What is a Product Story?
May 21, 2022 Edwin Kooistra
Every day we come across many products that promise to serve one or the other of our needs to complete satisfaction. We are bombarded with marketing campaigns that revolve around the product’s specifications and why it is better than its competitors.
But what marketers have realized over the years is that going into the technicalities of the product does not necessarily bring on board a new customer or a potential lead. After all, your potential customers are humans, and they need a certain appeal to their psyche and pain points to be onboarded.
This is where product storytelling comes in. Developers of the product and even marketing teams of the organizations indulge in product storytelling that involves a few main pillars. This starts with how and why the product was conceived and what was the whole journey of making the product.
Not only that, but they also add in the differences and impact the product has made on the lives of its target segments. All of this is communicated to the potential customer in the form of a story of basically the birth of the product, the difficulties faced by the company in bringing it to life, and how positively it can be incorporated into their lives. This is known as product storytelling.
What Is a Product Story?
To put it simply, a product story in its true essence is the product’s story. It revolves around the actual motivation or point where the idea for the product was conceived. Then it goes on to how this idea was put into development and what different hurdles and difficulties were faced by the product managers in giving the product a tangible form.
The product story also includes how the product is adding to the lives of its target segment and what is its true value proposition. Given that it is the product’s life story, product managers are usually the individuals who are best suited to deliver the product story.
The product narrative serves as a vehicle for conveying the product message throughout the business, from top management, which must be convinced to open the door to a market or feature concept through the individuals and teams engaged in bringing that product or feature to market.
However, the narrative does not end there. It also explains to clients why they require these goods in their lives.
How to Craft a Perfect Product Story?
A strong product story tells the why of your good or service product or how you intend to bring the product to market. A product story defines what a company expects to achieve with its development and how it plans to achieve it. Furthermore, it provides answers to critical issues such as whom the product will benefit (target customer) and how it will help them.
Before we move on to the HOW and WHY of best product stories, let us look at the steps you can undertake as a product manager or business owner to craft the most appropriate and attention-grabbing product story for your product or service.
Step 1: The Reason
The first and foremost step is to be clear about the reason behind pursuing the product or service development. You need to have a direct vision for the product and how it will serve or benefit your target segment. You also need to have specific objectives and goals in mind.
Step 2: Make it Simpler.
Keeping your product story basic to engage people and persuade them to adopt the product is critical. A committed product manager is naturally interested in all aspects of the development, but not everything should be included in the product story. So don’t get hindered down in superfluous details that detract from your main point.
Step 3: Remember That the Star Is the Customer
The user is the protagonist of your product’s tale. As a result, establishing a thorough grasp of the user’s problem and experience aids in centering the narrative where it needs to be. Always remember to ensure that your product story revolves around your customer.
Step 4: Make It Relevant
Remember that we as humans connect with stories that appeal to our psyche or are relatable to us in one way or another. Therefore, add the human element to your product story and narrate it so that your target customer can relate to it.
Step 5: Study Your Audience
To be successful in your product storytelling, you must tailor the tale to each team or group member (HR, engineering, finance, execs, supply chain, etc.). Focus on the objective, conflict/issue, action, and how the solution solves the problem, all while incorporating an emotional hook tailored to a specific target.
If you want people to click, read, and retain what you say, you must first grasp their distinct points of view and then construct the story around them.
Step 6: Involve Your Audience
As part of being an audience or a target customer, we all enjoy stories that we can relate to and somehow keep us interested as well as target our fears and aspirations. Therefore, when crafting a product story, focus on the emotional and psychological parts of the process, which can appeal to the customer and keep them interested.
This can be done by the inclusion of compelling details that arouse the customer’s interest and cater to their pain points.
Start With WHY
When you are developing a product story for your product, you must ensure that you focus on your ‘why’. By ‘why’ we mean the actual reason that has motivated you to pursue the development of the product and even visualize it in the first place.
For the product story to be compelling and perfect, your ‘WHY’ should focus on the good of your customer segment and the overall society.
One of the world’s most well-known authors and a true optimist, Simon Sinek, always talk about how everything has a WHY behind it. Simon focuses on how your ‘WHY’ should always look at the bigger picture, build society and help those around you to grow and become the best versions of themselves.
It focuses on helping those around you and getting inspired by leaders and then inspiring others.
This is exactly how you should approach your product storytelling. Keeping in view what Simon has been practicing and delivering all over the world, your storytelling of why your product came into being and what motivated you to pursue it should be focused on. It should be driven by the needs of the customers and the good of the larger society.
Yes, we do understand that company expansion or increasing revenues is usually one of the main reasons why organizations go into new product development. But from the customer’s perspective as we all know the WHY is driven by a mutually beneficial relationship that helps cater to the customer’s pain points.
