Story-Based Marketing Roadmaps

The Growth Report #29

Hey There!

Not much news this week.

We are preparing our new website here at GrowthBay, which I hope I can show you in all its gory glory next week.

Uhm, what else….

You know it’s quite hard to come up with something to introduce this newsletter every week 😅

I gotta say something smart, right…? Okay, there is always a quote to save the day.

This one made me chuckle: “In god we trust, all others bring data.”


…shit that was a pretty short one.

Okay, you know what, I release you…here you go:

Today's topics include

📈 Growth Strategy:
How Story-Based (Marketing-) Roadmaps Bring Clarity To Your Organization

⚒️ Tools of the Trade:
Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
The Unfortunate Benefits Of Staying The Same

📈 Growth Strategy

How Story-Based (Marketing-) Roadmaps Bring Clarity To Your Organization

There is this thing called Narrative Art. Narrative Art tells a story. It uses the power of the visual image to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions and capture universal cultural truths and aspirations.

Now admittedly, comparing narrative art with Marketing Roadmaps is a long stretch. But approaching them in a similar story-based manner has some pretty significant advantages and is worth your attention.

Give Context to Your Strategy

Roadmaps come in all shapes and sizes. They can be synonymous with strategy (how we’re going to accomplish our vision or goals). They can be project-based, aka really zoomed in, or they could be company-based, aka really zoomed out.

From my own experience of both the roadmaps that I put together myself and the ones I have reviewed from other companies, they have one thing in common: They often lack context.

Most roadmaps talk about how marketing activities will unfold on different channels over time and which of those channels receive how much budget. But without context, these marketing methods seem intangible and lack a cohesive red thread.

So I was pleased when I saw Tomasz Tunguzs' take on Marketing Roadmaps. He suggests you create a roadmap in five sequential steps:

Step 1: Create a narrative

The goal is to start with the story of how your product is changing the life of your buyer. This story can then be weaved through all remaining aspects of the roadmap. It provides the lacking red thread that hinges all marketing activities together.

In the words of Tomasz:

At the highest level, marketing articulates a compelling narrative of where your product will move the market. Begin by stating where the market is today, then predict where you want the market to be. This is a Gap Analysis - a comparison of the current state of affairs to the desired potential: By buying this product, your future will be better.

One interesting argument he makes, that is worth pondering: According to Tom Tunguz, our goal as marketers is to help our customers get a promotion:

In software, this typically means the buyer will be promoted. Marketing equips the internal champion to understand a change in the market and articulates the compelling reasons to act - to buy the software. The benefit to the business is important and real, resulting in a promotion. If a product doesn’t have the potential to promote an employee switching to it, the startup isn’t focused on an important problem. Sales cycles will drag. Price points will languish. Growth will be challenged.

Step 2: Identify the protagonists (aka personas)

Identify your target personas, the protagonists of your story so to speak. There are a million articles about this topic. Here is an extensive one I wrote for TestingTime a while back.

Step 3: Map the narrative to each persona's pain points

Map the company narrative to each persona. Identify the pain points that each persona experiences, living in the current state of the market. If we think back to narrative art image. How do the protagonists you just created fit into the picture? How do they relate to the narrative you are trying to establish?

Step 4: Map how each pain point could be addressed with content

Take each of these pain points and build content to educate customers about how your product can help. Think of this in terms of the traditional buyer journey: awareness to consideration to purchase.

Step 5: Decide on which channels you can distribute the content

It’s time to break out your channel marketing. Take the content from the previous step and distribute it to the places where you reach your audience.

Here is an example of how Buffer, the social media company has done it:

Ultimately, these efforts should result in leads and accelerated sales cycles because the buyers understand and resonate with the future vision. Lead generation velocity and sales cycle metrics should be used to determine the effectiveness of the narrative, persona identification and lifecycle marketing efforts.

