21.11.2023

Content Strategy

How to empower your B2B content strategy with storytelling

13 min read

Bradley

How to empower your B2B content strategy with storytelling

This article discusses the nuances of B2B storytelling, exploring the story structures and character types that can help you transform your content from uninspired jargon to a compelling narrative.

In the world of B2B content strategy, storytelling serves as a cornerstone for creating connections and fostering engagement. 

Unlike the often emotionally driven narratives in B2C, B2B storytelling hinges on addressing clear, concrete problems and offering viable solutions. 

However, this simplicity is a double-edged sword; many B2B marketers miss the mark, turning potential narratives into mere glossaries or spec sheets. 

The simplicity and complexity of B2B storytelling

B2B content naturally lends itself to storytelling. The needs, frustrations, and problems are typically well-defined and straightforward. 

However, most B2B content doesn’t take advantage of this. It stops at simply presenting the characters to the reader — this is the company, these are the products, these are our target customers — without actually weaving them into a narrative. 

It's like having all the elements of a story, but leaving them scattered on a page for the reader to piece together. This approach misses an opportunity to guide the reader through a journey that engages, informs, and inspires.

  • Factual listing vs. crafting a narrative: A glossary or spec sheet may provide information, but it doesn’t tell a story. Stories encapsulate challenges, journeys, and resolutions that resonate with the reader. B2B content should go beyond mere facts to craft narratives that illustrate the value and solutions a business provides.
  • Engagement: Engaging content is more than just informative; it's relatable and evokes a genuine response from the reader. By framing key information within a narrative, B2B marketers can cultivate a deeper connection with potential customers and guide them towards a desired action.

Essential narrative structures

Narrative structures provide the framework through which stories are told. While the classic hero's journey, with its stages of call to adventure, challenges, and ultimate transformation, is a well-trodden path, it's not the only route B2B marketers can take.

  • The classic hero's journey: In a B2B context, the hero could be the prospective customer, your company, or even the product. This narrative structure is about transformation and overcoming challenges, which can be powerful in illustrating the solutions your business offers.
  • Alternative narrative structures: There are multiple ways to structure a narrative. For instance, a 'Day in the Life' narrative could provide a relatable glimpse into the challenges and successes your potential customers might experience. Similarly, a 'Problem–Solution' narrative can succinctly illustrate the value your business brings in addressing specific pain points.
  • Creativity and unconventional storytelling: There's ample room for creativity in B2B storytelling. Unconventional narrative structures can set your content apart, engaging your audience in a fresh and memorable way.

The narrative structure chosen should align with the message you wish to convey and the engagement you aim to foster. Creative and well-thought-out narratives can captivate the B2B audience, making the content more impactful and the message more resonant.

Here’s a helpful guide to different narrative structures.

Identifying the protagonist and antagonist

In any narrative, the characters drive the story forward. In the realm of B2B storytelling, identifying the protagonist and antagonist isn't just about picking characters, but understanding the dynamics that will resonate with your audience.

  • Choosing the protagonist: Should the hero be your prospective customer, your company, or perhaps your prospect’s customer? Each framing narrates a different story. For instance, positioning the prospective customer as the hero can emphasise their journey to find the perfect solution, which your product or service provides. Whereas positioning your brand as the protagonist will help your audience connect and relate to your brand identity.
  • Identifying the antagonist: The antagonist represents the problem or challenge at hand. It could be a specific issue in the industry, a common pain point, or a competitive solution. By overcoming the antagonist, the protagonist — your customer or product —can demonstrate the value and effectiveness of your B2B solutions.
  • Resonating with your audience: Don’t patronise your audience by oversimplifying the narrative or making assumptions about their role. The story should resonate with the readers' experiences and aspirations, showcasing a genuine understanding of their challenges and offering realistic solutions.

Examples of effective B2B storytelling

Real-world examples can illustrate how storytelling can be effectively harnessed in B2B content strategy. Here are a few instances where B2B entities have successfully employed storytelling to enhance engagement:

Adobe’s “Click, Baby, Click” campaign

In this innovative campaign, Adobe depicted a scenario where an entire supply chain is in a panic due to a sudden influx of orders. The twist? A baby with a tablet is behind the chaos, randomly tapping the ‘buy’ button. 

