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27 min read

Product Marketing Life [podcast]: Marcus Andrews

Podcasts | Positioning & messaging

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Looking to learn about narrative design? Then you landed on the right pod. We caught up with HubSpot's Principal Product Marketing Manager, Marcus Andrews, about what narrative design is, why people should be adopting it, and how PMMs can actually go about implementing a narrative design approach.

P.s. For anyone wanting to immerse themselves in narrative design even more, Marcus also wrote about it here, and will be answering questions on it here.

Full transcript:

Bryony Pearce - PMA 00:01

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Product Marketing Life podcast, which is brought to you by Product Marketing Alliance. My name’s Bryony Pearce and I’m the Content Manager here at PMA. This week’s pod’s sponsored by Product Marketing World. For those of you who haven’t gotten out to one of their events yet, Product Marketing World runs product marketing Summits all over the world. In each city, they unite 100s of product marketers and put together line-ups including speakers from companies like Google, Uber, Twitter and Yahoo, to name just a few. To see if they’re coming to a city near you, head over to their site, productmarketingworld.com. As part of this series, we’re connecting with product marketers all over the world about topics they’re super passionate about, and in this episode, we’ll be speaking to Marcus Andrews, a Principal Product Marketing Manager over at Hubspot, about narrative design. Marcus has been at Hubspot since July 2015 and before that, he spent just under four years at Google holding Go-to-Market roles. Anyway, I’ll let Marcus go into a bit more detail on that but for now, thanks for joining us and welcome to the show, Marcus!

Marcus Andrews 00:37

Thanks for having me really excited to unpack narrative design and talk about product marketing.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 00:43

Us too and it's great to have you here. I guess to kick off with could you just give people a bit of a background into you, your background, and then HubSpot as well please?

Marcus Andrews 00:52

Yeah, so I've been in HubSpot for almost five years now and have launched products across our entire product line product suite. Two years ago, I launched Service Hub, which is a really big product where I put a lot of this whole narrative design, strategic narrative development to work. So I've been here for a while working on product marketing the entire time before that I was at Google, like you said, where I worked on the go-to-market team rolling out AdWords products, YouTube products, it was just great experience. And before that, I was at the startup Wildfire, which was a social media marketing software company in Redwood City, California that was acquired by Google. So I've been working in MarTech for seven or eight years now and been in go-to-market roles or product marketing roles the entire time. And I love it. It's really a good alignment of my skill set and something I'm really passionate about. So yeah, that is me. I'm located in Boston. And yeah, I love the Product Marketing Alliance. I think it's an awesome community and so I'm pumped to be on the podcast today.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 01:54

Awesome. Thank you. And then how was that? So you mentioned you worked at Wildfire, the start-up, how did that compare then going into two huge companies like Google and HubSpot?

Marcus Andrews 02:04

Yeah, you know out of college, I worked at a PR agency because I was a communications major. And I think I saw Wildfire, I was in Boston at the time and we were using Wildfire as a vendor. And I just saw what they were doing, and I saw this whole wave of social media marketing at the time in 2011, was just taking off. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, this company's gonna blow up. They're going to do huge things I really want to join and be part of it". And it was an amazing ride, I was there for just a year before we were acquired and the company was only three or four years old when it was acquired by Google. But we grew from like 100 people to 300 people. And it was just a great experience to be part of a small technology startup like that, that really had rapid rocketship growth. And then we were acquired by Google and I was lucky enough to work at Google for those years and really get that experience and learn from them and then me and my wife, we wanted to come back to the east coast and I found HubSpot and HubSpot kind of found me and it was a great fit. But yeah, it was a really interesting experience going from a startup to a big company, like Google, and then HubSpot has really had some amazing growth itself. So very different, I think it's different skill sets that you have to learn, but both are great for different reasons. So I've been lucky in the different kinds of companies that I've been able to work at and work for.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 03:30

Yeah, sure. And then so you recently wrote a post for us on narrative design. So for anyone who's not had chance to read the article yet, can you just give us a bit of background into what narrative design actually is?

