A 6-step framework to create effective product messaging

To create product messaging that resonates with your target audience, you need to understand what motivates. Learn how in this article.

Atlassian went from $10,000 in credit card debt [1] to a valuation of over $67.7 billion.

They didn’t have a sales team to hunt leads and close deals. How did they do it? Through compelling product messaging.

Product messaging is the core communication used to reach and engage your target audience about your offering.

It isn’t as simple as throwing the right words together. Product messaging requires a framework with constant evolution and iteration grounded in customer research. 

In this article, you’ll learn what successful product messaging is, how to write successful product messages that resonate, and examples of successful messaging from popular SaaS companies.

What is product messaging?

Product messaging communicates your product's value, benefits, features, and functionality to potential customers. 

Effective product messages include two elements:

  1. A solid product description grounded in market research that ensures you resonate with your target audience;
  2. Highlighted benefits of your product and how it solves your audience’s problem.

With this information, you can make sure your ideal customer profile (ICP) gets the right message about your product. 

Product messaging is central to the entire sales process. Potential customers must understand what you have, how it works, and why it’s worth their time or money.

For example, digital workspace tool, Notion grew its audience to 1 million users with only an 18-person team using effective brand messaging, design, and community engagement. 

Notion is a master of differentiation. They’ve identified their unique qualities and use these attributes to inspire sign-ups. 

Screenshot of Notion CTA Banner

Notion clearly explains their value proposition above the fold of the home page, “we’re more than a doc. Or a table. Customize Notion to work the way you do.”

Although dozens of note-taking applications exist, Notion identified a market gap for a note-taking application doubling as a workspace for teams to customize their workflows. 

The Build podcast interviewed Notion’s Head of Marketing Camille Ricketts, on their roadmap for building a winning brand. She outlines Notion’s three distinct customer bases: 

  1. Individuals for personal use and projects;
  2. Small businesses that collaborate with their teams;
  3. Enterprise businesses that use it for collaboration and internal product documentation. 

This high level of specificity in defining buyer personas enables customer connection. 

Ricketts further explained that brand messaging isn’t about what you say or how it’s said but what your company does. Differentiation starts with extensive research on your target audience. 

Notion successfully defines its audience, understands their needs, and it shows in their product messaging.

How to write successful product messages that convince people to buy from you

When product messaging aligns with customer needs and differentiates itself from the competition, customers feel compelled to buy. 

Great product messages require a framework, the template of your product messaging. Without it, you’re blindly guessing at what resonates with no marketing strategy. 

However, dozens of frameworks exist, and what works for one company won’t work for another. Alexandra Gutow, PMM of cloud data storage platform, Snowflake, says, 

“There are so many different product models, so take bits and pieces from frameworks out there, hone in on the key pieces you need from those frameworks, and identify the three key benefits the company provides.” 

Our framework is a 6-step process that starts by identifying your target audience. 

Step 1: Collect audience insights and research to communicate your message successfully

To craft your messaging, you need to know your target audience, their needs, how they operate, and what they’re trying to achieve.

Your product marketing team typically does this research, or you can partner with a team like Wynter to get feedback on your messaging from your core audience.

Another customer research strategy is to ask  your sales team: 

  • Which common questions or frustrations customers have;
  • How customers are responding to the current messaging;
  • What customers' common pain points and challenges are.

The sales team can help you with this research because they’re in front of customers daily and understand their frustrations. 

Summarize the value of your product to convert your prospects 

Once you have a broad understanding of what your customers want, you need to distill this into a value proposition. 

Value propositions are a short, clear description of the value you’re offering customers and why they need to buy from you instead of your competition. Compelling value propositions persuade people to buy from you. 

But what makes a value proposition effective? It must be concise, attention-grabbing, and relevant to your target audience. 

Screenshot of Pipedrive CTA

Pipedrive is a sales CRM and pipeline management software that clearly articulates what it is in its landing page copy. It’s bold claim to be the first CRM designed by salespeople differentiates it from competitors. 

Your value proposition should address the needs of your target customer and explain how your product or service can meet those needs better than anyone else.

