It’s far too easy to say that B2B technology is dull. That’s just an excuse when the central responsibility of the creative marketer is to convert the uninteresting into something interesting.
Too often we fall into the trap of describing a product rather than telling a story. The vast majority of B2B content centers on features, functions and benefits. Much of this stuff is written to please executives rather than reach or inspire an audience.
It’s not that these attributes are bad, or shouldn’t be addressed, it’s that they should come later. Amid a dizzying array of product choices, these all tend to all sound similar to the buyer. The statistics and proof points are all generally same – suggesting a product is a percentage better, faster or cheaper. However, stories are inherently different and it’s the stories people remember.
Even in B2B technology, marketers will find better success focusing on story in which the prospect sees themselves. And storytelling in B2B marketing is the theme for this weeks’ Unscripted Marketing links [UML]. As it is each week, I’ve highlighted three carefully vetted articles related to a theme that I recommend for your perusal.
1) Creating Quality Content Starts with Why
Many brands attempt to begin stories with what when they ought to begin with why. This results in copy or content that usually self-centered and doesn’t answer customer or potential customer questions.
That’s the vibe I got reading Ahava Leibtag’s piece in CMSWire titled, Enough Already About the Value of Content. She writes:
“Want to know the real reason brands publish content with no value? Because they talk about themselves way too much or they talk about how they make the sausage instead of why they make the sausage or they tell boring stories no one cares about.”
She’s right and brands would do well to begin with what your audience wants to know rather than what you want to say. As Simon Sinek says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
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2) Sous-vide: A Tech Company that Makes Food
If you focus solely on the film, you’ll be a couple minutes into the story before you realize there’s a virtualization software company behind it.
The film is part of the VMware content marketing initiative it calls Radius and it’s a great example of storytelling in B2B writes Chris Daniels for PRWeek in this piece – B-to-b Brand Films can Be Sexy Too:
“The brand is only mentioned sparingly in the films, which concentrate on celebrating innovators, particularly in IT. The IT aspect is the fact SugarCreek is using tech to help bring the chef’s cooking technique to its business.”
The cooking technique is sous-vide, a French culinary term, and it serves to breathe life into an otherwise technical story. It is one example among many that VMware has added to Radius:
“The B2B company has turned itself into a content factory of brand films, bringing interesting profiles to its specific audience about innovators in various industries, from a pre-med student helping improve healthcare delivery in Africa to elementary school teachers working to improve student learning.”
The PRWeek piece reports VMware collaborates with customer care to find these stories. The company has invested not only in the idea but in a process and leadership to actually execute on the program.
This shows that good storytelling in content marketing isn’t a campaign, it’s a culture.
3) Creativity is the Soul of CMO
“The soul of marketing has changed.” So wrote Richard Steele of SY Partners in an opinion piece called The CMO Agenda For 2017: Make Marketing Creative Again for MediaPost. He articulates the broadening role – and responsibilities – of the CMO and suggests five areas where top marketers can make a dent by getting creative.
His fifth point – creativity in belief building – stood out for me:
“With diverse teams, brilliantly orchestrated, bolder questions, and a deep understanding of customers, CMOs can focus on building belief in their brand. At a time when trust in paid media lags compared to earned recommendations, CMOs should be creative in how they transform customers into advocates and reward the most passionate.”
Finding and facilitating ways for customers to share their stories is a good place to start with rewards and transform them into advocates.
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Photo credit: Flickr, Kevin Jarrett, New York City Skyscrapers (CC BY 2.0)