Marcus Andrews 03:41

Yeah, absolutely. So I think that it's sort of an evolution of product positioning. And when I first started working in product marketing, I think that people looked at messaging and they said, "Hey, let's take a bunch of creative marketers who were really really well versed in the product, and let's have them name products and write copy and build pitch decks". And that feels to me like where a lot of product marketing really started. And then people started to get smarter. And they started getting more strategic. And they said, "Well, let's take this messaging and let's really root it in the market, and where we want to be, and who we want to be, and how we're different from different products and our competitors". And I think that is where we're at today in a lot of ways with product positioning, and really well researched, well done product positioning. A lot of companies still don't do that today, but I think more and more people are, this last year has been huge for that. April Dunford put out a book, obviously awesome, around product positioning and I think a lot of people have picked that up and really invested in it. But there's something new emerging that I think is really important, because every single software category, every single technology category is just really, really crowded right now. And so, there are people doing what I call narrative design, which I just wanted to put a name on strategic narrative development. People like Andy Raskin, people like Brian Halligan at HubSpot when he first launched the company, people like Dave Gerhardt at Drift and at Privy, they're investing in these stories that really separate them from competition and build like a new category, but also a new game and a new idea in people's minds. And this, I really think is the future of messaging and product positioning and product marketing really. So I love those ideas and I love that work. And I really just wanted to unpack it, and look at it through my own lens and give it a name and apply the process of strategic narrative development to narrative development. And that's how I arrived at narrative design. So yeah, read the post, there's a lot in there. But that's how I think about it.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 05:45

And then you kind of mentioned the benefits there of entering new categories of the markets and that kind of thing. So why else is it so important for people to take this new approach would you say?

Marcus Andrews 05:55

Yeah, absolutely. So you know, we talked a little about Wildfire in 2011 and that company grew so fast and was acquired so quickly because we were the very first or maybe the second in this brand new category of social media marketing, we had an entirely new blue ocean of opportunity to just run at. We had a good team, we had good technology, we had all these things going for us, but the big thing we had going for us was just this massive blue ocean. And if you look at that same category today versus what it looked like in 2011, it's something like 4,000% more crowded than it was back then. And software has just absolutely exploded. So if you work in software, you work in technology, competition, and category, every category is so so crowded. So product positioning, which worked over the last five years, isn't working like it used to, because you're always playing somebody else's game. And you're always fighting to be heard in this very, very noisy environment. So I think people really have to try something different. And that's what narrative design and strategic narratives do. A lot of them, they don't necessarily invent a new category, but they reframe one, like Drift has been really, really successful at this where they went into a crowded category, live chat, and if you look at their products, it's like, "Hey, live chat. Live chat exists. This is a crowded category", but they flipped the category on its head, created something new, created a new story, called it conversational marketing, and have done something really interesting. This is the same approach that at HubSpot, we took with inbound marketing, we looked at the state of marketing, looked at what has changed in the world, and then built something new, a new game, a new process. It has been extremely successful for HubSpot. So that's why it's so important today. You don't want to get caught up in these really, really crowded categories, just playing somebody else's game because it's really hard to win. And most of these categories are like a winner takes all, there's one company that ends up eating 80% of the market, and maybe there's 20% of the market left over that's a long tail for everybody just to fight over. And it's not ideal if you want to grow.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 08:06

Yeah. And then how long has HubSpot been taking this approach to positioning?

