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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2020-04-22

Compared to consumer campaigns, B2B marketing tends to have a more no-nonsense approach, with a focus on features, benefits and hard facts. But, some say we need more of the consumer “sizzle.” One way to do that is through storytelling. Effective storytelling showcases how your company aligns with the values and needs of the buyer to solve their pain points. It can be used to present content in a new way, communicate brand values and add a personal, human element to your campaigns. And, in times of crisis, the stories we tell about our own journeys – and our companies’ journeys – can make a B2B brand more real and relatable.


Recent studies have shown that 92% of B2B purchases start online and buyers consume an average of 13 content pieces before deciding on a vendor. While it’s important to have technically-driven content like whitepapers, using creative narratives for content such as blogs and email campaigns can give prospects a new perspective in their research.


As part of your overall B2B marketing strategy, storytelling can enable you to connect to buyers and drive business growth. And that’s one big reason for integrating stories into your marketing campaigns. Here are a few ways to approach it:


  • Find the right story. The best marketing stories highlight a specific example with a wide-ranging application. Comb through your customer testimonials, reviews, or relationships with vetted influencers to find the right story. Ask your sales and customer service staff for their insight and examples. Whether you use a specific client name or not (depending on confidentiality), your story must be based on someone and something that actually happened. Effective storytelling marketing is authentic and not forced. Look for a business, challenge, or situation that typifies your most common customer and what they experience. Your audience should be able to see themselves in the story and easily make the jump in understanding how your solution would benefit them, too. Another way to think about this concept is to focus your messaging on disrupting the status quo.


  • Develop the storyline. What makes a good story? It’s not just the what, but the how. A good story builds excitement or suspense, unfolding as the audience reads it. One of the main differences in storytelling compared to traditional marketing content is that a story is often subtle in leading the audience to the main idea. Show, don’t tell. 


  • Evoke emotion. Effective storytelling will appeal to the audience’s emotions, creating a personal, relatable experience. But that doesn’t mean every story should be overly sentimental -- especially for B2B. Consider your content, audience, and industry to hit the right emotional note like admiration, excitement, empathy, joy, or humor.


  • Support the story. Let’s be clear: there are distinct challenges in B2B marketing, typically a longer sales cycle, bigger commitment or cost to the buyer, and more stakeholders. While your story will draw upon the emotional side of a business experience, you need to be able to back it up. Supporting evidence, stats and research should be easily accessible to your audience that wants to learn more.


Once you’ve created story-driven content, it’s time to share it. A story is personal, which is why email is an ideal medium since it offers the ability to target specific people and land in their personal inbox. When your email campaign is fueled by acquisition email data that allows your messages to reach a highly targeted audience, you’re able to match the story to the recipient’s anticipated needs or challenges -- which should result in a more qualified lead. This email approach also works well if you choose to present the stories episodically, sending a series of emails to the same audience at set intervals.


In closing, rich storytelling draws your audience in and offers a human, relatable perspective to technical or complex products and solutions.


How do you share stories in your B2B marketing?


Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.



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