 

 

Through a visually captivating narrative, Adobe brilliantly showcases the consequence of not paying attention to analytics. 

The takeaway is clear: while it's essential to think outside the box, understanding and addressing customer pain points should remain at the core of your storytelling.

Norton's “The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet”

Norton, known for its security technology powered by AI and machine learning, takes a unique storytelling approach to emphasise the importance of cybersecurity. Instead of producing a datasheet or case study, Norton created a documentary titled "The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet." 

 

This film features interviews with small-time scammers and notorious cybercriminals who have hacked eminent entities like Google, the US Army, and NASA. Through this engaging narrative, Norton brings to light the crucial aspect of data security in a manner that traditional infographics and news stories could never achieve, demonstrating the potential for creative storytelling in elucidating complex B2B topics.

IBM's “The Boy and his Atom”

In a remarkable display of storytelling and technical prowess, IBM created a stop-motion film titled "The Boy and his Atom," where researchers moved thousands of carbon monoxide molecules to narrate a story of a boy playing with an atom. 

 

Touted as the smallest movie of all time, this narrative exemplifies the incredible capabilities of IBM and transcends conventional storytelling to become a work of art. The lesson here is profound: great stories often come from within, and if your company is achieving remarkable feats, it's worth sharing these narratives with the world.

These examples show how storytelling can empower B2B content, making complex solutions relatable and showcasing the tangible benefits they offer.

Integrating storytelling in B2B content strategy

  • Types of content: Storytelling can be infused into various content types — blog posts, email newsletters, product demos, and more. Each piece of content is an opportunity to tell a part of your story, so take advantage of different formats and channels to tell a single, richer narrative.
  • Content marketing efforts: Your overall B2B content marketing activity should weave rich and compelling narratives across campaigns and touchpoints. This overarching narrative will enhance engagement, reward returning viewers, and give you the opportunity to express complex ideas in simple, accessible parts. This storytelling toolkit is invaluable when it comes to guiding potential B2B customers through their buyer’s journey.
  • Aligning with business goals: Ensure your storytelling aligns with your broader business goals. Whether it’s driving more traffic, generating leads, or building brand awareness, the narrative should support and further these objectives.

Metrics to measure storytelling success

Evaluating the effectiveness of your storytelling is crucial for the long-term success of your B2B content strategy. Here are some metrics and tools that can be instrumental:

  • Engagement metrics:
    • Audience engagement: Track metrics like page views, time spent on page, and social shares to gauge how your storytelling is resonating with your audience.
    • Google Analytics: Utilise Google Analytics to analyse traffic and behaviour flow to understand how your narrative is guiding visitors through your content and towards conversion points.
    • Email marketing engagement: Monitor open rates, click-through rates, and responses to email newsletters to evaluate the effectiveness of your storytelling in email marketing campaigns.
  • Conversion metrics:
    • Assess how storytelling is contributing to lead generation, sign-ups, and other conversion goals.
    • Evaluate the performance of CTAs within your narrative content to understand their impact on your business goals.
  • Feedback mechanisms:
    • Collect feedback from your target audience and sales team to understand how your storytelling is being perceived and where it could be refined.
    • Engage in social listening to gauge the broader industry response and adapt your narrative accordingly.

Refine your B2B content strategy with Huble

Storytelling isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires creativity, an understanding of your audience, and a willingness to stand on your figurative soapbox and inspire others to change their lives for the better. 

At Huble, we specialise in crafting compelling narratives tailored to B2B audiences. Our creative consultancy extends beyond content creation to developing and optimising a B2B content strategy that resonates with your target audience.

  • Optimising your narrative: Our team works with you to understand your business, your audience, and your objectives, ensuring the narrative we craft aligns with your broader business goals.
  • Driving engagement: Through compelling storytelling, we help engage your audience, guiding them along the customer journey from awareness to consideration, and ultimately to conversion.

Get in touch with our team to discover how we can assist you in crafting compelling narratives that engage your audience and drive your business forward.

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