Marcus Andrews 08:09

Yeah, so the great thing about HubSpot is that Brian Halligan, our co-founder, has always been a student of this process. And he has been telling the exact same strategic narrative story for the entire life of HubSpot. So something like 12 years now, he says the same thing, the same story over and over again. And a lot of the time these strategic narratives, these narrative design, you have to have a lead narrative designer and a HubSpot, Halligan is that person. He has been telling the story that was a part of HubSpot's inception from the very, very beginning. And it's how he thinks about everything. So that was how the initial pitch deck for HubSpot looked at the world and said, "Hey, the world is changing. People are ignoring outbound interruptive marketing. We need to change, we need to introduce something new. That is inbound marketing. Hey, that's hard to do. But here's HubSpot to help you do it". So Halligan's been telling that story for a long time. I was able to work with him two years ago when we introduced a new product line called Service Hub. And we essentially applied the same process to this new product line. So even though there's one main story that we've been telling, for 12 years, we were able to rev on it and use the process to introduce new product lines and introduce new stories. But yeah, usually that's how it works best. This can't be something that just the product marketing team does, it has to be something that really comes from either your CMO, your marketing leader, or your founder.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 09:45

Then what would your advice be, because this is something when I spoke to Andy Raskin on this recently about that kind of CEO and executive-level input, what would your advice be for product marketers who just don't get input from above on this kind of thing? How should they tackle it?

Marcus Andrews 10:00

Yes, you really have to. I think that what has happened to me when we initially started working on Service Hub is that I went into a big executive review with a really slick narrative that I felt really, really good about, that had strong research and strong positioning. And we pitched it to Halligan and the rest of our team, and Brian said, "Hey, this is great. But here's what I want you to do. I want you to look and I want you to find a change in the world. I want you to understand how people should react to it. And then I want you to show how our tools help people do that. It's four slides, and I need you to build it into this format". And that was, of course, frustrating because we've done all this work, but it's where you have to start. A lot of, I think, the goal of the product marketing team has to be to get executives and your entire company really aligned and bought into the same message and that can only come when you have the leader of your company or the leader of your marketing, really bought into this and taking ownership over it. So that was a very enlightening thing for me. And I think a very important thing. So I would just encourage teams, you have to start at the top and you have to pitch this process to people, you have to pitch the process to your founders, or your marketing leader, and say, "Hey, this is what I would like to do. This is what it's going to look like, let's talk about the process". Maybe you make it your own, you don't have to 100% look at the current process, as Andy Raskin talks about it, or as I talked about, or how Brian Halligan talked about it, you can make it your own, it should have the same components. But once you've done that, then you can start to build a narrative, don't build a narrative and take it and pitch it. Usually just because that won't work because the executive team won't have ownership over it. So that's what I really learned on that topic.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 11:50

And then you mentioned a couple of companies before who are already owning this like Drift, for example, is this something that you've seen a lot more companies adopt and what do you think lies in the future? Is it something that you think is going to eventually take over the traditional product positioning?

Marcus Andrews 12:06

Yeah, I think so. So product positioning and narrative design, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. If you're launching a new product, or even if you're doing narrative design, you should still do product positioning. And you should still use great product positioning to talk about your products and your features. But it's really at the company level, or like a new product line level, where you want to do narrative design. And absolutely, I think that we don't really know but I think everyone's looking at these companies who are doing narrative design and trying to figure out what they're doing. You know, they've got this really strong identity, they have these really strong centralised messages that they're coming up with these really powerful stories and everyone is taking notice. And it can absolutely be done in different categories, but it's one of those things that, just like product positioning was, that people need to figure out soon and take advantage of it before it becomes table stakes. And before someone else has done it in their market, the problem is, if you're in a crowded category, and you try and do this after someone else has already done it, you're going to be late to the game and potentially playing in their sandbox. So yeah, I absolutely think you're going to see more of this. I think that new startups that come along, who are able to implement this early and build it into their DNA, are going to do really, really well, especially now and over the next at least five years.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 13:29

And then so if someone's listening to this right now, and they're kind of using the traditional product positioning, I guess, would your advice be to make that switch over to narrative design? And if so, how would they actually go about doing that?

