When it comes to engaging with the modern B2B consumer, brands have their work cut out for them. People are becoming less receptive to traditional marketing tactics and their attention spans are getting shorter.
To cut through the noise in the B2B sector, companies need to engage with their audiences on an emotional level. This can be accomplished through storytelling. Stories are the oldest form of entertainment. They have been passed down from generation to generation, acting as a constant throughout the history of the human race. Brands that incorporate storytelling into their marketing strategy can deliver an immersive customer experience.
Why storytelling works
Humans have a natural desire to know more. Stories are a source of knowledge and entertainment, helping us make sense of the world. Telling a story builds connections between people from different backgrounds, giving them an opportunity to see alternative perspectives.
Stories stimulate the left temporal cortex of the brain, an area that is associated with language. It helps to filter out select words and causes different body reactions. For example, a character-driven narrative may activate the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for producing oxytocin, a chemical that contributes to feelings of empathy.
The greatest storytellers can activate the left temporal cortex and illicit emotional responses such as happiness or sadness. The emotional response creates an experience within a person’s mind, affecting thoughts and decision-making.
Therefore, storytelling is an ideal B2B marketing tool because it allows companies to bypass the need for a hard sell. A business can communicate the benefits of their products and services in a relatable way, influencing consumers to buy into the emotional connection that has been established through their brand story.
Learning to tell the right story
Telling a good brand story can be likened to a traditional good vs evil narrative. A brand is the hero of the tale and customers are the characters in need of saving. Each consumer might grapple with a specific problem e.g. not having enough time to enjoy the activities they want to do. As the hero, it’s a brand’s job to figure out how to address customer problems and position their products and services as the solution.
Pain points are the villains of the B2B industry and the driving force of conflict within a story. Brands need to identify what is causing their customers strife and tailor their brand message around personal needs.
Heroes vs villains
HP Printers followed the hero and villain narrative by creating a video called ‘The Wolf.’ A fictional villain known as The Wolf was used to represent the threats companies face if they have poor printer security. In the context of the video, HP was the hero who could protect businesses from having their personal files accessed.
The video worked because it tapped into a key pain point in the security industry: the fear of having information stolen. It’s a great example of a brand presenting itself as the answer to a problem.
IBM Mobile also told an impressive brand story with its interactive Outage video. It depicted the struggle of a power plant operator fighting to bring power back on during a blackout. Viewers needed to help the protagonist make decisions and along the way they learned about how to use IBM’s app suite.
Rather than position itself as the hero, IBM chose to spotlight a potential consumer who might use its technology. Viewers could feel emotionally connected because they were seeing someone overcome problems in a stressful scenario. The video created a branching narrative, with each decision leading to a separate outcome, encouraging consumers to watch the story more than once.
We believe storytelling is an integral part of a successful marketing strategy. Download our guide on how to become an effective B2B storyteller and learn more about engaging consumers on an emotional level.