In this blog, we explore some of the biggest B2B storytelling mistakes and explain how B2B brands can do better.
Content Marketing & SEO

5 common B2B storytelling mistakes and how to avoid them

Good storytelling can helps B2B businesses to build their brand image, add personality and stand out in a crowded market. Bad storytelling throws up a fog around your product or service, confusing your target audience and leading them to look elsewhere.

At Nutcracker, we know what bad storytelling looks like. So what are some of the biggest B2B storytelling mistakes?

1) They make it about themselves

Far too many businesses just want to tell customers how amazing they are. But in doing so, they’re forgetting to heed a crucial lesson: Your brand story isn’t all about you. Its about your customer and what you can do for them.

B2C companies are great at this - see the Land of Land Rovers, which tells the story of a small community deep in the Himalayas that uses Land Rovers to safely travel through the mountains. It’s not about Land Rover as a business: it’s about the people, the journey they are making and how the Land Rover is the only vehicle that can help them make it. That’s good storytelling.

2) They make it too complicated

The whole point of storytelling after all is trying to make your business easier for people to parse, not harder. If you overload your story with too much jargon and technical information, your audience will switch off.

The best stories are simple, relatable and understandable without needing a calculator or a thesaurus standing by. The whole point of telling storytelling is to get to the point: the crux of what your product is – that’s what will influence decision making.

See IBM’s ‘Every Second Counts’ campaign. It doesn’t dwell on the finer details, but it does demonstrate the potential impact of a cyber-security incident through a series of thrilling and engaging short films.

3) They go too far and lose the message they want to convey

Creating an engaging story is all about balance. You don’t want to make something boring, but you also don’t want to tell a story so outlandish that it loses the attention of your target audience.

Imagine you are pitching your offering primarily to CTOs in their late fifties. Would you create a campaign led by a skateboarding teenager? If the CEO in question is Tony Hawk, perhaps – but for everyone else it’s just not going to grab their attention.

Don’t lose sight of your target audience. Instead, build a persona that reveals where the interests intersect, and create a campaign that reflects this.

4) They don’t consider the wider implications of the story

We’ve spoken before about why this advert – in which Kendall Jenner hands a police officer a can of Pepsi – feels so off. There’s no clear message to the story, but it also doesn’t consider the wider picture. Protests are common and hard fought around the world, and so using a protest to promote a soft drink just feels wrong.

When you are crafting your B2B brand story, make sure that you aren’t being unnecessarily offensive, as you’ll send potential customers running for the hills.

5) The story doesn’t lead to an action

Your story should stay with your audience and influence their decision making. If it’s not leading to some kind of response, then all you’ve really done is briefly divert that person’s attention.

The best storytelling campaigns are able to weave their narrative seamlessly into a clear action. It’s the reason why Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan is still going strong after more than thirty years. It’s not just compelling the person to go out and achieve that goal, but saying that Nike is to the one to help them get there.

So what can businesses do to avoid typical B2B storytelling pitfalls?

Think about the customer

Always keep the customer in mind. If your story is straying too far into territory that doesn’t relate to them and the pain point they are trying to solve, you need to change tack.

Write a watertight story

It’s best to iron out the foundations of the story (e.g. the purpose and how you get from A to B) at the brainstorming stage. If you find out later on that the story you want to tell doesn’t convey the right message, trying to force it will only confuse your target audience.

Measure your results and react accordingly

Use data and analytics to create KPIs and measure how your storytelling is performing. Is it reaching the right audience? What are people commenting when they look at your advert, video or social media post online? If a campaign isn’t working, heed the signs and change direction.

Want to avoid B2B storytelling pitfalls? Give Nutcracker a call

We’ve helped B2B brands tell stories that matter and that set them apart from industry peers with narratives that drive home why their customers need their product.

Our unique brand of storytelling paired with social media, PR and email marketing could transform your business. Want to find out how? Download our ultimate guide to storytelling in marketing, or get in touch for a chat.

Charlotte Delaney | Head of Content
Charlotte Delaney

Head of Content