Show, don’t tell: Applying B2C marketing techniques to B2B

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|Unleash the Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing

B2C marketers moved from a feature marketing approach to an emotional marketing approach a long long time ago. B2C marketers understand that they can sell more products if they package them inside an emotional appeal, rather than if they just list the features of the products. Despite the success this tactic has had in the B2C space, B2B marketers have been slow to adopt it.


In a way, this reluctance makes sense. After all, there’s not much space for storytelling in your average RFP. However, this is a shortsighted view—after all, good storytelling helps get you those RFPs to fill out in the first place.


Customers have needs, but they also have wants. They want to feel a certain way and be perceived a certain way. Let’s look at one of my favorite ad campaigns ever: The Old Spice Guy. Old Spice didn’t say “our deodorant keeps the stink away.” Instead, capitalizing on the fact that women tend to do most of the deodorant purchasing, Old Spice put a hunky guy in a towel and said, “I’m the man your man could smell like.”


Same thing with any car ad that features a beautiful woman: by being in the ad, she’s saying “if you buy this car, you’ll get beautiful women like me too.”


What might an emotional-based marketing approach look like for a B2B product? Check out this ad for Panasonic’s Toughpad, a rugged tablet designed for folks who get their hands dirty at work.


On its website, Panasonic lists the features of the Toughpad. They include drop-resistant (up to 10’ on concrete), sealed against dust, and waterproof. Impressive, but they don’t register on an emotional level.


Instead of listing the features in its ad, Panasonic demonstrates the tablet’s capabilities (in a flashy, pyrotechnical way). With the possible exception of that random boulder falling on the car, Panasonic has created an ad that does everything right: it tells a brand story about a tablet that just won’t die, no matter what is thrown against it. The brave little tablet beats back all the challenges. And the video has pyrotechnics.


I don’t have one of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” and would never need at rugged tablet like the Toughpad, but I have dropped my iPhone plenty of times and I can totally connect to the video.


With this ad, Panasonic demonstrates the capabilities of its tablet without ever having to list them. Panasonic’s marketing team understands the concept of “show, don’t tell.”


Don’t tell your customers how great your product/service is. Don’t even tell them how your product solves their problems. Instead, show, your customers how great your product is and how it solves their problems.


To put it another way, remember Fonzie from “Happy Days?” The Fonz was cool. Potsie was not. Fonzie never had to tell people how cool he was—he showed it a confidence that permeated every action.


When you’re developing your marketing strategy, create content that tells a story. Use visuals that show how your product soothes your customers’ pain points. Show, don’t tell.

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