How storytelling works

Rankbrain, UX-signaler

When we’re consuming a good story, it seems perfectly real to us. This strange phenomenon is usually referred to as suspension of disbelief. We suspend our critical thinking (“this is only a story” or “this is not realistic”) and believe in the story because it’s so much more satisfying than to write it off as fiction. The characters and events seem so real and bring back emotions we’ve had ourselves when experiencing something similar.

This is why stories have greater impact than a regular marketing pitch, mere facts or abstract information. A story’s emotional potency makes people more likely to remember it, be convinced and take action.

So how does this actually happen?

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Map the Buyer’s Journey

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. How do your customers (or buyer personas, described in my previous post) buy the kind of products you sell? When mapping out the buyer’s journey, keep the format as simple as possible. The common 3-phase buying journey (visualised in figure 4 below) is simple enough to save time and keep your focus on the essentials.

Now, let’s take a look at how to map the customer’s needs, wants, problems and pain points into each of the three buying phases.

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Explore your B2B audience

Define Your Target Group

We don’t communicate with companies (at least not yet), we communicate with people. When we know our ideal target companies and the products they need from us, we can zoom in on the human beings we are making content for. But since we cannot make unique content for each single individual, we need to categorise them. Obviously, a CFO is not interested in the same things as a CTO. You need to adapt the content we offer them – but how do we pull this off in a practical sense? Continue reading “Explore your B2B audience”

Start with the destination of the buying journey

Business goals first

When you’re planning your B2B content, it can be tempting to jump right in and start jamming for content ideas. Stop right there! You will end up wasting precious time and money. Your content needs to engage the right readers and lead them towards the decisions you want them to make. The final purpose of B2B content is usually to contribute to your business. To make sure it does, you need to know what your business goals and key business opportunities are. Every B2B company is different and while some may only sell a single product, most have a product portfolio with a range of products for different customer segments. If your company sells different products, start off with the big picture: which products do you want to sell to which companies? This simple overview will enable you and your colleagues to decide which opportunities have the biggest potential value for your company and our customers – and focus your efforts on them. Your key business goals should be the destinations of the buying journeys. Putting them at the end of the funnel allows you to map out the steps that will lead the buyer there, and to figure out who are involved in the process. This method enables you to make sure each piece of content contributes to the most valuable business opportunities for you and your clients. When all content serves a defined business purpose, things start to happen.

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Are we forgetting something?

We spend four hours on our phones every day (I’ve seen different figures, some say over five hours). Science has confirmed that smartphones are highly addictive, more so than alcohol and gambling. Every interaction with Facebook or LinkedIn rewards us immediately with a burst of the “pleasure hormone” dopamine in our poor brains. Even the supertechies in Silicon Valley who invented the apps and the features and made them addictive are now trying to make amends for the monsters they’ve created and warn the world’s population. Obsession with new technology seems hardwired in our brains.

Another obsession of the modern homo sapiens seems to be numbers. As everyone knows, if you can measure something, it exists (and counts in the board rooms). Take these two human obsessions and smack them together. What have you got? Data-driven marketing! It’s simply irresistible. And as we are absorbed by the numbers, we might miss out on something essential. Continue reading “Are we forgetting something?”