Start with Marketecture

Despite going through several product launches throughout my career, I’m still taken aback by how empowering a resonant messaging document can be for an organization. As Product Marketers (PMM), our job is to shape the markets’ perception of our products and solutions, and the proverbial messaging doc is the primary vehicle to define that position as it enables amplification of our narrative at scale through other go-to-market (GTM) teams like sales, marketing, and customer success. Given the critical role it plays within a business, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the creation of messaging is the primary responsibility of PMMs around the world.

However, for all its notoriety, one gap of knowledge in the realm of Product Marketing is how to approach messaging. While timeless advice such as “Understand the buyer persona” and “Focus on market problems” are firm guiding principles, they fail to provide tactical structure to the endeavour. After all, messaging is the penultimate left and right brain activity; it’s an art and a science. Especially for new PMMs, crafting messaging can be overwhelming, daunting, and downright paralyzing especially when you’re given a blank slate. And no, the hundreds of messaging doc templates are not the answer. 

Fortunately, marketecture is an activity that provides a simple, collaborative, and foundational approach that can help any PMM craft compelling messaging.

The Architecture of Your Marketing

The term marketecture is a popular word used by GTM teams, but it can be confusing because it’s often used in various ways to describe different activities and artifacts. I guess that’s what you get when a group of marketers who want to feel like they’re actually building something coin a jargony term. Ironically, there could be a meta lesson in product naming there, but we’ll leave that for another day. Due to the multiple definitions floating around the marketingverse, for this post, the following is the definition of marketecture I’ll be adhering to:

Marketecture is a simplified representation of how your product(s) aligns to specific market challenges and provides the foundational, thematic building blocks around which messaging can be created.

From that working definition, we can abstract three ideas to solidify our understanding:

  1. Marketecture is a transitory exercise that helps with the creation of messaging.
  2. Market knowledge (buyer persona research, competitive intelligence, win/loss data) and product knowledge (technical capabilities) are prerequisites to a marketecture activity.
  3. The outcomes of marketecture are simplified thematic building blocks you can craft your narrative around.

Now that we understand what marketecture is and why it’s important, let’s discuss how to construct it.

Connect the Dots 

Marketecture activities are most effective in relatively small groups, specifically with the individuals closest to the technology, problem, and customer. In most cases, that would be the Product Marketing Manager and their Product Management (PM) counterpart. In the exercise, PMs represent the user problems and the technical side of the organization, whereas PMMs represent the market problems and the GTM side of the business. However, if you feel it would be beneficial to include team members from other functional areas of the company, don’t shy away; just be sure you have RACI in place where the PMM or the PM gets the final say in case of disagreement. 

The actual activity is dead simple and can be done in person or virtually. Construct a three-column chart like the one pictured below and in the first column, start to jot down all the relevant challenges your customers are experiencing in the market. I like to have a mix of both user and market problems in this section as they each provide a unique context into the problem space.

Next, start listing all of the features of your product that could address those problems in the far right column. This step is essential for two main reasons. First, it helps explain the “how” in your narrative. Despite how mainstream marketing lambasts messaging that focuses on features, they play a critical role in your narrative because they explain the way in which your product delivers value to customers. The second reason this step is important is that it can help identify new areas of value creation or uncover gaps in the product, thus guiding the roadmap. 

Now that you have an exhaustive list of market problems and features, it’s time to connect the dots. The goal is to identify areas of overlap between the problems you’ve listed and the product capabilities. In Pragmatic Marketing, these mappings are called “Problem-Oriented Features” and serve as the pillars for your messaging.

A Real World Case Study: The Auth0 Identity Platform Private Cloud Deployment  

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to oversee the relaunch of the Auth0 Identity Platform on a newly architected private cloud environment. If you’re unfamiliar with Auth0, we enable organizations worldwide to provide secure and seamless login experiences for their customers. If you’ve accessed your Headspace account, signed into Atlassian, or managed your Ecobee profile, you’ve likely used our product.

One of the things that makes our solution unique is that it can be deployed on either a public cloud with shared resources (this is the deployment model most SaaS products use) or on a private cloud with dedicated infrastructure. While the buyers of our technology are relatively consistent regardless of the deployment model, their business outcomes will vary. To capture those nuances and support our relaunch, our team got together and performed a marketecture activity. The goal was to ensure across all channels—sales, marketing, and product—that we had a consistent and straightforward message communicating the differentiated value of our private cloud offering. 

Within a few hours, we identified three core pillars we would build our entire GTM story around: performance, compliance, and control. For your consideration, I’ve included a synthesized version of our marketecture below. Note: all of the information below is publicly available on our website.

Benefit #1: Greater performance you can count on 

Customer Problem: Identity is a tier-one service; if my customers can’t access my solution, I can’t monetize it. 
Market Context: Consumer expectations are through the roof as digital has become a primary channel to interact with businesses. 
Features: Higher requests per second, regional failovers, high availability, 99.99% SLA 

Benefit #2: Control your cloud environment, your way

Customer Problem: Apprehension of cloud migration is rooted in the fact that with an on-prem solution, we can maintain control over feature rollouts, patches, etc.
Market Context: Digital transformation is rampant, and costs are increasing—the cloud is seen as a differentiator when delivering value to customers.  
Features: Isolated pre-production environments, scheduled updates, emergency roll-back options, hardened releases. 

Benefit #3: Support industry and geographic compliance requirements 

Customer Problem: International expansion is an important growth area, and data locality must be considered to capture more market share. 
Market Context: Businesses must react to a battery of data privacy laws, and a breach can result in serious financial consequences. 
Features: Over 60 deployment regions worldwide, choice of the cloud provider, private links, PCI and HIPPA compliant. 

While the private cloud marketecture enabled me to craft clear and comprehensive messaging, it accomplished so much more from a strategic perspective. Clarity between the PM and PMM functions was achieved because we all knew what value we had to highlight to the market. As a result, we had alignment when activating other GTM functions, which inevitably allowed us to achieve greater scale with our narrative. 

Marketecture is the foundation of your marketing. Since it’s the basis upon which messaging is created, it’s a key activity that can either make or break sales and marketing campaigns. Beyond its tactical benefits, marketecture promotes clarity between the PM and PMM teams, fosters internal alignment with other GTM team members, and enables scale. Take the time to build a strong foundation. Your product, company, and career will be better off if you do. 

Key Takeaway: Marketecture is the foundational, tactical activity PMMs can use to craft clear, concise, and resonant messaging. it serves as the foundation for sales, marketing, and other gtm functions; take the time to invest in it.

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