Concept Videos for Product Managers

I wrote about how Product Managers can use screencasts to tell their story here. A similar technique is to create a concept video that combines screencasts and stock photography  footage to tell the story of your product vision. Not a novel concept, but here’s how I’ve been doing it.

Example: Wonk.AI

When I was living in Washington, DC, I’d take the Metro every morning to the Farragut North stop, the station for K Street (all the lobbyists) and the White House (all of the policy wonks, technologists and political folks that work in the White House complex). I was surrounded by some serious brain power and would daydream about an idea for scaling and automating knowledge I’d call Wonk.AI.

I came up with a simple value statement: is software as a service that helps you get smarter about the ideas, policy and people important to the work you are doing.

…and filled Moleskin notebooks and Evernote with ideas. For months I worked on this idea nights and weekends. I talked to my wife about it over dinner and ran ideas by friends to get their reactions.

Start Making Something

This Rework podcast episode describes ways to start actually building on your idea and breaking out of the daydreaming/note taking phase.

For Wonk.AI, I used Balsamiq Mockups to create some low-fidelity mockups originally drawn in my notebook. Next, I used TypeForm to create a simple onboarding experience and setup the domain to redirect. This gave me something I could send to friends to get a different kind of feedback. Did anyone actually play with it? Of those that did, what data did they input that would help me better understand how they would use Wonk.AI if it was a real product.

Creating a Concept Video

The mockups and simple form prototype was fun and positive, but didn’t tell the story about why I was obsessing over this idea. I noticed Screenflow has added a stock photography library and I decided on a whim to buy it.

I wrote a short script that combined the Wonk.AI value prop with a few use cases and some aspirational ideas then used Quicktime to record the audio. I brought that into Screenflow then recorded a quick screencast of the Typeform proto. Then, I filled in the gaps with a bunch of stock photography video clips.

Here’s the concept video. As you can see, it’s part cheese, part product vision, and part feature ideas.

Once I had this built, I published to Vimeo and set as a private link. I sent it around to a few VCs and other product folks I respected to get their feedback and further refine my thinking.

Ultimately for Wonk.AI, I wasn’t ready to throw everything I had at building it. The concept video was an important step to telling the story, getting feedback and getting from daydream to reality helping me decide on a path forward.

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