Last updated: 28th Jan, 2019
We all love a good story.
Whether your friend is telling you about their dating dilemmas or you’re asking people how they got into their line of work, stories help us become better listeners and make stronger connections.
People are curious and nosey by nature–which is why storytelling in content marketing so well.
…And, we’re clocking onto it.
Becoming better storytellers is a top priority for 41% B2B content creators:
But there’s a lot that goes into crafting a “good” story.
(Spoiler alert: It’s more than expanding something that happened in your personal life).
From sharing a personal experience to telling the story of how your business started, you could be a winner if you’re using storytelling in content marketing.
The importance of storytelling in marketing
Before we dive into the details, let’s iron-out why storytelling is a great way to give your B2B brand a unique twist.
Here’s why you need to get in on the B2B storytelling action.
Your brand becomes more relatable
Many B2B brands struggle with relatability. They forget that readers are real people with real lives, resulting in a huge output content that only a robot would find interesting.
That’s not gonna get you far… Never mind generate great results.
Combat that by using storytelling in your content marketing–no matter whether you’re creating whitepapers, social media content or blog posts.
Why? Because it proves to your audience that you know what it’s like to be in their shoes, which builds trust. And we all know how important trust is in purchasing decisions.
A study by Pennsylvania University found that people are more perceptive towards stories than they are to dry statistics and facts–meaning you should be using storytelling in content marketing to make your audience listen to the content you’re pushing, rather than let it slip through their radar.Use the power of storytelling in marketing to drive results, says @elisedopson Click To Tweet
Stories provoke emotion
Along with relatability, stories provoke emotion. Whether it’s anger, happiness or frustration, stories make people feel something.
If the focus of your B2B content marketing strategy is to boost sales, you might just hit the jackpot with storytelling.
That’s because buying decisions are 20% logical and 80% emotional.
In addition to this:
- A study by the NY Times found that emotional articles were shared more often
- Using scarcity and urgency helped one entrepreneur boost sales by 332%
- Playing to specific types of emotion can boost your chances of ‘going viral’:
You’d love to see those results, right?
It sets you apart from competitors
This point is pretty obvious, but I wanted to mention it anyway:
There’s no better way to set yourself apart from competitors than to tell a story, unique to you. After all, nobody can tell your story like you can.
Why shouldn’t you be using that to your advantage?
Stories improve engagement rates
You want everyone who lands on your content to extract value from it. To make that happen, you’ll have to engage your audience and make sure they’re spending time on your website.
GrooveHQ ran a simple A/B test to determine whether storytelling helped with engagement.
After publishing two blog posts (one with storytelling and one without), they discovered readers spent 520% more time reading the content containing a story:
That’s a good enough reason as any to start telling stories within your content.
The 3-step guide to storytelling in content marketing
If you’ve reached the halfway point and are still on-board, awesome job. I’m glad I’ve convinced you to start using storytelling in content marketing.
But you still might be confused about where to start. I don’t blame you.
What stories should you be telling? Where should you be using them? What makes a great story; one that goes viral and brings in thousands of new customers?
If those questions are whizzing around in your head, follow this three-step approach:
1. Make your stories personal
When we talk about storytelling, you might have an Einstein moment.
“I’ve got an awesome story to share and my audience would love to read it.”
…That’s great news. But, you’ll need to make sure it’s unique.
Nobody wants to read the same regurgitated story that doesn’t offer anything new.
One of my favorite storytelling marketing examples come from Zendesk, a B2B brand that offers customer support software. You wouldn’t be alone in thinking their stories must be boring. How exciting could customer support really get?
But, they based their campaign around a fun story: Another business stole their name and started a different company using it.
They made a pretty cool video to explain the story:
Unexpectedly fun for a B2B brand, right?
2. Explain how it relates your audience
You’ve got your unique story idea, a plan to tell your story and a list of goals you want to achieve with your plan to include storytelling in content marketing.
There’s one thing you’re missing: the explanation of how the story benefits your ideal audience.
Readers are selfish. We can even use you as an example. The chances are, you landed on this blog post because you wanted to learn about storytelling in B2B content marketing. You aren’t really interested in my personal life, and will likely be heading outta here once you’ve got the information you wanted.
Your ideal audience isn’t any different. They want to know how your story can benefit them.
Boost your storytelling efforts by explaining this in your content. (Bonus points if your story relates to a problem your business can solve.)
When I was 16, I couldn’t find SEO software that was affordable for bloggers. I spent tonnes of money on expensive programs that did more than what I needed, and my blogging business began to decline as my breakeven point was so high. That’s why I created this software: an affordable SEO solution for bloggers that provides premium tools at lower price.
Let’s break that down and see why it works.
- My audience: Bloggers.
- The story: I was in their shoes when I was younger and lost money because I couldn’t find anything to suit my needs.
- My customers’ pain point: Finding an SEO software that isn’t extortionately priced.
- Their solution: My product.
Simple, but effective.When telling stories in your #contentmarketing, always make sure to show the value it's giving to your audience. Click To Tweet
3. Add relevant, supporting data
The final element of effective storytelling in content marketing is to add relevant, supporting data. Let people know you aren’t the only one who’s experienced it, and raise awareness about the problem you had being true for many other people.
To do this, you could:
- Call out for case studies about another person, similar to you, who’s experienced a similar thing
- Use DeepDyve to find relevant research studies on the same topic
- Ask influencers in your niche to comment on your story and add their own comment
Using data in your content marketing boosts credibility, too. It proves to people that your story isn’t just a one-off issue that you’re struggling with.
If you’re telling a story with the aim of making a sale, that’s crucial.
We all know that storytelling builds connections. However, now that we’ve gotten to grips with the benefits of getting it right, there’s no better time to add storytelling to your list of to-do’s — especially when it’s a B2B content marketing trend set to soar in 2019.
Fancy more B2B storytelling goodness?
Have a listen to my interview on storytelling in content marketing with Tech Demand.
…If my strong Mancunian accent doesn’t burn your ears, that is: