Photo by Marek Piwnicki
As a B2B marketer, you no doubt get the value of storytelling in your brand. After all, we're all human. Who doesn't love a good story?
But when you're building your B2B marketing strategy, others may need to be convinced of the value of storytelling. For instance, why does storytelling work? What metrics can I use to support the importance of storytelling? And how can you leverage it fully?
Most importantly, what is the benefits for your brand of using storytelling in your B2B marketing?
In this three-part series, we'll explain why storytelling is an effective B2B marketing strategy and how you can incorporate it into all your marketing efforts.
So, let's jump in. Why is storytelling important? First, and possibly most importantly, it's a magical and effective way to build trust between you and your audience since it taps into our emotions.
Just think. At what moment do you feel like you've got to know someone beyond an acquaintance level? Likely, they shared a story with you.
Hearing about someone's childhood, listening to their work-from-home tale, or any other personal story instantly helps you feel more familiar and connected to that person. You may laugh, cringe, and ultimately will empathize with each other.
Alternatively, if you don't trust someone, you'll likely never tell your story. Telling stories is both a catalyst and a proof of trust.
We grow to trust each other through the stories we tell. Stories help us realize our similarities and our shared humanity.
How does this type of storytelling work in practice?
Nobody likes to listen to a braggart. Even if someone's accomplishments are impressive, it's dull to listen to a list of successes and awards…and yet, this is what many marketing efforts sound like. "Look at me!" we exclaim.
You can list all the wonderful things you've done on behalf of your clients, and people will likely tune out. We've all been there.
How much better to take a few steps backward and start at the beginning of a customer story. Think about starting at the challenges your client dealt with before their success…suddenly, you're telling a riveting story, and what's more, you're telling a story that your prospect can connect with and start to build trust.
When your prospect is still in the "problem" stage, it can be challenging to build trust purely on other's successes. What they need is a story about someone like them who overcame them (with your help, of course).
A story is a difference between looking at a cold list of accomplishments and imagining our own path to success by identifying with a protagonist. They also provide "social proof" that someone like your prospect went from trouble to success.
According to a study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology, when prospects are "encouraged to imagine themselves having the experiences described," they evaluated products more favorably. Listing the features of the product wasn't as effective as crafting a story.
I'll admit it: a good spreadsheet can make my heart go pitter-patter, but not all people are like that. In fact, if you show most humans a wall of data, they go into shutdown mode until something more interesting happens.
Put people in front of a silver screen instead and play a compelling movie, and what happens? Entire crowds will be totally taken away into fantasyland, with no room for distraction or detachment.
It's simple to see what's going on. Stories are more engaging than data.
This is because stories engage our emotions, which have a more significant impact on our purchasing decisions than any so-called "rational" part of our mind.
Do you need others to buy in? Ironically, here's some data to prove my point.
According to research reported by Psychology Today, "Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts)."
By connecting with what makes us human, all the soft and squishy parts of our hearts, your B2B brand's story can reach more deeply than ever before.
Build trust with your prospect by focusing on their story. Address the problems they're dealing with directly, and show them how others just like them went from these troubles to success.
Remember, storytelling only builds trust if you're being trustworthy. Focus on your shared humanity and use your true feelings and goals to inform your communication.
Focus on your prospect's story and tell the truth - even if the results aren't as compelling as you would like, and you'll tell stories that resonate and build relationships.