Language Rocks: How Finding the Right Verbiage Can Spark Marketing Evolution

Language/marketing fit is often an afterthought, but coupling messaging and product development can have a mammoth impact on company success.
Written by Kelly Ballhorn
May 11, 2022Updated: May 11, 2022

In a recent study, Stanford Biologist Oren Kolodny asserted that early Homo sapiens developed language as a means of sharing tool-making techniques among their communities. As tools became more complex, graceful and precise, so, too, did the human language needed to describe them.  

In the era of startups and digital tools, we have far surpassed the Stone Age dreams of our forefathers, but the need for refined language is more important than ever. As both digital and physical products become more nuanced, personalized and adaptive, messaging tactics must evolve to match.

Developing messaging alongside the technology — as our progenitors coupled language and tool-creation — ensures that marketing strategy is embedded in the coda of the asset in question. 

As Bogar Alonso, Head of E-Commerce, Outbound at Wix, framed it: “When language/market fit is well-established, product/market fit naturally follows.”

Precise marketing language tailored to a target customer can also help stakeholders anticipate flaws and strengthen the product during its gestation — long before it hits the proverbial shelves. As reported by Forbes, ineffective marketing is among the top ten reasons startups fail, followed closely by a disconnect with the customer. So how can marketers create a language/market fit that stands the test of time?

“There’s so much information out there that touches upon APIs, storefront UI layers and backend systems,” Alonso said. “But those are just new technical modes to deliver on the age-old promise of exceptional customer service. Technology isn’t the thing. Customer experience is the thing.”

Evolution is another key component of effective language/market fit. Customers grow. It is up to marketers to demonstrate why their product should remain a part of the customer’s life  — and even contribute to their transformation. 

“Changing and adapting messaging can sometimes feel like a failure to a team, but, truthfully, it’s how you become more successful,” offered Heather Laferrier, Manager of Product Marketing at PointsBet. “The goal is to become the customer’s go-to solution — and showcase that through messaging.”

From flint and stone to AI and e-commerce, language has the power to shape the way we develop products and market them to customers. Built In NYC sat down with tech leaders from Wix and PointsBet to learn more about how to carve out a language/market fit for the ages.  

 

Wix coworkers having a team huddle looking at laptops
Wix

 

Bogar Alonso
Head of Wix eCommerce Outbound

 

Wix is an enterprise web company that empowers businesses and individuals to build a polished online presence. 

 

What does “Language/Market Fit” mean to your team, and how do you identify the right type of language to appeal to potential customers?

Wix users are always our top priority — we see language/market fit as an extension of our commitment to them. It isn’t about delivering more sales and conversions, it’s about delivering value.

We often discover ways to improve our products, processes and the messaging and positioning that eventually make their way into our outward-facing marketing.

Product/market fit comes second to language/market fit in our books. A well-established language market/fit leads to a natural product/ market fit. 

 

What are the biggest challenges associated with finding language/market fit?

The biggest challenge is often marketing organizations themselves. This is a symptom of larger organizational pressures, but a lot of marketers spend more time listening to their sales counterparts or c-suite about what constitutes a great language/market fit than the market itself. 

Sure, a startup founder, a CRO or an AE will bring valuable insight to the messaging table, but should their input supersede that of your best customers?

When your best customers talk about you, what’s the likelihood that they sound like your outreach email subject lines or the H1s on your product pages? If the answer is likely, then great job. You’ve probably already spent an unhealthy amount of time getting to know your customers, their challenges and their aspirations.

At Wix, we’re constantly thinking of ways to challenge and defy our own conventions — and do it at the service of our current and future customers at every step.

Vendors or companies will work out how to talk about the product they’re selling while actively marketing it — which is too late in the process.

 

Why is it so important to get language/market fit right early in the product development process? 

People buy products, not product manuals. Yet, in today’s tech marketing world, you often find yourself having to TechCrunch a company before you truly understand what it is that they do.

Take the headless e-commerce space. Headless e-commerce is essentially a new way of building digital commerce, but half of the marketing out there concerning headless exists to explain away the confusion caused by the other half of the marketing concerning headless. 

Amazon, a pioneer in the headless space, gets that. Many headless e-commerce platform vendors don’t. In many ways, this process mirrors what happens regularly when language/market fit happens later in the product development process. Vendors or companies will work out how to talk about the product they’re selling while actively marketing it — which is too late in the process. 

 

 

PointsBet team members hanging out together at a park
PointsBet

 

Heather Laferriere
Manager, Product Marketing

 

PointsBet is an online sports betting company that is disrupting the legacy betting industry.

 

What does “Language/Market Fit” mean to your team, and how do you identify the right type of language to appeal to potential customers?

Language/market fit is one of the most important — and undervalued —  pillars for a product marketing team. It allows us to connect with new and potential customers on a more psychological level and cater to their needs as a consumer.  

At PointsBet, we thoroughly analyze the wants of each type of customer and tailor our marketing language based on those wants. Our goal is to become the customer’s solution for anything they need from a sports betting platform — and to showcase that through our messaging.  

If we can communicate to new customers that our business is the solution they’ve been looking for, then we can use that to develop a stronger bond with that customer than our competitors.

Language/market fit allows us to connect with new and potential customers on a more psychological level and cater to their needs as a consumer.

 

What are the biggest challenges associated with finding language/market fit?

In reality, there often isn’t a one-size-fits all marketing language that will appeal to every single customer. To best optimize our language/market fit, we constantly test out various messages to determine what is successful and most fitting for our customers.  

In a rapidly growing industry like sports betting, our typical customer’s needs continue to change along with their knowledge of our industry and product.  

 

Why is it so important to get language/market fit right early in the product development process? 

Our language/market fit plays directly into our overall brand strategy from the beginning.  Acquiring customers and developing lifetime loyalty relates back to the early work around our language and messaging.  

Without a strong fit during product development, the brand will struggle to form a consistent and memorable message. Establishing this messaging early on gives the entire team direction during product development and streamlines business goal prioritization.

 

 

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