Positioning & Messaging Guide Template

Everyone has their own flavor for a framework for positioning and messaging. Here’s mine that I like to use to keep it simple:

  • One-liner / positioning statement (When someone asks you, “What is [product name]?”, say these exact words and memorize them)
    • E.g. Twilio Flex: The world’s most flexible contact center platform
    • Optional: break down why you chose each word or phrase
  • 2-3 sentence description
  • Differentiators / unique capabilities, benefits (you can also think of this as similar to jobs to be done)
  • When someone asks you, “How is [product name] different from others?”, say these 2-3 sentences (draft it for a few competitors)
  • “Press release” boilerplate
  • Tagline
  • If the company has just one product, then it can also be helpful to include in the doc:
    • Vision
    • Mission

Determine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) with ICP Rings

Determining your ideal customer profile can be challenging. To make it easier, I’ve developed a new framework for defining ICPs & your GTM focus called the “ICP Rings”.

Most companies COULD serve many types of customers, but there’s a smaller subset of them that is your SWEET SPOT.

Using concentric circles, you can align everyone on the different levels & definitions of your ICP.

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) framework
ICP Rings Framework Example

Copy & edit a Google Slides version of the slide here.

Each ring is a tighter, better fit ICP for your company. Add the characteristics that are most important for each level. I gave examples of them in the image.

Size your market so that you know the potential TAM of each ICP ring.

Then as a leadership team decide what level you want your GTM motions to focus on.

Why is this valuable?

  • It bridges the gap between everyone you could serve and who you should really focus on acquiring. 
  • By getting explicit alignment on which ring(s) you want to go after, you’ll reduce friction and misalignment between departments and teams.

Think you could use this in your org?

Marketing Strategy

My Marketing Thesis (at Zingtree, a software startup)

My Marketing thesis for Zingtree in a nutshell boils down to this:

3 things will drive pipeline and revenue growth for us:

  1. Create & refine a compelling, differentiated story – carve out our unique PoV
  2. Grow our awareness – If we grow the awareness of our PoV, we’ll grow pipeline
  3. Convert interested & in-market ICPs – move them through the funnel quickly in a personalized way
Content Marketing

The Actual Content Creation Process We Use at a B2B SaaS Startup

Below is the actual content creation process we use in Marketing at Zingtree. Why do I share this?

Because most teams miss content deadlines frequently.

No planning & incorrect time estimations are common issues.

Copy our process flow below for creating content and backing into estimated due dates for content.

Think of each of these as sub-tasks for creating one piece of content. Also, put a due date and owner next to each sub-task.

Content Creation Process

  1. First draft created

  2. Review #1 by manager (and maybe others who have good domain expertise to give input)

  3. Incorporate feedback (if there is any)

  4. Potential: Review #2 by manager (and maybe others who have good domain expertise to give input)

  5. Incorporate feedback (if there is any) (add more cycles here if needed)

  6. Send to Design (if necessary) (note: ideally, design has already been aware and influenced the project)

  7. Content creator review design

  8. Design incorporate feedback (add more cycles here if needed)

  9. Post final files to Google Drive

  10. Publish (internally, externally on web, etc. depending on use case)

  11. Share with GTM team

Marketing Example Marketing Strategy

How I Reduced the Marketing Budget in my First 90 Days

I reduced the Marketing budget by 30% just 2 months after joining Zingtree without anyone asking me to do so.

Why? I try to think like a CEO. If this was my money, I wouldn’t spend it all yet, or I’d spend it differently.

How did I do this?

– Cutting budget from items that weren’t performing for Zingtree

– Delay investing heavily in new initiatives until we proved them out with a smaller budget (early positive signals, early revenue results)

– Reevaluating the agency, freelancer, and vendor list

I go into a bit more detail in this post about principles for cutting the Marketing budget.

To all the Marketing leaders, don’t invest too heavily before you can prove results (or early positive signals) of new initiatives.

To all the CFOs and CEOs out there, send this to your Marketing leader so they can get some inspiration 😉

Marketing Strategy

How to Cut Marketing Budgets

Great Marketing leaders proactively evaluate the Marketing budget. They look for ways to reduce it and where to invest further. Here are my top 4 ways to cut your Marketing budget ✂

4 Steps to Cut a Marketing Budget

  1. Talk with your team and colleagues.

    They probably have ideas to reduce costs that you’re not aware of. And they’ll probably be very willing to share with you about how things can be improved.