This is exactly what should be the core value behind your product story, caring for the customer and the community.
The ‘How’ of Product Stories
The how of product stories refers to the technicalities of the product story process. Here, you will include your buyer personas and profiles that you have created of your customer. There is also talk about strategic decisions, especially product and business strategies.
Product stories rely heavily on their how. This includes the different frameworks you would have deployed to develop the product. It would also talk about the other market research initiatives you would have taken along with market segmentation, such as analysis of market data and how you would have invested in bringing the product through to the customer.
5 Best Tips for Product Storytelling
Now that we have developed an understanding of the product story and why it is essential, alongside how we can craft the perfect product story, we should look at the best tips available in the industry. These are top-rated and suggested by industry experts for product storytelling.
1. Make Your Customer Care
If your audience does not identify with the hero of your tale (your customer), they will rapidly lose interest in the subject. Because of this, exceptional storytellers disclose the emotions that motivate their main character’s actions, such as worries, aspirations, and unmet ambitions.
When developing your story, consider your customer’s pain areas: What fears keep them awake at night? What voids must be filled for them to achieve their business objectives?
2. Talk About What’s on The Line
High stakes are usually included in impactful stories for the hero. Stakes advance a narrative and keep your customers interested. Determine your customer’s stakes by asking, what happens if you don’t introduce a particular product feature? What is your consumer likely to lose? What may your consumer expect to gain? Incorporate these circumstances into your tale.
3. Make It Believable
Risk factors are essential in every excellent plot. However, it is critical to creating credibility with your audience by developing a compelling story. Don’t sensationalize risks to increase the drama of a tale.
Tell your stakeholders all they need to know about the user: What does the consumer want? What does the user require that isn’t provided?
Then, demonstrate how you intend to address the user’s problem: Outline your vision, creative concepts, and designs. Finally, explain to your viewer why they should be concerned about your user’s specific dilemma – what is the “so what?” of your story? With this framework, you’ll be able to develop your tale utilizing all the data and research you’ve done.
4. Edit It
Know what makes your product stand out in a saturated market while telling a compelling tale. What makes your product unique?
As a product manager, you must constantly question the existing quo on how things are generated in your sector. Exploring important differentiators may necessitate some changes. Make changes to your narrative.
Then modify it once more. Again and again. Multiple revisions will assist you in creating a compelling product journey that connects with your audience and helps you reach your objectives.
5. Start with Your End Goals
Before writing your story, make a list of the most critical metrics or objectives for your presentation or piece. Build your tale around these vital ideas and goals.
From a product viewpoint, the ending of your tale should finally come back to some critical measure or target that your team has. Begin your adventure with these primary objectives in mind, and all you say in your demonstration or product story should connect to this purpose.
If you discover that your story does not connect to your KPIs, this is a red flag that your marketing plan may not be feasible, and it may be time to rethink your product plan. Crafting your critical metrics in mind can help you create the best story for your product, consumers, and organization.
Product Story Example
Let us now look at some product story examples that will help us visualize this concept in its accurate visualization and how it works in the practical corporate world.
ZenDesk is a customer solutions company that is known throughout the world. It was founded in Denmark and is a player in the SaaS industry. It explained its product story by creating a fictional band by the same name and exploring how the band was upset that its name was copied. They also added a touch of humor to it, which made it very receptive to the audience.
They successfully highlighted that they stepped into this sphere of providing different software as a service because of their internal motivation as friends, as they were also the co-founders.
They also talked about how they were able to do it, and the primary framework behind it was that they all funded their ventures by themselves to support their families.
It is an American company that manufactures action-based video cams with their specialized editing software. It is known to help people capture the most exhilarating moments of their lives, which is precisely the motivation behind why the project was developed in the first place.
GoPro enables people to capture and share their most memorable life moments with others to enjoy them together. As the CEO says, sharing our collective experiences enriches our lives in the same way that a day on the mountain with friends is more significant than one spent alone.
We design and manufacture the world’s most versatile cameras. We make it possible for you to share your life through stunning images and movies.
In their product video, they also highlight how through dozens of experiments, market research tactics, and reworks, they were able to develop the first GoPro product that they could take to market.
Whenever a company or business comes out with a product, there is always some motivation behind it. Of course, the industry highlights that it is there to serve a specific need of its target segment; but we know that a particular objective is also there in terms of business growth.
It is critically important that both elements are incorporated rather subtly in your product story, if not that obvious. Because at one end, you will be appealing to your target customers in how you will solve their issues, but on the other end, successful product storytelling also revolves around satisfying and appealing to the internal stakeholders.
Therefore, when developing your product story, always incorporate the most exhilarating bits and all the challenges you faced and how you overcame them while focusing on the why and the how.