Business

How to Resonate Powerfully with Prospects Using B2B Brand Storytelling

Your brand may be built around your solutions, but it’s not just a product or a service.

It’s part of a story you share with your prospects and customers that, if delivered effectively, can dramatically increase lead generation.

Your prospects might be interested in your products and services, but what they’re really want is a solution to their problems and whatever else prevents them from achieving their business goals. 

And while you might have terrific solutions, the most effective story you can tell prospects is not the story of how great you are. It’s their story – the story of how they will overcome the obstacles standing between them and their goals, with you as their trusted guide. Anyone can try to sell them something. You want the opportunity to serve them as a trusted guide and partner.

That is the essence of brand storytelling, as well as the essence of every good story.

There’s a hero (your prospect), a guide (that’s you), and a daunting problem that must be solved before the hero can reach their goal.

Brand storytelling works because of a simple but often overlooked principle of effective B2B marketing: prospects need to know that you understand their needs and challenges and can connect the dots between their problems and your solutions.

Here’s what you need to know to make your B2B brand story resonate powerfully with your audience, generate leads, and fuel your growth.

Avoid Traditional Marketing Traps

Start by leading with the problems you solve and the opportunity created as a result.

Traditional marketing leads with products, services, features, and benefits. When you speak too soon or too much about the features of your products or services, it comes across as pushy self-promotion because you have not yet established your credibility or earned their trust.

When your content demonstrates your understanding of their problems and your ability to solve them, you build credibility. Case studies, reviews and testimonials are a good example of content that provides the “social proof” of your problem-solving capabilities.

Traditional, promotional marketing can feel like sitting across from a date who spends the entire evening talking about themself.

Self-congratulatory content in particular—being the “top” or “leading” provider, whatever Gartner quadrant you fall into, and all the awards you’ve won—doesn’t generate leads because it doesn’t resonate, but effective brand storytelling does.

Identifying Pain Points

Brand storytelling should demonstrate your understanding of prospect problems. 

To identify their pain points, here is what you can do:

  • Survey your current customers to understand what led them to you and what impact your solutions have had on their business
  • Conduct secondary market research by reviewing the web where people are discussing their problems: reviews of competitors, discussion boards (e.g. Reddit, Vistage community boards, and industry websites)
  • Spend more time asking prospects about the effects of their biggest problems and what they want to achieve
  • Conduct primary market research by interviewing pre-qualified prospects to see if they have the problems that you solve and what they think of your solutions

Note: no market is homogenous – it’s important to segment your target markets by their unique requirements. Many may have the same type of problem but each segment may value aspects of your solutions differently (e.g. specific compliance requirements, how much they are impacted by the problem, price sensitivity, whether they are end-users or resellers, etc.)

Once you’ve identified the common problems that your brand solves, storytelling gets a lot easier because that is center of your brand story.

3 Steps to Telling the Story of Your B2B Brand

Now that you know the pain points you want to incorporate into your storytelling, it’s time to incorporate them.

No two brands are exactly alike, so no two stories are exactly alike but there are commonalities in the storytelling process for B2B brands.

Step 1: Lay the Foundation

Revisit your foundational messaging by going through the brand story process. There’s no better place to start implementing it than on your home page – it’s recommended that you keep your design language in place (it doesn’t need to be a web redesign project) but it’s critically important to recreate the content, which is often overly focused on self-promotion and features/benefits.

Rework your About page and main solution pages. Then create a company boilerplate of 100 words, an elevator pitch of 100 characters, and a tagline of just a few words, incorporating the essence of your brand story in each.

Step 2: Develop Educational Thought Leadership

Develop interesting and educational thought leadership that helps prospects understand what will solve their problem and who is best to solve it. You will have more credibility if you acknowledge that your solutions aren’t the best fit for every prospect and circumstance. This will also help you appeal to those who are the right fit for your services.

Foundational web pages, blogs, case studies, guides, and ebooks that educate prospects on how your solutions solve their problems all help generate leads. Promotional content like company news and awards is fine, as long as it’s surrounded by thought leadership.

Step 3: Spread the Word

In virtually any market, the number of prospects actively searching for your solutions will be outnumbered by those who aren’t, so it’s important to send some thought leadership out into the world: email campaigns, direct mail, events, content syndication, and earned PR (published articles and speaking opportunities that can’t be purchased – you have to earn them with a successful pitch to publication editors or industry associations).

Improve Your B2B Storytelling & Grow Your Business

While there is some art to storytelling, it’s a repeatable process that you can do yourself.

However, it’s hard to be effective at something if you haven’t done it before or don’t have the time or resources to commit to it. Some B2B marketing agencies that specialize in content marketing excel in brand storytelling and may offer a workshop B2B Brand Storytelling Workshop to help you get started.