Storytelling is all the rage right now, and with good reason. This old age form of communication creates trust, empathy and connection; helping create cut through in today’s busy world. It worked for cavemen, and it still works today. 

Here at DiUS, we recently tuned into the Product-Led Summit to hear the latest in industry thinking, from across the world, on scaling through product-led growth and customer acquisition, conversation and retention strategies.    

I watched a fantastic talk on how SurveyMonkey used feedback to inform more effective, data driven messages in their product marketing. I was struck by how relevant this talk was to me as a marketer, as well as what drives the success of DiUS’ client projects. 

Product management requires presenting a coherent vision to create team cohesion and success, helping maintain a consistent focus on the ‘why’ and most importantly, the customer. This is a story. And being data-driven is a fundamental part of DiUS’ customer-centric design, development and delivery approach. Measuring and monitoring customer needs and behaviours are important and should inform the initial product design, as well as ongoing development and improvements. 

So, how do you tell a story that resonates with your customers? You must have effective, data driven messaging. But what does that actually mean? 

Kicking off her talk, Sarah Din, Director of Product Marketing at SurveyMonkey explained that an effective message needs to be relevant, authentic and credible. 

She explained the three attributes of an effective message, being: 

  • Relevant - it needs to be relevant to your audience, their needs and to the time, place and channel it’s delivered in.
  • Authentic - it must be human, free of  jargon and buzzwords and simplified enough for anyone to understand, with emotional appeal.
  • Credible - it’s important to be accurate, factual and have evidence to support your message. 

Sarah also spoke about the importance of customer feedback, the value of data and how to develop a multi-layer messaging framework. She shared a case study about how her team repositioned their business and complex product portfolio following this seven step process. 

So simple, but makes sense! This seven step process is one I have followed in the past as a product marketer - and it works. 

1. Create your messaging framework: Your framework is about prioritising what messaging layers you want to focus on. This will depend on the type of products you sell, the segments you are targeting and other variables. For SurveyMonkey, they chose to prioritise their corporate messaging, followed by use case, personas and product. 

2. Do your research: Look at what you already have. Consider conducting an audit of your existing content (website, emails, brochures etc..). The idea here is to take the best of what you have, so you’re not starting from scratch. Next, take a look at your competitors - how do they position their products, who do they speak to, what are their positioning statements. Lastly, you want to gather feedback from not only your internal stakeholders, but also your existing customers.

3. Draft key messages: Now you can start drafting your unique value proposition (Sarah highlights that this it’s the heart of your messaging) - it should talk to your audience, their challenges/needs, your solution and what makes your business/products unique. Start building out your competitive positioning, customer personas, your company or product elevator pitch and proof points to support your claims.

4. Test and refine: Testing your messaging is critical to find out what resonates with your customers. It also gives you the information needed to make key decisions and get buy in from key stakeholders within the business. Sarah recommends developing a test plan and working out what channels you want to test in ie your website, email, social, in product or sales outreach. 

5. Gather proof points:  You can say your product is the best in the world, but no one will believe it without proof points. Leverage company stats (usage, number of customers etc), survey current customers and get customer testimonials and stories to help illustrate your claims.

6. Rollout: It’s important to not only rollout your messaging externally to your customers and the market, but also internally - this will be key to your success. Ensure there is a single source of truth for your team to refer back on. Externally, consider prioritising your changes overtime, to not confuse or overwhelm your customers. 

7. Measure the impact: Make sure you find some way to measure your success. SurveyMonkey measured their success through sales confidence, brand perspective and campaign performance. Look back at your initial goals and measure against those. You can also use your new campaigns and test their performance against old or existing campaigns. 

Ending her talk with some pro tips, Sarah suggests…

  • At the very beginning, define your key team and key stakeholders
  • Ensure you establish timelines, milestones and deliverables with cross functional teams
  • Create an internal comms plan for consistent communication, this will be key to your success
  • Get buy-in from key stakeholders at every milestone
  • And finally, use data to drive consensus

Storytelling is an art. And through effective, data driven messages, you’ll be able to tell a story that resonates with your customers. Ultimately, helping you to deliver more effective product marketing. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach and learn more about other product marketing strategies that have worked for you. You can catch me on LinkedIn or feel free to reach out via email, enash@dius.com.au.