Marcus Andrews on crafting a new category through Narrative Design

Episode 111:
Marcus Andrews on crafting a new category through Narrative Design


This is an episode for: Product marketers, aspiring speakers, narrative designers and storytellers of all backgrounds.

Molly Geoghegan, Narrative Strategist

Molly Geoghegan

Mar 07, 2024

Marcus Andrews knows how to craft a good narrative. In fact, we’d argue he heavily contributed to developing the concept of Narrative Design when working in product marketing at HubSpot. 

Now as a Narrative Designer at Pendo, he joins us for a conversation around crafting a memorable narrative, what frameworks to use (or not) and how to create your own category. We exchange presentation experience stories and offer insight into what separates a good speaker from a great one.

Having recently completed PMA’s Narrative Design course led by Marcus, Mikey and I were excited to meet the teacher and bring our learnings to life in this conversation.

What's in the Spice Cabinet??

Book reccos?

Get certified—Take the PMA Narrative Design course for yourself!

Speakers to get inspired by?

  • MLK—GhostRanch wrote a lil blog on that in January 

Tune into the pod that Marcus started (but no longer hosts)

Join this year’s user conference from Pendo, Pendomonium

Marcus’s Walkout Song??

Follow Marcus on LinkedIn

Final thoughts for the PrezThinkers?

  • "I hope if you're listening to this you know, you take this stuff seriously and invest in it and have fun with it because I think it's worth it. And it's cool that you know— the world needs more people making good sides, building good presentations. Most of them are still real bad."


Click here to see the podcast transcript

Michael Mioduski  00:21

Welcome back to presentation thinking aka the storyteller Study Club. Molly Gagan, my co host today we have a very exciting guest.


Molly Geoghegan  00:31

I feel like I just graduated college and I'm like meeting the professor of my professor kind of thing, you know, because Mikey, we just finished the product marketing Alliance narrative design course. And we have Marcus Andrews, who is now the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Pendo. Here with us today. Welcome, Marcus, you've taught this course. And you've done a bunch of different things. Now we're both certified. And thank you for responding to Mikey on LinkedIn.


Marcus Andrews  00:57

Yeah, of course. I'm big fans that go strange. I love the type of work that you get do. And I think it's really cool. You got the podcast, you're very invested in this important topic that's near and dear to my heart, which is building presentations. So I think it's very cool. You all took the course. Very happy to be here. This should be fun. Fellow


Molly Geoghegan  01:17

nerd. Yes. Welcome. Awesome. Well, I mean, Marcus, we know a little bit about your product, marketing background and stuff. But expect even a few steps like what did you we always are curious about people's journeys to product marketing, because it's so varied. And that's such a new and emerging space. And so how did you get here? What did you What did you study in school?



I did go to school, I wasn't particularly good at it. I wouldn't say there's people who are probably better at school than I was, but I do. I didn't go to school. I was a PR major in journalism minor. At Indian, I went to Indiana State University and from Indiana. And yeah, I mean, I think even then, in school, like, you know, we would have the, you know, the group projects or whatever for communication classes. And like, I was usually the person who would bring some sort of like design element to it, like invisible, usually a visual element to it never been a designer never been a, just enough to be dangerous, but like it probably started there where I'm like, you know, like, just more of a visual thinker, maybe then a lot of people and care about that sort of stuff. And then yeah, I'll give you a quick version. I mean, I worked at a communications agency. And then I worked at I moved to a startup in Redwood City in California, and I was working on the services team there. And we our group sort of got picked up and plopped into like a value selling Solutions team, working closely with the sales team. And we did a lot of things. But the main thing that we did that I found really interesting, and I was just naturally good at that I gravitated towards was basically taking our products and turning it into customer facing solutions in the form of slides. And that's like, kind of where I started. And I'm like, what, you know, what am I doing this work is like I'm very keen on good at it. It's naturally aligned to like, the stuff I like to do. You know, it's like this combination of like, coming up with with interesting visuals in the form of like frameworks, and also you know, the product and then telling a story around it in a way that's generating revenue, and seems like it was product marketing. And so like, at that time in, like, 2010 2011, I'm like, I want to do product marketing. How do I do this, because I'm also like, just a marketer at heart. But I know there's a lot of value in being really close to the product, especially in technology companies, software companies. So they started off as that we got acquired by Google. When we joined Google, I was able to move to a team, where I was doing more of a product marketing role. It was like we had like some Google name for our team. It was like solution, something blah, blah. It's confusing, but it's a product marketing. And then I was there for a while. And then I'm, I live in the Boston area now. And it's where my wife is from, and I was in San Francisco area. But we moved back to Boston and joined HubSpot during the product marketing team there, and was on the product marketing team for about a little over five years at HubSpot and then joined Pendo, three years ago yesterday actually doing product marketing then, so some sort of Product Marketing since 2010 2011. Building slides, you know, most days probably every week, during that,


Molly Geoghegan  04:18

and slides have been the constant companion for the changes. I like that. Always



there with me they are at least it was I don't think I mean, at one point, I was doing stuff in PowerPoint, but it's really all been Google Slides. last decades.


Michael Mioduski  04:30

That makes sense. Moving on to Google. And I think, you know, slide where, whether it's PowerPoint or Google Slides, the occasional keynote, people still sometimes ask about Prezi but I don't think whatever it is, what is it about slides? Like? I think a lot of people in b2b in marketing and business kind of have it's kind of polarizing, some people issue it see it as this like necessary evil, just like just throw some slides together. Check the boxes. Seems like you've actually embraced it and I'm curious why you Think you see them as something more than just, you know, making something prettier checking a box?



Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it's, um, you know, in the format slides have been around for a while, right, like Don Draper, like clicking through the Kodak carousel. Right. So it's just, yep. So it's part of, you know, it's sort of built into the DNA, I think of like, you're going to pitch something, you're going to use slides to do it. And for sure, they can be really bad and dangerous. And like slides in the wrong hand can go like can be awful. And so I do think like, at one point, there was like a LinkedIn conversation where a lot of salespeople were like, slides of the enemy. And don't use slides. I never use any slides for something. And it's just like, I didn't quite get it, because it's just a format. I really like it. Because the combination of an image and words is a pretty proven like format to communicate a story. It's like, you know, ads are like that. And like, it's just, if you keep it simple, it's just this aid. And I think it also sort of puts people into like, okay, they're gonna, they're gonna walk me through something, I'm gonna like, sit back and listen to this. So, you know, there's definitely like good sides and bad sides. But I just think as a format, it really, really works. Because you're able to just, I mean, I think it's simple show a visual and show some simple text to go with it, where people can use it as an aid as they're telling the story, combination


Molly Geoghegan  06:23

of images and words. I mean, think about kids books, it's like, that's what we start with.


Michael Mioduski  06:27

Right? Mark is very impressed with your background. HubSpot is known to be sort of like the market to marketers, they you know, it's like HubSpot is great at marketing period. Right? What was it like working? There was a, you know, how did it influence you and, you know, teach you to be a better product marketer?



Yeah, it was fun to work there. For that perspective, for sure. You know, you're surrounded by a lot of really good marketers. And so I do think it's sort of like, you know, where there's high tides raise all ships. Yeah. Like, it pushed everybody to really be a marketer like, and one one thing that was I'm very grateful for is that like, you know, content marketing, especially at HubSpot, it's really important. And sort of everybody's got to be a content marketer. And so, you know, as product marketing team, we were doing a lot of writing and creating content, and, you know, coming up with like, new visuals, and that like, like, a lot of that was part of the job, and is great, you just build a really strong muscle like I can, you know, I can still do it. I can pretty quickly, like, crank out 1000 word blog post about a product or process. I did something like that for our analytics product recently. And it's just great to have. But yeah, I mean, I think that's one and then and then the other thing too, is that like, narrative design was really like born on my time at HubSpot, I mean, like they, the CEO, and well, the former CEO and founder Brian Halligan, who's now the, you know, he's on the board and all that there's new senior CEO Yamani. But he was he's just a great storyteller. I mean, you know, he really cares about it and invests in it, he understands the power of a narrative, I think he probably learned a lot from like Marc Benioff, he's probably like off of that tree, you know. So it was super important. And like, you know, narrative design, I can talk about the origin of it. But basically, I like came into a meeting with the C suite, where we had this new product line. And I came in with the narrative. And this was just part of like HubSpot to like you would come in and you would hit like a product marketers would pitch these stories to the C suite. And like, I don't know if that happens in a lot of companies. But I came in with it. And I pitched it, I felt so good about it and worked on this thing. Like, it's really good. This stuff, I'm like, this is gonna kill, it's got all the elements. It's like, it's really strong practice that, that he's kind of like Brian, or our CEO was kind of like, huh, and I'm like, you know, my like, okay, that's not that's not a great reaction is like, Huh, okay. And then he got it. But he goes over to the whiteboard. And he basically wrote out these, like, five steps that he has in his head for how he tells stories. And it was really, you know, at first I think I was like, well, that sucks. He doesn't like it. But then I went, maybe his do what he told me is like, okay, take your story, put it into this format, and then come back, and let's do it again. And it really unlocked for me that like, you know, good stories do need structure and a framework and like, something that's repeatable, because you can, especially in business, because I do think it helps people like, understand something because like story, for a lot of people just feels like mumbo jumbo in b2b, it's like why do I care about this? Like, why are you telling me about this, you know, story, we should be selling more building stuff, I don't know. But a lot of the carry is really, really important. And so I think when you have this framework that everybody knows about, people understand it and they're not scared of it, you know, it like it's just like, Okay, I get this and then they also you know, see the impact of it. So, so yeah, that was kind of how narrative design started for me and then I got this framework. I started to use it it was super powerful. I'm like this is this is really cool. Other people should know how to do this and in I think I think you can help others and so that that was kind of when I started thinking more about it and then writing about it and then eventually creating the course. So the PMA Yeah, that


Molly Geoghegan  10:07

story was such like an inciting incident it seemed for you and your your pathway for anyone not familiar. That's listening Product Marketing alliance is an awesome organization. Mikey and I have been chatting about Mini and episode. And yeah, we took it upon ourselves again, like storyteller Study Club, we want you guys put out this narrative design course in 2020 2021. Yeah,



put it I think 2021. Like early in 2021. Yeah. Develop


Molly Geoghegan  10:32

during COVID time. Yeah. And yeah. And so it feels great to yeah, we're just trying to always better ourselves to get that little narrative design badge on LinkedIn now. But yeah, Marcus, you run this? And yeah, what was, you know, what was that like? Aha moment, like, especially when you first put it out? And like what had been the feedback for that narrative design course? Because we haven't really seen much like it. And for folks that need to maybe be convinced that story is important, or like, or like it's too abstract. How would I go about even telling the story? Yeah, yeah. Has that framework been helpful for folks? Yeah,



