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The Key Differentiator Businesses Have Left

Storytelling_The ID Group_Content Marketing

The world of brand storytelling is well and truly with the B2B audience, but hang on a minute we’re here to sell, not be ‘happy ever after.’

We all acknowledge that to be successful we need insights and connections with our audience and what they need.

When I began my career in the world of marketing, the whole focus was on the product and how it was the best option to choose from and the audience were the people to sell to, not to necessarily build a rapport with, but get them spending by whatever means. To make profitable action, we need to sell right?

The tide has turned where we are all now in control of our own media companies, or in the words of Robert Rose, ‘the stories that we tell are the only differentiator we have left.’ We can write content and distribute across a host of platforms, we can film video content (YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world) or we can talk to a world out there via our podcasting efforts. All these enable us to share a point of view and what we believe in. When we turn the point of view into a story, then not only do we get others to make a connection with ourselves, we have also created a platform for others to buy from us.

The World Of Brand Storytelling

Whilst it is imperative that we need to have a product or service that solves an audiences need and the good old fashioned ‘Four Ps’ plays it’s role, the ability to tell a story is what can make a business stand on it’s own side of the road.

Telling a story is all about giving a sense of belonging. We need others to associate with what is being told and from a B2B angle this can be put into practice. There are companies that say to me “but our product isn’t very interesting, all we want to do is sell our service.” Google’s Moment of Truth highlighted that a buyer uses 10.7 sources of information before making a final purchase, so if what you produce is the same as everyone else then you fit into the same space as everyone else while others are looking through your shop window (or a more common place, your homepage). If what you are saying doesn’t resonate and make a connection then the buyer will find someone else who is ready to understand him or her.

Hardware Shop_Storytelling_The ID Group

This is similar to a hardware shop near where I live that has a ‘Buy Local or Bye Local’ sign in their window. Whilst not being too knowledgeable and a dearth of testosterone with my lack of home DIY skills and the type of screw I’d need for a wall, the whole place just didn’t serve me in terms of giving a helping hand for what I needed, so didn’t become a place where I wanted to go back to.

Trying to emotionally black mail an audience doesn’t work, if the organization doesn’t reach out to a buyer, then why should a buyer feel obliged to revisit. It is our roles as businesses to be active in looking to build a relationship.

 We All Have A Story To Tell

Every business has a story to tell, it doesn’t matter if ‘your product isn’t very interesting,’ it’s just how well you tell it. Here are five different ways we can all tell a story:

1)   You Introduce Characters

Lets get one thing clear the days of the product (or brand) being the hero are no more, the buyer takes top billing. Barry Feldman highlights that we need to introduce characters. The roles around our ‘star’ are the numerous characters that all play their respective roles and demands. This is your employees, your customers, your friends, your family and all those who play some role within your daily world. Every single one of your co-stars enables you to confront challenges, conflicts and struggles. Where there are characters, there is a story to be told.

2)   The Illness & The Cure

Too many people are quick to explain how things work like clockwork, rather than the process that needs to be taken. Taking things to the extreme, it’s ok to be vulnerable and explain how things turned into a potential disaster, but were eventually rectified. As an example, a post from last year looking at business failure and how my business fell upon very hard times in 2011 is one of the most read posts from the blog.

3)   How You’ve Made The World A Better Place

If there were actions that made a significant change to a customers world then share it. Describe the ways that could be how you gave them more time to spend with loved ones, you helped them make a saving, you assisted them in aggregating an audience. What you’re doing here is taking the focus away from you and telling a story for a potential customer to associate with.

4)   Experiences We Can Empathise With

Where there are stories that we can all relate to and connect with can help make an association and even better champion the human aspect for what we stand for and yes, that even means the things that we dare not speak about, but is within us all such as the fear of rejection, looking for acceptance, being late for a meetings and the fear of when will the work dry up. The experiences that we have can be shared with others.

5)   The Reason ‘Why’

As Simon Sinek says we all need to start with ‘why.’ We can influence human behavior by manipulating it (promotions, fear, discounts) or we can inspire others by highlighting our purpose and beliefs and communicate the purpose of not what you do, but why you actually do it and looking to think differently from the rest of your industry.

What Matters Is That We Connect

The best stories are those that relate on an emotional level, are memorable and most importantly evocative. The only way to stand out is to be novel and share the experiences that have made us who we are and what we believe in. It isn’t about proclaiming to tell others on how to be a ‘rock-star,’ ‘ninja’ or ‘awesome,’ it is about understanding that people work with people that they can connect on a level where there is trust that represents a voice that doesn’t blend in with the majority. If we can tell stories in a concise way that connects and passionate about the industries that we serve (and also believable), is the way that businesses can share and take the role as storytellers.

Brand storytelling works when part of a commitment to serve an audience in a consistent manner not simply broadcasted and pumped out onto every channel available because you can. In the words of well respected British writer Philip Pulman:

“after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

We all have a story to tell and if that means connecting with others and creating a space where people want to be part of and share our beliefs, we have never had a better time to own our spaces and for others to gather round and pay attention.

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