How to evolve your products 🌱
Evolving you product through gradual changes
Learn how to use the art of storytelling to boost your business
In Episode 1 of Season 2, Bre Pettis goes through his journey building Bantam Tools and the world renowned Makerbot. Bantam Tools provide professional-grade desktop manufacturing tools like CNC machines, whereas Makerbot provides global-leading 3D printers and equipment - which you probably have heard of!
Bre explains his journey of starting as a school teacher, and slowly bringing makers together to just build things - anything! He explains how one of the moving drivers to Makerbot’s success was through telling stories - real stories of people who want to build things, and inspire others to build as well. Not only did this help direct Makerbot’s future in pioneering 3D printing, but also brought a strong community that fostered its growth.
Imagine you’re a realtor, selling a 16th Century castle (wow!). When you’re bringing people on a tour, will you just tell them it has 17 rooms and 18 bathrooms, with a kitchen and a study room, and allow them to just roam freely? You could. But instead, what if you tried telling them a story on how Marie, the original owner of the castle, was a detailed Nordic individual who demanded special, dainty details - which directed the castle’s extraordinary structures and designs.
Not only did the storytelling give more information about the castle, its history and features, but also captivated the users with a story they can hold on to, to remember the castle by.
Telling stories as an entrepreneur isn’t much different. Instead of telling stories about houses, you tell stories about your product.
Customers/users are all human with emotions that storytelling can cultivate. They’re not moved by the facts or data you give them about your product, they are moved by the real people behind it (you and your team!), and the journey of building it. Sure they can be impressed by your product’s features and functionalities, but that’s not what helps them remember it. There’s a reason why stories are passed down from one generation to another!
So how do you create your product story?
Like any story, your product story should be formatted with:
Before telling any story as an entrepreneur, remind yourself of the WHY of your product. Why did you decide to create it - what problems are you trying to solve? Why did you create each of its features and functionalities - what goals are you trying to accomplish?
Start formulating your story by stating the big picture for your product, its main objectives and vision. Remind yourself and the team of the reasons behind your product to ensure that your story is closely aligned with it.
Now that you’ve structured the purpose of your product, it’s time to add in the characters and scenery - it’s all about setting the tone, and explaining when your company saw the opportunity to build a solution. Create user personas for your target audience and develop a story for why each of them would come to need your product. Why would user X ever come to you? What situations would have made them want to use your product? What’s the story behind that?
Of course, you can use real user stories here as idea points - we would even encourage it, so you can already show off product reviews you’ve received!
All stories are made from conflict - otherwise, there wouldn’t be a story needed. With your characters and scenery/situation set, make sure to pin the main pain points of each user persona, and focus on them. Explain the difficulties they are going through, and most importantly how it affects them in their personal or professional lives.
With your characters, scenery and plot set, now comes the rising action - the superhero moment that has you flying in, ready to solve their problems This should mostly tell your story (and your co-founder’s), on coming across these characters (or being one of them), and how you’ve seen it has impacted them. See if you can add “urgency” by explaining the gravity of the problems, and how unacceptable it would be if it weren’t to be solved.
With you and your co-founders in the picture, showcase how passionate you are in solving your users problems by finding and creating solutions to do so. Tell the story of how you built the product, i.e. from talking to communities about how you can approach it, to doing intensive research and interviews, to building the actual product. This is where you can explain why your first features are the way they are, and why you decided on such functionalities.
The delivery of your story ending is what will help users realize how much they do need you. From the conflict (pain points) you’ve mentioned, use your product as a transition from having an unsolved problem, to solving it in the most effective ways your company found. Share success stories here and the beneficial impact your product has brought, and opportunities it has opened for your users.
Good thing, stories can be used pretty much anywhere - given you have time to explain it and can capture the attention-span of your users. You can use it in:
Many would think that storytelling is only for marketers to use in their campaigns, or those who have an interest in literature. But storytelling is a powerful tool not many use, and is one of the most effective ways of bringing ideas to the world. Create product stories to effectively captivate and engage your users.
👊 Trust yourself. You’ll have to make decisions without having much information, use what you know and go with it.
👯♀️ Make friends. Get to know those who you can learn and get support from.
📖 Tell your story. In the build of your product, and where you honestly are. Keep your users and investors informed.
I've been helping entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and innovators build their tech products since 2016!
Bringing outstanding products to life is not easy. But despite that, it's an amazing journey for anyone who wants to innovate, make a change or an impact in any industry.
So I wanted to get on the mic, meet with amazing founders/makers, and share all of their crazy journeys and experiences with you. I hope it educates, inspires and entertains you. Enjoy! ;)
Morgan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Sparkmate. They've built 100+ high-tech products and ventures to solve tomorrow's challenges!