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Developing and Using Your Product Story

Behind every successful consumer product is a powerful product story. Your product story is your sales pitch.

Dyson makes excellent vacuum cleaners but the reason they’re able to charge a premium is that they tell excellent product stories.

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    Why Product Stories Matter

    We’re living in a world of overabundance.

    Google the problem your creation solves and Google will show a scary number of ads competing for your customers.

    You know your product is the best but your site visitors don’t … yet.

    You’ve spent countless hours fine-tuning and developing your breakthrough invention. It’s literally the result of sleepless nights. You’ve made so many sacrifices, risked so much to bring it to life.

    Don’t rely on product features and benefits alone to close the sale. There’s a better way πŸ™‚

    Product Story How To Graphic


    Over the last 11 13 years of relentless A/B split testing, we’ve seen the awesome power of product stories. This article is a step-by-step guide to developing the perfect product story and testing it on your product page.

    I don’t want to mislead: you need to put in 24 hours of hard work to complete the product story development. On one hand, that’s a crapload of time but let me prove why it’s the best investment πŸ’° you can make (watch this video):

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      Evidence

      We have 25 case studies that show how conversion rates improve when sales pitches are improved.

      If you are short on time and can read just one make sure it’s this: How One Section Lifted Overall Sales.

      Before getting into the process let’s cover the basic definitions that will help you breeze through the main content–

      Control: this is your current page.

      Default state: this is what a visitor sees when they first land on that page.

      Micro-improvements: this is where we make minor improvements.

      Picture Story: this is where we use the image that’s already on the page to communicate our sales pitch. A Picture Story is a type of micro-improvement. Picture Story example here:

      Long-form sales pitch (LFSP): this is where we show our full-length pitch. Designed for Diggers (explained in the next section).

      Lightbox: a lightbox is a popup. It looks like this:

      Example of a lightbox

      Now that we’ve got the definitions out of the way let’s look at the two types of buyers.

      Two Types of Visitors

      There are two (2) types of buyers that stumble onto your product pageβ€” Skimmers and Diggers.

      Skimmers like surface-level content. They just want the headline news. The quick pitch.

      Diggers are content seekers. They are skeptics.

      Learn more about Skimmers and Diggers.

      Why Diggers Matter

      In my experience, over 60% of site visitors are Skimmers.

      Skimmers are well cared for. All your competitors are going after them, so there is little conversion value left to be extracted from Skimmers.

      But no one is going after Diggers– because they are a hard group.

      So while they are a smaller group (less than 30%) they are under-served. To leapfrog ahead go after Diggers.

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        An Example

        This article about constructing your killer product story is pretty long. At this point, I’d like to stop and run through an actual example so you can see how the work, which is explained step-by-step below, shapes up. Please watch this video:

        Documents mentioned in the video:

        – The analysis doc

        – Flow diagram of the concept

        Next, let’s discuss the actual deconstruction process. This is where things get exciting.

        Infusing Your Product Story into Your Product Page

        It’s a four-step process.

        Step 1

        Task 1: Deconstruction

        Take a screenshot of the page and, starting from the top, number every element. Here’s an example.

        Three reasons why Deconstruction matters:

        Your goal is to write commentary about each annotation. If you have nothing to say about an annotation label it NC (No comment.) By the time you to are at the last annotation, you will be amazed at the list of micro-improvements identified. Examples of micro-improvements:

        β€” We can improve the persuasiveness of a line.
        β€” Important terms can be converted into lightbox links for Diggers.
        β€” We can remove unnecessary words and sentences. Remember, every idea expressed on a page is a tax. The copywriter needs to ask, “is this particular tax absolutely needed?”
        β€” The clarity of a sentence can be improved. Guess what happens when they aren’t clear? They don’t buy.
        β€” Words used in a sentence can be updated. Every word has a vibe, an energy. We want to ensure our sales pitch is setting the right mood. For example, in the sentence, “This air purifier was manufactured at a specialized production facility” manufactured could be replaced with assembled to evoke a premium feel.

        Individually, such small tweaks may generate 0.05% improvements, but across a whole page, with dozens of such improvements, things add up.

        Note: It’s too early for you to have the final copy for each annotation at this stage. That will come to you as you progress through each of the four steps of the exercise. For now, just fill in the details to the best of your ability. We’ll be visiting Step 1 Task 1 a few times.