it's been super helpful. I'm well, I mean, I was very surprised by the response it got there was I wrote this, when I kind of launched the idea I wrote this article, while it was called, like, why narrative design will replace product positioning and 2021 or 2020, or something like that. And it made it a lot about like, like, I do think product positioning is, it's not going to replace it, it's really important. But it's like bad product positioning is just like, like narrative design, we'll replace it. And it just got like a really crazy response. Like it just kind of blew up. And like I just like a lot of people were reaching out to me and like, asking me about it. And like in on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and then also on medium, I feel like medium was a lot bigger than and just like, got, like, reposted to the hidden Shaw's newsletter and stuff like that. So it's just just like, I just went really, you know, like viral for b2b marketing stuff, I guess as much as you can. Yeah, it's like, wow, there's a big appetite for that. And I think the biggest thing is just that, like, a lot of companies, and a lot of marketers they don't like, you can kind of think about narrative design in two ways. Like, they don't design their narratives, they don't even think they can, right. It's like, you have a company, and you build it, and you go into this market. And then you like, are just one of the companies in there. But like, you like you can design the narrative for your business. And so when people know about it, in your middle name, maybe we're talking about like brand a little bit. But like when people think of your company, they think they associate some story with it. And I don't think many companies even still take a lot of time to really invest in like, what is that story that those people are going to tell themselves? And like, why is that happening? Like? And what if we took the time to really like, construct it and design it in a way that, you know, helps make it easy for us to understand and differentiates us? And like? So I think that is something that unlocked an idea for a lot of people. Yes, I think that was out there. And then also the framework and the tool just as like, storytelling, you know, like storytelling, like, it's like mystery. It's like, black magic, like dark art, like people don't. And you just, I think anything that helps like, break it down and unpack it a little bit and gives people a framework and like, No, this isn't all that. Like, it's not just for magicians, like you can do it. Like I think that really, really helped people. Yeah,


Michael Mioduski  13:28

Mark is for anyone who doesn't like just clearly like, get it or see it. What are some examples in the real world that you've seen of? Okay, here it was, here's like, a company without a brand narrative, or a narrative design. And here's, like, here's excellent narrative design in practice.



Yeah, I mean, the, you know, the example that, you know, I learned the closest and other wells is HubSpot. Right. So, HubSpot, they launched into the marketing automation category, when they launched and like that category was super crowded by big dogs who had more money, more people, more customers than then and so they could have gone into that market. And they said, we do marketing automation. But instead, what they did is they went into that market and they said, we do inbound marketing. And they spent more money promoting inbound marketing than they did promoting like that HubSpot brand. And there's I have like a coldness in my in my course or like some data point basically like they started the company and they didn't promote the company as much as they promoted this idea of inbound marketing and they wrote a book about environment marketing and they had like, you know, created a ton of content around inbound marketing. And then all of a sudden, they weren't competing in this crowded marketing automation space. They had created a you know, in like, the like Christopher Lochhead in like play bigger that book you write about this a lot and like really, really good smart ways. They created this like category of one. You can call it category creation or whatever. I don't split hairs about that because I think the important thing means that you just you're taking the time to design your narrative, whether or not that creates a new category or whatever, like, whatever, like I don't, I feel like there's a lot of people like that stuff that to me, doesn't matter, as long as you're taking the time to design your own narrative. Yeah, they did that. And that's, like think was very novel. And still sort of is, like, of course, right? Like, why would you go into that crowded category and try to say, like, our marketing automation is better, because our reporting does this in a way like, it's just nobody gives a shit. It's like, you come in with inbound marketing, and it feels new. And you're plugged into like, these trends that are different, and like more modern, people love it, because everybody's out there looking for change. Everyone's you're terrified by change. And you're sort of like really motivated by the opportunity of change. Because the world is constantly changing. And so if you see something that like, feels new, and like, it's going to either save you from scary change, or create an opportunity, where if you move faster than everybody else, you can do something that like, like that sort of tapped into change. They wrote their own narrative, even they're in this crowded space. And you see with other companies, like Gainsight is a good example, with and Gong and like Pendo. And in a lot of ways, and so you know, there's lots of companies who are able to do that and differentiate themselves. I think


Molly Geoghegan  16:20

it creates what I think is so interesting to me story to so many things. There's the memorability piece, it's like sustainable, you can apply to so many facets of a brand or an organization, right. And they also creates this sense of like, you better be part of this, you know, like, it's a little bit of FOMO it's like, this is a grand, exciting journey, you know, the hero's journey is compared a lot, of course, will ask you about Lord of the Rings later. But yeah, it's just a, it's a, if you're able to create that excitement of joining in this, even if it's like the adjacent category doesn't have to be brand new, like you said, but adding that fresh spin and differentiation is, is everything. Yeah, people. People don't want to miss out.



No, they don't want to miss out and everybody wants to be some like part of something bigger. You know, nobody want like you don't like Hey, I do. I'm a marketing automation marketer. Like, Yeah, or like, Hey, I'm part of the inbound marketing movement, like, yeah, you know, what, isn't it? Yes, yes. And with inbound it was, they did a really good job of it. Because there's all these little like elements to it's like some of there's like this morality element to inbound marketing, where you're doing marketing in a way that's like better for the world than like outbound marketing. And outbound marketing is like the enemy. And so there's a good and an evil. And it's like, there's all sorts of stuff like that, that people just like, naturally love that. You don't think about when you hear the story, but like, subconsciously, it's like,


Michael Mioduski  17:40

familiar. Yes, yes. Something of a movement to so I was surprised, I think my team to you know, we thought you're just gonna spoon feed us. Alright, here's this new framework to follow. You did that he gave us a great framework. But you also told us how, how do you approach this? Because product marketers shouldn't do this by themselves? Can you talk a little bit about the process? How it should work? Maybe some pitfalls to avoid implementation?


