Storytelling in B2B Marketing

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Marketers are learning what neuroscientists have known for some time: Even in business situations, buyers respond to narrative—especially narrative that invokes an emotional response. It makes perfect sense. Businesspeople don’t stop being humans when they start working.

Humans Respond to Stories

How did humans pass on information that was important for survival before they could write? They told stories. Stories tie pieces of information together to make it memorable. Stories can also take new information and place it in context of something familiar to aid memory.

Today, neuroscience confirms the efficacy of stories to make information memorable. Jenny Coppola notes that nearly two million years passed between the time the first humans developed speech and they began to write. Those who learned through oral tradition, or stories, were best able to survive and thrive in a harsh environment.

Stories Help B2B Buyers Connect Emotionally with Your Brand

Narrative increases activity in certain areas of the brain. The more areas of the brain that are activated, the more we remember. Adding emotion to narrative triggers the release of oxytocin in the brain, which pushes us to relate, care, trust and help others. That’s why emotions play a big role in storytelling.

According to an article by Natasha Hemmings, research has show that stories are as much as 22 times more memorable than facts. And 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase from brands they connect with emotionally. You can read more about the role of emotions in B2B purchasing decisions in my recent blog post.

How to Incorporate Stories into Your B2B Content

Even if you’re selling an extremely technical product or service, you can still incorporate stories effectively. Stories don’t all have to start with “Once upon a time…” Here are three easy ways to add stories to your content:

  • Tell customer success stories. You probably already have case studies. How much do you go into the emotions of your customers as they look for solutions? Instead of simply presenting the facts, add a narrative. Interview your customers and have them relate their struggles and how they searched for and found the right solution.
  • Show a “day in the life.” Rather than simply state the challenges or pain points of your buyer, create a narrative that walks the buyer through a hypothetical day using a person who matches your target persona. Have your persona speak about the frustrations and challenges they faced. Add the emotions associated both with the pain points (negative) and the solution (positive).
  • Explain a process. Video is an excellent medium to explain or demonstrate a process. We collaborated with a telemedicine client, for example, to create a video that explains how a telemedicine situation would unfold from the time a stroke patient enters the emergency department until treatment is provided.

Add your own creative ways to tell stories that resonate with B2B buyers. It doesn’t have to be about making your buyers laugh or cry. You can also stir emotions that create trust, empathy and confidence.

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