Step 2: Finalize your messaging by internally reviewing it 

Put your messaging in front of the key internal stakeholders so they can voice questions or concerns with the messaging. 

For example, hold an internal review for stakeholders to deliberate on the product messaging. 

Snowflake’s PMM, Alexandra Gutow, always puts her company’s message in front of the sales team to dissect. The company has bi-weekly meetings with the sales team to refine its messaging. 

“Sales is the biggest constituent, the job is to help them be successful and win, create things they’ll go and use, and if not, how can we go and get there?” 

Your sales team is a key stakeholder for product messages, so ask them how your messaging resonates with customers. How does the sales team use it? Are the customers talking about the products differently, using different language from before? 

The customer support team is also heavily involved with users and can provide useful information about how customers experience your product. Ask them about customer feedback on beloved product features which you can use to shape your message.

Screenshot of Snowflake Platform Features

Snowflake’s product messaging resonates because they take the time to define and redefine its product messaging. 

Step 3: Test your messaging so you know if it’s resonating with your audience

This is the most crucial phase of the framework and it requires a few rounds of testing to ensure your message resonates. 

You can test through platforms like Wynter, a panel-run message testing platform that provides valuable feedback to improve your messaging. 

For example, Wynter recently tested Zuko.io, a form analytics tracking and optimization tool, using our panel of conversion optimization analytics experts.

Screenshot of Zuko.io Homepage CTA

From our testing, experts found Zuko’s messaging verbose, which causes reader friction. Even though they articulate who they are, what they do, and who it’s for, they would benefit from trimming half of the words in their example. 

With the average human attention span around 8.25 seconds, you don’t have long to grab the customer’s attention and inspire them to try your product or service. They should be able to skim your homepage without friction in less than a few seconds.

Screenshot of Zuko Product Introduction

This section is below the fold on Zuko’s homepage, and experts found this section highly confusing because of its use of language. 

For example, while the term “specialist product” sounds original, does it describe the product in a way customers understand? Our experts said no. Every word you use should inform the customer of your product’s features, benefits, values, and functionality. 

This is just one example of how Wynter can test your product messaging by putting it in front of your target audience. You can also test through customer interviews, A/B testing, focus groups, and customer advisory boards. 

Testing provides insights into how your audience receives your message. Your initial message was your baseline for future iterations. With this, you can change your messaging to reflect the feedback.

Step 4: Create a messaging guide to ensure consistency throughout the company

Your product messaging should embody your brand’s story and everyone on your team should understand this message clearly. Without a collective understanding of your brand’s message, you can ask five people on your team to describe your brand, and you’ll hear five different answers. 

Unclear messaging leads to confusion, lack of understanding, and miscommunication, which undermines your product message.

To ensure that all your marketing messages are consistent across channels and appeal to customers, you’ll need a messaging guide.

The messaging guide provides the foundation for your organization's communication with customers and other stakeholders. It allows customers to understand what you’re trying to achieve.  

A typical messaging guide includes a: 

  • Brand promise that states what your brand can deliver to customers.
  • Product positioning statement that expresses how your product differentiates itself from the competition. 
  • Target audience that defines the customer group most likely to use your product.
  • Mission that explains your company’s reason for being.
  • Tone of voice that states how you communicate your company’s character through written and spoken words. 
  • Elevator pitch that describes your concise, persuasive sales pitch to generate interest in your company’s product or service.
  • Brand pillars that describe your company's three or four core values. 
  • Headline benefits that entice your customers by showing how your product delivers on the brand pillars. 
  • Supporting examples that explain how your product delivers on the headline benefits. 
Screenshot of Messaging Guide

Dialpad, formerly Highfive, has a clearly defined message guide. If you were to read this short document, you would know to approach customer conversations with an empowering, progressive, human, and cheeky tone. 

Their elevator pitch snippet also provides a framework for how to write in the brand voice because they’ve provided the example for you. 

Articulating who you are, what you do, how you do it, and how your customers benefit from it, in simple language facilitates consistent language throughout every touchpoint in the customer journey. 

Step 5: Launch your new messaging

Before you launch new product messaging, all parts of your team must be on board with the new message. So, your product manager (PM) must meet with every team to set launch dates for product messaging roll-outs. 