Molly Geoghegan  18:03

Yeah, for sure.



That's super tricky. And that's one thing that people always ask about. They're like, cool, I've got this, like, how do I do it, Marcus, because it's really complicated inside of the company. And so, you know, I do think I think there's two ways, like I think that, you know, you can use narrative design to define the story for your entire company. And then what's great about it is that like, once you know, the story of your company, and like at the CEO level, it makes it very easy to sort of, like do marketing and sales and marketing, because you're just branching off for that story. It's like, okay, we got this story. Now, let's create some type of funnel content around, like the change in the world that we've identified, and like bottom of the funnel content around like, why it's so hard and like, makes everything easier. So like, I think that, you know, you gotta get coconspirators, you know, in like, build your way up. Like at HubSpot, it was easy, because our CEO and founder was like, this was just in his heart, he really believed in it. But I also think that, you know, if this is something that you're like, sometimes what happens, I think, is that people are like, go in, if you want to do it at the company level, they're like the task, the CMO with it, or the task of VP of marketing within, it really doesn't work that you really got to get time with the CEO, and the C suite and try to like spend time on the story. Most founders care a lot about their story. And then you've really got to encourage, like, get them to write about it or create content about it. I mean, the best way to do that I've seen is really through the presentation that they give at their user conference, or like see Kayo or whatever, like that is the time when I usually get tapped. And they're like, Marcus, we're working on this story again, and like let's you know, it's always because the forcing function of the user conference or c k or something like that, so like that is a good tool to do it. And then I'll say the other thing too, though, is that like, like for me if you're a lot of my career, like, I wasn't working with the CEO on this stuff, but I will use it to like, Okay, I gotta like there's an upcoming webinar and blog post for the launch of this feature that we have, I need to crank this out, and I need it to be really good. I'll just fall back on the framework, and then we'll use it to create all that content and it works there too. And when you start to do things like that, too, I think people notice and you're able to start to kind of build some groundswell. So I do think it's very relevant and like for different levels of Product Marketing, but you know, if you want this to become the whole company narrative, you really have to like it has to be a CEO driven thing.


Molly Geoghegan  20:38

So cool. Yeah. On that topic of applying it to presentations, this is presentation thinking. So we're curious. Yeah, what has your experience been? You said, slides have been like a part of your product marketing journey, for the last 10 years. But um, yeah, what has your experience been giving or creating presentations, especially with this narrative design concept? And applying that to slide format?



Yeah, I mean, you know, it's, I'm using it all the time, we're getting ready for CK Oh, now. So we're doing a bunch of it. And like, at Pendo, our last TKO we did, you know, I was working with a GM on his on his talk. And so it was like, you know, the product vision. And like, that's a really fun one to do. And like we did sort of like a day in the life concept of like, okay, this is the user and they're gonna travel around, yes. Which like it is, I love this. I've also seen it not work big time before he was talking about that, too. Yeah. I was scared when the GM wanted to do it. Because I'm like, I have seen this go very wrong, because it's like the try to do this, like, massive, complex thing. But we sort of had the idea. And then what I did was I like, I just wrote out the story in a in a doc. And I use the framework sort of, to to kind of structure things. And also writing it out in the dock allows you to create some, like backstory about a user that like, doesn't really don't use all the backstory in the presentation, like any good scholar would write, but it does, like there needs to be stakes. And there needs to be like, like, there has to be something meaningful. That's either negative or positive. That's going to happen to this Kara. Motivation, right? And that does come through in the presentation. And like, even if it's just like, and she's like, Yeah, and our boss is really coming down on her because of this thing. And she did is that was fun. And I mean, we do that he's a framework for that. HubSpot was probably like, you know, in Pendo is good at it. There's a lot of good storytellers. HubSpot was just very fun, because we had this inbound marketing conference. And so, like, I worked on this narrative called the flywheel, which was like, a narrative that we had used to introduce our service hub offering. And we launched it with this, the idea called the flywheel. And it was very fun because the the CEO is up on stage in front of like, 40,000 people and your slides is not, you know, through design or up on these massive screens. And like, he's saying some of the words that you like, wrote down, and like, that's pretty fun. That's pretty, like, that's pretty cool to see.


Michael Mioduski  23:07

That's gotta be pretty dang fulfilling. Yeah. So if you're early as a PMM, what's your advice to them? Like? How do you get those opportunities to insert yourself into those big product keynotes? And, yeah, see your stuff? on the big stage? Yeah,



I mean, I think, you know, there's a lot of stuff that product marketing can do. And I always encourage people to try to find that, you know, superpower, that, that thing you're really, really good at, you know, and for me, it's storytelling. And, like, I just invested in it, because it was a thing I was interested in. And I wanted to get good at it, I really just started to like, study it and try to figure out, like, you know, read about it, and, like, try to unpack things and just get more like, you gotta get a lot of reps and like, you know, do a lot of bad content. And then, but if you do, do that, and you get good at it, I do think the naturally that a lot of that work starts to come your way, which is awesome. Like, every everybody has a reputation for themselves inside of a company. And like if you can be that person who's like, you know, we need a story here for whatever for this new product line of this product area, like who do we pull in and why that's like, you can quickly there's not a lot of people who can do that. So if you do get good at it, people know you're good at it. You I think you'll just naturally get pulled into stuff. There's probably other ways to do that too. But I'm sure


Michael Mioduski  24:21

you're definitely a natural storyteller. I imagine there's some people who are good at writing but maybe not like selling their own ideas that come naturally for you. Did you have to do any presentation training through your your come up?


