As marketing managers for B2B companies, we already know how important it is to have an inbound marketing strategy in place. Creating and distributing relevant and valuable content allows us to attract and retain our target audience, which, when done right, translates into profits.
Do you actively engage in brand storytelling? In an age where people have become increasingly resistant to interruption marketing, it may be the key to your survival.
Your brand story is the amalgamation of many things. It’s who you are, what you care about, what you do, how you help people, etc. In short, it’s the story of why you exist and (by default) why people should want to interact with you.
Sharing your brand story honestly and transparently lets people behind the curtain, demonstrating both your confidence and vulnerability—both of which make people more eager to engage with you.
With all that said, there are many reasons why you should incorporate storytelling into your B2B marketing.
- Why Storytelling is Important in Business Marketing?
- Why are Customer Stories Important to B2B?
- What are the Benefits of Storytelling in Business?
- Why is Storytelling a Powerful Tool?
- Why is Storytelling so Important?
- What are B2B Stories?
- Why Success Story is Important?
- What are Customer Stories?
- Why are Stories Effective in Business Communication?
- What is the Power of Story Telling?
- What are the Qualities of Good Story Telling?
- How do you Use Story Telling to Sell?
- How do you Develop a Sales Story?
- How do you Know a Story is Successful?
Why Storytelling is Important in Business Marketing?
Storytelling conveys purpose and businesses with purpose are noticed and win the loyalty of consumers. So it’s not enough to have a product or service that solves a problem – your company needs to stand out.
Read Also: How to Become a Financial Advisor
We have discussed the reasons why storytelling is important when it comes to business marketing below.
1. Stories Engage Your Audience
Numbers do matter, but they mean a lot more when built on the basis of a story. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes – would you want to sit there while someone throws numbers and data at you?
A Nielsen study revealed that our brains are far more engaged by storytelling than facts alone. The brain processes images 60 times faster compared to words and when we read data, only the language parts of our brains work to decode the meaning. But when we read stories, every part of the brain we’d use if we experienced the story becomes activated as well.
So what does this mean? It suggests we’re likely to remember stories rather than hard facts. There’s a clear beginning and end which can keep the audience hooked throughout, rather than risking them zoning out and losing interest when drowning in analytics.
2. Create a Human Connection
If your organization has come up with a new idea, it’s likely there’s a story behind it. Whatever the motivation is, use that to provide some context to listeners. If the idea has been created to solve a problem, tell the story of how it helped you and make sure the story is relatable to the audience using real-life situations.
Using storytelling like this helps audiences connect with you so they trust you. When you come across as human and not force numbers their way, you’ll seem more trustworthy – especially if the storytelling is relatable as it becomes more memorable. If the audience can see themselves as the ‘character’ in your story or realize it relates to them, they won’t forget your business easily.
Steve Jobs was pretty good at this. Just look at his keynote when he introduced the iPhone back in 2007. After running down the timeline of Apple products to show how far the company has come, he touched on one crucial aspect of the audience’s pain points.
One device to listen to music on, a mobile device and another to browse the internet. He told the story of how irritating it can be to carry three of these around – but the iPhone has it all. It’s a real-life situation that people faced and Apple had the answer.
3. Stories Are More Memorable Than Numbers
Research by Forbes has demonstrated that delivering messages via stories can be 22 times more memorable than relying on facts. That’s because, with stories, you have something to tell. There’s a narrative arc, emotional moments, suspense, and a climax that your organization can benefit from.
Let’s say you’re delivering a presentation for your organization or speaking at a conference. Telling a story is a great way to engage the audience and also provide a nice break with something they’ll remember – even if they forget everything else.
Just look at Bill Gates’ Ted Talk in 2009. The Founder of Microsoft delivered a speech on the issues of malaria filled with statistics. That’s fine – it delivered the message and the severity of the problem.
