Storytelling: The content marketing of the 21st century
Once upon a time, there was a time-honoured sales code. Software vendors and customers co-existed in peace and harmony, with traditionally ‘outbound’ methods like cold-calling, face-to-face meetings and handshakes to help vendors sell their products to prospects. But one day, someone developed a magic thing called the Internet. Like a web that hung invisibly in the air above our heads – it darted information with unimaginable speed down to the computers in our laps. It didn’t have any restrictions on how much space it took up and was able to hold most of the knowledge that had ever existed in the world. It became very popular – very, very quickly. Soon, most people felt like they couldn’t live without it. They began to research and compare companies online before they did business with them. Soon, almost 95% of B2B prospects were using search tools to influence their buying decisions. For the B2B marketers who reigned in the era of ‘interruption’ marketing, it was a lot to get used to. The old ways just didn’t seem to cut it anymore, but they couldn’t work out how to move with the times. So, some of them shut up shop and left town. If only someone had told them that the power of storytelling never grew old. Being authoritative, informative and entertaining would always help to magically transform their prospects into customers.
It is estimated that less than 5% of prospects who visit a technology site are ready to purchase. Instead, they’re researching all possible alternatives and trying to find the solution that really solves their problems. They aren’t ready to discuss downloads or sales. They also aren’t ready to get involved with trials or demos. Your website model needs to provide them with something closer to what they need or it will risk losing their custom to another provider.
Make Stories Work for You
Yes, you work in the level-headed, fact-focused B2B environment. That doesn’t mean that storytelling won’t occupy an important role in your marketing campaign. Successful storytelling will ensure that you stand out against the sea of unexciting B2B content. It also provides an opportunity to ‘sell’ your content to a prospective audience who may not realise the potential of your business proposal until it has been ‘proven’ to them. We get that it’s difficult. We also get that you don’t have the energy, time or manpower to devote to a full-blown story like the one at the top of the page. But didn’t it grab your attention? View each of your products as a story and the expertise you offer as a worthy subject. You don’t have to pen a novel. Begin with a B2B topic, some opinions and a blank word document.
Achieving a Happy Ending
Attracting an audience with entertaining, valuable material and tracking their interactions with the content process allows you to better understand your prospects, whilst also revealing the true ‘offering’ of your company. Your audience are your prospects. When your prospects become invested in your stories, they develop a relationship with your business. Providing a regular stream of informative blogs, webinars and articles will help place your business in a position of trust. And when this relationship has been established, prospects will be far more receptive to the technology offering that you bring. Image via: flickr.com/photos/mikeshaheenphotography/