Molly Geoghegan  24:34

Right Yeah, Trump public speaker



I'm not I mean, I mean, you have I feel like I don't know it's some people for our for sure. But I had to learn it and like I was definitely not good at it. I'm still way better at the like, architecture and designing your story and writing it and creating it. I'd much rather do that and then you know, work like work with someone to encourage them to like deliver it and help them because you know, the delivery of it is just my problem is, is I just get in my I get sometimes I'll get in my head a little bit where it's like, you know, I know I need to emphasize this thing or do this. And if I don't get the, it's hard. I mean, it's just hard. It's like, but no, I like being on the designing side of it a little bit more. But definitely it can like I do think if you're a PM, like being a good public speaker, being a good storyteller, you do have to like, I mean, I'm on the company loves to put me on a lot of webinars and things like that. And like pod ask, because like, you know, I have gotten good at it and figured it out. Yeah, I mean, I think it's really good to have a framework, it's really good to, you gotta get a lot of reps in and get a lot of practice. And you can just look for them anywhere, you know, like internal presentations to the sales team, like, whatever it is, you know, like, I think there's a lot of stuff like that, where you can get the reps and get the practice, and then probably also like seeking out feedback to them and really being active about like, Okay, I wrote this thing, who's gonna? Who's gonna give it to you to get really good feedback on it? How do I know if it's good or bad? Like, how do I get better on it? You know, I think that's one thing where like, you know, if my team is asking me for feedback on a DAC or a, you know, a blog post they wrote or something like that, like, I'm gonna dig into it and really try to like, figure out is this story? Do they have a story? Is it interesting? Is it like a basic problem solution story that's like, just, you know, boring me? Or is it something that I feel like is actually, you know, got some emotion in it is tied to bigger trends? Like, I want to tell you like that kind of feedback, I think can really jump you forward. Yeah,


Molly Geoghegan  26:33

offering people that framework to work within, do you see at all like, I suppose a bit of a spoiler alert with the PMA narrative design course. But one part of that the big hinge of that framework, right is to name the big challenge or undeniable change going on in the world? And how people are adapting to that, right, it's presenting something new. Do you see that more and more recently? Or is there something is there another structure that you see is also common? As as maybe that one becomes a little more mainstream?



Yeah. So I'm curious. I'm curious from you guys, too. What do you see? Yeah, do you use if you have when you fall back on, but I mean, and then what I, what I see a lot, especially from product marketers, is just like the Shark Tank pitch where they come in, and they say, like, you know, here's this, we circled a big problem and the solution to the problem, and so yeah, first, and then solution, which is good. I feel like there's like, the really bad one is like we just throw up about our product and like, what it does and like and say we're the best and like, we are awesome. Here's our product, a little bit better than that as problem solution. And then I think what's better than that is if you, you know, do something like narrative design. But yeah, the problem solution one I see a lot. And I feel like the big problem with it is that I always think of, it's I feel like it's not relevant anymore. But it's like there's this Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where Charlie days, like, he's talking about kitten mittens, he came up with this product. And he's like, a cat making too much noise. Like, right, like, nobody's


Molly Geoghegan  27:59

gonna hear it in my head. I know exactly. Who's got



that problem. So you better hope if you're doing problem solution that you nail it. And even if you do, you're sort of like you got this little audience of these people who have this small problem that you solve for. So I don't think it's very interesting. I don't think it really captures the imagination. And like, I usually think it's pretty limiting. And that's, that's like the status quo. It's not awful. But like, it's not who wouldn't say it's good or interesting. Yeah,


Molly Geoghegan  28:26

I'm thinking about that. It's interesting. You ask that because I'm thinking about that, as we create last year was our first full year of creating series of lunch and learns about like hyper specific slides are some story structures even and different. I went through the one I hosted was all about the seven basic plots and story frameworks by Christopher Booker. And recently as we kicked off a new one, our one of our Rancheros, Mikey was like, Do we have a framework for like, you know, the story how we like this to sit? And I was like, we don't and we absolutely need one. But you know, it's funny, because I think a certain the problem solution thing, especially for like, when we're talking something as technical as slides can lend itself really well. We're like, Aren't you sick of doing this or like, especially someone tuning in? That's like working with us day after day. I often find, especially in TED talks, Mikey, I'd be curious to hear what you think I love when someone names a problem. But it's more it's more directed at the audience. We always talk about audience first messaging, and I think zooming out from like the exact product problem or service problem, and like naming something that's like, even a little wider and unexpected, maybe, and then applying that to the problem, or product or service, I think works really well. And I know there's a couple different versions of this. We always lean into Andy raskins Promised land as well, painting that picture of the promised land like wouldn't it be so nice if we had XYZ going first and how much time we would save and but again, bringing it back like audience main character, you're the Gandalf, right. But yeah, as I start started doing like a little SOP, I found myself leaning back to some of the frameworks to be like what works best for this, and not that it's a one side fits all, but it definitely can't always be the problem solution, as you said, Yeah,



I will. Yeah, there, there's a time, I think it's smart to use the right framework for like what you're working on, too, because there is a time and a place where it's like, I just, I know, I have like one slide to communicate a simple idea to an audience quickly. And I'm going to use problem solution. So like, you know, you should be like, it's okay to use. Right? Yeah. Gotta know. And just go fast. Yeah, right. Sometimes it's the easiest way to communicate an idea. I don't know if it's like something that's going to turn into like great marketing, but it's like, you can definitely use it and like, Yeah, and like, I think it's super smart to steal bits and pieces from other people and take stuff and incorporate it into your own. And then then you got a nice, like bag of tricks that you can reach into and figure out how to use it.


