For decades technology brands have labored under the assumption that B2B marketing is a predominantly rational process; based on functional benefits and business value. This assumption that dominates tech marketing may be logical and intuitive, but it is entirely wrong.
If you really think about it, purchasing a product or service is a very emotional experience that’s also based on personal value. For example, your SaaS product may help fix a burning business issue but the fact it could also help a user ‘get home and kiss the kids goodnight’ or make them appear ‘more intelligent’ shows the potential emotional and hence personal value your brand delivers.
It is this emotional value, supported by the functional value of what you do that starts to build brand strength and loyalty for your technology company. Without creating meaning for your brand on a personal level you risk becoming one of many companies that can simply solve a business issue.
The good news is this isn’t just our opinion. Research from our geeky friends at Google suggests B2B companies are 50% more likely to get on a pitch list or tender if they lead with an emotional rather than rational proposition.
That’s pretty compelling stuff right? You’re twice as likely to get on a tender if you lead with an emotional story as you are a commercial one.
So, if emotion and personal value is key to business success, how do we unlock its potential? You guessed it – storytelling.
So, why stories?
Did you know stories are fundamental to the human condition? Stories help us make sense of the world and our place within it: the mechanism through which we generate meaning and attribute value.
In a marketing context, we use stories to make our brands, products and services resonate with the lives of customers. We use them to infuse character, depth and personal significance into a sector that is often bland, superficial and impersonal.
It’s stories that provoke and preserve an emotional connection that builds relationships and drives sales.
What about emotion?
Being in business is tough, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the startup technology sector. You know more than anyone else that business performance must be monitored; value-for-money must be demonstrated; targets, reputations and careers are at stake.
So in this context, an authentic emotional connection is the most effective means of building trust, gaining confidence and mitigating risk.
Translating emotion into action
Although the mechanics of storytelling are emotional, the impacts are highly practical. Squeezed by the dual pressures of contracting timescales and ballooning information, intelligent storytelling serves as a highly practical, much-needed decision-making tool for time-pressed buyers. Storytelling is a shortcut that controls information, reduces anxiety and facilitates confident decisions.
Rooster Punk’s 13 Stories’ approach allows technology brands to unleash this power within their own sectors. To unlock the unique potential of storytelling as both a relationship builder and decision-making trigger; a source of inspiration for employees and motivation for customers; a means of increasing brand equity in the long term while maximising sales revenue in the short term.
Getting started with your brand story
Storytelling is the catalyst to giving your audience a way to connect with you to see your business as a living, breathing entity run by real people, offering real value. To gain cut-through, brand storytelling requires creativity, fundamental writing skills and a deep understanding of customers’ needs. A powerful brand story will not only establish strong emotional relationships with customers, it will also make a good connection internally with employees, partners and stakeholders.
With that in mind, here are the core things you need to focus on when pulling together your brand story:
How do you get your story into the minds of customers and prospects? You give them a sense of context to attach importance to the narrative – an audience needs to understand the landscape before they can navigate it. Start building your context by looking at things like time, environment, culture, characters, identity and motivation. As in a novel, you should describe the surroundings of the story so the reader can visualise the narrative you are trying to create. Ask yourself the following questions in order to build a solid context:
- What’s happening in the world that makes you relevant?
- Why do you exist, what’s your purpose?
- Where have you come from and where are you going?
- What do you believe in?
Once you’ve answered these in your story, you’ll be able to demonstrate your brand’s place in the world.
Every story needs complications and twists to create conflict, tension and suspense to retain readers’ attention. Conflict and struggle are a part of life, and too often brands downplay conflict in their story out of fear of looking inferior. But those avoiding conflict in their story risk stripping it of interest and authenticity – it’s these struggles customers can relate to, which in turn strengthens the connection between audience and brand. Heroes and villains also play a critical part in conflict – make the hero of your story your brand, your customer or an emotion such as ambition. The villain should come in the shape of the barriers your customers are facing. Remember customers need to see themselves in your story for it to resonate with them. You can explore this by asking:
- What’s happening in the world of your customers?
- What challenges and difficulties are they facing?
- What’s stopping them from overcoming these challenges?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to pique interest in your brand.
Figuring out the solution to a problem is critical to wrapping up your story on a strong note – avoid an ambiguous ending as this will undermine your entire brand narrative. You need to take the problems your customers are experiencing and think about how your brand, product or service can help resolve them. Ask yourself:
- How can you retrofit your product / service to the specific challenges of your customers? Look at the world through their eyes not yours.
- What do you offer that no one else does?
- How are you going to make their lives better?
- What distinguishes the experience of working with you?
- What personal value can you tag to your product / service?
Over time, your context and conflict parts of your narrative will naturally evolve, and so should your resolution.
Post produced in partnership with Paul Cash, CEO at Rooster Punk.