One of the more unusual things about my marketing career is that I’ve never had much help along the way. I’ve always worked at small startups as the first or only marketing hire. So from the beginning, I wore all the hats: content marketer, copywriter, product marketer, growth, SEO.
As I moved my way up from writing blogs to developing copy for new products, I realized that I was always bringing up the same question to the teams I worked with: “Who is this product for?” I needed this information to develop the messaging for the website, to decide what angles we cover in our editorial calendar, how we write our sales deck. As we copywriters know, the most effective messaging speaks to one person.
More often than not, they wouldn’t have an answer. Or they would have several, which still wasn’t helpful. But that would put me in a tough spot. You can’t run effective marketing campaigns when your customer is “everyone.” And yet, I didn’t feel like I had the experience or authority to push back on that. It felt like positioning was something for the CEO to do. Right?
For years, I knew in the back of my mind that we were all missing something in the process of putting a new product out into the world. But I didn’t know what it was, let alone convince people to do it. That’s why I’m such a fan of April Dunford’s book Obviously Awesome, a book which I recommend you keep on or near your desk as long as your job requires you to market, manage or sell a product.
This book is 20 years worth of experience from someone who has nailed positioning over and over again, and has it down to a science. I wish I had it in my hand when I first started my career. Here’s why I think every product marketer needs to read this book.
It gives you the low down no one else will
One of the most important things you learn in Obviously Awesome, is that positioning isn’t just another task on your company’s to-do list. Half the battle with positioning is getting people onboard with it. What I found REALLY valuable about this book is that April shares her experiences and challenges working across all kinds of clients, many of whom are hostile towards the idea of positioning. She helps you understand the on-the-ground drama you have to navigate to successfully positioning a product.
To that end, April prepares you for what’s ahead: a challenging emotional and political process that will make people uncomfortable. As a consultant, April has dealt with a whole spectrum of clients, and she knows how to get you through it. Whether you’re in-house or a consultant, it helps to know that pulling stakeholders together is not supposed to be easy.
It helps copywriters & product marketers to upskill
I feel like no one understands the power of good positioning more than product marketers and copywriters. After all, we’re the ones who have to take all the ideas and requirements everyone throws at you, and turn it into a cohesive product narrative. The problem is, company leaders often don’t position products because a.) they are too scared to do it and b.) they don’t know how.
If you’re a copywriter or product marketer who is up for the challenge, this book gives you the tools (and the guts) to take over and do it. I can’t emphasize how much of a superpower it is to know how to lead a group of stakeholders through the positioning process. It’s a rare skill and it will make you invaluable to any team you join in the future.
Marketing has increasingly become a function that focuses on incremental wins and optimization. Most people in marketing today are trained to think this way: “How can we increase our conversion rate by 2%?” or “How do we bring down our CAC?” While that helps you win in the short-term, trust me when I say that you’re much better off with April’s voice in your head asking: “What if we could cut our marketing spend by half just by making it easier for people to understand what our product does?”
The sooner you read Obviously Awesome, the sooner you’ll start thinking like a leader rather than a marketing monkey. It will help you at every step of the way in your marketing career. Hell, I’m not even actively consulting anymore and it’s still right here next to me.
You will not regret getting yourself a copy of Obviously Awesome. Do it today!