Molly Geoghegan  30:48



Michael Mioduski  30:49

Have you been involved much markets with product demos, writing the scripts to keep the sellers to avoid the point and click just like feature tour? What's your approach to making like adding a little narrative to to that demo?



Yeah, I mean, yeah, no, I think about that a lot like it usually through the lens of the first meeting, Jack. So like, you know, I've worked on first meeting Jack Aton, at Pendo. And other companies, and like, you know, we like we stick to 10 slides and just try to make them really tight and helpful. But I mean, it definitely is good. I think the narrative design framework is perfect for the first meeting deck, because you start with this, like undeniable change in the world. And like, you want to get people like heads nodding first. And I think just like, if you start talking about like, with Pendo, we talked about how, right now, anything that can go digital has gone digital, like if there's any experience out there, like that can become a software experience, like it basically has, right. And so the result is that every company is now a software company today. And like, it's I don't know, I mean, maybe you could disagree with that. Or maybe you could challenge me on it. But like, it's hard, right? I think you're just kind of like, yeah, no, I totally like I like when I order my coffee, or when I bank or when I go to Home Depot, like you're always using the app as part of the same thing. Yeah. You know, and so you start there, and you you're not gonna lose anybody, like you got everybody. And you're just kind of context setting and setting the frame and getting people and like, good salespeople, like that sort of stuff. I think they, you know, it helps them like pull the audience in and just like, you know, set the right context. So you have to, you know, the, with that first meeting, DAC or with sales teams, I think you really got to get them then quickly to the meaningful part. So, you know, if you start with something like that, then you probably gotta go quickly into like, you know, the impact of that change everything becoming software, and everybody becoming a software company, is that now they're dealing with these expectations from software from people who use software and like, that probably turns into some pain that the salesperson can tap into. You got to turn that pain really quick, where they can have a good conversation.


Molly Geoghegan  32:52

Yeah, a new baseline has been established. Oh, that's that's good. Mikey, what do you make? What do you think as far as like framework that you've seen in different Mikey's been more in the in person circuit than I have recently? And so for your talks, Mikey, do you lean on any particular? Yeah, what's your step one, I guess?


Michael Mioduski  33:10

No, I don't know. I, I love getting the heads nodding early, right. And trying to avoid talking too much about my own shit. And just really trying to like, trying to hit some insights that hopefully, like really touched a nerve in the room. And then Alright, like, I understand you. Now let's move ahead and get to it. So I think in the past that was coming at you with all these problems. You're experiencing this, but I've also like, loved what Raskin said, calling that the arrogant doctor, you know, sort of like metaphor, and it's like, maybe I don't want to come in and assume that you have this problem, because you might get on the defensive too. Right? Have you gotten into the new April Dunford book, Marcus?



I haven't I learned I'd started listening to the podcast that you guys did in the book and so I have not I have not read a book. So


Michael Mioduski  33:57

good. I think there's some commonality with like challenger methodology where it's like, everyone thinks this is the problem but really it might be this you know, and really differentiating with talking about the different approaches and better how that better sets up your approach. Yeah,


Molly Geoghegan  34:11

very applicable.



Have you guys read? Words like loaded pistols?



Dang, no.



Come on. Gotta check it out.


Molly Geoghegan  34:19

This is perfect. Because I was just about to say we should open up the spice cabinet Mikey and Marcus. Yeah, we love to hear all Yeah. Oh, resources. Yeah, he has



words like loaded pistols. I read that book. And it's really good. It basically talks about like the talks about rhetoric and like how Aristotle and like, like the dudes in the forum in Rome, were greeting Greek or using rhetoric and like the foundations they established so it's like it can be a little heavy, but like, it was awesome. It's a really, really good book, especially for We're public speaking. But I think in storytelling too, and what made me think of it is like, when you've got to talk, when you're going to talk, I think one of the first things you want to do is like, the establish, I'm gonna forget which one it is, I think it's ethos with the audience, which is basically like I am one of you, like, We are the same, I in part, but like, we all care about the same thing. We are all part of like the same team. Because if if you know a speaker comes in, and you don't, they haven't established any ethos with the audience, then you just don't trust them. And you think so? Like, I think that's what you're kind of saying, You're you got it, you got to do a little bit, because I do think you're one of your, like, a member of the community, but you're also like, potential people could come in and be like, Okay, it's this guy selling you something. Right? He lost, like, I don't know, a little


Michael Mioduski  35:43

more trust. Yeah. And if there's any question in their minds, like, they have an argument, and they're like, Ah, this guy didn't know, like, if you can get ahead of that, which I assume is like, in the words like loaded pistols, like, sort of goes back to like, argumentation and debate class in high school, you know, and it's like, alright, if you know that their anticipate, if they have a question about something, go ahead and get in front of it, so that you can put them at ease. Okay, this person is aware of this, you know, this issue I had originally, now I'm going to listen to them, because they've dispelled it. They're aware of it at least. And now we can have this conversation, which I think we've picked that up from a lot of like, Investor Pitch conversations where, you know, the investors like, I think it was Melanie Perkins from Canva talks about how, you know, the investors are like, Well, why wouldn't why wouldn't Microsoft, just like, create, basically Canva and just blow you out of the water? So she started to put that as the first slide in her pitch, here's why they're not going to do that. Now. Can we go ahead and it work? Get


