According to Seth Godin, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.”
With the amount of noise: signal ratio in today’s world, what stands out and really reaches out to customers, beyond the buzz of the day, are the stories that can define a brand in the true sense.
For many of us growing up in India, some stories evoked powerful brand identities that remain fond memories:
But, many times, such examples of brand storytelling have often been that of B2C (business to consumer) brands. We think of brand storytelling and think of brands like Nike, or Lego. Can B2B firms also benefit from stories?
There definitely have been a few who have used storytelling powerfully, through their content, through their thought leadership, through their visuals; on website, blogs as well as social media. The challenge here is not just one big-bang ad with a tagline that sways imagination but a continuous building of credibility over time through content that matters to its customers.
Cisco tells its story of collaboration, efficiency, and productivity through every channel. As for Hubspot, the innovator of Inbound Marketing, storytelling has been integral to their functioning since inception. Salesforce has an entire internal team dedicated to telling stories, and crafting client success narratives.
In the world of Marketing today, brand marketers are often thought to be like writers and publishers; creating, editing, and distributing that perfect narrative that tells their brand story. Is there a method to this?
Master storyteller and author Kurt Vonnegut, in his largely forgotten academic thesis, created something called an universal shape of a story where the main character has ups and downs that can be graphed to reveal the taxonomy of a story, as well as something about the culture it comes from.
Can both B2C and B2B Marketers develop their own shape of stories using Kurt Vonnegut’s research?
A few thoughts:
One way to apply the shape of stories is to remember this buzz-impact matrix. We have applied a new take on the classic hare and tortoise story here. Speed matters (remember the hare?). But so, does consistency (the tortoise).
Content that just promises things without credible evidence falls flat, specially in the B2B world where customers look for credibility and have an involved buying process. Similarly, content that spews jargon and are difficult to understand, also do not work.
Often, in today’s fast-moving world, we are tempted to find what makes something go viral. A viral, visual content strategy is an ask many companies have. The answer is not so simple. First, virality often happens by accident than by plan. And even if a post does go viral, in the B2B world, consistency is important, even more than occasional virality.
This is where a consistent content strategy comes into play. The companies that do it best have a planned calendar, identifying key channels (not too many) and specific pieces of content (cross-leveraging) that can build the voice of the company, in a simple, creative way.
B2B marketing is therefore telling your story through right channels – consistently and with ideal mix of fun and depth of content. Noted Business Advisor Valeria Maltoni says “Your writing doesn’t have to be boring just because it’s for other businesses. Businesses have people who read stuff.” So Happy Story Telling rather than marketing. Reach out to us if you have any questions/concerns at