  2. Analyze data and results to see what’s working and what isn’t

    If programs have been given enough of a chance, and they’re still showing no positive signals, end them. Especially in today’s economic climate, you can’t afford to have non-performing programs wasting money.

  3. Find duplicate functionality and consolidate the tools to have a lower TCO

    Getting rid of vendors that have overlapping functionality is such an easy win for money savings. For instance, why pay for two email automation tools?

  4. See if the value provided by a tool is greater than the cost

    If you’re not getting value, then is it really worth the money? Probably not…

Think about the step you need to focus on most and start with that. Then knock out the others after.


TB12 Method Summary

Have you ever been training for some physical event and then you get injured? It throws off your whole plan and maybe even makes you miss your race or event. This happened to me enough that I started looking for other options. A friend told me how Tom Brady’s methodology, the TB12 Method, helped my friend recover from arthritis and get back to work and biking, so I decided to explore more.

You may know Tom Brady as the ultra-winning Patriots quarterback, but he has branched out and tried to share his methodology and his physical therapy company with the world. I read Tom Brady’s book, The TB12 Method; below is a summary and my review of it:

A simple summary of the TB12 Method

  • The majority of what Brady recommends is common sense and best practices. For instance, eating healthy including many fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting good sleep every night, taking a multivitamin, etc.
  • Some of the ideas are new innovations to traditional concepts. For instance, continuously hydrating with electrolyte-filled water, focusing on resistance band exercising instead of weightlifting for muscle-building activities, using brain training games daily, etc.
  • Some of the ideas are out there and less proven scientifically. For instance, avoiding nightshade foods, making up the term pliability, wearing bio-ceramic infused clothes to help your body recover faster, etc.

TB12’s overall main ideas are broken into “12 principles”.

The TB12 Method Summary

The 12 Principles of the TB12 Method

  1. Pliability is the missing leg of performance training – and the most underutilized and least understood
  2. Holistic and integrative training
  3. Balance and moderation in all things
  4. Conditioning for endurance and vitality
  5. No-load strength training
  6. Promote anti-inflammatory responses in the body
  7. Promote oxygen-rich blood flow
  8. Proper hydration
  9. Healthy nutrition
  10. Supplementation
  11. Brain exercises
  12. Brain rest, recentering, and recovery

Actions I’ve taken since reading the book

  • Bought and use a vibrating foam roller
  • Take vitamins daily
  • Occasionally do resistance bands workouts
  • Sometimes add electrolytes to my water
  • Better prioritize sleep
  • Eat much healthier with more fruits, vegetables, and non-packaged foods, and eat less meat

Tom Brady’s out-there / unconventional ideas & methodology

Wondering what some of his out-there ideas mean? Below is a brief explanation:

  • Pliability – Do things to create long soft pliable muscles. It seems very similar to stretching to me. But it’s more about making the muscles soft and able to take impacts better. But the idea is also a little wonky – he talks about “positive trauma” to your muscles which is a fancy way of saying to use a vibrating foam roller or do a rhythmic deep massage. I think Brady is trying to coin a term more than anything else.
  • Use resistance bands and do not do heavy weight lifting – Brady argues most athletes don’t need to be able to bench 300 pounds for their sport. By training to lift that much, you’re doing overkill and not focusing on the kinds of motions that are native to your sport. He also says heavy weight lifting makes the muscles tighter making it more likely to be injured when you take blows to the muscles. However, I don’t think only using resistance bands holds true for all athletes. For instance, linemen in football need to be able to explosively push very heavy people. That motion is similar to a bench press.
  • Nightshades – I’m uncertain why he says this… Brady doesn’t really give an explanation other than he thinks certain fruits and vegetables cause more inflammation than other fruits and vegetables.
  • Bio-ceramic clothing – This clothing is actually very interesting. I spoke with a Ph.D. student and friend who studies bioengineering. He reviewed multiple studies on this topic, and they seem to indicate that bio-ceramic clothing can potentially help improve performance, but it may also be a placebo effect. However, intentionally giving myself far infrared radiation close up to my body via clothing still makes me a little nervous – what if we may realize in the future this kind of radiation is harmful to you? My understanding is that more research needs to be done to determine if it’s safe or not.

