To Vitalize Your B2B Marketing Collateral, Start Telling Stories
With the content marketing era in full swing, more B2B brands are investing in tactics and technologies that can help them reach audiences on the Web. These brands aren’t just brands anymore – they’re publishers, too. And storytelling is rapidly joining marketing automation and business intelligence as a must-have skill for B2B marketing agencies in the months and years ahead.
But what if your brand already invested in a substantial volume of marketing collateral without regard to storytelling? You might feel compelled to scrap all of that hard work if you want to maintain your edge, but that’s usually not necessary. With few exceptions, you don’t need to throw out otherwise valuable content to “make way” for storytelling. You just need to reinvent that content.
Start with new content
To get started, develop a new set of editorial guidelines for any content you’re planning to produce in the near future and for content you create on a recurring basis. When possible, you want all of your content to contain a story that links your solution to a real-life problem your audience is experiencing. After you get the hang of it, you can apply the same approach to existing marketing collateral, revising content as needed.
For example, consider a regional bank that maintains a blog full of articles about personal finance. In an effort to humanize its message and link financial products to specific customer challenges, the bank starts publishing profiles of small businesses that utilize its services. In addition to expanding its editorial focus, the bank is showing how it relates to small businesspeople on a personal level.
The message – whether stated or implied – is no longer “we can show you how to manage money.” Now it’s “businesses come to us when they’re ready to grow,” which makes for a far more compelling story.
Rethink existing marketing collateral
You can use the same approach when modifying your existing content to include stories. Start by rereading the content and outlining the problems and solutions it covers. Then link each of those problems and solutions to a specific challenge your audience encounters on a regular basis. It helps if you’ve already established data-verified buyer personas and connected each of them to the different issues your solution can address.
White papers can be a great place to start. These long, data-heavy publications are usually intended to wow the C-suite into sending an RFP or scheduling a call with your sales team. With all of the cagey professionalism associated with this kind of collateral, there’s often plenty of room for a good story. Anything that adds a human touch to an otherwise business-as-usual white paper is a welcome breath of fresh air. C-levels are people, too, you know.
Consider a medical device maker that published a white paper containing data on health outcomes among patients whose doctors took advantage of a specific technology. Instead of just publishing the stats, the company could show readers how the technology made a difference in the life of a real patient. Uncovering that story should require far less effort than compiling the data itself, and it’s likely to resonate with readers for whom health outcomes are a significant concern.
When it comes to storytelling, it’s ok to start small. Identify one type of content that could benefit from a convincing story. Rethink how you create that type of content and gradually apply the same approach to your other resources, including existing collateral. As a leading B2B marketing agency, KEO Marketing utilizes storytelling in our approach to content marketing and marketing strategy. It’s how we create content that connects with your audience and compels them to take action.
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With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.