Gather together and let me tell you a story!
One upon a time, Alex, a thin, 20-something guy wakes up in the morning to see he’s overweight, 50-year-old-woman. Every morning, he looks like a different person on the outside, but the same person inside.
Alex experiences his life-changing every day from where he gets to work, how he gets into a zillion adventures and troubles along the way, and even gets entangled in a romantic twist.
While Alex navigates through his day, he carries and uses a Toshiba Portégé® Ultrabook™ that also serves as his journal to document and capture the daily challenges that come with his ever-changing appearance.
His journey gets documented in the social film project titled “The Beauty Inside.”, the brain-child of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., and Intel Corporation. The core message of this social film? It’s what’s inside that counts.
What sets this 6-episode film apart from anything you’ve ever seen is the fact that the film showcased Hollywood talents such as actor Topher Grace and actress Mary Elizabeth alongside dozens of global fans who auditioned via webcam to help portray Alex’s changing appearance.
Did it work?
Yes. And how! 70 Million views. 26 Million interactions. 66% lift in brand perception for Intel and 40% for Toshiba with a 300% sales increase. Along with sweeping 3 Grand Prix Gold Lions at Cannes, among many other awards.
The takeaway: Storytelling is the ultimate way to connect and engage with your audience. And if done the right way, it sets your brand up for success.
Storytelling and B2B may not seem like a couple at the outset as we always think the immediate response to grabbing attention for a product/service is by showcasing numbers, statics, and graphs.
But the truth is, humans are hard-wired for stories.
“Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and is also one of the main components of a solid content marketing approach.” ~ David Campbell, Right Inbox.
Up for a good sales story? Click here to check it out!
Wonder why we teach ideas to our children via fables and fairy tales? Because we connect, engage, and get moved to different emotions through stories. Humans have a weak spot for compelling stories.
So what about analytics and data? Well, great analytics gives you the required visibility for your story, but it won’t do the storytelling for you. In short, great storytelling and great analytics go hand-in-hand.
But if a story is so vital for a brand, then what are the elements of a good storyline?
Stages of video storytelling
Good storytelling is more than just repurposing your marketing content. There is a science behind it to create a powerful impact on your audience – it’s called a story arc or narrative arc.
What is the story arc? It is a literary term for the path a story follows. It provides a backbone by having a clear beginning, middle, and end of the story.
A good arc is vital if you want to engage your readers from start to finish and deliver a satisfying conclusion.
Apart from a story arc, there are five elements you have to consider – plot, purpose, audience, budget, and distribution.
To make it easier to understand, let’s take a video of Workday, a cloud-based software that specializes in Human Capital Management, Financial Management Applications etc. as an example and study the various parameters they’ve used.
What is the story you are trying to tell? Are you introducing a new product? Or are you conveying an inspirational story? Or are you addressing a pain-point of customers? Either way, the plot should highlight a product or service, without shoving it at their face.
In this video, Workday portrays the doubts and fears a company faces as a result of using an age-old technology.
To drive home the message, they use interesting metaphors such as the dinosaur and the doodle to show how ancient your software can be.
It clearly sets the stage for customers seeking for a solution to their pain-point.
What is the purpose of your story? What do you want people to do as a result of watching this? Is it to encourage audiences to visit your website or click on the call-to-action? Or, your purpose might be to promote a product or engage with your viewers?
Whatever it is, find it as that is the factor that will decide the success of your story.
With Workday, the idea was to encourage companies to shift to a cloud-based software to stay ahead of their game.
Showing the before and after transformation of a company would compel their audience to check their website and learn more about their products.
Who are the people watching your story? And what is their age group, gender, demographic? Is the message you’re trying to tell relevant to them?
Workday, in this video, targeted the CEO’s and the decision-makers of an organization by showing them how their decision to evolve with the times or stick to their old ways can change the face of their organization.
In the beginning, a video budget might seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised how many marketers fail to predict their video marketing spendings.
Below is a budget guideline you can follow based on the type of video you want to create. If it gets a bit too much for you, you may want to hire a professional production company to steer the process and make trustworthy recommendations.
Those experts can inform you of whether your budget is realistic for what you want to achieve, plus help you plan a reasonable schedule for creating your video.
But remember, video storytelling needn’t be expensive – all you need is a compelling story that resonates with your audience.
The last factor to consider is the distribution of your video. How will you share the video story with others, and which platform will you use? Is it on YouTube, your website, or somewhere else?
Make sure you have a distribution plan in place before the video goes live because you’ll need to start spreading the word immediately.
Also, you may need to create several versions of your video story at various lengths to fit each social media platform.
How to tell a powerful story
B2B companies need many things to thrive: a kick-ass product, an exceptional service, and much more.
But in today’s noisy marketing landscape, logic, technical processes, and facts are no longer enough.
What you need to stand out is a story – one that connects with people on an emotional/psychological level.
50% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they can connect emotionally with your brand – research by Google in partnership with Motista and CEB.
The emotion you choose for your video storytelling can range from anger, warmth, humor, sadness, joy, etc. The key is to communicate it authentically and effectively to create a massive impact on your audience.
Let’s look at a few brands who have nailed their video storytelling using emotion as the factor to drive home their message.
HP Sprocket – Little Moments
To evoke emotion in their audience, HP took care of every aspect of the video – the script, the visuals, the actors, the lighting, the props, the music – everything!
