Why We Need Storytellers at the Heart of Product Development?

While developing a website, businesses often focus on execution and ignore the most important part of that process – defining the product opportunity and unique value proposition. A misaligned strategy and unclear goals lead to overspent budgets, missed deadlines, frustrated teams and confused users who are unable to identify the objective of your product and relate them with their own requirements. In the current scenario, where it has become more difficult than ever before to create competitive edge, you can differentiate yourself only if you have well defined goals, powerful strategy and ability of storytelling. So, who are product storytellers and why you need them? Let’s discuss:

Who is Product Storyteller?

A product is not just a website. It’s not just a list of functionalities. Rather, it is a solution to the problems of the users. Your product must be capable of providing an extraordinary experience to them and that add value to their life through meeting their needs. So, the point is – who identifies that value? After the stakeholder comes out with an initial idea, who in the organization ensures that the website is capable of delivering value to users and that it meets the purpose and goals it was built for? This has given rise to a new role in the industry – Product Storyteller.

Who can be the Product Storytellers in Your Organization and What they Do?

A product storyteller could be a technologist, product manager, marketer, designer, developer or even an executive who identify problems, ask questions, find answers, and figure out how to turn an idea or vision into reality. Their main responsibility is to develop a plot, identify the target audience, and build the website that revolves around the specific values it should provide consumers. These people can go beyond the basic idea to understand real world requirements by analyzing consumer behavior with the website and the details of every interaction it had with the similar kind of products.

Why Storytelling is Important?

Storytelling is not just about assembling facts. It is about putting those facts in context and delivering them to consumers with emotional impact. This impact makes consumers to rely on your products and distinguish your products and services in a crowded marketplace. If you really want to be heard by consumers, your story must be created in a way that consumers can emotionally connect with.

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Why Do You Need a Storyteller?

Reason1: Today, many companies come across the issues arising as a result of disconnection and miscommunication among various departments spread across the organization. Quite often, marketing decisions are made at the executive level – much higher than where product decisions are made. As a result, every team has its own different story to tell. Eventually, it leads to bewildered customers who try hard to figure out those conflicting messages and determine why they should connect with the product.

A product storyteller fosters collaboration and co-creation among teams. Its main responsibility should be to help break down the walls between all groups and facilitate the development of a single story for all. A shared vision is what consumers can easily recognize and understand. They can easily comprehend the goals of the product and decide within a few seconds whether it is something they are looking for or not. Therefore, you can say that product storytellers help build cohesiveness in products and within teams.

Reason2: A Product Manager mainly holds 2 responsibilities-

  1. Assess product opportunities
  2. Define the product to be built

However, managers are often seen fully involved in the pressures of producing detailed specs of the product instead of analyzing the market opportunity and creating an effective winning strategy. This happens because today’s organizational environment is more focussed on execution. They don’t foster an environment where there is discovery and curiosity which is the main concept behind storytelling. Before the website developer writes a line of code, or a marketer creates website content, or a designer creates a design, you are required to outline the story that your product is going to tell.

A product storyteller doesn’t remain stuck in the details. He/she has a broader vision which helps them analyze the other aspects of the product development process too, that may not be directly affecting the execution, but in the long term can affect the success of the product. This way storyteller helps create a value-based customer experience.

How Product Storyteller Helps Create an Exceptional User Experience?

The main responsibility of a product storyteller is to identify the objectives and value of the product. That individual facilitates collaboration among team and spread a consistent and shared vision throughout the organization. This helps the entire team understand the reason behind what they are doing. Without a firm understanding of the objectives of the company and the reason behind their work, the team can’t perform up to the mark. This directly impacts the experience of the customer and they don’t get a clear perception of its value. Organizations and teams can feel this disconnection through little or no leads at all.

It is usually said the product should have the ability to answer the question of the consumers, “Why would I use this?”. Therefore, it is important to  note than execution should follow the process of defining the product value and not the process of defining the product value should follow the execution. Your product storyteller must have the necessary skillset to answer this question and identify a product opportunity. This is how he/she can help creating exceptional user experiences.

The Verdict

While product storytelling has become an important field, the challenge today is that we are having a shortage of storytellers with apt skills because of our ongoing organizational cultures. Because  the ownership of product value is not clearly defined across the organization, miscommunication produces a message that is not aligned with the original vision. Focus is given more towards execution rather than planning, and therefore, they fail to recognize the talents who have the ability of storytelling.

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