B2B comms storytelling
How to navigate the complexity of integrated comms, feat. an expert panel of #b2bstorytellers
Clare Berry
Does anyone have a successful approach or some steps that they can share in terms of what makes a great B2B story? And also how you judge success in B2B storytelling?
Armand David The acid test is customer success/engagement. A lot of the work we do across clients with a big social following allows for active testing!
Armand David I'm not sure there's a unique formula about what makes a story compelling but am sure the panel will have views!
Robert Israch I think the ultimate judge of success is how many of your relevant targets engaged with the content and then ideally correlating that engagement with opportunity, sales, and down funnel conversion.
Tim Cawsey Starts with a unique insight followed by good quality writing and a pinch of creativity
Elma Peters Reply to Clare Berry For me, it's about focusing on how what your company does makes the world a better place. Sounds lofty, but I'm serious. What impact do you have? The best stories for me are those ones
Cherry Gray We naturally relate stories to our own lives in some way, picture ourselves in the situation giving an emotional reaction. I always think of the emotional reaction you want to give!
Elma Peters Clare, my experience is that the best stories don't focus on what your company does. But why it matters
Cherry Gray Also, keep it short. Often the story ends up being too long and we lose sight of where we want it to end.
Tim Cawsey Our tech audience likes gadget nostalgia so we did a photo slider with the office of 1980 vs today
Armand David @CherryGray_UK hear hear. Not every piece of content needs to have every message you ever wanted to share!
Tim Cawsey You also need to find an angle that's not been covered
Robert Israch @FactBoyTim Some controversy certainly works.
Elma Peters I also think they've got to be professionally - or well - produced, whether written, video, infographic, whatever. If the story is Worth telling it's Worth telling properly (not sure why word Worth keeps capitalising!)
Clare Berry Are there any companies that you would regard as great storytellers that we should all use as a benchmark?
Armand David there are lots in different industries. This panel has some good ones! I'm also a fan of the way (cl) GE abstracts its stories creatively (and with high production assets).
Elma Peters Clare, I worked at GE for many years and it's a huge focus there. They believe strongly in telling their story. I think Apple did a great job when it was Steve Jobs. The video of him launching the iPhone is a must-see. Such simple & compelling storytelling
Armand David
Who in the marketing function is leading (or should be leading) the charge to change the way we tell B2B stories?
Cherry Gray Being a comms person I'm clearly going to say comms ;-)
Elma Peters I'm with Cherry on this one. It must be part of the Comms plan
Tim Cawsey Good stories can come from throughout the organisation but need tone of voice in place
Elma Peters Of course, Comms and Marketing should be working hand in hand
Cherry Gray It's collaborative. Storytelling isn't a directive. Find those with a passion for it but you'll always need somebody to have a central review role for consistency.
Robert Israch The CMO and Director of Content Marketing
Elma Peters And you sometimes need to show people what a good story looks like. I work with scientists/engineers and sometimes they think a story is like writing up a science experiment. That you have to tell everything you know.
Armand David @elmapeters I 100% agree - people don't always recognise a story. Education is really helpful.
Elma Peters Sometimes what you leave out is as important as what you include. And editing is a skill!
Tim Cawsey I'm biased but often the best stories start outside of Marketing and then get the Marketers onboard
Robert Israch @FactBoyTim I think it comes from both routes. Sometimes its driven from a strong marketing team but often it does come organically from a customer, expert, or another employee and that then inspires an open minded marketer.
Robert Israch
What difference can a better understanding of your audience make to your marketing storytelling?
Tim Cawsey Firstly the format
Robert Israch How about the content? Shouldn't the content be different based on the audience?
Tim Cawsey That was my point 2 ;-)
Robert Israch Oops - sorry Tim. Jumped the gun.
Armand David It can make all of the difference! Have you really hit on an issue a customer understands and can empathise with? Have you offered pragmatic / useful / entertaining perspective on it? Is it in a format they'll consume?
Tim Cawsey We look at blog analytics to see what topics are working well and cross-reference with influential blogs/sites
Armand David There's a fascinating piece of research by CEB that basically says - buying decisions are hard, there's too much complex content, please give us more prescriptive stuff we can use to push the purchasing process along.
Robert Israch My experience is consistent with that. Folks are overwhelmed and seem to want content to provide clarity - not add to the confusion.
Robert Israch I think one of the reasons that the Apple and Google brands have succeeded and that they evoke simplicity and calmness almost.
Cherry Gray @division6 Agreed....it's like going to a restaurant and having too much choice on the menu. We're ultimately all consumers!
Armand David @risrach It's gotten harder, even for them. Have you tried to buy an iPad or iPhone lately? :-P
Elma Peters Cherry, there's been research that's shown if you offer 3 options you'll sell more than if you offer 24. Ok, the research I saw was about flavours of jam, but the point is valid. Too much choice results in buyer paralysis
Robert Israch Generally, one offer on a landing page far outperforms multiple offers.
Armand David I'm buying all three flavours of the jam, @elmapeters - LOL once more :-)
Elma Peters
How do you get stories out of the business?
Tim Cawsey Start with major business priorities and then dig - it helps to link with what's also newsworthy
Armand David Does the challenge start with persuading the business there is value in stories to begin with?
Robert Israch Identifying a few evangelists from your employee base, customer database, industry influencers, etc is critical but notoriously difficult and requires ongoing management.
Armand David I remember when Microsoft hired Rob Scoble years ago (it's amazing that remembering this ages you). He just went around digging up stories. It was fascinating.
Robert Israch Has anyone hired a full time evangelist?
Cherry Gray @factboytim Definitely agree with Tim on being newsworthy. Also find those gems of experts in your biz and build a solid relationship so that you can mine for insights.
Elma Peters Storymining is key, Cherry. And there are many ways to do it. For example, we have our 100th anniversary coming up next year. And we're using retirees to do some of the storymining
Armand David I've heard of some post-Scoble (I think he's still doing that sort of thing elsewhere in the industry now), but not many. Often the executive team are relied upon to be those storytellers. They're not all equally good at it!
Armand David @elmapeters I *love* that story - finding retirees! Brilliant.
Elma Peters That's where the "gold" is in terms of the stories from our history. And it's a nice way to involve them in the celebrations
Jo Ashford Talking to anyone and everyone within the business - often what one person thinks is boring, another thinks is fascinating. We've got to get people talking and sharing more, which can be a real change in mindset. Also, celebrate successes when they happen
Armand David @JoAshford83 100%. It's amazing how often that first step in communications - internally - can almost be harder than the external piece!
Elma Peters Jo, agree about celebrating successes. Recognition is key to get people to keep contributing. Also key for engagement
Elma Peters Jo, I also agee about listening to the people in the business - in all kinds of roles. Today, I hosted a workshop on Purpose & Values in my company. The stories that came out! I have so many ideas as a result of their input