• PMM Camp
  • Posts
  • #67: Product Storytelling Cheatsheet

#67: Product Storytelling Cheatsheet

Master multi-level storytelling strategies with Samantha Rideout

What’s your story? Yes, you.

We’re all multi-faceted people and the reality is we don’t just have one story. Chances are you’d tell a slightly different story depending on who you’re speaking to.

Here’s a sample of the variety of stories I tell about myself:

  • I’m a spin girlie — I’m approaching my 100th class

  • I’m an avid reader (I read 1+ books a week)

  • I’m a 2X VP of Product Marketing

  • I’m a Greek language newbie

  • I’m a red-wine lover

  • I’m a creator

I’m many different things to many different people. And the same is true about your product — whether you’re marketing to businesses or consumers.

Which is why Samantha Rideout’s talk at the PMM Summit last week really resonated with me. She shared her product storytelling cheatsheet to help PMMs master multi-level storytelling strategies.

And today, I’m going to share her cheatsheet (and insights!) with you.

This edition is sponsored by Buried Wins, a win-loss provider that delivers customer insights to help you win new markets.

They just published a Research to Revenue cheatsheet, and it’s 🔥 If you’re a product marketing leader selling B2B software, this 9-step guide will show you how to turn your customer research into revenue.

You’ll learn how to setup a target market analysis program to help you:

  • understand where your business needs to win

  • identify the gaps standing in your way

  • present findings effectively

The key to growth lies within the customer voice. Grab your copy of the report for free.

Samantha’s Product Storytelling Cheatsheet

Samantha Rideout is the Director of Product Marketing at Cohere Health. She’s also a master storyteller and one of the funniest speakers I’ve ever seen on stage. Give her a follow on LinkedIn and I promise you won’t regret it.

Here’s the 10-step cheatsheet she shared in her talk:

Source: Samantha Rideout

Her session at the PMM Summit went into detail about each concept on the cheatsheet, but unfortunately we don’t have time for that here. (Highly recommend you catch Samantha giving this talk at a future event if you get the chance!).

But, I did want to share a handful of my favorite takeaways from her approach:

People are not computers

People are not one-size-fits-all. And so your product story shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all either. The most impactful stories connect with the human on the other side.

Start by defining the central idea

Build a strong foundation for your story with one central idea that will be carried throughout. Even if the story itself is adjusted or told in slightly different ways for different audiences, the central idea should remain the same.

Flexible narrative structures are stronger than function-forward or unnecessary sophistication

Some product stories are bare-boned and functional. Others are overly elaborate and impractical. But, the best ones are customizable.

Think of your product narrative as the Barbie Dreamhouse. Each user adapts it to their own use case and needs (IYKYK).

The greater the complexity, the more urgent the simplicity

The closer you get to the product, the harder it may be for you to explain it’s value to others.

Samantha shared a great example from Travis Kelce’s podcast (we’re both Taylor fans). In his show, there is a segment called No Dumb Questions. Even though Travis is a football expert, he struggles to answer basic questions like, “what is a down?”

This happens to PMMs too. Samantha’s advice? Take a step back and imagine you are a beginner. Then break it down to it’s most basic level.

Frame the product narrative around a central idea

Your audience may experience the story through different levels and entry points. if they’re higher in the funnel, they may be exposed to your brand story first. If they’re a paying customer, they may enter through a more product-focused narrative.

But, because you’ve defined your central idea, you can use it to guide your audience to the intended “aha” moment.

Samantha used an example from the TV show Modern Family to demonstrate how this comes to life.

In the episode, the family needs to make it back to a specific meeting location so they can complete an activity together. But, throughout the day, each of the characters has their own adventures and perspectives that throws them off course. They each live out a version of their own story, even though they’re embedded in the larger story.

And, at the end of the day, one central idea comes through: it’s OK if they aren’t together for the big things, because they’re together for the little things.

This central idea is a throughline that weaves its way into every vignette in the episode.


📚 Reading List: Many of our favorite stories use a narrative template called The Hero’s Journey. Masterclass as a great 101 guide to the technique.

Until next week,

Tamara Grominsky

Join the free Camper Connections program and connect with one new PMM each month.

You’ll have the chance to hop on a 30-minute call to:

💬 Chit chat

👯‍♀️ Make a new friend

💡 Get actionable advice

🚀 Find new ideas & inspiration

🌐 Expand your product marketing network

Whether you’re new to PMM or a seasoned director, you’re welcome to join!

The next round of matches goes out in 10 days. Join Camper Connections today to receive your match.