But when you consider that he opened a jar of swarming mosquitoes in the presentation room to deliver his point, what do you think the audience remembered when they left? Would it be the numbers or the memorable demonstration and story he told?
4. Emotionally Connect People to Create Loyalty
As engaging as stories can be for organizations, the best ones are those that evoke emotional reactions. If you tell a story that people genuinely connect with and relate to, it’s more likely they’ll believe in you. Some of the best storytelling in business comes from mistakes made, failures and past business struggles.
Highlighting these makes organizations come across as normal. Audiences can relate to the protagonist as they too might understand what it feels like to fail and understand what went into turning the situation around. Some of the world’s biggest businesses have founders that tell emotional stories, such as Jack Ma – the founder of Alibaba.
In an interview in 2015, he told his story about applying for a job at KFC with 23 other people. The KFC store hired 23 of the 24, with Ma being the only person that wasn’t brought on. He went on to tell the story of how dozens of schools rejected him, how Harvard rejected him 10 times and how he was also rejected from becoming a police officer.
Discussing one failure after another makes the audience empathize with him, even if he is worth upwards of $51.5 billion today. His story is relatable, it evokes emotion and is captivating to keep the audience engaged.
5. Humanising an Organisation= Increased Profits
Obviously, this isn’t a guaranteed formula that always works for every organization but it has proven so in the past. You’ll notice that the most successful organizations have thoughtful and deep stories behind them with a bigger purpose and meaning to what they do.
If your organization has a vision that audiences believe in and buy into, it’s more likely that you’ll be successful. It’s no secret that people want to buy from empathetic organizations. The Global Empathy Index highlighted that the organizations near the top (meaning they were the most empathetic) were also the fastest growing and most profitable in the world.
The top 10 organizations also generated 50% more income. It shows how valuable storytelling can be. Show your personality and humanity and avoid being faceless and disconnected from your audience.
6. Storytelling Offers a Competitive Advantage
For organizations, it’s too easy to get lost in all of the noise. Every organization shares content with its audiences, but that can get a little overwhelming. The fact is, decision-making is more emotional than it is logical so the ability to tell a good story is essential if you want to stand out and create a strong brand.
Tell a remarkable story and you can win over your audience. It applies to organizations of any size, including the public and third sector. Researchers Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker proved this theory by showcasing the true power of storytelling.
They listed insignificant objects on eBay with a twist. The objects featured heartfelt, well-written, and purposeful short stories in the descriptions. After buying these items in a garage sale for around $1.50 each, they resold them for nearly $8,000. That’s how powerful smart storytelling can be.
7. Create Compelling Marketing Campaigns
Whether they’re heart-wrenching or hilarious, lots of organizations are now using the power of storytelling to build relationships with their audience. This relates to the emotional connection aspect with studies showing that making an emotional connection is more important than customer satisfaction.
Today, marketing campaigns need to move away from cheap tactics and focus on storytelling. Honey Bunches of Oats pulled on the heartstrings by inviting real employees to participate in the campaign and share their endearing qualities. You can sense the passion in their stories and it makes the business more memorable.
Why are Customer Stories Important to B2B?
Here are 5 more reasons why customer success stories are great for marketing brands:
1. Success stories provide brand credibility and are a powerful tool for sales.
There is one main reason why customers look for B2B success stories—they want to know if our brand has already worked successfully for others.
Rather than simply talking about the benefits of our products, customer success stories allow us to provide evidence of how our products and services have been used by real clients. A well-written case study shows that a brand can accomplish what they say based on real stories and real results.
2. Success stories showcase not just the brand but the customers as well.
One of the marketing mistakes that businesses make is talking too much about themselves. If we really want to resonate with our consumers, we should focus on them, not us.
Success stories are a great way to focus on the experience of our customers. Other customers can easily relate because they would want to achieve the same results as the success story example. Case studies allow us to offer benefits (such as further brand awareness) to participating clients too.
