154: Storytelling Deconstructed

154: Storytelling Deconstructed

Deconstructed storytelling can be your secret weapon

I talk about “telling a story” and “using stories” all the time on this podcast.

But I don’t mean sitting everyone around a campfire with a mug of hot chocolate and someone starting out “Once upon a time…”

“Storytelling” often doesn’t mean literally “telling a story” in the context of product management. It means using components of a story in specific ways to achieve certain results. To get there, you need to be able to deconstruct your story (or your customer’s story), and then remix.

In this episode, three examples of how using a component of a story can make a business presentation or a marketing campaign more persuasive, engaging, and effective.

Apple iPod billboard example

A whole story in one image. (And I didn’t mention in the episode, but they did it again – telling a story in an image – with their “Shot on iPhone” series of billboards.)

image of an iPod billboard



Three things you can start doing today to put these ideas into practice

  1. If you are thinking about or presenting about a technical feature, figure out how to personalize the impact of that feature. Or its lack. And then find a picture to illustrate that. The next time you present about that feature, use the picture and tell the personalized story. You can also put the picture in a PRD or a feature spec.
  2. Remember that any problem has a personal impact, even a “business problem.” Someone will lose if that problem continues and isn’t solved. Conversely, someone will win if the problem is solved. And by win, I mean something important – like not getting fired! Or getting a promotion. When you’re doing discovery on one of these problems, make sure to ask questions that get at the personal impact. It could be as simple as asking, “How do you feel about that?” in the context of the problem. Or you could ask, “Is your job at risk if this problem keeps happening?” or “What happens to you and your colleagues if this problem isn’t fixed?”
  3. Start paying attention to great marketing around you, and see if you can find the stories. Find the way the problem and/or the transformation is encoded and personalized in the marketing. They might be one picture. It might be a great headline. Or a combination.

What do you think?

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