Stories can help you connect with customers on an emotional level, show your value and stand out from the competition. Here’s how to add compelling stories to your B2B marketing mix …
Back in the days of Mad Men, marketers could tell customers how to think and what to buy.
But times have changed.
Customers no longer trust advertising and don’t want to hear companies talk about how great they are.
To stand out, B2B companies must reach customers on an emotional level. I recently spoke with Ira Haberman, Director of Storytelling at Brainrider, about how B2B marketers can use stories to create these connections.
“All B2B companies have a story to tell – whether it’s about technology or piping or financial services,” says Ira. “The best way to connect with your audience is by telling your stories.”
According to Ira, great B2B stories are based on the following four pillars:
1. Your Customers
Your best stories come from your customers.
“Your best stories aren’t about you,” says Ira. “Instead of talking about yourself in a video, show how your customers are using your products and the benefits they are achieving.”
One way to get your customers’ stories is to reach out to your sales and customer service teams. They are on the front line and speak with your customers every day. For example, invite customers to share their success stories. Then you can turn these stories into case studies, testimonials, blog posts and videos.
It’s also important to hear from customers who aren’t happy. Ask reps to send you a list of the top five things customers are complaining about. Then you can address these issues in your content.
You can also hear stories from customers who aren’t achieving success. This will help you learn what you need to do to improve.
Also be sure to speak with potential clients who said “no”. Find out why they decided to go with one of your competitors or maintain the status quo. You may find out that you’re telling the wrong stories.
2. Your Employees
Today’s customers don’t want to interact with a logo – they want to interact with people. Featuring your employees’ stories can make your company more human and relatable.
Here are five ways to tell your employees’ stories:
- Create a video that shows employees talking about why they work for you.
- Ask employees to write for your blog and share their subject matter expertise. If they don’t have the time to blog, you can ask a ghost writer to interview them and write stories on their behalf.
- Have employees speak at conferences and other live events.
- Continually ask for stories. For example, include a “call for stories” in your newsletter. You can also start threads in your internal social network that ask questions such as, “What was your biggest success this month?”
- Start your employee meetings with a success story.
3. Your Advocates
“Your advocates are champions for your stories,” says Ira. “Connect with them and find out why they love your product or service. Then, when you’re ready to tell a new story, you’ll have lots of information to draw from.”
You likely have advocates who sing your praises online. However, you probably also have power users who aren’t vocal. Reach out to these power users to learn why they use our service and what makes you better than everyone else. When you cultivate these relationships, you can build more advocates.
4. Your Brand
Your brand stories should be less about you and more about the value you bring customers. Even your “about us” page should focus more on your customers than your brand.
When you talk about your brand, focus on how your products or services will make your customers’ lives better. This will help you show your value and stand out from your competitors.
It’s also important to use personal pronouns in your copy.
“I can’t use personal pronouns enough,” says Ira. “They give your audience a sense of belonging and help to make your stories about your customers.”
When you build stories around these four pillars, you will build an emotional connection with more customers.
You’ll be even more successful if you measure your results on an ongoing basis. This will ensure that you’re telling the right stories. You’ll learn from your hits and misses, so you can better respond to customer needs and improve your marketing ROI.
3 Ways to Apply This Information Now
Download the B2B Call to Action Cheat Sheet to discover how to get readers to take the next step after they check out your stories.
Read “5 Ways to Get Your Internal Team to Write for Your B2B Blog” to learn how to get your colleagues to tell their stories.
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