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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.
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.