How Not to Start Your Story Courtesy of Buick

product storytelling introduction

When it comes to introducing your product to a potential customer, you have one shot to start things off on the right foot. This is your chance to start your story, create awareness and generate some excitement. However, the last thing you want to do is set the stage with a giant question mark.

I caught a Buick commercial over the weekend (video below) that I think highlights exactly what you don’t want to do. Before the ad gets going, the audio begins with these three words,

With AVAILABLE features….“.

When I hear this, I assume that whatever comes next is an upsell offering and I immediately start to wonder what’s wrong with the base? If they have to start with the upsell just to get my attention, then the base product must not be very interesting or must have something wrong with it, right?

Or could it be that they hoped I missed this subtlety and that I will assume that you get all these great features for their low entry price hence making the product seem more attractive?

No matter what they were hoping to have happen, the result is that they have begun their story on a sour note that may result in a lack of future consideration.

First impressions count. Don’t blow it by sending a mixed message out of the gate.

Building The Line

It was turning out to be a great year. The product I had planned and launched was hitting the market to fantastic results and the sales team was close to doubling their forecasts. Additionally, the market research that I had spearheaded had resulted in the success of two more products in our portfolio.

I thought all was going swimmingly well but that was not the case. Bonus checks arrived and despite my shaking the envelope as hard as I could, there was nothing extra to make up for the extremely light check.

While my team’s part of the portfolio had performed above average, the company had missed their financial goals for the year. There is no extra credit for almost being successful.

John Moore recently posted a summary that perfectly describes the biggest mistake our business had been making,

Too many marketers are living for The DOT and not The LINE.

The DOT being a “One Day Big Bang” approach to getting people talking. The LINE being an “All Day Every Day” way to becoming a talkable brand….As marketers, it’s our responsibility to give consumers reasons to talk about brands, products, and services not just for one day… but rather, for a series of days.

Our company had become too focused on one-off tactics to get the market interested in our products while the overall portfolio was not that interesting. The idea that you could have a “halo” product to generate buzz did not make up for the blandness of the rest of the portfolio. Overall, our products were not meeting customer expectations and the results were clear in our market share and financial performance.

If your product/brand/company is to be successful, it must evolve and as John put it, deliver over a period of time. Building products that people love is a great place to start but if you don’t do your part to maintain the relationship over time, don’t be surprised when your customers walk out the door. Building the line means keeping your product relevant and making sure you are delivering on a complete customer experience for the long haul.

Build the line and your customers will follow.

Image Credit: jypsygen

Start With The Customer Prodcast #2 – The Suck Threshold

start with the customer marketing podcast on product marketing and product management

Welcome to the second episode of the Start with the Customer “prodcast”.  In this conversation, Scott Sehlhorst and I start off the discussion on customer dynamics and trust relationships.  From there we continue the case example from the last prodcast on Dropbox by discussing the impact of Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and the emerging Cloud Computing wars.  Finally, we end with some book recommendations.

Enjoy the product discussion!

You can listen here:

or download from iTunes.

Here’s the show notes:

Runtime:  35 minutes

The Trust Pyramid

  • Intro from Scott’s recent post, “representing how people have different levels of trust in the assertions of others”
  • Ratings and reviews
  • The power of the “like button”
  • Planning for word of mouth the start
  • Social can’t help a bad product
  • Building for engagement
  • The suck threshold (great example of where you don’t want to be)
  • Avoid the Fidelity Belly
  • Toyota’s vs Hyundai’s product strategy

Case discussion:  Amazon Cloud Drive

  • Intro to Amazon CloudDrive
  • Cloud storage as a market disrupter
  • Positioning around music – and then expanding
  • The benefits and risk of launching first (the story)
  • The upcoming Cloud wars and investing for the long term
  • Proactively building the product to define the market

Books on the table:

  • Unfolding the Napkin:  The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures (Scott)
  • Tell to Win:  Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story (Josh)
  • Enchantment:  The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions (Josh)


What Is Marketing? (How To Turn A Birthday Party Into A Birthday Experience)

I came across this video earlier in the week and just couldn’t resist sharing.

While meant to be taken lightly, the video does an outstanding job of illustrating marketing strategy. All it really takes is three little steps,

  1. Determine your end goal
  2. Use the best tools for the job
  3. Don’t forget the mini-pony

Enjoy and have a great weekend!