If you run a professional services company, you have probably heard of storytelling. And you want to tell customer, employee, and company stories in an engaging way.
Creating words that resonate and matter to prospects and clients, and words that create a structure for ongoing content—blog posts, videos, brochure copy, and more.
You want a B2B storytelling strategy that works.
Here is a tremendous benefit of brand storytelling in B2B marketing: Once you start writing, you will begin to find interesting stories you can easily tie to your business and your industry. Stories in daily news, industry publications, during everyday conversations, etc. Once you begin to tell an ongoing story, this becomes routine.
And this story routine is simply magic for finding and retaining great customers.
So, how do you create a storytelling strategy that will work in the B2B space? Read on and find out…
Here is a 5-step strategy that shows you how to use storytelling in business.
Start by focusing on the five parts of your brand story…
- Your Why
- Your Brand Origin
- Your Hero
- Their Pain Point
- Client Resolution (transformation)
1. Tell the world about your Why:
What does your audience really care about? Yes, they want and need your services, but what is it about your business that connects with them on another, deeper level? Make your audience care about your story.
What is different about the way you do business? Think about how your company has evolved. The problems you solve and how it connects with the practical and emotional needs of your audience.
What do you stand for? How do you see the world? This is your office culture, your diversity program, the one thing that makes your firm stand out. What your employees really care about. What truly makes you unique and valuable to your clients and the world around you.
As Seth Godin has stated…
His wisdom in the “How to tell a great story” post from 2006 still holds true today.
Developing content on an ongoing basis requires you to constantly think about your story—while listening to news, engaged in conversation, or reading trade publications.
The more you pay attention, the more you’ll see how these other stories align with your Why, and it becomes easier to develop content on an ongoing basis.
A good way to continue to flesh it out is…
- Start asking employees and clients to share 5-10 adjectives they would use to describe the firm.
- And 1-3 aspects of the firm that are truly unique or valuable.
Continue to ask:
- What is unique or special about your business? Your offering?
- How do you bring value and contribute to the world around you?
- What distinguishes the experience of working with you?
- What can customers get only from you? Drill down and think about the unique way you do things. If you’re a dynamic firm that will truly rock their world, tell that story in a way that will appeal to their emotions.
2. Write about your brand origin. (Detail your company’s back story):
Okay, you’re telling the world about your company’s secret sauce—created with your unique way of thinking, your people, your culture, your passion, and your vision.
People will want to know how you arrived at this point.
Does your brand have an origin? We can’t forget about a company’s back story that explains where you came from and how you arrived. Your heritage can be told in a variety of ways and to me another crucial element in brand storytelling is authenticating your story by anchoring it in the past.
Maybe consider showing your company’s history in a visual way. Just make this story interesting.
Continue to ask:
- Start asking employees specifics about your company’s history that stand out.
- Ask partners to describe your company’s backstory.
- What is a baked-in philosophy that has always been a part of your company?
- What about our history distinguishes us?
How can you take elements of your Why, your expertise, and your Brand Origin and blend them to tell a story? Look for recurring themes and combine them to form an ongoing story that speaks to clients and prospects.
3. Find your hero (Then guide them):
So, who is your hero anyway?
To me, this is easy. Your client is the Hero. Think as a wise sage teaching clients and prospects how to solve their problem. Your services obviously do this, but you must first build trust through story. During this process, it helps to think more like a teacher and less like a marketer. Just work to make your customer the hero.
This is my best way to explain this “hero’s journey”:
Star Wars is a fairly modern incarnation of the “Hero’s Journey.” It’s based on a tried and true formula: a simple (familiar) story told on an epic scale (Luke’s journey from nobody to hero).
But the meat of the story (Luke’s epic journey) is why the movie endures. The protagonist in Star Wars was Luke. The story was about his journey to greatness. From zero to hero.
Your prospect is Luke.
Your business? Well, the professionals at your firm are Obi Wan, of course. And it’s their job to make them (your customer) a hero.
