storytelling as a product manager

How to master storytelling as a product manager?

Storytelling is a powerful skill used to create a shared vision with your audience and cultivate empathy with your target users. 

Stories can be more effective than numbers and data points and can increase your reach. In fact, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. That’s why successful leaders across industries tap into the power of storytelling to influence their teams and customers. 

Steve Jobs was known to tell stories during Apple’s product launches, a classic three-part story structure to set up the problematic status quo, describe the challenges involved in changing it, and finally reveal Apple’s solution. However, Steve wasn’t the only one who would use stories to move their audiences. 

Over the decades, producers, politicians, business leaders, and product managers have used different storytelling techniques to rally their audiences and inspire action. 

Organizations with globally renowned brands have used the art of storytelling to inspire customers to imagine a better future with their products. Whether it’s De Beers’ “A diamond is forever,” Uber’s “Move the way you want,” or Dunkin Donuts’ “America runs on Dunkin,” these slogans have acted as compelling opening lines of each company’s broader brand story.

This blog will help you understand the basics of storytelling, how to craft a compelling product story, and how Kellton helps businesses succeed in the increasingly unpredictable digital landscape.

What is storytelling?  

According to HubSpot, “Storytelling is an art that uses words to create new worlds and experiences in a reader or listener's imagination. Storytelling can impact human emotions. It can also lead people to accept original ideas or encourage them to take action.” However, it is important for product managers to tell these stories in ways their audience can understand and relate to them. 

storytelling

Storytelling in product management

Product management is not just about launching great products. The discipline has more to do with understanding the product’s users and keeping the cross-disciplinary teams and stakeholders inspired to do their best work. That’s precisely where stories come into the picture. 

According to Productboard, “Telling great stories about a product creates evangelists: people who believe in your idea or product and promote its value to others.” Effective storytelling transforms teams of mercenaries into teams of missionaries.

However, crafting compelling product stories takes time and effort. To help you get started, here are some points that you must keep in mind before writing and delivering your product story. 

  • Focus on the persona: The Google team defines personas as “fictional profiles representing groups of similar people in a target audience. They can help you figure out how to reach people more personally while delivering the right messages, offers, and products at the right time.” As product managers, you must invest in building these personas so you craft stories that resonate with them and inspire them to take action. 
     
  • Listen to their problems, frustrations, and goals: Unless you know your audience from the inside out, your stories won’t have the desired impact on your listeners. Therefore, investing time and effort in understanding users’ pain points, goals, and feelings and how they feel when they engage with your product is critical to understand to tell stories that reflect reality. This can be achieved in many ways, such as through user interviews or focus groups.
     
  • Organize problems into themes: Develop different themes or categories and organize the identified problems into these. Themes reflect the ongoing struggle and desired result that users are experiencing. Referencing these themes ensures that when stories are presented, they are actually relevant and inspirational to your users and support business goals as well. 
     
  • Map your feature ideas to these themes: The next step is to map solutions and feature ideas to the themes so that you have a roadmap filled with informed priorities and objectives that resonate with the target audience. Since the product or features have been planned with themes in mind, there is a consistent story, and the proper prioritization becomes clear.
     
  • Choose the story medium and craft your messaging: Marketing, sales, and product teams should all be telling a consistent story, letting users know the problem that will be solved with the product. To choose the medium to communicate and persuade your audience, it is vital to consider factors such as your budget, audience needs, and the kind of story you are trying to tell your potential customers. Once you select the story’s medium, the next step is to craft the messaging accordingly so it can resonate with your audience at a deeper level. If all teams are rallied behind the product story and its impact, it will be reflected in the end.
     
  • Include a CTA: Your messaging in the product story needs an appropriate call-to-action (CTA) to tell your audience what they need to do in response to your story. For example, a CTA might be a delivery goal or something that impacts your OKRs for the quarter. However, the CTA must adhere to the tone and content of your messaging and brand personality, internally or externally. 

Conclusion

Great stories make your product memorable. Your product stories should be informed by user feedback and presented compellingly. You always want to ensure the story you tell about your product includes a unique value proposition, helping the target users choose you and your business over the competition.

At Kellton, we support our clients as technology partners, helping them craft their product stories from the early stages. We can help you define your product's “why,” “how,” and “what,”’ and develop personas to represent them in our Product Discovery Workshops.

We work with many startup founders in the early stages of their businesses to develop their first MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Then, over time, we partner with them to create a roadmap informed by user behavior and feedback so that we can develop a story. This is critical once the startup grows into a small or medium-sized business and is refining its go-to-market point of view. 

There are many approaches to collecting user feedback for an MVP, and we have developed a methodology to help with this. Our approach is to focus on the story we want to tell and rally teams around the north star metric.
As more stakeholders come into the mix and more investors learn about the product, storytelling is what aligns everyone towards a common goal and keeps the user at the center. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get started.