Marcus Andrews 13:43

Yes, absolutely. Because while the two can exist together, your product positioning and your messaging really needs to be built into this larger story. So if you haven't designed a strong narrative, a strong strategic narrative, what ends up happening is that your product positioning keeps getting reinvented or invented by different teams and you end up with a lot of really good product positioning, that doesn't make sense together, that is kind of all over the place, which isn't ideal, obviously. So it's important to start with a strategic narrative and build it out and then have everything consistently ladder up to it, so you're maybe not telling the story in every single place, but it all is in concert with that larger story. So if you don't have this larger story, it really depends on the size of the company I think or where you're at with something new. Whether you're starting a company launching a new product, or launching a new product line, that's probably the time to think about, "Oh, let's look at our strategic narrative and try and design something here that is a game and has winners and losers and revolves around change". And then think about product positioning. So if you don't have it, definitely do it. But figuring them out together I think is what's Important.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 15:01

And then in product marketing, there's a lot of templates and frameworks out there and especially for like positioning statements and that type of thing, which I know in themselves can kind of divide opinion. But are there any framework equivalents for this narrative design?

Marcus Andrews 15:15

Yeah, so it's pretty simple which is the nice thing about it. I think it's very straightforward and there are different flavours of it. This is definitely where Andy Raskin excels. And I love his work. And with my piece, I was just trying to really unpack the work that he's done and how Halligan thinks about it. But how it got introduced to me and I think what we use at HubSpot, is what I would recommend for everyone. And that's number one: you have to be a student of change and think of yourself as a cultural anthropologist. So you're constantly looking at humans and human behaviour and trying to figure out, what are people doing differently? The good thing is that humans are constantly changing. We're always doing stuff differently. Technology has only accelerated that. And when you start to think about the world that way, you start to notice things that people are doing. Mobile devices is a good example of this, however many years ago, people just didn't have access to a supercomputer in their pocket that they could look at while they're at a bus stop. Video is like that, there are all these trends in how people behave. And when you start to notice them, you start to pick up on them, and that's really at the foundation of telling these good stories. So one, you got to understand change and find a change in the world that you want to talk about. Two is you have to understand, how does this translate into what businesses should do? So if there's been this massive change in the world, how should a business react to this? And what are the businesses that are doing it right doing? And what are the businesses that are doing it wrong doing in the old way? So there's a new way and there's an old way and those are your winners and losers, and then the story empathises with people around how hard this is. So of course, you want to what the winners are doing, you want to do it the new way, you want to adapt to this change, but it's really difficult. The original inbound story was you didn't have the strategy, you had to convince your bosses, you had to buy separate blogging and social media tools, you needed all of these things. And what that tees up is you're able to introduce your solution to people, so it really goes change in the world, winners and losers, empathy, and then you get to introduce your product and what it is that you've built. And then you just get to celebrate these people and sort of create this club. So those are the big four or five steps. And you can think about them in that high level. And you don't really need to get too into the weeds because those should always be very consistent. And then you just make it your own from there. So yeah, it's a repeatable process. But if you don't figure out that change in the world that is unique to your business and unique to you, that's the real challenge. And that's where it all hinges on.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 18:00

So let's say if someone was listening to this podcast right now and they've got a new product launch on the horizon, how would they go about bringing narrative design to life as part of that launch?

Marcus Andrews 18:11

Yeah. So narrative design is usually at the company level, so if you haven't figured it out, definitely figure it out. What we do at HubSpot is that we're able to look at the product and say, "Alright, we've got a product that we're excited to introduce into the market. Let's do great product positioning on this and figure out how we're unique, how people think about us, the story that we're trying to tell, and then let's ladder it up into the larger inbound story". A good example of this is when I first started working at HubSpot, I launched our ads product and ads inside of HubSpot was a very cool new feature, but it didn't fit super nicely inside of the inbound marketing story. And so what we did was that we did great positioning for the product, but then we also focused a lot about how ads could be inbound. How ads actually help amplify good content and how it's all part of this game that you're playing when you're trying to think about inbound versus outbound marketing. And so we were able to fit it into it and ladder it up nicely. And then the thing, depending on the size of your company, the thing that really helps the launch at HubSpot, because we're bigger and growing all the time, and we have a large marketing team is that you can take this story, which encapsulates the strategy and how it fits into the narrative and the product. And you can take it to all the teams inside of your company, and you can pitch that story and if you're a content marketer, and a PMM comes to you, and they tell you about, "Hey, we've got this interesting technical product that we're rolling out", they're like, "Okay, great, cool. I can write about that." But if you pitch them a story that plugs into the larger narrative, that has good positioning, they are going to get very excited and they're going to bring it to life in a very interesting way that ladders up into this narrative. So those are the steps. Building great positioning, ladder it up into the narrative and then really pitch the story in an interesting way internally or externally.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 20:10

