How to Craft a Startup’s Story

This is the 9th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

One of your top priorities for marketing is likely to generate leads. I don’t blame you… leads are awesome and what your sales team is craving to grow. However, before you can effectively build the demand generation side (i.e. driving leads) of a B2B marketing team, you need to establish the story.

The story is simply the narrative that is used to describe what your product is, why it exists and how it helps targets. It’s the foundation for your messaging and positioning. In some ways, it is like the “value prop” and it is used throughout your marketing world: on your website, social media profiles, collateral, ebooks, webinars and verbally in sales presentations and elevator pitches. The story is a key requirement to align your team and ensure your marketing campaigns are focused on the messages that will resonate with targets and thus drive them to convert to leads. Let’s walk through together how to craft this narrative:

1. Who uses your product?

The first step in the narrative is having a very clear picture of who we are talking to. This is your target (person that matches a set criteria needed to become a customer). As we craft a narrative to use throughout all of your content, we must always write with this person in mind.

For my team, our target is a gym operator. Since we are introducing technology products to an often non-technical stakeholder, much of our story is positioning why technology is so important in our industry.

2. What are the top 3 benefits / values received by using your product?

Your product probably adds a lot of great value for your targets with many features. If you had to categorize all of your features into 3 buckets of value props, what would they be? Establishing these 3 core values is critical because it makes it much easier to explain what the product is and why it exists.

For my team, our 3 core values are to engage gym members, increase gym revenue and connect relevant technologies used in a gym into one seamless mobile experience. Whenever we talk about the product or write an ebook, we always connect the content back to those 3 categories.

3. Why are customers buying your product over a competitor?

Spend time talking with your sales and customer success teams to understand why opportunities are converting to customers. What is drawing people in? What messages can you send into the market that most resonate with targets’ top reasons for becoming customers?

For my team, we realized a key message to ground our story is the idea that the fitness industry is going mobile. We consistently reference trends that show mobile adoption. We build on the narrative that businesses who do not adopt a successful mobile strategy will get left behind by more tech-savvy competition.

4. What are the big trends in your industry that mandate your product?

Crafting your narrative with points that may be familiar to targets is certainly helpful. For example, are there major industry trends that could drive adoption of your product? Could you relate your offering to capitalizing on these trends?

For my team, we noted that wearables are a major topic of discussion in the fitness industry. They are presenting game changing opportunities for gym operators and exercisers alike. Luckily, our product has integrations with key wearables and considers them an integral part of effective product usage. Therefore, we reference wearables consistently in our story as part of the technology revolution in the fitness industry, and why our product (a mobile app) is so important.

Bringing this all together crafts the narrative. Tactically, this translates into:

  • 1-2 sentence overview
  • PR boilerplate
  • 3 core value framework used in verbal pitches
  • mission and vision statements
  • foundation of a messaging and positioning guide

Why is it so helpful?

With a defined narrative, your content creation (ebooks, guides, website, etc) doesn’t require you to “reinvent the wheel” each time. Instead you have a handy reference of the big points you want to hit, and your goal is to keep writing about those same points in different mediums. Remember, targets/leads need to hear messaging multiple times, over and over again, until it actually sticks. So, build your narrative, tweak it, make it simple and then repeat it over and over again everywhere you go. That is what building a brand means, and the results will be a healthy lead pipeline.

This post is part of a 50 article series on startup marketing

Greg Skloot is a technology entrepreneur and marketer. He is currently VP Growth at Netpulse, the #1 provider of mobile apps for health clubs and a $40M VC backed software company in San Francisco. At Netpulse, he leads marketing, sales operations and strategic growth. Previously, Greg was CEO and Co-Founder of Attend.com, where he built the initial product, raised $3M and hired a team of 30. Contact Greg at skloot.org/contact.



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