The Road to Highly Effective B2B Storytelling: Compelling Narratives
This is the second article in our three-part series on B2B Storytelling. Jump to part one on buyer personas. Stay tuned for part three coming soon.
(B2B) Stories and Narratives Are Everywhere
Two friends walking down the street on a cloudy winter day, laughing at each other’s jokes while sipping on coffee. A couple picking out a Christmas tree to decorate in the living room of the house they just moved into together. A jolly guy walking across the park, listening to music, and admiring the winter scenery. Every person has stories that you can narrate – the people making up B2B companies are no exception.
Before we get into it, we must make an important distinction between story and narrative – stories are short in length, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. They form the core elements of a narrative. A narrative on the other hand, is the overarching message you continuously convey to your audience by using stories and constant reminders of your brand narrative.
With definitions out of the way, let us move on to how we can craft a compelling narrative. There are a few notable examples to draw inspiration from, such as Spotify’s ‘Wrapped for Advertisers‘ and Slack’s “‘So yeah, we tried Slack‘. Here are the top three factors that went into making these slogans and their accompanying narratives so successful:
Step 1. Stakeholder Involvement
First, we need to start with the source of the messaging that made these iconic narratives possible – the various stakeholders in these companies. If you wish to craft a compelling narrative for your business, then you need to engage people from different departments. They know the business landscape and your target customers’ needs the best – they should prioritize creating an impactful and deeply authentic narrative more than anything else. Get your stakeholders together and communicate the importance of crafting a true-to-brand narrative that will serve as the direction for all corporate communications moving forward. The stronger the input, feedback, and results you get from stakeholders, the better chances your messaging and narrative will have of landing well with consumers.
- Conduct executive workshops or strategy sessions involving stakeholders to discuss and define the core narrative in a way that feels authentic to the brand.
- Develop clear guidelines that outline the key messaging and values the narrative should convey and include them in all corporate communications.
- Schedule regular check-ins with stakeholders to incorporate their insights and keep the narrative aligned with the evolving business landscape.
Step 2. Know Your Audience
By taking the time to research your audience’s core needs, motivations, and aspirations, you will have all the knowledge and power you needed to create a brand narrative that resonates with your target audience. Looking at the ‘Wrapped for Advertisers’ and ‘So yeah, we tried Slack’ campaigns, it is evident that some very well-calculated aspects of how these campaigns were planned are responsible for their success.
In Spotify’s case, they leveraged B2C familiarity and taped into an existing customer base with recognition and affection for the brand. Their B2B offering was natively integrated into Wrapped and offered advertisers instant access to Spotify’s valuable customer base. Their campaign appealed to advertisers since it followed a data-driven approach with plenty of social media proof and positive response, while maintaining Spotify’s distinct brand voice.
Slack was wildly successful for different, but equally exciting reasons. They crafted a hilarious mockumentary-style video advertisement using an existing customer of theirs, Sandwich Video, to showcase why Slack is leagues above its competition. They use humor to break through the typically dry tone of B2B marketing and deliver a video that emphasizes the core of their offering while addressing pain points and showcasing their product using an already-existing customer. Genius!
- Conduct thorough customer market research to understand the diverse needs, motivations, and aspirations of your target audience.
- Create a narrative that would convince you to buy your product – whether it’s one that showcases your brand and product offering(s), makes you laugh, offers you important technical information upfront, or all the above.
- Evaluate the narrative’s appeal by testing it across different niche situations and demographics to see if it translates well and resonates with the different audiences you wish to target.
Step 3. Think Positively (and Plan Accordingly)
A positive mindset is essential for crafting compelling narratives. When you approach storytelling with a focus on the good, you attract more positive experiences and outcomes. This doesn’t mean ignoring challenges or pretending they don’t exist. It’s about acknowledging them and finding the silver lining, the learning opportunity, or the opportunity to grow and overcome.
Instead of dwelling on challenges and obstacles, shift your attention to the positive outcomes and benefits of your products or services. Highlight how your solutions can help businesses achieve their goals and overcome challenges. Then, tap into the emotions of your audience by using words that evoke feelings of hope, inspiration, and empowerment. This will make your narratives more engaging and memorable.
- Conduct storytelling workshops to brainstorm and identify positive, inspiring stories within the company and industry.
- Develop and update a story repository of authentic stories that align with the brand values.
- Provide training for those responsible for crafting and delivering positive and caring narratives.
What Makes for a Compelling B2B Narrative?
Storytelling comes in all shapes and sizes, but there are some universal elements that every remarkable story follows. They often include a protagonist living in a peaceful world where everything is going well until they encounter an insurmountable obstacle. After some initial hesitation, the protagonist goes on a journey to self-discovery and growth. Their path is filled with challenges and unpredictability, and they eventually rise above it all and overcome the difficulties they were initially faced with. Finally, they take the lessons they learned with them and move on to the next chapter of their life, better equipped to deal with future hurdles.
This example illustrates the need for a central figure, a significant challenge, the pay-off of human ingenuity and persistence, and the rewards reaped at the end. The variation you follow depends on your business needs, your industry, and most importantly the specific traits of your target audience. Once you have followed the three steps outlined above and crafted your core messaging, you can start working on ideas about how you would like to share your narrative with the world.
Remember – Always Iterate Based on Feedback
Customers’ needs and wants to evolve, and so should your storytelling strategy. Actively seek feedback from your audience and use it as a catalyst for continuous improvement. Whether through direct interactions, surveys, or monitoring social media engagement, we stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of the audience. By incorporating feedback into your storytelling approach and combining it with data, you demonstrate a commitment to understanding and addressing the dynamic nature of your audience.
In the realm of B2B marketing, storytelling stands as a powerful tool to connect with your audience, build trust, and drive business growth. By following the three key steps outlined in this article – Engage Stakeholders, Understand Your Audience, and Think Positively – you can create compelling narratives that resonate with your target audience and drive business.
Remember, a compelling B2B narrative isn’t just about highlighting features and benefits; it’s about creating an emotional connection with your audience. Tap into the universal themes of the human condition and show how your brand can empower businesses to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.
At Lytho, we stand ready to enhance your creative workflow and unify your brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Schedule a demo to explore how our solutions can elevate your brand narrative, bringing stories to life with impact and authenticity. We look forward to connecting with you on this storytelling journey.