Stories are everywhere. They make us feel, they help us learn, and they intrigue us to the point of staying up far too late just to finish the final chapter of a good book. The most powerful marketing campaigns tell a good story. This is everywhere in B2C, it’s something that’s seen every single day, but what about B2B?
We recently hosted a LinkedIn Live with the Onalytica Experts to discuss just this. Joined by Danielle Guzman and Brian Fanzo, the topic of storytelling in B2B was pulled apart and explained in full. Here are the key takeaways:
In a world where we’re inundated with content, content that leads with storytelling is far more effective because it is vivid, relatable and immersive. It makes the reader feel central to the content and makes the content memorable.
Connect, don’t broadcast
Create content that connects your brand with your audience. Speak with them, not at them, and use language like “we” and “us” instead of “you”.
Content as a partnership
Similar to connect, don’t broadcast, think of your content as a way of creating value for your audience and for your brand. How can you create content that educates your audience and is enjoyable for your audience, while also creating value for your brand?
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
Understand their challenges and create content that speaks to those challenges. Create content in formats that you yourself would want to digest and find engaging and useful. Are you putting this content out there as a tick box, or is it purposeful to your audience?
People want solutions, not white papers
This isn’t to say that people don’t want white papers. People like content that helps them solve their challenges and sometimes a white paper does just that. Don’t publish white papers and then let them die in a gated blog. Dissect the content into multiple assets that continue to drive value for your audience and your brand. Some people prefer short videos, some prefer audio, while others prefer infographics. So do a mixture of them all.
People won’t remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel. Don’t be afraid to show emotion and personality in your content, while staying true to your brand’s message. The pandemic has created a demand for content that showcases vulnerability and recognises the general feel of overwhelm online.
Work with what you’ve got
Creating content is costly and time consuming. You more often than not do not need to reinvent the wheel by creating lots of new content, but you can customise the delivery. Look at what stories you can tell with data you already have and turn it into a fun, visual asset.
Let your heroes tell your story
The same story being told by your employees, customers and influencers over your brand, has much better cut through. Enable and empower your employees, customers and influencers to tell your story, in their way.
Swim lanes, not boxes
When it comes to letting others tell your brand story, think of your guidance as swim lanes that clearly define the no go zones, but allow enough creative freedom to stay true to themselves. If you try to control the message too much, you run the risk of defeating the purpose.
Listen to your communities
To tell effective stories, you need to understand your audience. Listen to what your audience are saying and what they’re commenting on brand and employee content – tell stories that speak to them.
Brand robot to storyteller
To enable your employees to become a storyteller over a corporate mouthpiece, encourage them to take a curation and comment strategy first. Help them get used to having real conversations with your community, before they make the leap to creating content and telling stories themselves. Small steps over time lead to great success.
Record your small wins
You’re likely already making small wins, but you’re not capturing them. Danielle called this “kudos file” and Brian called this “screenshot awesomeness”. In essence, every time you see something that is praise of your brand or employees, take a screenshot of it and put it in a folder. It doesn’t matter how big or small this win may be, but this could tell a great story.
Re-define what you mean by “professional”. Encourage employees to show up as themselves and then find a way to weave their expertise into this – not the other way round.
Business to business is really human to human. One of the biggest challenges with digital and social media is that it’s hard to read social cues digitally. Practice what you preach and turn your words into action. Build relationships with your community and make sure you give the time back to them that they give to you.
You can find the full session below, and to keep up-to-date with the Onalytica Experts, be sure to follow #OnalyticaExperts on LinkedIn and Twitter.