Sometimes we make our content too logical, trying to cram all of the features and benefits into the stories. Our natural instinct is to talk about how fast or great our products or services are. Maybe your potential customers don’t care about what your brand or product does, outside of how it helps them do what they want.
David Baeumler, Associate Creative Director at Red Hat Films, addressed this in a session today at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. Products and services shouldn’t be the heroes of business stories, the people should. People want to see themselves at the heart of our offerings.
In his session Engineering Stories: How to Market Technology to Humans he outlines his formula for content success. It’s simple:
Audience + Shared Value + Narrative
The problem is that most tech engineers will say, “people want this, our product does this, so they’ll buy it.” Or, “hey, we’re talking to the C-Suite” and just launch right into a product demo. David says there’s a better way to approach the audience.
He went back to the first stories, animal tracks. To survive, early hunters needed to learn to read animal tracks: what kind of animal they were stalking, whether it was traveling alone or in a pack, and where it was headed.
Because animals are fast and don’t want to be caught, the hunter wants to lure the animal. To do that he reads the story told in the tracks. Instead of the chase, which can be time consuming and exhausting, it becomes about attraction. If the animal hasn’t eaten in a while, the hunter will put food out. If the animals haven’t had anything to drink, he’ll wait by a watering hole.
It’s the same thing in B2B tech marketing.
We have tons and tons of digital tracks to find our buying audience. From these tools we can learn qualitative things about them, what they say to us, to analysts, and even to other customers. We can learn quantitative things like what they’re searching for, what they click on, what they eventually buy.
From all of this information we can learn their demographics, who they are, where they live, and even industry solutions they’ve already tried. We can learn where they’re headed, and what solutions they want to implement in their organization. We build customer personas (which should be updated regularly, so they’re recent and not extinct).
We can package things up to attract the customer.
It is exactly what this sounds like. These are aligned business goals.
Even though you want to talk about the tech you have created, you must go to market with what people actually care about.
Start with why you started your business. Do those reasons match with the passions of your audience? What constitutes a win for your customer’s business? Do they just want bigger profits, or do they want to change the world in some way?
What gets them fired up?
Map out what you care about, and map out the same for your customer. Where do those intersect? See how those work together.
Why do we use brands stories? Stories use emotion to burn into our brains: humour, nostalgia, even shock. We remember those far better than, “this happened, then that happened, and it was done.”
You can use the basics of the three act story, but when you’re marketing across channels this can be difficult.
David suggests making your story shorter, like a song. It breaks down into repeatable story sections:
- Hook – a single phrase that captures your brand’s value
- Verse – little bits of story that will evoke sympathy and shared emotion, just don’t put a problem and a solution in the same content asset
- Chorus – what you get in the end
- Bridge – these are your success stories
You can split out each of these things on various channels, ie. your Verse on Instagram and LinkedIn, Chorus on Facebook, Hook on Twitter (to bring people back to other assets, and Bridge on RSS feeds.
This isn’t the normal story of a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a flexible, repeatable, multi channel use of content that will create a lasting impression of your brand.