3. Success stories increase engagement through compelling narratives.
Stories are one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains and help us remember things. By simply telling a story, we can plant ideas, thoughts, and emotions into our listeners’ brains.
A great narrative brings a case study to life as it illustrates an example, rather than just explains it. As a result, our consumers end up more engaged than when we simply explain the benefits and advantages of our products and solutions.
That is why one of the best tips for engaging case studies is to treat them not as a business documents, but as a story complete with a beginning, middle, and end. For global companies, creating different success stories for different regions and languages can help them reach and engage more consumers.
4. Success stories should be tailored for local and regional audiences.
We can learn a lot about our products and customers through our customer evidence. It helps give us a better idea of what tickles the fancy of our consumers, in different markets. If you’re an international brand, consider the languages and needs of your non-English markets.
We improve our marketing communication when we place the needs of the customer first, and considering their requirements and providing materials in their language is a good step often overlooked.
5. Success stories are sources of unique and reusable content.
The great thing about case studies is that we can leverage their value by reusing them in various marketing tactics. As well as a dedicated success stories page on the company website, consider placing some on the homepage to draw attention to them. Video, infographics, visuals and blog posts – all can be created from customer success stories to further prove your brand’s relevance. They make great content for newsletters and social channels too.
What are the Benefits of Storytelling in Business?
Influential leaders have used storytelling to drive their message and inspire action. Business leaders are now looking up to storytelling to communicate their vision and to influence change.
Stories Create Purpose and Drive Action
People get onto crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, Milaap to share their purpose – the “WHY”. By sharing it, they believe the general public will be able to get connected with their mission which can influence them to become donors for their cause. The fundraisers usually use one or the other form of stories to communicate the purpose.
Stories Transfer Values and Beliefs on the Audience
The critical aspect of making people act is when your values and beliefs become theirs and a shared one. Stories have a long history of having played a vital role to create shared values & beliefs. The easiest way to do this is by showing them why you started believing in those values & beliefs.
Stories Engage the Audience Beyond Facts
The general belief is that facts engage and drive decisions, but the truth is facts help us base our arguments, but when it comes to making decisions, it’s based on the story. As per a 3M note, humans can process images 60,000 times faster than texts.
Influential leaders wrap their facts with an influencing narrative and deliver them with emotion. While data appeals to only one part of the brain, when we read or listen to a story, along with the language parts getting fired up, other parts of the brain also fire up.
Stories Connect People and Create Brand Loyalty
Smart brands use storytelling techniques in the way they present and advertise their products or services to their target audience for quite some time now. Nielsen, the leading market research firm notes, “Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”
People like to do business with people they know, trust, and like. So how to get customers to know a brand and love it? With the proliferation of social media, user-generated content is one key element that brands are using it to connect with their audience through their existing customers and influencers.
We look for validation of their decisions and look forward to getting identified with fellow cohorts. Airbnb uses customer-centric storytelling as one of the ways to connect with people and improve brand loyalty.
Stories Provide Relevance & Set the Context
Great business leaders and marketers create personas of their audience to help them to decide. Personas help businesses to stay relevant to the audience they are catering to. As we can see from their Kickstarter campaign of Amanda, she sets the context early in her video. Which makes sure that whoever watching it can relate to her struggle and the values she stands for. She then moves on to provide the context of her current campaign, which is about independent music and the art she believes in.
By using stories to set the context, inductions programs in organizations can be made more impactful. New joiners are eager to understand what their organization aspires for and how they could contribute towards that. What better way to achieve that than take them through a story of why the organization came into existence and the current stage of the journey?
Stories Increase Employee Efficiency and Engagement
The difference between a great company and a mediocre company is about people. To be a successful organization, it needs to have an engaged workforce that is contributing to its fullest potential at work. But surveys highlight that disengaged employees is on the rise. With the growth of the millennial workforce, organizations are struggling to keep them engaged and motivated.