Molly Geoghegan  36:39

ahead of the question. Get ahead of the day,



or out of the Yeah, like, I like doing that with product updates, sometimes where like, I feel like companies are resistant to say, like, hey, we didn't do this thing that well, or, like, we know, we kind of made a mistake and like talk about like that as the intro to something new that we have, like, I think it's a great thing, actually. Because it's like, if you're not great at something like everybody knows that, like you don't need to, if you avoid talking about it, you're just sort of like, you make it worse, you know, so I feel like it's like, Hey, we've been past we haven't done it integrations as well as we could because of this. That's why we're so excited to end like, Okay, I don't care. They were they weren't good at this thing. Like now I'm excited about what they're doing. Yeah. But that's similar. And I think for a lot of, you know, we I've seen that a ton in my career. And in b2b, I think it


Michael Mioduski  37:28

builds trust as well establishes context and framing transparency,





Molly Geoghegan  37:33

Yeah, yes. Totally frames it up. Any other books, podcast, people that you have followed? Both like, you know, product marketing or narrative related or otherwise?



Um, yeah, I mean, I mean, there's definitely a lot of people I think, I'm really good at, like, rattling off the names that I try to give some different sort of advice than most. So like, you know, I think words like loaded pistols is really good. I would definitely read that. There's also like, you can learn a lot from like, in that book, they talk a lot about Martin Luther King and like, some of his like, like, his, like little things like repetition. Yeah. And he like when he would start a speech, he would be whispering, basically. And then by the end of it, he would be screaming and pounding. Yeah, it's like, sometimes Yeah. Right. So yeah, yeah. Right. And like stuff like, that is so cool. And I think it's not like you're gonna do that in a whatever, you know, your company sales pitch. Right. But like, you can borrow from that. And I do think like, sometimes executives want to come on stage at the keynote speech and start by like, one Yeah, like, what did you build to that? What did you know up to that? Just like Martin Luther King? So yeah, I think that was from that book, that book is really good. I mean, I think the other thing, too, is just like, you know, like, when you're watching, we all consume a lot of content and like, you know, read books, and like, watch movies and watch shows and stuff like that. And I think like, what you should look for is like, what are the elements of this story? Like, watch, I saw story, and it's interesting to me, like, maybe I'm in my head a lot, but like, I like to bend break down why that was interesting. And what was it about that? It was like, character development was really fast. And then they, you know, they knew that you were expecting something and they didn't give you that they give you something else that kind of surprised you. And like that, you know, like little things like that, I think are what you can apply in fun ways to your writing or, you know, whatever been in your work, because, you know, in b2b and in marketing, it's like, usually you play it safe and just kind of do what everybody else is doing. So it's like, I'd like that you incorporate those little elements and it's you have fun with it. And it usually makes things like more interesting seem more unique, that sort of Oh, yeah, totally.


Michael Mioduski  39:40

I think we found a an honorary presentation thinker right here. Yeah.



My bad you guys, you guys.


Molly Geoghegan  39:48

Yeah. And that was another project truly a presentation thinking if you check out at ASHA talks on Tik Tok. She's another ranchero and Narrative Strategist here at ghost ranch and She has been doing exactly that like picking apart movies and being like what, you know, movies, we did something on on MLK for MLK Day. And that's picking apart those things be like well get this is storytelling. So what about that is? What are the all those movies have in common? Or what? What about this? Didn't I like and why? You know, what was it missing? For me? I think those interests like, I'm such a pop culture and movie person too. So it's just like, endlessly fascinating to me, helps us get


Michael Mioduski  40:25

out of the vacuum of b2b marketing. Like, you know, there's an echo chamber going on there. So I love pulling in the outside influences to Marcus,


Molly Geoghegan  40:33

I have a question about a podcast. Marcus, is the is the product marketing experts podcast still still going? Or should it's still going



as far as I bet? I haven't I created it. And along with share bird like we created it. And then I was the host for like, a few years. And I haven't been involved with that for a few years since we started but I'm pretty sure they are still coming out with new episodes. I'm pretty sure Jeff Soule my old colleague is who's great is still the still the host. And like, yeah, if you go if you listen, oldest and new SEO hear me but that's not that's not the important thing. The important thing is like the guests and like, there's a lot of really good product marketers who they get on that podcast to learn from, which is why I wanted to start it to just sort of just chat with all the smart people, you know, so like, there's


Molly Geoghegan  41:17

some really good episodes in there. Podcasts are good for networking, we've learned big time. So


Michael Mioduski  41:21

our user conferences I we got to talk about pandemonium, I was like, they're heating up so much every company just before COVID was like, it was all about the user conference, and then everything came to a halt. Now they're back. I feel like they're really picking up again. Can you tell us about pendemonium? And even like, why user conferences matter to a software company?