Yep. And then in terms of internal pitching, what does that look like for you? So, for example, is it meetings with individual teams? Or like, how do you go about actually delivering that information?

Marcus Andrews 20:21

Yeah. So I think meetings with individual teams are effective and it's important to get that face time really just to transfer energy to people I think is the most important part of those meetings. Product marketers, we're glue inside of companies, and a huge part of a good product marketer and a good product marketing team is that you bring momentum to launches. So I think it's super important for companies to be product lead and to really be rooted in their product when they go to market. But the stories have to be interesting and fun and exciting. And it's a product marketers job to really do that. So I think these stories help and those meetings will help get people fired up and excited and understand the story and also thinking creatively about what it is and how they can bring it to life. So those in-person meetings are super important. The other things that I think work really well are just a press release first process, where a really tight deck around the story that you're pitching, Loom has been an awesome tool for us internally at HubSpot, where we'll either write the press release and put it out in the Wiki at the same time we're doing these product roadshows and going on meetings. And I'll create a Loom of me pitching the deck that people can quickly download here in Cambridge, or maybe in some of our global offices especially or people in different time zones.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 21:56

And then just to go back to the actual narrative design creation process. I know you mentioned Brian Halligan gets involved in that, who else is typically involved in that process?

Marcus Andrews 22:05

Yeah. So that's definitely another secret to HubSpot, that our executives care really, really deeply about the stories that we tell, especially Brian. So yeah the players in that process are really our product marketing team, our product team, I think our product team cares about it too which is awesome. It's really nice to have a product team that thinks about product positioning and stories and narrative design. So it'll start as a collaboration between the product team and the product marketing team. And then we really work with marketing leadership, my director, our VP, to hone in on the right story to figure it out to make sure it's great. Our CMO is involved. And then we bring it to Brian. And so hopefully by the time we go and we pitch to Brian and get his feedback, we've got a really strong story that's bulletproof in a lot of ways, but the process is always very iterated. So I don't think we ever expect to get in front of our CMO, or Brian or founder, and have something that we just knock out of the park on the first shot. Usually, it's something that we go in, and everybody makes it their own and iterates on the process. So it can take time, I think with a company our size, it does end up meaning that we move a little bit slow with some of these things. But I think what's most important is that by the time we get to market, we have this story that's actually really compelling and tight. So yeah, that's what it looks like for us at HubSpot.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 23:37

It sounds like a great setup and I was talking a lot, I had a podcast with your colleague Jeffrey Vocell, not too long ago, and this came up as well. And he was saying how various bits of his work it'll go up to Brian Halligan for CEO approval and I was like, "Wow, that must take absolutely ages like to get all the way up". And he was like, "No surprisingly not that long", because not with PMA as such but in a previous life, when I've worked in-house at companies, and when we'd get people like executive-level involved, things could take months sometimes. But then I guess you've got this culture where it's all built-in, I guess it streamlines things and makes it a lot easier to get that airtime.