David MacLeod and Nita Clarke through their research have found four enablers for successful employee engagement. The first among that is Strategic Narrative. It is about leaders using storytelling to connect, engage and inspire the workforce. In essence, these stories could be founder stories, customer impact stories, employee impact stories, leader specific stories to name a few.
Compelling narratives have an emotional context, and it helps in humanizing dry employee communication. As a next step, employees should be encouraged to share their stories to get this into an organization-wide initiative. Innovative organizations stand out for using these enablers to improve employee engagement.
Why is Storytelling a Powerful Tool?
Our purchasing decisions, on a daily basis, are affected by the kind of personality that a brand has cultivated for itself and how we relate to the values it embodies. Of course, the product/services the brand offers factor in too, but the role of a strong brand-customer relationship cannot be overlooked.
That’s why storytelling is a powerful strategic business tool, because, more often than not, it is through the stories that brands tell that we decide how we feel about them.
Storytelling allows brands to experiment with their creativity and write content that is like short stories. Be it your blog or a thoroughly researched article, you can weave a personal narrative or stories of other people into them to make your content interesting.
Such content creates intrigue and engages readers, and the stories help brands build a relationship with customers. Brands can then reinforce that relationship by living up to their word—and, of course, with the quality of their product or service—to ensure brand loyalty.
Stories can be a powerful tool in any given situation, and the business sector isn’t immune to the magical powers of storytelling. Today, social sharing, social media marketing, and content marketing are big parts of a business’s promotional strategy, and storytelling is at the very core of these tools.
Stories are a perfect way to create a personality for your brand, make sure your readers remember you, and to inspire potential customers to make actual purchases.
Why is Storytelling so Important?
For starters, storytelling forges connections among people, and between people and ideas. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that unite people. When it comes to our countries, our communities, and our families, we understand intuitively that the stories we hold in common are an important part of the ties that bind us.
This understanding also holds true in the business world, where an organization’s stories, and the stories its leaders tell, help solidify relationships in a way that factual statements encapsulated in bullet points or numbers don’t.
Good stories do more than create a sense of connection. They build familiarity and trust and allow the listener to enter the story where they are, making them more open to learning. Good stories can contain multiple meanings so they’re surprisingly economical in conveying complex ideas in graspable ways. And stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas. Take the example of a company meeting.
At Company A, the leader presents the financial results for the quarter. At Company B, the leader tells a rich story about what went into the “win” that put the quarter over the top. Company A employees come away from the meeting knowing that they made their numbers.
Company B employees learned about an effective strategy in which sales, marketing, and product development came together to secure a major deal. Employees now have new knowledge, and new thinking, to draw on. They’ve been influenced. They’ve learned.
Something for everyone
Another storytelling aspect that makes it so effective is that it works for all types of learners. Paul Smith, in “Leader as Storyteller: 10 Reasons It Makes a Better Business Connection”, wrote:
In any group, roughly 40 percent will be predominantly visual learners who learn best from videos, diagrams, or illustrations. Another 40 percent will be auditory, learning best through lectures and discussions. The remaining 20 percent are kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing, experiencing, or feeling.
Storytelling has aspects that work for all three types. Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures storytelling evokes. Auditory learners focus on the words and the storyteller’s voice. Kinesthetic learners remember the emotional connections and feelings from the story.
Storytelling also helps with learning because stories are easy to remember. Organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser found that learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer than learning derived from facts and figures. Similarly, psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research suggests that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story.
Kendall Haven, the author of Story Proof and Story Smart, considers storytelling a serious business for business. He has written:
Your goal in every communication is to influence your target audience (change their current attitudes, belief, knowledge, and behavior). Information alone rarely changes any of these. Research confirms that well-designed stories are the most effective vehicle for exerting influence.
Stories about professional mistakes and what leaders learned from them are another great avenue for learning. Because people identify so closely with stories, imagining how they would have acted in similar circumstances, they’re able to work through situations in a way that’s risk-free.
