Buyer , Startups , Scaleups — 10.27.2022

Lead With Stories Instead of Features

Maria Otteson, Senior Product Marketer

Your product marketing strategy should lead with stories instead of features.


Think about the last movie trailer you saw. The first 30 seconds didn’t just list the facts of the movie (run time, cast list and budget). The trailer for the next Marvel hit would feel drastically different if it was a scrolling list of the cast and crew. Instead, the trailer gave you a glimpse into the story. You saw highlights and key moments, supported by powerful visuals that formed an emotional connection. Now you want to see the movie. 

Your product is no different. 

Often, product companies get so excited about new features, that they immediately put them front and center, without ever taking time to set the stage. 

Instead, focus on equipping sellers with strong stories that demonstrate the value your product provides and why it matters to buyers. Then, once you’ve piqued their interest, you can dive deeper into features and how they’ll add value. 

Discover why your product marketing strategy should lead with storytelling, and how to craft and activate your story. 

The Power of Storytelling

Stories enable your buyers to focus on achieving real outcomes.

A strong story will connect the dots between the pains your buyers face today and how your product can solve them. 

When you use features instead of outcomes as the crux of initial sales conversations, you invite buyers to compare your product to alternatives. And then, without even realizing it, you’re in an arms race with your competitors over who can build bigger features faster. 

If you convey your value early and often, you’ll run faster to the finish line. 

And what’s the fastest way to demonstrate the value you provide? Tell your story. 

Stories are easy to share.  

Stories are not only easier to remember than features, they’re written to be shared. 

Many clients, take Microblink for example, come to us because it takes too long for their teams to explain who they are and what they do. They get halfway through the first or even second conversation before they’re seeing any head nods from across the table. 

Equipping your sales team with a short and sticky story helps your team sell faster and turns your buyers into ambassadors.

How to Craft Your Story

Stories are how you get people to understand your product’s value. So when you think about the story you want to tell, start with the buyer. Show buyers the value you deliver and why they should care.

To craft your product’s story: 

  • Start with your audience. Know who you’re speaking to and what they care about so you can write a story that inspires them to act. 
  • Focus on the value. Using the goals, motivations and challenges of your audience, consider what your product offers to help them reach their goals.  
  • Tell them why it matters. Incorporate proof points and data that are relevant to the motivations of your audience to help them understand the value of your solution.

Challenges you may face include:

  • Speaking to multiple audiences. Is there a common goal your audiences share? Deciding which audience is most important can be a challenge, especially if you’re a dual-sided marketplace. 
  • You’re not sure if it’s a value or a feature. Distinguishing between the two can be tricky. Though it can be tempting to list your features, value will better resonate with buyers. It speaks directly to buyer pains by connecting the dots for them. Take Doodle, a professional scheduling tool, for example.
    • Feature → “Scheduling for 1-10,000 people.” 
    • Value →Get any kind of work or client meeting booked, fast.”
  • You don’t have any proof – yet. It’s okay to get creative when bringing your product to market for the first time. Leverage early supporters to validate your product, or use industry trends as baselines.

Depending on your marketing strategy and sales process, there may be multiple storylines to tell. Regardless, all messaging should align with your positioning.

How to Activate Your Story

Now that you’ve done the legwork to define and document your product’s story, it’s time to put it into practice.

Opportunities to activate your story include: 

  • Pitch deck. Storytelling is critical to a successful pitch. Setting the stage with your story earns you the right to demonstrate your product and features.
  • Website. Your website is like a sales deck, but without a narrator. Your story should live “above the fold” of your homepage to encourage visitors to explore how you deliver the outcomes you promised.
  • Sales Enablement. Equip your sales team with the right talk tracks and materials to tell your story every single time they’re asked, “what is it you do?” 
  • Video. A product video is a powerful, fast and easy way to explain who you are and what you do. Keep it under a minute.
  • Marketing materials. Make your story the backbone of marketing campaigns. To avoid confusing buyers, the story you tell should be consistent across all channels. 

At the end of the day, your story should be consistent and compelling. It should clearly articulate your product’s value to the right audience. If done correctly, storytelling will turn your buyers into ambassadors who deeply understand and share your product’s value with others.

Learn how our product marketing team can help you craft and activate your story