Here’s a weird story. Not long ago, I ran my first half marathon and felt so empowered that when I got home, I immediately decided to cut the grass for the first time ever. Only… how do you turn on one of those newfangled devices? Yep, despite living on this planet for 36 years – and being a well-educated professional, homeowner and world traveler – I had to YouTube how to start a lawn mower. Was iScaper1’s three-minute tutorial a riveting display of intrigue and suspense? Well, no. But it wasn’t boring either. Why? Because the video delivered a targeted piece of content that educated me on a specific need I was experiencing at a precise time.
Hold up, that sounds an awful lot like B2B marketing, doesn’t it? Those of us who live in the B2B world tend to think we will never produce anything as interesting as consumer brands like Guinness or whoever makes the socially conscious flannels all the Millennials are wearing. But it’s time to get that big ol’ chip off your shoulder. B2B brands tell important stories, too. Here’s how:
1. Know That B2B Doesn’t Stand For “Boring to Boringer.”
For one thing, “boringer” isn’t a word. For another, this isn’t an either/or situation. B2B content can be a whole range of things that your audience will find compelling, such as honest, useful, informative and accessible. The most interesting communication is the one that solves your problem, so believe that your content has value. Otherwise, why are you putting it out there?
2. Identify what your audience needs – and why.
Want to be the brand that “gets” it? Dig deeper than your audience’s basic need. Consider why their problem exists and how it’s hindering their lives. You can better understand your demographic by developing niche audience personas or completing Toyota’s 5 Whys, a quick exercise used to identify the root cause of a given problem. When WhiteSpace concepted this recruitment campaign for one of our favorite trucking companies, we honed in on why the potential applicant’s current job situation (or lack of) kind of sucked.
3. Talk like a person… because you are one.
Let me tell you about some of the sexy products and services I write about – hydraulic pumps, industrial transformers, third-party logistics and software solutions. But guess what? Every time I meet the product managers and engineers behind these offerings, I’m blown away by their passion. Behind every seemingly dull product or service is a whole team of creative and intelligent people with fresh insights worth leveraging. After you figure out what the story is, minimize business speak and just talk to people.
4. Focus on benefits not features.
Sure, sure, everyone knows to sell the sizzle and not the steak. But, are you doing it? Pull up a recent sell sheet or brochure. What percent of that content is feature-oriented? You know, the dry technical stats. Some of those details will need to be included, but that’s not your story. What makes a good B2B story? Improving reliability. Transforming productivity. Making something crazy complicated instantly easier.
5. Make it as graphic as possible (as in visual, not R-rated).
As a writer, a small piece of me dies ever time someone says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But, boy, is it true – especially in B2B when some of your words will inherently be details like pressure capabilities, operating temperatures and delivery rates. Any time you can make that information more visual, you’re also making it more digestible. Think infographics, diagrams, illustrations, video and animated gifs.
Ultimately, knowing who you are as a brand and staying true to your mission, traits and values is the best thing you can do to make your message valuable. So you do you, and rock your B2B story. Need help? Watch a quick YouTube video! Kidding. Get in touch with the story-making wizzes at WhiteSpace.
Which B2B brands are killin’ it in terms of story? Tell us in the comments!
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