The extra benefit for leaders: with a simple personal story they’ve conveyed underlying values, offered insight into the evolution of their own experience and knowledge, presented themselves as more approachable, AND most likely inspired others to want to know more.
Connection. Engagement. Appealing to all sorts of learners. Risk-free learning. Inspiring motivation. Conveying learning that sticks. It’s no wonder that more and more organizations are embracing storytelling as an effective way for their leaders to influence, inspire, and teach.
What are B2B Stories?
A good story lets customers know your brand and what it stands for. It also bridges the gap between your business and your consumers. In addition, storytelling adds an extra layer to your customer care by recognizing customers’ stories and using them to inspire more people.
From what used to be a mushy marketing strategy, B2B storytelling has transformed into a leading tactic in Content Marketing.
Brand storytelling is a staple of B2C content marketing, but it’s less common in the B2B world. The reason is obvious—it’s more difficult to engage your audience emotionally when you’re selling complex solutions to businesses, rather than flashy products to individual consumers.
Storytelling may seem more difficult to pull off in the B2B world, but it’s no less effective. After all, 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase if they connect to a brand on an emotional level.
Why Success Story is Important?
When people can see change management in action, and can see the results that were achieved, they are more likely to support and engage in change management, and bring those principles and practices into their own work.
There are three main advantages of using success stories to build commitment and buy-in:
- Success stories create Awareness – Awareness is the first building block in the Prosci ADKAR Model. Awareness is attained when impacted employees understand why, why now and what if not. Showing how a project looked different – and was able to deliver results and outcomes – as a result of applying change management contributes to Awareness of the need for change management.
- Success stories contribute to Desire – Desire follows Awareness in the Prosci ADKAR Model. Desire is the personal decision to get on board and support the change, tied to organizational and individual motivators. A case of success resulting from change management spurs those personal decisions throughout the organization.
- Success stories make change management “real” – Change management can be complicated to understand, especially for project team members or managers who have not seen it in action. Using real applications as the basis for your conversation makes it easier for your audiences to understand what it means to apply change management on a project.
What are Customer Stories?
A customer story is an engaging article integrating testimonial quotes from a happy client or customer praising the work completed together. (*To be used only with expressed permission.)
Different types of customer stories include…
Various ways of presenting client testimonials, customer interviews, use cases or case studies by detailing the story of a problem/solution given a collaboration of sorts.
Many customer stories might follow the standard “Challenges. Solutions. Results.” format.
Whether it’s a five-star review on Amazon or Yelp, having the people who’ve used your business sing your praises is always a good thing. A customer story (with positive insight) offers credibility and immediate relevance to a business as they shine a light on a collaboration that worked — yielding positive upticks in sales and/or benefits from a specific relationship.
Businesses that benefit from customer stories…
Anyone can benefit from a customer story that showers a business with praise. Especially when the customer story is strategically placed on a company site or social channels as content… and as a way of getting the word out to new prospects who can envision their own relationship.
Why are Stories Effective in Business Communication?
Storytelling in business is an effective communication tool that allows brands to connect with customers. By telling a story, businesses can share product information or introduce customers to a brand. Learning how to draft an effective story is important if you want to reach your customer.
Storytelling in business can be a powerful marketing tool. There are many benefits to using storytelling in business, including:
- Engage customers and employees: Stories engage customers on a deeper, personalized level. They can also help employees connect with a business and better understand their values and morals.
- Create a memory: The longer that a person thinks of a product, or brand, the more likely they are to become a customer. Because stories resonate with people, they are more likely to create a memory.
- Trigger emotions and feelings: Triggering emotions helps brands connect with customers. Emotions are more likely to encourage action.
- Develop customer loyalty: Customers become loyal to businesses that they emotionally connect with. Because stories communicate ideas in a way that customers are used to listening then, they are more likely to encourage loyal customers.
