Crafting creating and engaging storytelling for B2B marketing. Part 2: The process of storytelling.
In a three part blog series, agency strategist Rene Power looks at why storytelling in b2b marketing has become a go-to approach for so many marketers and how to start doing it effectively. This second post outlines the concept of the hero’s journey and why it is being used more and more in commercial marketing.
A winning process
Creating content that tells a story and builds a connection to a commercial problem or solution is a process.
Remember that the number one goal of storytelling is to find connection through commonality. It isn’t to always get to a sale. There is, for most (all) industrial, technology and professional services B2Bs a need to find, share and occupy some common ground.
Before we look at process, we need to understand what’s changed.
There has been a clear move in marketing, perhaps for a decade or more, towards inbound problem solving.
Just check out your market
Advertising and direct marketing in most sectors is seen as white noise.
And if you’re honest if you consider your sector magazines, exhibition show guides and other industry watering holes when everyone comes together, are you really standing out?
I remember manufacturers wanting to put an oil rig on their ads going into oil and gas publications even though every page of the magazine looked exactly the same. The best ads took a very different creative line in their imagery and copylines.
But even more than that, it’s about recognising the complex nature and timelines for B2B buying and the fact that at whatever stage buyers begin, they are often looking for information and advice way ahead of making a purchase.
So sharing expertise and humanising your marketing copy in the form of storytelling goes a long way.
Key components of story
For an engaging story you need three basic components.
- A hero we care about
- A villain we’re afraid of
- An epic struggle between them
We also need a satisfying or worthy outcome / lesson, because this is the part that give the story meaning, resonance and the story receiver a chance.
This structure sits at the heart of most books, films, plays, pieces of music.
In his seminal work, Build a Story Brand, Donald Miller takes the hero’s journey further, providing a blueprint for how businesses of all shapes and sizes can integrate storytelling into their marketing and positioning.
Building a brand story around your customers that talks to your customers (and stakeholders) is essentially about putting them first.
Use this 7-step framework to rethink who you’re communicating with, what matters to them and how you should talk to them to completely reinvigorate your marketing.
Story Brand process
- Character / Hero – this is your customer (not you or your product or service). Remember why you exist and the problem you solve, and ultimately WHO you serve.
- Their problem / aspiration – they have to want to achieve something that you can assist with… and have to know this. Problems are better because you can talk about a better future and transformation and help them visualise what it would like look, feel like.
- Introduce a guide – whilst they might have a need, they rarely start looking for a solution/provider. Instead they are looking for ways to resolve their problem or challenge. (Hint you’re the guide and your expert content will bring people to your door).
- Provide a plan – as the guide you share a plan so the hero can achieve what they need to achieve.
- Challenge them to take action – give them examples of others you as the guide have helped in similar situations.
- Help them to avoid failure – for the procrastinating hero, they might need more than the benefits and positive future to convince them to act. They might need to be shown the implications of not taking action.
- Deliver success / transformation – the hero follows the plan / uses the product and secures the desired results.
Commercial storytelling becomes the act of positioning your business, your processes, your people, your products and services as the guide to help the customer be the hero in their own story.
You as the guide are supporting them in getting to a more desirable place.
Are you acting as the guide or trying to be the hero in your marketing right now?
If your content isn’t hitting the mark, you might need an intervention. Check out our approach to copy and content here https://www.velo-b2b.com/skills/creative-and-copy/ or book a discovery call to talk about content strategy here https://www.velo-b2b.com/contact/ .
In our final post in this three-part series, we’ll be sharing some specifics of aligning your content with customers, telling stories that make for more engaged audiences.