There’s long been this incorrect assumption in business: the lowest bid for the best quality gets the job.
But in practice, this is hardly ever true. People don’t make rational purchases after carefully comparing quality and price. People make decisions emotionally, then justify it afterward with logic, if at all (here’s a Psychology Today article if you don’t believe me).
So what really wins? Powerful stories. As Simon Sinek has gone viral saying, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” If you share the “why,” you’re on your way to success.
What’s more is that we need to be strategic. An inconsistent or incoherent message loses customers, no matter how much you focus on “why.”
That’s where strategic storytelling comes in. In a world full of noise, your story can connect and be memorable, but only if you use the power of story purposefully.
Strategic storytelling is using the ancient power of narrative in a way that furthers your brand’s objectives. It means taking control of your own story to make it as appealing and honest as possible for your audience.
Your audience, in this case, isn’t just limited to prospects. Your brand audience also includes employees, who you want to inspire, motivate, and retain, and current customers or clients, who you also want to inspire, motivate, and retain.
When you use strategic storytelling, you’re not letting outsiders craft an image of your brand. You’re also not haphazardly writing messaging for the individual aspects of your brand.
Strategically storytelling means looking at how everything you make connects, every message to every audience, and tying it together into a great tapestry that tells one unified, inspiring story.
Let’s take a look at how strategic storytelling helps everyone involved in your business, including your employees, prospects, and current customers.
When recruiting for your brand, you’re looking for the best people. It may seem like to get the best people, you’ll need to offer the highest pay and the most perks, but again, in practice this isn’t true.
People can often be lured to a company by the promise of a big paycheck, but unless you provide them with more, they’ll be easily lured away.
The same principle applies to the amount of effort people give to the company. Without motivation, many people do the bare minimum and draw a check.
But if you give people a “why,” show them your brand’s story and how they fit into it, people will dedicate themselves to your cause. This is where strategic storytelling comes in.
First, you identify your brand’s overall story. Then, you can help every team member feel like a hero doing their individual part for the whole. By narrativizing their contributions and tying it into the overall “story arc” of the company, you can make even the accounting department feel like they’re saving the world.
For instance, our narrative here at UviaUs is that we’re guides helping marketers summit their biggest challenges. For our discipline in account-based marketing, the summit means helping guide account-based marketers to reach and activate decision makers in the C-suite. Just as summiting a major peak takes team effort planning, preparing, and executing the plan to reach the top, each team member plays a vital role in helping aid our clients.
The best thing about this is, you can use it on yourself, as well. Stay motivated by outright stating your role in your company’s story. By having everyone in the company do this, you’ll have your own individual journeys, but they’ll all tie together powerfully.
What’s your most important pool of possible customers? People who have already bought from you. They’re less costly to market to, since you’ve already converted them, and their experience can bring you valuable word-of-mouth buzz.
Especially in B2B, where high-value prospects can become multi-year to lifetime partners, you need to give your current customers a reason to continue doing business with you. A reason besides inertia, as that can be broken through by a glossy bid from a competitor.
A good story stays with us for life. Especially if we’re living up to it! By showing your customers that they are on a journey, with you as their mentor and helper, you can keep them engaged, connected, and profitable. They will return to you time and time again, on each leg of their journey.
By strategically telling the story of each new step in the customer journey or each new offering, you integrate your brand into your customer’s personal story. When you do that, you’re not just a one-off purchase: you’re a lifelong partner.
Using strategic storytelling, you can coordinate all the aspects of your company to fit with one brand message. This clear brand message essentially positions you as a mentor or guide to your prospects.
By showing them how you can help them grow, solve problems, and become better, you’ll more easily convert prospects, and what’s better, you’ll start your business relationship off on a more human note.
Every message you send, every ad you display, every meeting you book, should all splinter off from your greater brand story. Then, you can use these things strategically to pull in new prospects and show them how your partnership can help them.
Make your prospects the hero, show them you’re the mentor, and you’ll move quickly from the prospective stage to the partner stage.
If you want to know more about telling better stories, read these next:
Now that we’ve learned about strategic storytelling and how it will benefit your brand, next week we’ll explore effective storytelling in B2B marketing.
How is storytelling different when you’re selling to other businesses, particularly hard-to-reach decision makers like the C-suite executives? What should you include, and what pitfalls should you avoid?
We’ll explore these questions and more next week, when we dive into the do’s and don’ts of effective storytelling in B2B marketing.