- Gives businesses a competitive advantage: Storytelling gives businesses the opportunity to stand out against competitors by connecting with their audience. Stories allow them to leave lasting impressions.
- Persuade customers to take action: The goal of most marketing projects is to get the customer to convert. Stories persuade customers to take action, like buying a product.
What is the Power of Story Telling?
The power of storytelling can be very impactful in both a positive and negative way. Stories we tell ourselves about goals we can’t achieve because we’re not smart or educated enough, for example, can lead to limiting beliefs that hold us back.
On the other hand, stories we tell within the office about overcoming challenges or how setbacks were turned into successes can lead to empowerment and a culture of innovation and calculated risks. That’s the power of a great story.
Stories are one of the most powerful tools you can use to engage and connect with your audience. The power of a single story goes far beyond simply relaying facts and data and can be a highly effective tool to create customer loyalty. Stories emotionalize information.
They give color and depth to otherwise bland material and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way. Those potential customers can then connect with your product, service and your entire business in a way that will make you talkably different.
How do you share your story with those who need and want to hear it? You don’t have to be a public speaker to utilize the power of a great story. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate storytelling into your messaging.
Use the power of storytelling on social media
You can tell impactful stories through social media and reach hundreds or even thousands of followers. Your stories can be in written form, such as sharing the link to a blog you recently wrote, or you can put videos on your social media channels that tell impactful stories. Remember that social media is all about giving value to your followers and that every story you tell needs to inform, entertain or impact them in some meaningful way.
Tell a great story during sales meetings or presentations
Sometimes a good sales script is all you need to positively impact a prospect and convert them into a valued client. There are other times when the power of a great story can push them over the edge and convince them that they need to do business with you. Though you shouldn’t bog down your meetings with meaningless anecdotes or rambling tales, the power of a single story that resonates with your client cannot be overlooked.
Use storytelling with your employees
How do you get your team fired up and excited about your company’s mission and core values? Depending on their role, they might not get to see how all their hard work impacts your clients or the community. Use the power of storytelling to relate recent wins you’ve experienced to them and how your business is making a difference. This reinforces that their work has meaning and they’ll likely work even harder to serve your clients.
What are the Qualities of Good Story Telling?
Whether you are using the hero’s journey, setting up a story-based joke, or teaching a complex topic, great storytellers have characteristics that set them apart from people simply conveying information. Below are some key characteristics of a great storyteller.
Storytellers get excited about their story- Sharing information with enthusiasm can transform the experience an audience has. Great storytellers get past their fears and anxieties and get excited about their story. They get lost in the story and forget about their personal fears and concerns. The story becomes the center of attention rather than the storyteller.
Storytellers understand psychology- Good storytellers have a basic grasp of motivation, fear, and what brings a crowd to their feet. Great storytellers use that psychology to plug in and engage their audiences, helping them feel the highs and lows of the story as if they were in the story too.
Storytellers keep the suspense high- A great story builds up over time and ends with a climactic win or devastating loss. Good storytellers don’t rush through a story too soon and are sure to add important details that add suspense and build the anticipation for the outcome.
Storytellers break down tough topics- A lot of audiences are looking for information about something they don’t fully understand. A good storyteller can break down complex topics into relatable and understandable concepts that educate and motivate. Using storytelling to explain difficult concepts can help speed up a learning curve or make a sale easier.
Storytellers make friends easily- Storytelling is less threatening than lecturing. Storytelling builds the know, like, and trust factor faster because audiences feel safe and entertained by the storyteller. Often times people have a sense that they know the storyteller personally simply by having heard them or read their materials.
Developing the characteristics of a great storyteller can help make engaging your audience easier. Using personal or anecdotal stories in your marketing or speaking can help build your rapport, your authority, and increase the know, like, and trust currency needed to stand out in the crowd.
How do you Use Story Telling to Sell?
You don’t have to be a great writer or creative genius to use storytelling in sales. All it takes is a little strategy and practice.
