Telling Stories (1): Using Stories to Boost Your Marketing
Businesses everywhere are learning what many cultures have known for millennia: one of the most powerful tools for creating a lasting impression is a simple story. In our Telling Stories series, we’ll explore why stories are such a powerful inclusion even to a B2B marketing strategy, and how you can incorporate them more into your own efforts. Here in Part 1, we’ll examine the benefits that story-based content can bring to a business-to-business initiative.
The right story can have a lot of influence over someone and the decisions they make - why else would we teach children fundamental lessons through fairy tales and other morality stories? As luck would have it, we are just as impressionable to the influence of stories as adults as we are children. Our empathy automatically inserts us into the shoes of the story’s protagonist as we see the situation through their experience, and we become more receptive to ideas.
Stories effectively find a way to temporarily bypass logic and connect directly with what makes someone tick, drawing them in and actually making them want more of the message you’re sharing. Just as children enraptured by a story of a tortoise racing a hare are introduced to the value of measured perseverance, an adult seeking the answer to one of their problems will quickly become engrossed by the delivery of the answer.
However, as a managed service provider speaking to business decision makers, fairy tales aren’t going to cut it.
Any B2B-focused company, but especially an MSP, will need to inspire their audience to act in order to see the results that they want. Fortunately, there is a pattern to doing this correctly that can be replicated. All you have to do is make the moral of your story correlate to your desired call-to-action.
How to Use a Story as a Call-to-Action
In order to effectively turn a story into a persuasive piece of marketing material, it needs to touch on a few points. The following are the sequential goals that any story you tell to your audience needs to accomplish to achieve its final objective: conversion.
- Establish a Connection - Just as any salesperson worth their salt knows to do with their prospects, your story needs to find some common ground between you and your audience. This connection is simply there to ensure that both you and your audience start from the same point, allowing them to see the picture you’re painting with your story from the same perspective.
- Break with Reality - This is the point at which the audience is immersed in the picture, often after you have provided some significant insight to them. Here is where your audience really becomes invested in what you have to say, and will be receptive to the next step.
- Convince of Alternative - With your audience now receptive to what you have to say, your story needs to shift into a more educational frame. However, you don’t want to just tell your audience the conclusion you’re leading them to straight out--instead, try to lead them in the right direction using evidence so they can come to the conclusion you want them to independently.
- Wrap and Summarize - Finally, with your closer, you need to reinforce everything that you have said thus far in a clear and succinct way. Unfortunately, this will require a little more detail than “...and they all lived happily ever after.” Instead, provide your audience with some closure by describing the outcome in more detail. B2Bs might see increased internal efficiency, enabling them to offer more to their clients. An MSP may be able to say that their solutions enabled a business to increase their incoming revenue by providing a Customer Relationship Management tool.
This process can apply to a multitude of marketing initiatives, too, in a variety of different formats. We’ll talk more about this later in the series. For now, don’t think that this approach is going to restrict your marketing in any way.
Other Stories to Tell
Alternatively, there are other ways that stories can help give your marketing a boost, if you want to focus on aspects of your business other that the quality of your services and your staff’s proficiency with handling a client’s needs.
You can, for instance, showcase your staff itself, telling their stories (with their permission, of course) and turning them into your main characters for an initiative or two.
Employee highlights and culture pieces show the more human side of your company, creating a more real connection between your business and its audience. The human side is a very powerful thing to showcase to an SMB, who very likely have stood in the same shoes themselves.
History is nothing more than a collection of stories, and sharing your history may be all the difference between you closing a deal with a prospect, or the prospect finding someone else to do business with.
Make sure you check back for more handy marketing practices and tips, including more from this series! Next, we’ll discuss how to properly put a story together, going into much more than what we glanced over above. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know when to check back!