Positioning With Stories: How to Make Your Product Stand Out From The Noise With Short Stories

Jennifer Phillips April

Positioning your product is about demonstrating what makes it unique.

Jennifer Phillips April is a B2B technology copywriter who has mastered the art of positioning with stories. 

She joined us on Wynter Games to explain exactly how you can find and apply stories as part of your copywriting strategy. 

Position with a story 

How can you turn customers into raving fans? You can start by helping your customers connect with your product or service. And to forge connection, you need stories. 

Think for a moment about the weight loss industry. 

It’s an industry that thrives on stories about transformation. Often, it relies on concrete “before and after” examples as social proof. 

According to Jennifer, SaaS companies can leverage this same strategy by seeking out what she calls pocket-sized stories.

“Sometimes it's not obvious or like golden nuggets lying on the ground,” she said.

“Instead, we have to really think about it and talk to other people like our customers, talk to the sales team, talk to product managers, talk to other people within the company and outside of the company to really pull those out.” 

What are pocket-sized stories?

Pocket-sized stories are short but compelling. Often, they serve to summarize your product or its key benefits in a single sentence. 

These stories serve to cut through industry jargon and dry language in order to get to the heart of why customers buy

For example, the company that invented the first MP3 player advertised the exciting new product as offering “5 Gygabytes” of memory. 

When Apple came out with the iPod, they took a different approach and advertised it as offering “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

You can guess which campaign was more successful. Apple succeeded by explaining quickly and memorably what an iPod was and how it benefited users.

“Now I want that,” Jennifer said. “I don't want the five gigabytes. I don't know what that is, that doesn't do anything for me. So showing that transformation is so important to bringing your story to life.”

How to find them?

So how do you find such stories? As mentioned, you seek them out by talking to people both inside and outside your company. 

To help you dig, Jennifer offered the following advice.

Ask questions

Put on your journalist hat. 

When seeking out stories, you can’t always take responses at face value. Instead, you need to ask questions from every angle until you fully understand the product and your customers.

You can start with the basic question set of the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why, and how. 

Use these questions to drill into your product’s features, and how those features translate into direct customer benefits.

Use the “so what” technique

Seeking out real-life examples can lead to those priceless “aha” moments.

Jennifer’s favorite questioning technique for gathering examples is to ask the question, “so what?” 

Jennifer once worked for a software client that offered a scheduling product. When she was interviewing a customer who owned a dog grooming salon, he started raving about the automated email and text reminders. 

“You might just think, yes, that makes sense,” said Jennifer. “They can send the reminders a day or two ahead of time and say, Hey, you know, Fluffy's appointment is on Thursday at 2:00, don't forget.”

But when she asked “so what” and dug a little deeper, she learned that the groomer was saving $70,000 per year as a result of having fewer no-shows. 

Concrete examples like this are what help cut through customer hesitations and destroy perceived obstacles. 

Explore specific product benefits

Both the Apple iPod and dog groomer examples point to the value of speaking to specific product benefits.

This means that you constantly need to look at product features under a microscope to understand how those features actually help your customers, and in what ways.

“If you keep applying that over and over again, it can really help you kind of get to the crux of the matter so that you’re going, oh yes, I got it. This is gold,” Jennifer said.

She provided another example demonstrating how the note-taking app Evernote’s marketing strategy has evolved from vague to specific over time.

In 2013, Evernote used the headline “Remember Everything.” 

In 2021, their headline reads “ Accomplish more with better notes: Evernote helps you capture ideas and find them fast.”

Applying the “so what” technique to positioning stories 

The concept of turning something generic into something specific underpins the success of pocket-sized positioning stories.

For example, almost every SaaS company wants to show that they have great customer service and save clients money. 

But just stating the obvious doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd. In contrast, take a look at the following examples: 

  • Better customer service → 24/7 customer service ensures you get your questions answered in 10.9 seconds
  • Improved employee productivity → Saves an average of 5 hours per week in administrative time 
  • Lowers IT costs → Saves your company up to $72k/year in IT expenses 

“If you can put in specific numbers, that increases your trustworthiness,” Jennifer said. “People take note of that and they go, Oh, well they must have some data that backs it up.”

The more specific you can be, the more real your product will seem to customers and the more likely they will be to buy. 

Use stories everywhere

While micro stories can make great headlines, you should feel free to use them anywhere you can.

Your story might look a bit different in an advertisement compared to a landing page or email sequence, but pulling out key elements and expanding, contracting, and tweaking them as needed will serve you well.

Jennifer recommends saving all of your stories in one place, such as a database or Google Drive, and sharing them across your team. 

“Share it amongst the team, share amongst any outsourced copywriters,” she said. “Add it to your personas. It really adds to flesh out what your customers care about and what they're concerned about.” 

Watch Jennifer talk about bite-sized stories here.

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