Create and tell your product’s story

1. Learn and define why your audience wants to buy your product over others in the marketplace.

Draw on your existing audience and product research for insights. If no current research exists, consider these possibilities to learn about your product’s preferences: Perceptual mapping that uses survey data about your audience’s competitive preferences. User interviews to learn about audience preferences and behaviors related to your product. Focus groups that seek to draw out audience preferences, interests, and thoughts related to your product. After this step, you should have a broad understanding of why your audience chooses your product as a solution to their pain points, rather than marketplace alternatives.

2. Identify the emotional connection points for your audience before, while, and after they use your product.

This clarifies and more deeply examines your broad audience understanding. Using the same tactics outlined above, define the audience’s emotions when they need, use, and after they’ve used your product. For example, your product might be a new type of email marketing software designed for non-marketers. Prospects and customers might feel: Frustrated with existing email marketing tools because they require too much knowledge and marketing expertise. Cautious about using your alternative solution because so many other marketing tools already exist. More confident about their email marketing abilities once they’ve used your software successfully.

3. Define the Big Idea of your product story as a single, short paragraph.

The Big Idea is the hook to your product story. It becomes the synopsis and thesis of your story anytime you tell it, regardless of channel or medium. Draw on your audience’s emotions before, during, and after using your product. For example, Snickers’ big idea behind its You’re Not You When You’re Hungry campaign is to showcase that when people get hungry, they don’t act like themselves, and their role in the group is threatened. Snickers can restore their role in the pack and get them back to feeling normal.

4. Create an emotional conflict-resolution narrative of your product based on the Big Idea you’ve defined.

This longer-form version of the Big Idea builds a more traditional narrative arc that can be used in long-form builds of the product story. In 3-5 paragraphs, outline the conflict users face when looking for your product, and how the Big Idea allows them to feel the positive emotions you have found to be true through customer research.

5. Support your product story through social proof from existing customers.

You can use social proof to create standalone content pieces, like case studies, or to support existing content, like testimonials integrated into blog posts and long-form content. Draw directly on your customer research, or gather unique content that matches your Big Idea and narrative arc. Consider creating a social proof bank in which you list relevant testimonials and customer success stories from which to draw each time you create content for your product.

6.  Identify the core channels through which you will tell your product’s story.

This should match the channel strategy in your marketing plan outline. From your active channels, identify those most conducive to telling your brand story. For example, YouTube and Instagram are visual media that brands successfully use for storytelling. Twitter and LinkedIn are less often used to tell brand and product stories because of their more limited content options and audience.

7. Build channel-optimized versions of your product story narrative for each channel to maximize consistency in your storytelling.

While best content practices for each channel are unique, all should be consistent in highlighting your product story’s Big Idea and narrative arc. For example: Your website is ideal for in-depth narratives, success stories, and origin stories about your product. On YouTube, you can connect to your audience emotionally through high-impact, visual storytelling. On Instagram, individual images can tell short snippets of your story, while Instagram Stories can be more in-depth, authentic additions to your larger strategy.

8. Measure the effectiveness of your product story through surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews.

Use the same channels and tactics used during initial customer research to determine if and how your product story resonates with your audience. Update your research at least twice a year to get a current customer view. Take a combination of approaches to measure your brand story success: Indirect research in which you ask your audience the same questions you did during the initial research, to see whether attitudes and emotions towards your product are shifting. Direct research in which you ask your audience whether and where they’ve seen your product story, and how they would evaluate it. Either approach is incomplete without the other. Only focusing on indirect research risks not accounting for non-story variables that might impact attitude and emotions, while only focusing on direct research may lead to biased answers where customers try to give you responses you’re looking for. A combination of both provides a more comprehensive picture of your product story’s effectiveness.

9. Adjust your product story based on your evaluation of customer attitudes and preferences.

Depending on your research, you may need to adjust your Big Idea, narrative arc, channel-optimized stories, or all of the above. If your research shows that your story has made the desired customer impact, begin to develop additional channel-specific tactics to continue and expand your campaign and avoid going stale.