Would I recommend this book?

I’d recommend reading the book and incorporating some of his recommendations. I don’t fully endorse everything in the book but at least pieces of it. Overall, I’d suggest giving it a read with an open mind and seeing what you think. Let’s all try living healthier!

Want to keep learning? Check out other valuable learning resources I bookmarked.

Answer Why

The Benefits of Writing

The Benefits of Writing

Time needed: 1 minute

Why spend the time writing? For me, there are four reasons why I do so:

  1. To process my thoughts

    Just as some people are verbal processors, I am sometimes a written processor. Getting thoughts on paper allows me to clarify them and distill my perspective. With writing, I can argue with myself. I can synthesize disparate ideas. I can consider the implications of different scenarios and decide which is best. In brief, writing gives my thinking superpowers.

  2. To remember things better

    I find it easy to forget things, but writing helps solidify them in my mind. What were the last four books you read and the plot lines or theses of them? It’s probably hard for us to remember in detail. If we write a summary about each of them, we’ll dramatically increase our chances of remembering. 
    In today’s society, we are bombarded with information. The key becomes how to actually retain it. In my experience, writing helps me to do this better.

  3. To teach others

    When you see that light bulb go off in their mind and their face lights up, I get excited. The same thing happens through writing, albeit virtually. To see people engage with a new idea, learn or improve a skill, or get a question answered is very satisfying. I also have this desire to pass along what I’ve learned; it’s sort of a way to pay it forward.

  4. I enjoy it

    The process of writing is enjoyable. All of the above reasons contribute to the enjoyment as well. Simply put, it’s a pleasurable activity for me.

  5. Bonus: Following

    Bonus one: If the writing is compelling enough, you may gain a following. Regardless of whether that happens or not, it’s still worth it for the above reasons.

What is something you spend time doing that isn’t commonly done by others?


When the Honeymoon Ends

What do you do when the honeymoon ends? You keep going, but hopefully with renewed perspective.

My wife, Aria, and I had a wonderful honeymoon after a small family wedding during the time of covid (June 2020). As the Heath Brothers point out, transitions and events are great times to start new habits that will stick better. As I reflected near the end of the honeymoon, I wrote a list of new goals and changes that I want to implement. 

  • Stretch for five minutes daily
  • Do yoga for 1.5 hours twice per week
  • Walk, bike, or stretch during all non-presenting work meetings
  • Write daily
  • Resume meditating daily
  • Edit and print two to three photographs that I’ve taken
  • Buy a big calendar and use it to track major upcoming events
  • Have people over for dinner at least every other week
  • Find something to become extremely passionate and knowledgeable about and become an expert
  • Be less stressed about work
  • Be more focused on big rock items at work
  • Take one day off every two months
  • Continue learning to code
  • Find a list of total solar eclipses and determine which one(s) I could try to see

Do you have any new goals? How do you track your progress? Let me know in the comments below.


8×8’s Virtual Reality and 360-Degree Video Content at Enterprise Connect

I decided I am going to create videos occasionally sharing updates or lessons I’ve learned that you may also find helpful. Today’s video is about 8×8’s presence at Enterprise Connect last week. We created 8×8 branded Google Cardboard Viewers, an app with VR content, and a 360 degree video. Check out the video and comment below to let me know what you think!

It was a cross-functional team effort to pull this off, so thank you to all of you who helped in a big or small way! Meghan Keough, Russ Chadinha, Joanna Cyprus, Iverson Chan, Lehel Kulcsar, Haim Tebeka, Bogdan Muresan, Matthew Mourlam, Marius Gherman, Dan Damian, Alin Luca, Mihai Radu Damian, Steven Miller, Keith Urauchi, Anna Kisin, Venkat Nagaswamy, Vi Tran, Vik Verma, Dejan Deklich, Jeff Romano, and Bryan Martin, David Chase, Tracy Pullman, Alyssa Sachs, Quynh Cline, Suman Bisht, Yvonne Donaldson, Tac Berry, Randy Ksar, Dylan Hawkins, Gene Daly, Ryann Dulisse, and others I may have missed.

Go here if you’d like to see the 360-degree video and the app.