Build a messaging strategy

Business benefit

Develop effective messaging that aligns with business goals and customer needs.

Identify the business goals your organization wants to achieve. Identify actions your customers need to take so that your organization can meet those goals.

For example, you might need to close higher value deals, achieve greater sales volume, sell more to existing customers, or unlock a new market segment.

Your messaging strategy will vary depending on the goals your messaging will help achieve. Broad brand messaging will need to be developed differently than messaging specifically around a product or feature.

Identify the needs that your audience have at each stage of the customer journey, and how your messaging can address those needs.

Focus on differentiating your messaging through inspirational and individual needs, especially in competitive industries where most companies look to fulfill basic business, functional and table stakes needs.

Researchers at Harvard Business Review developed a [pyramid of B2B buyer needs]((What B2B Buyers Really Care About) that helps to determine influential messaging depending on their mindset in a given journey stage:

  • Inspirational needs occur early in the buyer’s journey, helping audiences realize the need and its urgency.
  • Individual needs acknowledge the customers’ personal benefits from buying your solution, from reducing frustration to career and reputation gains.
  • Business needs can range from time savings to efficiency gains and risk reduction.
  • Functional needs focus around meeting basic expectations, like lower costs and scalability.
  • Table stakes are basic requirements like usability and compliance.

Build a strategic narrative to define your brand or product promise to your customers.

Developed by Andy Raskin, a strategic narrative attacks your audience’s status quo, articulating a new way of doing things through your product. It is a company-wide strategy, not a messaging framework.

Focus on language that helps your audience understand what your product helps them do and how it helps them transform. Create language around why your organization exists, your purpose or belief that has led you to develop your product as a game-changer that raises the stakes.

Create a strategy to prove and demonstrate your brand or product’s relevance to your target market.

Choose from these options to focus your relevance strategy:

  • Vertical messaging: the values, goals, benefits, and buying requirements of a particular industry or vertical with players interconnected around a specific niche. Choose vertical messaging when looking to be highly relevant to a niche and looking to build trust in this specific area.
  • Persona messaging: speaking directly to individuals that have something discrete in common, like a job or a role. Choose persona messaging as a secondary layer, for different products or feature sets meant for different customers, or to speak more directly to the buyer or product user.
  • Solution messaging: a repeatable framework to express your product’s value within the context of quantifiable business realities and requirements. Choose solution messaging when you are trying to move upmarket toward selling to top-down buyers, or you want to enable your sales team to have better discovery conversations.

Map out product-focused messaging grounded in the how and why of your product and company. Use it in feature pages, in-app messaging, lifecycle campaigns, and release notes.

Design your product-focused messaging to meet your audience’s table stakes expectations, helping the customer activate the value they’ve been promised.

Gather existing product and audience research to better inform your messaging.

Potential research can include:

  • Competitive intelligence
  • Persona and prospect research
  • Market and vertical research
  • Customer insights from advisory boards, beta programs, review sites like G2 and Capterra, product analytics, and sales notes, recordings, and intelligence.