Your PM is your product’s leading expert on the market and how your differentiated product addresses that market need, so it’s their job to ensure internal alignment upon your new messaging launch. 

For example, your marketing team needs time to prepare necessary content marketing and social media advertising materials, and your sales team needs time to internalize the messaging and figure out how to use the new messaging when communicating with customers. 

Depending on how significant your changes are, you can also decide on how you’re going to communicate a messaging change with customers or if you will communicate it at all. 

For example, when Dialpad changed their company’s name from Highfive, they set up a redirect on their website from highfive.com to a landing page explaining the change. 

Screenshot of Highfive by Dialpad Landing Page

They let customers know they’re the same company, but with a refreshed brand and message that more accurately describes what they do and who they are.

A complete overhaul of your brand, including changing your brand name and messaging, may warrant an explanation. However, if you’re only changing your messaging, you can decide whether or not you want to notify customers about the change. 

The new brand messaging launch process can take several weeks, so you must account for this when planning a hard launch on your messaging. 

Step 6: Constantly iterate

Because the needs of the stakeholders and customers change rapidly with the company's growth, your message requires constant iterations. You cannot set it and forget it.

The VP of Products and Analytics at Tripping.com (a vacation and short-term rental aggregator), Colin Gardiner, believes that experimenting with product messaging is paramount to improving the customer experience.

“Experimentation is an integral part of my role as it is how we innovate,” says Gardiner. “We test iteratively to get a constant feedback loop of data on customer experience so we can continually optimize the business to be a better fit for our customer needs.”

By constantly iterating on the customer experience, the team at Tripping.com can test until they find a solution that works best for their customers. 

Have regular meetings with your sales team and keep tweaking and iterating until you find the message that resonates best. 

Charlotte Newman, Head of Product Marketing at Canva, says,

“Messaging isn’t a one-and-done job. As your company evolves, your offering evolves, and the types of customers evolve, your messaging must evolve and reflect these changes in the market.”  

However, not every change will be successful when iterating on your messaging. Keep testing new versions until you find one that works well with customers.

Product messaging examples to inspire your product messaging framework

We’ll now examine two brands that have mastered the art of product marketing and highlight what they’ve done well and what you can learn from.

Shopify, the authoritative message

Shopify uses an authoritative tone to express its brand. By using “the” instead of “a” to modify “platform,” they position themselves as not any old online store host–they are the authority for building online stores.

Screenshot of Shopify Homepage

The mock-up images of products help customers envision what their products might look like in a Shopify store. 

Screenshot of Shopify Featuring Brands in various industries

Featuring brands in various industries establishes social proof by showing how existing companies use their software and target customers in different sectors. 

Screenshot of Shopify explaining how easy to do business with them

Shopify explains how easy it is to do business with them instead of other companies. Starting an online store isn’t a tremendous undertaking when you have Shopify to help you get it off the ground. 

Screenshot of Shopify showcases their strength in ecommerce by showing numbers of businesses that are using their platform around the world

The website showcases further evidence of Shopify’s strength in eCommerce. Specific numbers like this inspire customers to trust and purchase from you.

Focus on your target customers in your product message and show them what they can do with your product that they can’t do with others. 

Calendly, the clear and straightforward message

Calendly is a digital calendar enabling enterprise sales teams to book appointments and schedule meetings easily. Their product messaging is an excellent example of clear and simple language. 

Screenshot of Calendly Homepage

They define their product and target customers within the heading and subheading: easy meeting scheduler for professional teams. 

Though they don’t mention their primary competitor, we can assume they differ from other calendar applications because their product specifically targets workplace teams. 

Screenshot of Calendly showing how easy to use their product

They further emphasize the ease of use to reassure customers this product prevents (not enhances) the stress of meeting planning. There’s only easy scheduling ahead with Calendly. 

Like Calendly, your product messaging statement should be clear, concise, and distinctive. 

Inspire your customers to buy

Product messaging is the foundation of your marketing, audience perception, and the way people understand your product. 

Earn the trust of your customers by creating messages that resonate with their needs and help solve their problems. This is what sets you apart from the competition. 

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

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