Today’s demanding B2B marketing requires more than a great brand, a suite of marketing tools or thoughtful strategy. It requires all that – plus storytelling.
Some of the most successful companies have harnessed the power of storytelling to advance their brands and create powerful – and profitable – emotional connections with customers. Forging these connections with consumers has been the core of B2C marketing, with brands like Nike, Apple and Tesla cultivating loyalty through stories that resonate with shoppers.
But it can seem challenging to emotionally engage with audiences in the B2B world, where selling complex solutions requires complex marketing strategies. Ultimately, all purchase decisions are made by people. And whenever people are collaborating to make a decision, there will be emotional forces at work.
Businesses can put those emotions to work in their favor through storytelling. Here are two examples:
For example, Salesforce dedicates a page on its website to clients who have used their services to grow their businesses. More than mini-case studies or standard testimonials, these storytelling gems let customers recount how Salesforce made an impact on their businesses and their lives.
Aircraft technology manufacturer Boeing tells stories about both its history and cutting-edge technology on its own features page. These go beyond the average “About Us” or “Our History” blurbs. They’re written like news stories that tap into the human side behind its technology.
No matter the industry or audience, storytelling is a powerful marketing strategy that can often pay big dividends for B2B companies.
Storytelling: The key to human connections
Telling stories is a deeply human way to create connections to each other.
Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story.
According to studies by Google and Gartner, B2B buyers were twice as likely to consider a business if they felt an emotional connection to it, compared to services offered through traditional methods that emphasize functional value.
Another Google study found that B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers. That may be because business purchases can involve huge amounts of risk: A large purchase – whether it’s $1,000 or $1,000,000 – that goes bad can lead to weak business performance, reduced revenues and job losses.
In this high-pressure environment, storytelling is one of the most proven tools to establish emotional and meaningful connections with customers. Several storytelling frameworks form the basis for some of our most iconic storylines, from The Hobbit to Star Wars to Seinfeld. No matter the format, a great B2B story can transform subject matter from dry and predictable to actionable and memorable.
B2B buyers are hungry for interesting and easily digestible content that will help them learn about solutions that address their pain points, positively impact their job performance and satisfaction, and help them make important purchase decisions. And today it’s easier than ever to amplify your stories through social media platforms where B2B consumers spend time, including LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
To stand out in a crowded marketplace, B2B businesses need to develop stories that create emotional connections with their customers to educate, entertain and excite customers about working with their products or services.
A note from MaryAnn Long, Agency Director
B2B does not stand for Boring2Boring.
Yet many B2B content producers follow a well-worn path of producing so-so content that’s product- and company-centric.
We are BIG believers in using stories to connect and engage with customers as they go through the buyer’s journey.
If you’re going to invest in producing content, why not take an angle that’s unique in your market? Tell a story that helps differentiate your company and appeals to customers as people, not just buyers?
If you are going to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in your marketing, strive to produce content that addresses common problems through thought-provoking examples and compelling perspectives. After all, that’s the definition of thought leadership.
With that in mind, we’ll be putting our money where our mouth is to experiment with a new approach to our blog. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a unique story that will educate and inspire you – and above all, will banish boring from B2B in our small corner of the world.