Why is Storytelling Important for B2B Marketing?
B2B storytelling helps unify groups of people around a shared narrative about what they need to accomplish.
Storytelling has been a buzzword in consumer marketing (B2C) for nearly a decade. And for a good reason. We, as humans, can’t help but tell stories. They are a critical way to convey information and build common ground.
Storytelling in B2C Marketing
When I think about storytelling in marketing, emotional, high-production ads from companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, REI, and Starbucks come to mind.
You’ve probably seen examples, especially around the Super Bowl or other significant events. For instance, in this 2015 advertisement, Apple uses Robin Williams’ speech from Dead Poets Society to sell the iPad Air.
I may not want to run out and buy an iPad right after watching this, but I do remember the ad. And I feel inspired to create something. That feeling is now associated with Apple and their products. The Apple advertisement is an excellent example of why B2C marketers rely on storytelling to build customer connections and trust.
Why Storytelling Matters for B2B Marketing
For a long time, B2B marketing has held out as a place filled with dry white papers and ebooks waiting behind lead generation forms.
But storytelling is even more critical for B2B (enterprise) marketing.
Unlike most B2C products, in B2B marketing, you are selling to groups of people who need to make a decision together. These diverse groups of individuals have unique needs and problems that need to be solved. In many cases, you may sell to stakeholders whose problems you don’t directly solve (typically C-suite leadership).
The only way to win a deal with so many people is by first uniting everyone around a common cause that turns their problems into a set of shared obstacles to overcome.
A successful story must resonate with everyone in the buying process and establish a higher-level mission to solve together.
Successful B2B marketing starts with a strategic narrative — why your company exists and what you help solve. One of my favorite examples is Microsoft’s new mission under CEO Satya Nadella: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Microsoft can apply a simple story to consumer products and business tools. It can reframe whatever Microsoft sells around helping customers achieve a shared goal. That could include better healthcare outcomes, increasing student achievement, or building inclusive workplaces.
To summarize, storytelling is an essential component of B2B marketing because it is a powerful tool for persuasion that can help align groups of buyers around a shared narrative. With the right story, you can inspire confidence and build trust with your customers.
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