Marcus Andrews 24:15

Yeah the way we do it, I think does optimise for it, like it does take long, there's a lot of autonomy and individual work at HubSpot, which is good and allows us to go fast. This is not an example of that because it does end up becoming a process but it's important because this one story is a fabric for all of the other work and sometimes it's a challenge when executives want to be in the weeds with the words and everything that's happening here. But I think it's really part of the secret sauce for HubSpot actually, because by Brian caring so much about this when he's bought into a story, and when our entire marketing leadership team has bought into a story, the impact that you can have is huge. So we launched Service Hub, which is his new product line, two years ago now, and it hinged around this story of HubSpot, really encouraging everyone and redefining the go-to-market model. So in the past HubSpot has been all about the marketing funnel. And we said the marketing funnel is dated, we're going to retire it, we want to introduce this flywheel. The flywheel is all about the customer. It's all about sales, service and marketing working together. And that was a story that me and my GM worked directly with Halligan on and marketing was bought into, and we had a massively impactful launch because everyone was so deeply invested in this story, it took a while to get there but it's like vector alignment. If everybody's bought in and if everybody's rowing in the same direction, and you have everyone who's very clear on the story, the impact that you have is huge. So, yeah, sometimes it can be a challenge, but I do think it's important.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 26:01

Out of curiosity, how did that set up compare to when you were at Google? What kind of level of input did executives there have and was it as easy or?

Marcus Andrews 26:10

So Google is very different just in terms of the size, and Google's just a very engineering-driven culture. So I think that at Google, it was more about, let's make really smart data-driven decisions around rolling out new products and having the sales team invest in different products. And then it was sort of my job to package them up and enable the sales team. So it was kind of a shift and I think product marketing 1.0 was a lot about that, like, 'let's roll out new products, have a smart group of creative generalists marketers package these up, use it to enable the sales team and then bring it to market'. I think now the new model in product marketing is more, 'let's build a strategic narrative, great positioning, in concert with the product team, and then roll that out to the marketing team and use that as air cover for the entire campaign and the sales process'. So it's different. I think it's an evolution. I don't know exactly, it's been five years since I worked at Google so I don't know exactly what their product rollout looks like. But I imagine it's still very product and engineering-driven.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 27:27

Yeah, sure. And then so when people have nailed down this narrative design, what are the knock-on effects they need to consider in terms of, will it affect how salespeople pitch or if there are landing pages out there will it affect any of the copy?

Marcus Andrews 27:43

For it to work well, and I think companies like Gong and Drift really do this well, they have that very clear identity. So if you have the strategic narrative and you're rolling it out, everything has to ladder up into this at some point, it's extremely effective for sales pitches. So I think a sales pitch, or a sales conversation, or a pitch or a deck where they're able to use a strategic narrative instead of just product positioning and typical competitive intelligence. They love this, so I think if you do it right, and make sure that your sales team has bought into it, and whether it's training or working with them and enabling them in the right way, they will absolutely love it. And they should be telling the same story over and over again. And everything needs to have a flavour of this design for it to work really, really well. So I think if you are going to redesign your narrative or reframe where you're at in the market, it's super important to make sure that's reflected in your website and your pitch deck and your sales calls. And that may seem monumental, but it actually simplifies things because then there's just this single story that is the lens that you look at everything through. So things become less complicated and less messy.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 29:05

Yeah. And then what does the process of enabling sales look like for you at HubSpot? Is that something you and your team are directly involved with?

Marcus Andrews 29:14

At HubSpot we've gotten more product lead, our product marketing team is taking a slight step back from sales enablement, and we have a sales enablement team who are really great. But what we're able to do is create a lot of air cover for our sales team. So hopefully before the time buyers, before the time someone has had a conversation with our sales team, they've already seen a product page, they've already read a blog post, they've already seen a video or an ad. Maybe they've even used the product, they've already started to absorb this narrative, even if they couldn't recite it to you, they're already getting an idea that like "Oh wow, I want to do inbound that's why I'm talking to HubSpot" or, "I want to go from funnel the flywheel. That's why I'm talking to HubSpot". So the great thing there is that it really tees up the sales team to have this conversation. And so a lot of the time I think it's just enabling them to bring it home, they need to be able to understand the narrative and really feel it in their hearts and their heads, but also they need to help the customer understand how HubSpot or how you the product is going to help them achieve this thing. Whether it's going from funnel to flywheel, how is investing in Service Hub, with what you use with HubSpot going to enable you to do that. That is the thing you've really got to work with sales to help figure out, so that they're tight on that.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 30:39

Yeah. And then what does the maintenance process then look like for you? So obviously, with HubSpot, narrative design's been around for a long time, how often do you then revisit it and how do you go about validating if it's still on point?

