Storytelling in marketing is not a new tool. In fact, researchers have been exploring the connection between consumer decisions and narrative since the late eighties. And storytelling started well before then.
Though many of us accept storytelling while marketing directly to consumers, when selling to companies, often the human element drops out. Instead of appealing to emotion, we tend to drop into the land of features, benefits, and data— queue the PowerPoint presentation.
Yet, despite communicating the business benefits to another business, remember that ultimately, we're still talking to other people. And if you're talking to a human being, the best way to connect is with the power of story.
In our last article, we talked about how stories build trust. This article is all about why it works for everyone.
Some anthropologists theorize that telling stories developed almost immediately after language itself.
National Geographic speculates the origins of stories started long ago, "We do know that all cultures have told stories. We don't know when oral storytelling began, but we have evidence of stories told through visual art dating back at least 30,000 years in both Europe and Africa." Now, whether the dates are accurate or not, it's certain that storytelling is not a modern invention.
Given many millennia and evidence of storytelling in disparate cultures worldwide, it certainly gives credence to its power of appealing to our most basic humanness.
What makes stories so effective to so many different people? Many reasons are theorized, but one cause is clear: stories work for all learning types.
When you work to tell your story, in addition to moving your audience, you're ultimately trying to teach them something. Whether that's how you're able to help, how you're different from everyone else, or something completely different. And this is the beauty of storytelling. It connects to all different types of learners.
In any group, roughly 40% will be predominantly visual learners who learn best from videos, diagrams, or illustrations. Another 40% will be auditory, learning best through lectures and discussion. The remaining 20% are kinesthetic learners, who learn best by doing and experiencing.
A good narrative will connect in spades. Especially if the story is presented leveraging something experiential, combining visuals, audio, tactile elements, and interaction. Want to get a taste of what I'm talking about? Check out the Southwest Airlines "Center Seat" campaign we produced in partnership with AMP Agency.
When telling a story for your brand, product, or service, try to combine elements that will appeal to every kind of learner.
Start by keeping your intended audience in mind. Not your product or service. Ask questions that will appeal to the emotions of your target audience, such as, how does my offering impact their day-to-day? What does it mean to the personal life? What relief do I offer?
We find the best combination is to surprise, delight, and inspire with a well-crafted video narrative and involving the audience through experiential elements.
Yes, stories do appeal to B2B audiences. They are people too. They also work because they appeal to all learning types. So, the next time your working on your B2B marketing strategy, remember it's not so much B2B as it is P2P (person 2 person).