Why storytelling will grow your B2B brand, and how to use it
You’ve almost certainly been at a party and found yourself stuck with someone who talked about themself, exclusively and non-stop. Remember how you felt then. You probably couldn’t wait for it to stop, and you definitely didn’t want to encounter that person again.
That’s exactly how people feel when they see bad B2B marketing. When businesses talk endlessly about their solutions, their USPs, and their expertise, prospects are at best uninspired and at worst driven away.
Bad B2B marketing is often driven by the dangerous assumption that you convince people to buy things through facts and logic. The truth is, however many incredible numbers you have at your fingertips, they can’t do the job on their own.
People buy with emotion
The decision to buy is emotional — intellect is just there to justify that decision.
Imagine you had a ticket for a one-night-only reunion gig for a band you love that broke up twenty years ago. It just so happens that the train drivers have since called a strike for that day. You might shell out £100 for a taxi because you’d be desperate to get to that gig. The willingness to pay that much for a car journey comes from the emotion you attach to the destination. If the strike was stopping you from getting to a coffee with an old acquaintance who you didn’t really want to see, you’d just stay at home.
A mistake that some B2B marketers make is assuming that because their audience is commercial, their marketing should be intellectual. It’s business, so the audience is professional and serious, driven by numbers and ROI. Except that’s not true. If anything, the B2B buying process is more emotional than consumer purchases. There’s so much more at stake — more money, professional reputation, careers, whole companies, and the people behind those high stakes are still very human, with very human instincts.
How stories build brands
“Quite a lot of brand success is down to being the kind of product which people can buy without thinking too much about it...”
Since the point of a brand is to distinguish one business from another, it’s tempting to make that distinction through features and benefits — you want your audience to see your logo and think of saving money, making more products in less time, spending less time on admin, or whatever problem you solve. However, we know that people buy with emotion.
That means a good brand is made of emotions, and good branding is the symbol of those. If you’ve done an acceptable job of building your brand, your logo makes your audience quickly think something. If you’ve done a great job, it makes them quickly feel something.
One of the best ways to get to achieve that is through stories. Stories are incredibly effective at stimulating emotion —we’re wired for empathy, and stories trigger that.
The most effective stories are about overcoming challenges. It could be that you need to destroy a space weapon the size of a moon, you need to throw a ring into a volcano that’s guarded by heavily armed goblins, or you need to compete at the Winter Olympics and your native Jamaica lacks bobsled training facilities.
Stories resonate emotionally because we empathise with the struggle and enjoy the success. One reason they apply so well to B2B marketing is that you’re selling something that’s designed to do exactly that — overcome challenges.
That means that in your product or service, there’s already a story about your customer overcoming their challenges. It’s sitting there waiting for you to tell it.
The best commercial storytelling
B2B storytelling is not self-indulgent marketing from frustrated creatives who’d rather be working on their novel — it’s as commercial as a cold call.
Our CEO Jenny founded Nutcracker to end the disconnect between sales and marketing, and stories are where the two can unite to become unstoppable.
Salespeople speak to your audience every day, getting them to open up and share their business struggles — they hear first-hand the real-life stories of business leadersand everything they have (and have yet to) overcome. Armed with that inspiration, marketers can create the most resonant and arresting content that your target market has ever seen. The leads and enquiries that your marketing generates will be full of prospects who are in the perfect emotional state to buy. Then the cycle continues.
If you’re not using storytelling to grow your business, it’s time to start. Call us on 0203 941 0305, or drop us an email, and you can tell Jenny your story over a coffee — we’ll show you how content can take your brand to new levels.