Marketing is a conversation about value. Developing compelling brand positioning and messaging for your company that conveys this value is crucial to success. Forget the bells and whistles—features, competitors and anything that doesn’t focus on the core value your product brings to the table is just a distraction when your crafting you’re crafting marketing content. A simple framework is all you need to position your business and convey your strengths to prospects and customers.
When building a marketing strategy, the most important question to answer is, “What do customers need?” Consider both expressed (readily clear) and latent (under the surface) needs of your customers, there are two core tools you can use to build out your messaging and positioning: your brand essence and your product messaging brief.
Brand essence encapsulates the vision, promise, attributes, and emotion of a brand. For a company like Apple, for example, where the vision is simplicity and the promise is a seamless, almost magical user experience, it’s no surprise that customers have had such strong negative reaction to the unreliable nature of the new Apple Maps.
Product Messaging Brief
To translate your brand essence into effective product messaging, you can follow a simple formula.
After you’ve articulated your brand essence, identify your category. Minor brands or products can inherit the vision, promise, emotion, and attributes of the larger brand. For example, Google starts with a whimsical brand name and matches it with a literal product category name such as Google Docs – the user understands both the product and the larger brand connotations.
Once users understand a brand and category, the next steps is to convey the product benefits. After you’ve explored your market and discovered user needs, make a list of customer needs and a separate list of product features. To develop a list of product benefits, come up with high level promises that bind those two lists together.
Aside from perfecting your positioning (check out Geoffrey Moore’s Positioning Statement), the most important piece of messaging is your 25-word, plain English, description of what your company does. This needs to be one to two sentences and easy to say so everyone in your company can repeat it as they talk to potential clients, customers, or partners.
Consistent and insightful positioning and messaging can be one of the most difficult challenges for any company. The Brand Essence and Product Messaging Brief provided here are great tools for new and established companies alike to form the cornerstone of a marketing strategy.
About the Instructor
Adam Berrey is an entrepreneur and startup executive. He began his technology career on the founding team of Allaire where he led product marketing and management from the company’s beginnings to an IPO, $2.5B peak market cap, and $125M in annual revenue. In 2005 he joined Brightcove (BCOV) and led marketing and strategy from inception through $25M in revenue. Since 2009, Adam has done stints as an EIR at General Catalyst and North Bridge, co-founded a smart grid company, and advised executives and entrepreneurs at a wide range of firms from early-stage startups to public companies. View Adam’s slides here.