Building a Better Product Narrative: Duncan McCreery of MemberClicks

Duncan McCreery is the CPO at MemberClicks, an all-in-one membership management software for small-staff associations. Before joining MemberClicks Duncan was as an ESL teacher but he doesn’t think that’s so odd. We talked about how the Liberal Arts prepared him to build a better product narrative as a product manager.

“If you can be empathetic you can deliver a more effective narrative.”

“One of the core jobs of the PM at any level is to create consensus,” Duncan says, “and if you can create a narrative that brings people together, you’re more likely to build something that users enjoy.” We talked specifically about creating a launch narrative; Duncan believes that a launch isn’t just the big reveal at the end of a process. He recommends that at the beginning of the process PMs focus on what they’re going to build, and stay close to customers throughout the build process by iterating. That way by the time you get to launch you’re probably a lot closer to what can be successful with your users.

“No one in product is short of good ideas coming across their desk”

This was a sentiment that I think a lot of product managers can relate to. We talked about the need to inventory and categorize your ideas before getting them in front of customers, at scale. Talking to a lot of people, and refining the things you want to evaluate, is the key, Duncan says.

Look for Awkward Conversations

Duncan talked about how he and his team initiate awkward conversations by putting a drawing or prototype in front of a customer and seeing how they react. Do they get it? And are they excited about it? In the awkward moment, you can gather those types of learnings. If four out of five of your customers are not excited in your discovery calls, that should tell you something.

Finally, we talked about the need to avoid the temptation to pursue pet projects: “the more you’re able to engage with customers the better you’re able to balance vision with execution and value.”

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