Marcus Andrews 30:52

Yeah, that's such a good question. I mean, I think you want to stay relevant and modern, so HubSpot's been around for a while, we've been telling the same story for a long time, it's nice because we've branched out into new product lines and new audiences and have grown with the times, introduced freemium models. So all of that gives us an opportunity to look at the narrative and update it and refresh it. The amazing thing about HubSpot, and I think which is really smart is that we just keep telling the same story basically, again, and again, and again. But with updates here and there. I mean, I think that the flywheel is a really good example of this. So in inbound marketing, one of the main tools that we give the players of the game, so to speak, is the funnel. You have the marketing funnel, and it's really going to help you go from outbound to inbound and we're gonna help you nurture people down it. We said that this really important tool in inbound marketing we're going to retire, and we're going to replace it with a new tool that we want you to take on, that was a pretty big change in our whole process. But it was something that was able to refresh how we look at the world based on change. So that's an example. I mean, I think what you have to do is like, you look at that original change that you addressed, and if people have changed, then you got to refresh the process. So if all of a sudden outbound marketing started working again, we would have to change again. But if you get it right the first time, and I think if you really root it in the real change, then you can keep telling the same story over and over again.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 32:31

Awesome. And then final question from me. So if someone is making this kind of switch and introducing narrative design, how could they go about measuring the impact it's having on the business?

Marcus Andrews 32:43

Yeah, absolutely. So I think that comes back to the categories, so like I mentioned, all of these categories, and especially in software are just so crowded. And what you're trying to do with narrative design is really rise above the noise, and really establish yourself as different, as something new. And I think that you can look at the effectiveness of, is this actually sticking? Did you rename the category? And is that sticking? And one great way to look at that is search volume. So most of the time, it's very scary to introduce a new category or to introduce a new narrative, because there's no search demand for it, you're introducing something new. You're not plugging into an existing category where there's existing search demand. But you can measure that demand over time if you're doing it right. So you know, if you look at Google search trends of inbound marketing, however many years ago, there was no demand for it. But now there's a lot of search volume for inbound marketing. So if you do it right, you're creating demand for something new. And you can measure that demand in all sorts of ways, especially Google search, which is a great way to look at it. So I think that's helpful. I think a close rate of your deals is another important way. Usually, if you're in a really crowded category, your sales team is probably going to struggle to close deals effectively. But if they've got a great narrative, and they're able to tell that story really effectively, they'll start to close more deals quicker. I think that you can also, as you're creating content around this narrative, it's really easy to see what works and what doesn't, because you'll introduce an idea and people will love it, they'll read, they'll engage with it on social media, they will come to your blog, they will visit it, they will read it. And if it's something that's off, or doesn't make sense, or isn't resonating, they won't. So those are just some quick examples, but ultimately, it's where you sit in this category, are you a market leader? Or are you just fighting for scraps in the long tail?

Bryony Pearce - PMA 34:56

Okay, well, awesome. That's all my questions today Marcus, thank you so much for taking some time out and teaching us all a little bit about narrative design. It's been great having you on the show.

Marcus Andrews 35:04

Awesome, thank you. It's been really fun. I'm excited. Hopefully people like this idea and I would love to think more about it and help other companies figure out how they can do it. So thanks for having me on. It's been a pleasure.

Bryony Pearce - PMA 35:16

Oh it's all ours, and for anyone who wants to read Marcus's blog post, we'll include the link above the transcript below this podcast.

Written by:

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Bryony's the CMO for Product Marketing Alliance. She's been with the company since day dot and leads our marketing, courses, content, community, and customer success teams

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Product Marketing Life [podcast]: Marcus Andrews