, but the underlying motivation would remain the same. That is what I think. If you are a PM or PMM, I would like to hear your inputs on what you think?

BTW, what do you do in your organization to make sure that the PM and PMM handoff does not lead to subpar messaging?

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