“To hell with facts! We need stories!”
Storytelling is vital to today’s marketing.
Do you make a connection with your prospects and customers through storytelling, or are you still stuck in the world of “speeds and feeds” as we used to say in tech?
Especially in B2B (business-to-business), there’s a gap between who companies think they are trying to reach versus who they really need to reach. And who they really need to reach are people, not companies.
There’s an unspoken belief in some industries that laying out the specifications of products is enough. It’s not.
Reaching people starts with connecting with the head, yes, but also the heart. This is vital to a great marketing story.
Start With Benefits
Identifying benefits are one of the biggest things my marketing students struggle with, even the youngest or most tech savvy ones who are exposed to narratives all the time on social channels.
My students experience a great marketing story, but sometimes don’t make the conscious connection between storytelling and marketing.
Benefits, rather than features, are what really matter to buyers, especially the higher up in an organization you are trying to reach. It’s counter-intuitive, but the more technical your product, the less complex your marketing should be.
Nobody really cares what your product can do, they want to know what it can do for them.
Strip Away Technical Jargon
Nothing kills connections more than droning on about technical specifications. Who cares if your product integrates with common ordering systems? What do your technical specifications actually mean for your customer’s daily life? Does it mean they can save money they used to spend on developers? Does it mean they finish projects three times faster and book revenue faster?
If you have any jargon, industry-specific language, that you aren’t 101% sure your prospects will understand, eliminate it. Translate for them. Make your explanations clear and simple.
One of the most effective ways to change your marketing focus is to build personas (fantastic HubSpot article with a template) or example “people” that you are communicating with. The more detailed, the better. Include details like age, sex, income levels, position in the company and more. Work with your sales teams to help: base personas off of research, but also real-world evidence.
Then, get deeper and build out needs and wants, desires and life goals. Build a whole person and speak to that person in your marketing, not to the company you’re selling to.
By visualizing an actual person, and not a faceless company, you’ll automatically change your language and approach.
Once you have genuine product benefits and a persona built out, it’s time to build storytelling around them. Create specific scenarios that illustrate how your product affects their daily work life. Go through their day, week, month and year step by step. Look at the problems they face. How do you fix them, reduce their stress, make them more productive and happy?
Even if your product is “boring”, there are ways to build an emotional connection.
Test And Get Feedback
Every established company needs actual customers to talk to. Build a group of trusted customers you can get feedback from, and test your new narratives. Are they accurate? Are there details you may have missed the first time that will help you make your stories stronger?
It’s important to take your customer feedback seriously, but not let it entirely rule your creative process. Strike the right balance to incorporate the most constructive ideas.
Deploy And Evaluate
Once your stories are out in the market, be patient and consistent. Don’t expect an overnight viral hit for your high-impact narrative around the benefits of industrial fasteners. Consistently use your narratives to drive content creation, and evaluate the results over time. It will take time for your storytelling to have maximum effect. Keep in mind that you’ve created an entirely new mental frame for your prospects and customers to see you through.
Keep At It
Use multiple media and channels to build out your narratives: text, video, images, quotations across your digital and offline outlets. Employ paid and non-paid tactics and see which work better for you.
What Marketing Story Are You Telling?
I would love to hear what your company is doing to tell its marketing story. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
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