And above all, the clarity resulting from a roadmap that has an overarching story attached to it is far reaching. You will be able to articulate your mission and how it relates to other departments much more effectively.

🛠️ Tools of the Trade:

Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

Marketing Education

Brands and Products that caught my eye

  • Minerva - A tool to create interactive tutorials and onboarding-workflows on any website. You can literally put an overlay on your software and guide a user or website visitor through the steps you want them to take without writing one line of code. Game changer!

  • Five Books - This site is an aggregator of book recommendations. For every imaginable category out there it recommends the five best books to read, curated by experts in that very field. For example, check out the best cookbooks.

  • Video Ask - The people behind Typeform also released this lesser known piece of software that I think at least every service business should have a look at. It lets you have a chat window, but instead of text it displays a video of you greeting the visitor. We are trying this for our company as well.

Putting things into perspective:

⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

The Unfortunate Benefits Of Staying The Same

Last week we talked about the daily struggle many of us experience. We talked about what learning opportunities we might uncover if we ask ourselves the difficult questions. If we look closely, we might find the roots of our underlying unease.

Any kind of meaningful change we wish for ourselves, inevitably requires us to look at our behaviors first. And looking at our behaviors might be tough, because we might find that we are not perfect. We might find that our carefully constructed identity is an illusion.

But you know what? That's quite okay. Because instead of feeling bad about a certain behavior, we can take a deep breath and first acknowledge the reasons why we are doing what we're doing.

Let's take an alcoholic. It is beneficial to ignite change by talking about the advantages of drinking. Of course alcohol tastes amazing, and it makes him feel good when he drinks it. It relaxes him and lets him forget the worries of his life. It is an attempt to solve a problem.

Once the alcoholic acknowledges that, he can have an honest, unguarded, shame-free conversation about whether alcohol is the best way to solve the problem. It probably is not. But without feeling ashamed, there is no psychological defense mechanism in the way, and progress can be made.

We can actually reframe any situation from a "failure to change" to "an understanding of our desire to stay the same".

But why do we want to stay the same?

A question worth pondering! The issue is, once we have identified possible areas of change, we recognize that those roots run deep. That they are firmly attached to the whole story we tell ourselves and the very identity we choose to inhabit. Upending those roots will literally tear at the fabric of who we think we are. No wonder we want to stay the same!

Dr. Ellenhorn, author of the book How We Change, identified ten reasons why we want to stay the same. I picked a few of them out for you and wrote my take on it:

  1. Staying the same protects you from the accountability of what’s next

    • Each change you make testifies that you are accountable for the life that lies ahead. The more you change, the more you see that future change is within your power.

  2. Staying the same protects you from your own expectations

    • When you raise your own expectations by making a change in your life, you always risk raising your faith in and hope for yourself. That means an increased risk for experiences of disappointment and loss of faith.

  3. Staying the same protects you from the expectations of others

    • When you make positive change in your life, you inevitably raise the expectations of others. Doing so, you risk that others will witness you as the author of your life, and then expect more out of you.

  4. Staying the same protects you from the insult of small steps

    • To change, you must take incremental steps toward a goal, each step an insulting reminder of where you are and how far you have to go to reach your goals. To stay on the track of incremental change requires the ability to envision the goal you want to achieve, while being able to act in a truly measured way, seeing things as they are, inch by inch.

  5. Staying the same protects a memorial to your pain

    • Staying the same is often the only means of protecting an enduring memory of past events that were painful or traumatic. Changing is thus like demolishing a memorial. It’s tantamount to forgetting.

  6. Staying the same protects you from changing your relationship with yourself

    • Changing yourself means changing how you relate to you.

I feel if we approach the changes we want to see in our lives first from the angle of what we gain from our current behaviors, it's much easier to grasp where to start. It also makes us realize that we are not bad people, but that we are simply afraid of the consequences any change brings to our lives.

That’s it for this week. Thank you for reading ♥️

Till next week, same place, same time,