Developing strategic positioning and messaging is crucial for several reasons, including the fact it allows you to differentiate your product from your competitors', build a consistent brand image, create messaging that resonates with your audience, etc.

Here's what these industry giants have to say about the topic:

  • Caroline Caldwell (VP of Marketing at Blend360)
  • Natalie Mullin (Developer Platform and Product Marketing Lead at Zoom)
  • Abhishek Ratna (Head/VP of Product Marketing & Demand Generation at DevRev)

The importance of simplicity in product positioning and messaging

Caroline Caldwell

What advice do you have to give to somebody who's getting started when it comes to developing strategic positioning and messaging?

Natalie Mullin  

As product marketers, we’re strategic partners to product from very early on in the product development process. Another foundational facet of being a PMM that goes along with that is bringing clarity from the beginning of the process and well beyond go-to-market. 

And with strategic positioning and messaging, that’s when you have to deliver utmost clarity. In order to do that, you yourself have to be very clear on a few things:

  • What’s your intended goal? 
  • What’s the ultimate outcome you need? 
  • What action do you need to be taking regarding your audience? 
  • Who do you want to take that action? 
  • What about your positioning and messaging is going to ultimately inspire them to take that action with your product versus a competitor’s?

Positioning and messaging are very much about bringing order to the chaos of all of the different messages that are thrown out there at customers by competitors and the market at large. And frankly, it's our responsibility to cut through that and equip our audience to zero in on our solutions. 

From my perspective, it's about being very truthful, very direct, very intentional, and free from jargon and what I call ‘buzzword salad.’

I think people are afraid to be simple and direct, especially in tech marketing, and I say it to my team all the time: “Focus on outcomes, not output.” And that translates to positioning and messaging. It's not about how many words or how many big words you can throw out there, it's about outcomes. 

Recently, I came across some positioning and messaging for a product out in the wild, and it was very heavy on buzzwords and on the problem and the problem statement. 

Canary test your messaging (and other best practices when marketing to developers)
Canary testing is a practice where software development teams will release a software update to a subset of their users.

Of course, you need to acknowledge the problem, but the focus needs to be on your solution. You have so few characters and such limited time to grab somebody’s attention; they don't need commiseration, they need solutions. They need to be crystal clear on how you're differentiated from a competitor in terms of similar or adjacent products and solutions. 

Another thing that’s really critical is that you always have to be thinking about where and how your positioning and messaging are going to be used and who’s going to be using it.

As PMMs, our audience isn’t just external, we have internal stakeholders too, so your positioning and messaging need to be authentic and repeatable. It needs to be something that your solutions architects, sales engineers, developer advocates, and evangelists can use and be consistent with. 

Your enablement teams are also going to be using it to train salespeople. When they’re going out in the field, they need to be able to use that language too. 

Your CTO is going to be using it with peers, other executives, and decision-makers, so your positioning and messaging need to be able to be used by them. And you want it to be authentic to those conversations and meaningful to the caliber and the types of conversations that those stakeholders are going to have to ultimately drive that awareness and adoption and usage of your technology. 

One last thing is that I get very focused on how few words I can use to drive maximum value and meaning. I'm very much a word nerd. My background is in film studies. It's very heavy on psychology and the art of language. 

You have this construct of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the word you use. But then there's everything that’s signified by all of the meaning behind that word. 

I very much use that as my personal north star to focus positioning and messaging and keep it focused on being simple but pithy, and about shared usability for impact and business outcomes.