Yeah, I mean, you know, I mean, I think they matter where it's just like, I mean, to me, personally, I guess it's just such a highlight, because we spend, I spend I work remotely for Pendo. And so you know, I go there, at least once a quarter, sometimes more. But like I said, a lot of time in my office here, like working in the cloud and in software, and like, it's just amazing to go and talk to people and connect and like, you know, just like see people and have that experience in our RSVP is sort of products teams and product managers and like, they're just a really, in product marketers, and they're like a very knowledge hungry group, I think and like they're, they're always willing, they really want to learn from others and connect with others and be part of a community. You know, there's a lot of PMS who are it's kind of like a like a little bit of a lonely job. And PMM is immediately the only PMM. So like having that community and just people you can lean on and learn from, I think before Product Marketing Alliance, like we really didn't have that and products, product marketing. And so like that, like I just love what they're doing, because they just bring together this community of people who have all the same problems. We're all facing the same things, and we can help each other. So I love that. I mean, I think that's the biggest part of it. You get people together like it's just really cool. Like we me and my team and the SAE team, run the product experience zone, the product village and pandemonium where you like, get demos and stuff. It's fun. Pink astroturf through the whole thing. It's Oh, no way. Oh, fine. Yes, you'll see customers like talking to each other. And like they're just sharing notes or like talking about a new product and stuff like that. So it's cool. So that and then the other thing is, user conferences like software, you release it all the time continuously releases, people ignore it, people don't care. It's just this trickle of noise, if you're able to turn your use product launches, which is basically just you're funneling all those updates into one big moment in time. And then the user conference is great, because everybody wants to every company wants to launch products that their user conference, which means engineering has to work towards a specific date. So it is marketing. So executives, so it is product marketing, and we got alignment, which is like you know, the one of the hardest parts to get all done. So like, it creates this force moment in time where you get to tell a story and you get to do you know, really focused marketing and all that. So I love I love competence for that recently. Any


Michael Mioduski  44:01

highlights from last year's conference related to 2000 Hip Hop? Yeah, I heard a rumor.



Yes, we had big boy last year. It's nuts. He, you know, big boy, part of the duo of outcast. And yeah, I don't know. I mean, I graduated high school in 2004. And like, I mean, so outcasts was like the first couple albums were a little bit before that, but I mean, it was like that. So we just I listened to a ton OutKast, and it was awesome. Big boys still got it. He played all the hits, and it was really really fun. That's the last Yes, we might set out to make kind of funny I'm sorry. It wasn't


Michael Mioduski  44:39

supposed to be dope. Delicious. has always been like if I could like have a long walk out. That would be my walk outside. Otherwise, I like the way you move big boy I love That'd be


Molly Geoghegan  44:49

nice. listened to the Andre 3000 flute album.



I did. I started listening to it and it was like maybe it's good background work me Yeah,


Molly Geoghegan  45:00

yeah, yeah, that's hilarious. One of our Rancheros, put in the music chat channel Makita. I don't know if you saw this, check it out. Like, she was like, Is this music for a stressful day at the spa? I'm like, sure. It's on mute. And there's like, a little edge to it that sometimes but I love that he just put that out that I think it's such a speaks to who he is shaking up talking about shaking up a category, you know.


Michael Mioduski  45:26

And I jumped the gun, but our most important question that presentation is dying to know Mark is what is your walkout music?



What is my walkout music? Um, what were we? I don't know. I don't know if I have a good song. I mean, I think I have a four year old and we like he likes a good dance party. And lately we've been listening to like 90s Hip Hop, intergalactic by the Beastie Boys.



That's got a really good intro and intergalactic planetary, you know? So maybe one. That one's pretty fun. We're listening to that this morning. Oh,


Molly Geoghegan  46:04

my God, you're just did you. I can't believe you guys were friends before this system. Spotify wrapped. That's good. I know. We do have a previous episode talking all about the Beastie Boys documentary.


Michael Mioduski  46:18

That's a great presentation case study to it's called the Beastie Boys story. I haven't seen


Molly Geoghegan  46:23

much. It's on Apple, Apple TV. And Mark is where can people find you? If they want to follow along with your work? Check out Pendo etc?



Yes, just on LinkedIn is really the best place. That's where I've like, you know, I think we're the best community is and are usually where I share stuff. So find me on LinkedIn, Marcus Andrews, feel free to connect with me. Happy to and like, yeah, I post stuff there. So whenever this comes out, I'll post it there and cool, random ideas on storytelling or whatever. That's usually where it goes.


Michael Mioduski  46:54

That's awesome. Any parting shots for the presentation thinkers out there? No.



I mean, I hope I hope if you're listening to this up, you know, you take this stuff seriously and invest in it and have fun with it because I think it's worth it. And it's like, it's cool that you know, the world needs more people making good, good sides, building good presentations. Most of them are still still real bad.


Molly Geoghegan  47:13

Priests are fighting an uphill battle here. It's important. Yeah,


Michael Mioduski  47:17

it's important work. All right. Well, thank you so much, Marcus, for joining. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. We'll see you next week. And until then, keep on pitching

About The Author

Molly Geoghegan, Narrative Strategist

Molly Geoghegan is a writer, organizer, and film school dropout. She hikes frequently with her dog, Guinness, and signs up for too many email newsletters. Having lived in Chicago, Paris, Dublin and Galway, Molly has made her way back to the Rockies and calls Denver, CO home.

Connect on LinkedIn

You May Also Like

This is an episode for: presenters of all kinds. Don’t miss it.

This is an episode for: founders, theater enthusiasts and anyone that needs help pitching.

This is an episode for: founders, writers, content marketers and anyone wanting to or working remotely.

This is an episode for: the neuroscience + storytelling niche, TED nerds and leaders of all kinds.

Marcus Andrews on crafting a new category through Narrative Design