This curated column is by leadership mentor & consultant Andy Raskin
How to boil down the company story
Last December, I got a call from Andrea Echstenkamper, who runs marketing at the Heavybit Industries member company LaunchDarkly. Andrea wanted to produce a short explainer video, but she was struggling.
“We have messaging,” Andrea said. “But I’m having trouble translating that into a quick, compelling story. Can you help?”
Over the next few weeks, Andrea used the pitch framework I’ve been writing about lately to construct an 85-second video. You can watch the result at the end of this post, but in the hope that others will find it valuable (I have no financial stake in LaunchDarkly), and having received Andrea’s permission, I’d like to share how she went about it.
The 5 Elements of Your Strategic Story
An explainer video is a pitch, though much shorter than a sales or investor deck, of course (under 90 seconds is ideal). And for pitches of any length, my approach is to build consensus and clarity around five core elements of the company’s strategic story.
So I sent Andrea a list of five questions (below), and Andrea sat down with her team to answer them. As you can imagine, the answers she got weren’t 100% aligned, so Andrea and I edited them until she felt they were not only representative of her team’s intentions, but also clear and credible.
Here are the five questions, along with context for why I ask each one, plus Andrea’s answers for LaunchDarkly:
#1: Name the enemy
Who is the customer, and what is standing in the way of his or her happiness?
A lot of pitch advice tells you to start with “the problem.” That’s not wrong, but as with Hollywood movies, audiences will be more invested if your main character is struggling against someone or some thing.
LaunchDarkly’s customers build mobile and Web applications. So they’re technically capable — usually engineering and product teams— but they often struggle to release new features as quickly as they‘d like to. The culprit? Every time they want to release a new feature, they have to release a new version of their app. (In geekier speak, feature roll-outs are tied to code deployment.)
#2: Answer “Why now?”
What makes your customer more likely to act now?
The enemy might make life unpleasant, but your customer has probably been putting up with it for a long time. So audiences will be skeptical that your customer will suddenly act (and pay) to find a solution. To overcome that skepticism, can you point to new developments that make your customer more likely to act?
To be sure, the desire to release features fast is nothing new. But widespread adoption of web and mobile apps has dramatically increased customer expectations around always having the latest, greatest features.
#3. Tease the Promised Land
What could your customer’s life look like?
Before getting into your product, it’s really important to get your audience imagining what the world will look like once the customer buys in.
What if feature releases weren’t tied to code, and dev teams had complete control over when — and how — they released features?
4. Identify 3 obstacles and 3 gifts
Why can’t your customer reach the Promised Land without you, and how will you help?
Now that we’ve teased the Promised Land, name the three biggest obstacles to getting there (in a world where your company doesn’t exist), and how you’ll help your customers surmount each one — your “gifts.”
It’s OK to mention just the gifts in your pitch, since by doing so you’re essentially implying the obstacles, and that’s what Andrea did. (Though, a lover of breaking rules, Andrea couldn’t help herself and added a fourth!)
Since LaunchDarkly’s obstacles and gifts are a bit technical, I’ll let you watch them in the video rather than list the details here.
#5: Offer evidence
Why should your audience believe the story will come true?
When you’re pitching, you’re talking about a story that hasn’t yet come true. So it’s important to give the best evidence you have — in the time you’re allotted — that the story you’re telling will come true.
Major development teams (Microsoft, Auction.com, AppDirect and others) already use LaunchDarkly.
Now Showing: The LaunchDarkly Explainer Video
“The story arc appeared”
Once Andrea answered the questions, she arranged the answers into a script that I hope even non-developers can understand. As she puts it, “Once I had the elements, the story arc appeared.”
Here’s LaunchDarkly’s explainer video:
Disclaimer: This is a curated post. The statements, opinions and data contained in this column are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not that of iamwire or the editor(s). The article was originally published by the author here.