Thow away your laundry list.
How a good story can make your content more compelling.
The other day I was perusing Netflix, trying to decide what to watch. In its infinite wisdom, Netflix suggested one of my favorite shows, Mad Men. For those of you who aren't familiar, Mad Men is a period drama set in the 1960's at a New York advertising agency. The plot is full of drama, intrigue, and — marketing wisdom? Let me explain.
On Mad Men, the advertising agencies focus on creating elaborate campaigns to sell products to consumers, we're talking storyboards, characters, themes and in-depth narratives, almost like they were creating mini-movies. Things usually culminate with the suave leading man, Don Draper, giving a grand client presentation telling an amazing story. It happens that the same imaginative thought process and crafting of storytelling narratives used by Mad Men can be — and should — be applied to creating content for your B2B website.
Prologue: getting started with storytelling.
Before you run out to the craft store and get supplies to make storyboards a la Mad Men, stop. Start by simply getting in the creative mindset. Think about your customers and their needs, goals, pain points. Tell them a "story" about how they can use your product or service to their benefit. Appeal to their emotions, make them think, or if the situation is appropriate, use a little humor. What you need is a plot. There's an underlying structure that establishes characters, defines a conflict, and provides resolution.
Just because you are selling B2B oriented products and services, doesn’t mean you can’t use a little imagination and show a little personality. After all, at the end of the day, you are a person, selling to other people. And people love a good story. When visitors engage with your story, their level of skepticism goes down, and they begin to care a little bit. They can see themselves in your content and how you're able to solve a problem that they're facing. Storytelling provides your visitors with an opportunity to forge a connection with the storyteller (or in this case with your product, service, or brand.)
Of course, getting people to actually stop and pay attention your content (and build a connection with them) can be a challenge. After all, 79% of people scan the web rather than reading it word for word. A well-crafted narrative or story can grab reader's attention (and hold on to it) more effectively than if you just start spitting facts and figures. These stories can be told using any number of channels; including videos, web page content, blog posts, and even case studies.
Plot twist: we use this approach ourselves.
Integrating more storytelling-oriented narratives for B2B is something that we have been working on doing with one of our clients. Our client is a company that installs and monitors security systems in for the residential and commercial markets. They asked us to update the copy in the commercial section of their website so that it would be more engaging to customers (and ultimately help generate more leads).
In the new copy, we told a story to business owners to get them thinking "What if something happens to my business? What kind of service would I want to protect it?" We then used the narrative to explain how our client does more than just install security systems; they're a strategic partner that businesses can count on.
If you are looking for a little more inspiration, there are a lot of large B2B companies, with very recognizable names, who do a superb job of integrating storytelling into their brands.
Even this post has a Happy Ending.
So the moral of this story is that B2B customers are people too. People with goals that you can help them to meet and pain points you can make a little less, well, painful. So get creative, pretend you are in an episode of Mad Men and don't just promote a product or service. Tell your site visitors a compelling story –one that will help them develop a connection with your business that can last for years to come.
Want a bit of help getting to know your customers so you can tell them a better story? Download our Target Profile Worksheet now!