        Task 2: Feedback Beacons

        We want to include feedback beacons in our sales pitch to know if individual sections are resonating. Typically, those feedback beacons are in {Yes} / {No} format. These need to be added at points in the sales pitch where we’re making key points.

        Why Feedback Beacons Matter

        The most basic way to know if your improved page is better is to look at the conversion rates. But that’s very binaryβ€” it will reveal if your page worked, or didn’t

        You added 4 new content blocks to the page. How do we know if block 2 did really well but block 4 turned off buyers? That’s the info feedback beacons collect.

        Watch this video to see how we use Feedback Beacons:

        Go back to Task 1 (Deconstruction) to see where all these

        Feedback Beacons can be added.

        Task 3: Selling Angles

        Sales pitches are built on top of selling angles. An explanation of selling angles (along with a video walkthrough) is available here: Selling Angles

        All selling angles should be used in our concept. What changes is the amount of emphasis placed on that Selling Angle.

        Note your shortlisted Selling Angles by importance:

        SA1:

        SA2:

        SA3:

        SA4:

        SA5:

        Return to Task 1 (Deconstruction) and see which of these selling angles can be used as part of micro-improvements.

        Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP). You can also use the selling angle as both a micro-improvement and in LFSP.

        Step 2

        Task 1

        Spend some time studying the pages outside the Control. We’re looking for content ideas and assets for our new page:

        β€”
        β€”
        β€”

        If any of these ideas can be included in Step 1 Task 1 (Deconstruction) please do so. Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP).

        Task 2

        Study competitor sites/knowledge sites (like blogs, articles, and research papers) and note interesting copy snippets:

        β€”
        β€”
        β€”

        If any of these ideas can be included in Step 1 Task 1 (Deconstruction) please do so. Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP).

        Task 3

        There must be interesting facts, figures, and statistics about this product category or the problem it solves that can be found via Google searches.

        We’re looking for things that can be used as surprising details or things that make us look like experts.

        Note those observations here:

        β€”
        β€”
        β€”

        If any of these ideas can be included in Step 1 Task 1 (Deconstruction) please do so. Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP).

        Task 4

        Return to Step 1 Task 3 to review the Selling Angles list and see if you have any updates for it.

        Step 3

        Task 1

        How can we visually increase the impact of our pitch? There are a few paths here:

        Using an analogy to bolster our pitch. Express the analogy in writing.

        to learn about using analogies read this post: The Power of Visualization.

        Note analogy ideas here:

        β€”
        β€”
        β€”

        If any of these ideas can be included in Step 1 Task 1 (Deconstruction) please do so. Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP).

        Introducing a contrast device to accentuate our point. Express the contrast in writing.

        Contrast can be shown by “with” and “without” or “before” and “after”.

        Contrast can also be shown using the time dimension. Something like, “technology has radically improved in the last 5 years.”

        Note contrast ideas here:

        β€”
        β€”
        β€”

        If any of these ideas can be included in Step 1 Task 1 (Deconstruction) please do so. Don’t worry about using all these ideas as micro-improvements. The ones that don’t make it to the micro-improvement list will be considered for the long-form sales pitch (LFSP).

        Step 4

        Now that all micro-improvements have been completed we are ready to construct our long-form sales pitch (LFSP). This will be delivered to diggers as a lightbox window.

        When crafting the first draft of the long-form sales don’t worry about length or perfection. Just take the ideas we’ve identified from steps 1, 2, and 3 and place them on a blank page.

        Next, we’re going to add a few more ideas to reinforce our sales pitch.

        Task 1

        Develop a strong headline for your sales pitch.

        Task 2

        Try and use some of these arguments either as micro-improvements or on the LFSP itself:

        β€” Most people hunting for the perfect [product category] give up in frustration. They never even make it this far.

        β€” Online shoppers typically spend 30 seconds on a page. Not sure I can explain all the benefits of our [product name] that quickly. If this topic is important to you (and we hope it is) please stay a while.

        β€” [Product category] aren’t created equal. There are many styles available online and before starting this looooong project we tested them all.

        β€” There’s far too much pressure to buy now, act now. Don’t feel rushed. We aren’t going anywhere. And when you’re ready we look forward to giving you the [best quality sleep of your life].