1. Get Your Storytelling Basics Down
Most stories have a clear introduction, middle, and conclusion. This structure makes the story straightforward and easy to follow.
Also, your story must focus on your prospect’s journey. Create your pitch using the following as your guide:
- Who is the main character?
- What main challenge does the character face?
- How will the character overcome the challenge?
2. Determine the Takeaway
Knowing your endgame will make building out the framework for the story easier. What’s the key takeaway you want the listener to get after you finish your story? Or, why should your customer care?
An answer might go like this: The prospective customer will care because, by the end of the story, they’ll see how our product will improve their closing speed.
3. Get Your Prospect’s Attention (and Hold It)
Stories must be captivating and informative. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and ask yourself if this is a story you’d want to hear. Use familiar (not-boring) phrases, and keep the language short and punchy.
When you’re telling a story, you need to remove any complications or barriers that will prevent prospects from understanding the overall objective: to sell your product!
4. Personalize Your Sales Story
This is probably the most crucial part of storytelling. It takes a little work but pays off big when you are closing deals. Use past clients’ experiences (such as case studies) to tailor the message to your prospect.
Also, check industry changes that could impact your prospect’s business and weave that information into your story. In a press release, did they announce a recent merger? Mentioning the change creates a more meaningful pitch.
5. Practice Your Story Out Loud
Whether you’re sending an email or doing a cold call, you must read your story out loud — practice it — to ensure it feels natural for you and sounds authentic to your listener.
Practice it as if you’re talking to your target prospect. That way, you’ll pick up on awkward language that can make your pitch seem robotic.
The more you practice, the more confident you’ll sound — even when pitching your most challenging prospects.
How do you Develop a Sales Story?
Review these steps to determine how to develop a strong marketing story for your company:
1. Establish your key objective
To help guide the direction of your marketing story, you first need to determine your end goal in creating a marketing story. By understanding the objective behind story selling initiatives, you can determine the storyline you want to create and which products or services to include in the story.
2. Review your target audience
When developing a good marketing story to assist with your story selling initiatives, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience(s). This includes their age demographics, beliefs and values and the types of problems they face in their daily lives. By defining one or more target audiences for your marketing story, you can make sure that it resonates with them and encourages them to engage with your business.
3. Determine the channel(s) to publish your marketing story
You can describe your marketing story during sales pitches with customers or clients, but you can also create videos, blog posts, customer testimonial statements and other formats to tell your story. You also need to decide where you want to put your marketing story.
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This can include your social media channels, company website, company newsletter, company blog platform or video platforms. When choosing publishing methods, consider which channels your target audience use regularly.
4. Decide whether to use a real customer experience or fictional narrative
When creating a marketing story, you can develop a fictional narrative that describes a common problem your customers face and how your products or services solve it, or you can use a real customer and their experiences. Therefore, it’s important to consider these different story angles before you continue.
5. Establish your characters
Whether you decide to create a narrative or use a customer experience, you need to establish the characters in your marketing story. This typically consists of a protagonist (the customer), an antagonist (person or situation causing a problem) and additional characters that help drive your story forward.
6. Define the conflict the protagonist faces
Brainstorm a problem that the protagonist faces that requires your product or service to solve it. This should be a problem that resonates with your target audience and makes them pay attention to your marketing story.
7. Introduce the product or service
Once you’ve established the key problem that a customer faces in your marketing story, you need to introduce the specific product or service that your business offers. Examples of this could include a family member or friend recommending the product to the protagonist, or the protagonist find the product on their own.
8. Highlight how the product or service solves the protagonist’s problem
This is the important part of your marketing story as you make the connection between your businesses, it’s products or services and how they solve the protagonist’s problem. At this point in the story, the protagonist starts to use the product or service and shows how it makes their life easier on a daily basis.
9. Make the ending positive and inspiring
Like any marketing story, yours should have a positive conclusion with a call to action that inspires consumers to visit your website, read product reviews or, potentially, make a purchase from your business.
