This article is based on Ada Story’s talk at the Product Marketing Summit in London. As a PMA member, you can enjoy the complete recording here. For more exclusive content, head over to your membership dashboard. 

I want to start by sharing a quote. It captures so much of what we struggle with as marketers when we're trying to build a compelling narrative. 

"Morgan Freeman can narrate a grocery list and bring people to tears, while an inarticulate scientist curing a disease can go unnoticed." – Morgan Housel, author of the psychology of money

Maybe you’ve felt like that poor inarticulate scientist, struggling to capture attention for your truly impactful product – meanwhile, your competitors are making waves with their product stories. We all want to be the Morgan Freeman of product marketing. We want to get the laugh, the excitement, the emotional response.

However, we’re facing a lot of challenges right now. In the realms of both B2B and B2C, consumers are flooded with content at a scale that’s never been seen before. From a product standpoint, they're drowning in options and experiencing choice fatigue. The tech sector in particular is incredibly crowded with competing solutions that look and sound the same. In short, it's pretty challenging.

So, how can you cut through the noise and become the Morgan Freeman of PMM? The answer is good storytelling.

However, this isn't going to be a traditional article about storytelling frameworks or putting together narratives. There are already a ton of storytelling frameworks out there, built by better storytellers than me.

Instead, I want to focus on what you do after you build out your narrative, nail down your positioning, and craft your core messaging. I’m going to give you a framework for pressure-testing your story so you can be sure it’ll cut through the noise.

The struggles of storytelling

We all know that good storytelling gives clarity to our business message, conveys our brand and product in a way that cuts through noise, and leaves a lasting impression on our audience. 

Good storytelling gives clarity to our business message, tells our brand and product story in a way that can break through noise, and builds a lasting impression on our audience.

We also know that when we try too hard to make our products sound great, we risk losing sight of what storytelling is about: evoking emotions through a relevant, credible, and impactful story.

Perhaps you’ve been there – faced with a sales deck or landing page that bears no resemblance to the actual product. When your product can’t deliver on those promises, it puts everybody in a tight spot. It can demoralize employees and break trust with investors and stakeholders.

This happens far too often – not because of a lack of effort, but because in trying to become Morgan Freeman, we end up losing sight of the credible aspects of our story. We go for the confetti moments instead of something real, impactful, and credible from a place of authority. 

The first time I shared the quote at the start of this article was at a sales kickoff a couple of years ago. Half the room was super excited when I brought up Morgan Freeman, but the other half understood my point: we should try to become articulate scientists instead, anchoring our messaging in the value our product actually delivers.

Contrary to what we may think, customers can handle the truth. Being genuine about our products doesn't mean highlighting their shortcomings; it means delivering a great experience to customers and building long-lasting relationships with them.

Customers CAN handle the truth