NOTE: I realize the grand nature of The Hero’s Journey and this type of epic storytelling (especially in blockbuster movies) is not always something a business can effectively pull off.
It presumes you’ve mesmerized your audience and have the storytelling chops to make this all work.
I know you can’t tell a story on a grand scale like this, BUT this is more about framework.
Using an epic saga like Star Wars is really about providing you with a structure to make your customer the focus, and that’s the key.
Simply remember that the customer is the hero of your brand story. You are simply the guide. This is how you find customer’s online. And how you truly master storytelling for your business.
A good way to develop this, and continue to flesh it out is…
- Start asking employees about the 5-10 top questions they usually receive from prospects.
- And what are questions clients ask again and again?
- Are there elements of your services that can be improved based on this?
- And, based on these answers, I’m sure you’ll start to develop content that focuses on your hero (your ideal client).
Continue to ask:
- What is your unique value to your clients?
- What do you offer that no one else does?
- What distinguishes the experience of working with you? What processes or practices make it better?
- What makes you indispensable?
How can you take elements of your Why, your expertise, your Brand Origin, and your Hero and blend them to tell a story? Look for recurring themes and combine them to form an ongoing story that speaks to clients and prospects.
Now you need a point of conflict, a challenge, or dilemma…
The meat of the story (Luke’s epic journey) is why the film endures. The protagonist in Star Wars was Luke. The story was about his journey to greatness. From zero to hero.
4. Find your ideal customer’s pain point (a point of conflict) and use it!
We are really talking about a dramatic arc here. And, while each video, blog post, or bit of copy might not have all of these elements, it helps to think in this context. So to me, this is the tip of the arc—a point of conflict, a challenge, or dilemma.
It’s easier to think about this as an issue or challenge you solve for your clients. What keeps your clients awake at night? What battles are they fighting? More specifically, what is the antagonist that is hindering their progress?
Follow rule #2 here.
This also ties in with your story—the services you provide of course, but also your company, what makes it unique, why certain people work with you. What is the antagonist here?
Let’s use a law firm as an example. In this case the pain point could be the extremely painful process of hiring legal counsel. Maybe some law firms are far too big and too expensive. Maybe some firms have too many layers of complexity.
A sample antagonist could be larger firms in your space. If there are larger firms you are competing with, how are you standing out from them? (Do you get the picture, here?)
This point of conflict is about addressing the enemy of your client’s success. Another way to master storytelling in the B2B space.
Continue to ask:
- Who is the protagonist at your company?
- What are your clients’ main impediments?
- How can you better teach your clients?
- What distinguishes the experience of working with you in the context of solving the client’s problem?
- What makes you indispensable as experts who vanquish the antagonist?
How can you take elements of your Why, your expertise, your Brand Origin, your Hero, and their Pain Point, and blend them to tell a story? Look for recurring themes and combine them to form an ongoing story that speaks to clients and prospects.
5. Client resolution:
Your clients will come out at the end of their experience with you better off. But again, it’s not just about the problems you solve, it’s about the experience.
When it comes to client resolution, this is a very important point that many B2B companies don’t hit on correctly—how does solving your clients’ pain go beyond the services you provide?
In doing the best for your clients, continually think about ways that you solve problems better than your competition. How a client’s experience with you will be better.
Continue to ask:
- What distinguishes the experience of working with your company?
- What makes you indispensable?
- How do we resolve issues better than our competitors, both large and small?
- How does the uniqueness of the firm lead to better outcomes?
How can you take elements of your Why, your expertise, your Brand Origin, your Hero, their Pain Point, and a Resolution, and blend them to tell a story? Look for recurring themes and combine them to form an ongoing story that speaks to clients and prospects.
I think a good goal is to get your competitors to fall all over themselves trying to replicate what you have. And, while they are busy trying to copy what you’ve done, you can continue to focus on ways to innovate and improve the customer experience. You’ll always be the leader in your space, everyone else will be playing catch-up.
Learn how to tell your company’s story in an effective way.
This story is an ongoing one. One the your company will keep telling. It will evolve. And it will help you build your brand like nothing else.
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