10. Get reactions from real consumers
Before you publish your marketing story, consider involving consumers by providing surveys and hosting focus groups to read or view your marketing story. From this, you can determine its effectiveness and get reactions from real people who have similarities to your target audiences.
How do you Know a Story is Successful?
Storytelling is a powerful tool that great leaders use to motivate the masses and masterful writers harness to create classic literature. If you’re just getting started writing and telling stories, here are some storytelling tips that can help you strengthen your narratives and engage your audience:
- 1. Choose a clear central message. A great story usually progresses towards a central moral or message. When crafting a story, you should have a definite idea of what you’re building toward. If your story has a strong moral component, you’ll want to guide listeners or readers to that message. If you’re telling a funny story, you might build toward a twist that will leave your audience in stitches. If you’re telling an engaging story, try to increase the dramatic tension and suspense right up until the climax of your narrative. Regardless of what type of story you are telling, it’s important to be very clear on the central theme or plot point that you are building your story around.
- 2. Embrace conflict. As a storyteller, you can’t shy away from conflict. Great storytellers craft narratives that have all sorts of obstacles and hardships strewn in the path of their protagonists. In order to be satisfied with a happy ending, audiences have to watch the main characters struggle to achieve their goals. It’s okay to be cruel to your main characters—in fact, it’s necessary. Compelling plots are built on conflict, and it’s imperative that you embrace conflict and drama in order to become a better storyteller.
- 3. Have a clear structure. There are many different ways to structure a story, but the three ingredients a story must have are a beginning, middle, and end. On a more granular level, a successful story will start with an inciting incident, lead into rising action, build to a climax and ultimately settle into a satisfying resolution. There are many books and online resources that can help you better understand these terms and acquaint you with other storytelling techniques. Additional insights into story structure can be gleaned by exposing yourself to great storytellers in literature and film and practicing laying out your own stories on paper so you can observe their shape and structure.
- 4. Mine your personal experiences. Whether or not you are telling a real story directly based on personal experience, you can always look to your life for inspiration when coming up with new stories. Think about important experiences in your real life and how you might be able to craft them into narratives.
- 5. Engage your audience. Great storytelling requires you to connect with your audience, but much of how you captivate your audience depends upon the mode of storytelling you’re using. If you’re reading a short story in front of an audience, you might want to play around with bringing your gaze off the page every so often to make eye contact with your audience. If you’re recording a narrative podcast, so much depends upon the expressiveness of your voice and your ability to convey emotion with your tone. However you choose to tell your story, make sure to consider your audience.
- 6. Observe good storytellers. Your personal stories will always be unique and specific to you, but there’s no better way to learn how to craft and deliver a narrative than by watching storytellers you admire relate their own stories. Most of us know people who we regard as eloquent and engaging storytellers. Whether it be a family member who regales you with childhood tales around the dinner table or a local politician who excels at public speaking, chances are you’ve come across more than a handful of talented storytellers in your life. Look for good storytellers and learn through observation. How do they craft a successful story?
- 7. Narrow the scope of your story. If you’re telling a true story from your own life, it can be hard to choose the important main points that you should include. Many people have a tendency to include every detail and end up inundating their audience with facts that dilute the central story arc. Choose a clear beginning and end to your story, then write the key plot events as bullet points between them. Trust that your audience will be able to follow your story, and don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary backstory or tangential plot points.
In your B2B marketing, storytelling is about the whole picture versus the sum of the parts. You can build relationships on many things, but statistics are not a primary factor. However, storytelling can and will do the following.
1. Make your brand more memorable
2. Help people understand and empathize with your brand
3. Communicate your values
4. Drive long-term growth based on a stronger connection with the audience
So, if you’re targeting a B2B audience and haven’t set aside the time to truly think and evaluate the pieces of your brand’s story, don’t you think it’s about time to do so?