They introduced an element of conflict and then rounded their story with a resolution in the most satisfying and tear-jerking way. It sure packs a big emotional punch, don’t you agree?
The world of logistics is very complex and unpredictable. So how do an age old shipping company like Maersk convince the global trade they’re ready to take on such a huge task?
To convey this message, Maersk used a fast-moving thriller story about 4 strangers from the world of logistics who had to collaborate and think in new ways because their world was inexplicably disconnected.
A bold campaign in an industry not noted for its marketing creativity, Maserk hammered home its vision to transform the shipping industry.
Using humour in your storytelling can make your story memorable. However, being funny is a skill and needs to be used effectively to touch the right spots of the consumer.
Here is a brand that has nailed ‘humour’ in the video storytelling:
Apple at Work – The Underdogs
This quirky, fast-paced video shows the team working relentlessly on their trusty Apple products – whether they’re working in the same room or working remotely from home.
In this video, Apple connected with their audience, leaving them with a warm, fuzzy sentiment about Apple and its products – all with a dose of humour.
Your story must matter to the targets to connect with them. They must be able to relate and see value in your message. For instance, 45% of people unfollow brands on social media for posting irrelevant content.
When Goodlife Fitness launched the ‘Live Your Good Life’ campaign, they showcased real heroes in our lives.
Unlike the customary portrayal of sculpted men and women for gym campaigns that Goodlife Fitness knew won’t work, they focused on the need to take better care of ourselves for a better physical and mental health.
Their tagline ‘You may not be a hero to thousands, but you are a hero to someone’ resonated with millions of viewers.
HP – The Wolf
Most B2B campaigns focusing on data and technology can get dry and uninteresting – a sure shot way to lose your audiences’ attention.
The campaign titled ‘The Wolf’ starring Hollywood star Christian Slater has an entertaining story that makes viewers understand how necessary HP’s printer security software can be.
And as a closure, when Christian Slater dramatically warned us when he told “Who knows? Maybe next time I’ll come after yours” our alarm bells ring wild. That is the type of content that makes us sit up and research the product.
Strategies for storytelling in sales
When a brand tells a compelling, differentiating story, it makes the organization stand out. But it is not an easy feat, and if not done right, it can backfire.
So, how can you create a story that will work in the B2B space? Here is a 5-step strategy to help you find the magic in a good story.
- Find your ‘Why’
What is different about the way you do business? And what does your audience care about? Once you figure that out, think about how your business can solve it and how it connects with the practical and emotional needs of your audience.
Where to begin:
- Start by asking your employees 5-10 adjectives they would use to describe your product.
- Think about the unique offering your customers get only from you. Tell that story in a way that will stir up their emotions.
- Find your hero
Who is your hero? Well, you don’t need to give much of a thought – it should always be your customers. You are simply the guide or the wise sage educating prospects on how to solve their problems.
How to develop this is by answering these questions:
- What are the questions your clients ask over and over again?
- Are there elements of your service that can be improved based on this?
- Identify your customer’s pain points
What keeps your clients awake at night? What battles are they fighting? It should tie in with your story and also the services/products you’re offering.
Ask these questions to find out:
- How can you better educate your clients?
- What distinguishes the experience of working with you in the context of solving the client’s problem?
Here is a video story of Dollar Shave Club that followed these strategies and saw a whopping jump in their business that received more than 12,000 orders in the two days after posting the video. Check it out!
Other strategies include:
- Make your customer the protagonist (literally!)
It’s simple – if you shine the spotlight on your company, your customers will grow bored. The workaround? Make your customers the protagonist.
Showing how your customer found success with your product will help your audience identify and care about your product as they will know that if the product worked for your existing customer, it might work for them.
Here is an example:
This video story of Google Adwords tells a heartwarming story of a local restaurant that used Google Adwords to become a national mail-order business worth $14 Million.
Such customer-centric videos will encourage audiences to adopt the product/service for similar success.
Here’s another example: Salesforce
Aldo in this video talks about how Salesforce has helped them magnify their vision of spreading care and love towards their customers by providing them with a personalized experience whether they’re in the store, online, or calling customer service.
To know more about ways to improve customer service, click here
This association has helped Salesforce bring customer data to the mobile devices that sales associates use to give better service to customers in Aldo stores, and informs call-center staffers so they can resolve calls 20% faster.
- Start a challenge
It’s common to see more brands create a video series similar to Toshiba and Intel’s ‘Beauty Inside’ to engage their audience. Sadly, it’s hard to guarantee your viewers will come back each time, thus affecting the investment you made.
To combat this, Evernote launched a series that intrinsically hooks people in. The videos encourage its audience to join the Ever Better Challenge, which is a free 30-day program to help users achieve their goals.
The ultimate goal of this campaign was to convert their audience into long-term Evernote users.
Still in doubt? Check A-Z video best practices
Ready to start telling stories?
Every second, your customers get exposed to content from businesses that are vying for their attention. However, what captivates them is a great story that has the potential to move them emotionally.
Sadly, not every brand will meet these criteria. So what is the secret sauce? Well, there is no secret recipe or a formula – focus on being authentic, relevant, open, and honest.
Share relatable stories your audience can connect with, focusing on their pain point and what you can do differently to solve it.
Remember, just because a strategy worked for a brand, may not necessarily work for you.
To be original, create your spin and innovate to improve your customer experience.
What’s your brand story? Tell an inspiring one today!