Product Messaging

I’ve been offered a partnership in a product and, if I join, I’d be coming in to lead growth. There is room to improve on the two existing acquisition channels (SEO and Social), the product’s retention curve needs to be stabilised and there is some messaging work to be done.

I learned how to improve retention at Reforge. They taught me to break the process into three distinct phases: The onboarding, engagement and off-boarding. Each phase then has its own measures, tactics and goals.

The piece of the puzzle that is missing at the moment is the messaging around the product. I’ve learned how to think about structuring a content marketing campaign in a similarly strategic way from Tommy Griffith’s Clickminded courses.

Clickminded’s messaging framework is a traditional content sales funnel with a top, middle and bottom. Content at the top is forgetting people in the door, the middle of the funnel is meant to capture peoples contact details and the bottom of the funnel is designed to make sales.

If a product solves an urgent problem, people know of your solution and it cost nothing then you don’t need a funnel. The more people or money involved, the more time it will take for everything to align. The more consequential the decision, the longer a funnel needs to be.

At Chirr app, we don’t have any kind of product messaging funnel set up at the moment. If they like it they start using it. We offer little to no help as people go from discovering the product to using it on a regular basis and developing a habit around it.

1. Finding Our Ideal Customer

We’re trying to get more specific about who we’re for at Chirr App. At the moment we’re selling to everyone because we can’t really control who finds us through search. The problem is that our pitch is so generic that we’re converting less than 1% of our traffic.

The first thing I’ve done to narrow in on our ideal customer is to look at our most active users. We only have ~200 active users so I went through them one by one. I tried to bucket people based on what I learned about them.‌

This is surprisingly hard to do. In the end I used a single label when an account was focused (e.g. #scholar or #professor), most of the time I’d split it between labels like #digitalmarketing and #rockclimbing. In some cases I had to add a third because two didn’t cut it.

Next I wanted to know how people found us. Google Analytics is handy here. Also interviewing people now so I just ask. I’m also listening for how product aware they were. First time they’ve ever used a product like this or they’ve tried out all our competitors out already?

This work has helped us move towards a specific kind of person we want to appeal to. We’re not there yet but we do have a few personas we’d like to narrow in on. We’re also clearer about who we’re not for and which people we don’t want to compete for in the space.

Now that we have a better sense of who we want to help, it’s clear that we know very little about the specific kinds of hassles they have. I could talk about them generally but ask me to rank them or describe them using their words 🤷‍♂️. Next step is to clear the fog here.

An important aspect to this conversation is that we don’t want to wake up tomorrow and rebrand our product for race-car drivers and scare everyone else away. We already have lots of users and we need to stay true to the product we’ve promised so far.

This is more about clarifying who our product is ideal for and making more of an effort to figure out how to better solve the problems these people are more likely to have.‌ We’re still a general purpose tool that anyone can use for free and that’s not changing any time soon.

2. Finding out the right value prop

A value prop is super important because it talks about your product in terms of what people care about. You can have the best product in the world but if I don’t understand what it does for me, who cares?

I’m learning that getting your value props down is the foundation to all your product messaging. So the first step to a solid value prop is to figure out how your product helps the people who use it.

You do this by listing out all the hassles your ideal customer has when they don’t use your thing. For example, my thing helps people turn blog posts into twitter threads. People who don’t use it have to fart around with copy and pasting into google docs and counting characters.

The idea is to create a bunch of these and repeat the process for every hassle you can think of around your things. Once they’re all out of your head then you can boil it down to the top 2-3.

We boiled our messaging down the the google-doc copy and paste drama I just described, the fact that people get easily distracted when they try creating content with Twitter open and that people don’t know the best time to post their twitter threads.

Once you’ have your top hassles, then you have to blow them up. If fiddling around with google docs is the immediate hassle the larger consequence is how much time and energy you’re wasting in the process.

The final step is to explain how your product solves this problem and all the great things that happen when you use it: “Compose twitter threads in seconds and save yourself a bunch of valuable time to work on the more important things.”

The wording here is still a bit awkward but now that I have a foundation I’ve started interviewing people who use the product. I’m also listening our for the exact phrasing people use when they talk about these hassles. Instead of trying to come up with the right words my plan is to use actual snippets from real conversations with people to get a more natural sounding finish.

Some more useful links on product messaging:

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