Remember the children’s story of The Three Little Pigs? I’ll bet even if you haven’t heard it in 20 years, you know it and can recall the moral too. It’s such a simple story, but it really gets the point across about not taking shortcuts in your work. Virtues have been “marketed” through stories like this for millennia. Storytelling is a powerful tool in sharing messages so that they are remembered, which is why B2B marketers should embrace storytelling.
Besides passing down moral truths, a good story can also move products off shelves. Remember the Old Spice Guy commercials/YouTube videos a few years back? That campaign boosted Old Spice body wash sales by 107%. For a more recent example, don’t forget when Poo-Pourri declared way on bathroom odors with a whimsical video that went viral.
Despite the power of stories in marketing, too many B2B marketers still market their products/services based off of feature lists. Of course, feature lists are important for filling out RFPs, but if you find you’re not getting enough RFPs in your mail box, try introducing storytelling into your marketing. Telling a good story will help get your product in front the folks that send out those RFPs.
A list of features is a math problem: Feature A + Feature B + Feature C = Product X.
A story makes a product greater than the sum of its parts. (Apple’s brand story of innovation and coolness helped make it one of the most valuable companies in the world). No matter what your product is, you can wrap it in a story somehow. Here are three examples of great storytelling in B2B brands:
1. GE. General Electric is a huge company with a great history. For GE, the brand story is about innovation. Using GE Reports, a daily online magazine, GE serves up a rich diet of stories about innovation. Besides being genuinely interesting stories, these articles all feature GE in some way and go a long way towards positioning the company as an innovator on the forefront of a stunning variety of technologies.
2. Intel. A big part of brand journalism is content curation and that’s something this onDemand CMO client does a great job of. With its iQ project, Intel shares original content that position the brand as an inventive tech leader, but that’s not all. Taking it a step further than GE, Intel’s iQ also uses an algorithm to identify and share content that employees are consuming (by measuring retweets and likes). The result is a news site featuring content that’s curated based on Intel’s own staff.
3. HSBC. HSBC is a global bank and it deals with a lot of global companies, so it created HSBC Global Connections (formerly Business without Borders), an online platform featuring original content as well as specialized content from the Economist Intelligence Unit, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. Partnerships like that ensure HSBC will always have great content and great storytelling.
People connect with stories. It’s just how we are wired. Telling stories is a great way to speak your customers’ language and make them passionate about your brand that they’ll buy your products. Embrace storytelling and watch your marketing take off.
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