        β€” If, during competitor analysis, some missing features were identified now is a good time to talk about them. You can do that by saying: During development, we considered all the bells and whistles possible. Eventually, we concluded our [product category] should only have the features that really mattered (ignoring bells and whistles like____, ____, etc.)

        β€” If the product is simple use this template:

        Section headline: Isn’t this just a simple [putting mat]?

        You have a valid point. Seen one way, putting mats are simple devices. But even small details matter. For example, a simple thing like the ball rolling surface is actually quite a complicated, and important detail. The material has to be perfect. It needs to roll the ball just right: not too fast or slow. It needs to be designed so that as you move the mat in and out of storage the surface doesn’t turn into a series of speed bumps. We focussed on just a few details, but we nailed them.

        Task 3

        You need to now go through the micro-improvements and LFSP to ensure these elements have been included:

        β€” Seeds of curiosity. As a copywriter, I need the buyer to continue reading my product story. To do that at the end of strategic paragraphs I need to add sentences like:

        • But there’s more.
        • So read on.
        • But we didn’t stop there.
        • Let me explain.
        • Now here comes the good part.
        • Let us show you a better way.
        • Lower in the article we’ll explain the technology that makes our [product feature] possible.

        β€” Convert statements into implied statements. The idea is to leave out the punch-line and have the reader fill it. Example:

        Stated: There are over 122 energy drinks on the market. Ours is the best.
        Implied: There are over 122 energy drinks on the market. We’ve tried them all.

        In the second statement, we’re not saying our is the best, but that’s the conclusion the reader will fill in after reading it.

        β€” Softening. The reader expects the marketer to bash the competition. Don’t do it. Instead, empathize with the competition. Example: We use [muslin cotton] but understand why other brands don’tβ€” it’s expensive and requires a special manufacturing process.

        β€” Twist. Twist always follows this template: “We started in this direction, thought it would be easy, encountered a problem, nearly gave up, and then, in the end, solved it.” Think about how you can incorporate this idea into your story.

        β€” Dramatization. The purpose of dramatization is to add dramatic effect. It’s a little bit of a show-off. Instead of saying quiet motor, say imperceptibly quiet motor.

        β€” Elegance. Replace words with words that sound more elegant– feel more premium.

        Control: This air purifier was manufactured at a specialized production facility.
        Test:

        This air purifier was assembled at a specialized production facility.

        Task 4

        We want to include feedback beacons so we know if the various elements of our LFSP are resonating. Typically, those feedback beacons are in {Yes} / {No} format. Study the LFSP to see where all these feedback beacons can be added.

        And Then?

        A/B test your idea on your product page. Why test when I’ve just spent so much time building the damn sales pitch?

        Further Reading

        We hope you enjoyed this article that talked about what a product story is and how to use it to maximize conversion rates.

        We’ve spent the last 13 years in our marketing lab, experimenting with ways to optimize conversion rates and grow sales. We’re ready to spill the beans.

        The following articles will save you 13 years:

        β€” Before revealing the secret that’ll improve conversion rates by 20% let’s zoom out to see the forest from the trees: Optimize Conversion Rates: A Totally Different Approach

        β€” The article above revealed how to construct the perfect sales pitch. Now this killer pitch needs to be infused into your product page. We have just one chance to convert this visitor (only 15% of visitors ever return). Read this next: Infusing Your Product Story To Your Product Page.

        About Frictionless Commerce

        We deliver an unfair advantage to technical product DTC brands (for example, Dyson) by improving advertising effectiveness by 20% in 90 days. This is achieved using a buyer psychology conversion copywriting framework. All paid traffic eventually reaches the product page and this is where we strike. Our process.

        If you like doing the hard work yourself, our founder Rishi shares conversion ideas on LinkedIn every day. Connect with him here.

        If you want to make your life easier and still increase conversions, jump on a call.

        Comments 2

        avatar

        This is the first post about copywriting that really got me thinking in a long time. Would be extremely keen to see your favourite product story executions Rishi.

        Reply
        avatar post author

        Oddly enough, that’s the project I started today: find great (non Frictionless Commerce) examples of exceptional product page stories.

        I’ll share the results of the research with you.

        Reply

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