Most of the time, B2B buyers are looking for solutions to complex problems. The B2B sales cycle is notoriously long and riddled with research. It’s not like B2C sales, where you can post an eye-catching advertisement for a shoe on Instagram and solicit an impulse buy from someone who just likes sneakers. B2B brands tend to have a level of separation from their consumers that isn’t conducive to building long-term customer relationships. They’re wrapped up in corporate procurement processes with third-party buying consultants and purchasing committees. This often leads them to take a rational approach in their marketing messaging — but rationality isn’t everything, especially when you’re dealing with human beings.
Research has shown that 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase if they connect with a brand on an emotional level, and in recent years, B2B businesses have been leading the charge, driving more emotional connections than B2C brands. The truth is that buyers want to connect — and you can make that happen by creating a brand story.
A brand story should be a cohesive narrative that paints a clear picture of the feeling and facts behind your brand. On one end, there’s the product or service you’re selling, and on the other end, there’s your company’s ethos, the problems you’re solving, and the culture around your brand. The brand story connects both, soliciting an emotional response from potential customers.
If you want to create a unique B2B brand story, these steps can help.
Outline your values and vision
Unlike humans, companies aren’t born with an inherent personality. Instead, you develop a brand story, and that’s the thing people build a connection with. First though, you need to understand the roots of that story by outlining your company’s overall values and mission statement.
For example, Apple’s brand story has always hinged on innovation. From the moment college dropouts Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded the company, the pair aimed to change the way people view computers by creating a desktop that could easily fit in a home or office. This never changed, and even after they achieved their initial goal, the company continued to create groundbreaking technology like the iPhone, which allowed people to have a computer in the palm of their hands.
Once you understand your values and vision, make sure that every decision or piece of marketing copy adheres to both. This breeds authenticity, which 90% of consumers use to decide what brands to support.
Think about what resonates with your target customer
A brand story doesn’t matter much if it doesn’t resonate with your core customers. In order to craft a brand story that tugs on your target customer’s heartstrings, you’ll need to think about what’s important to them. Take a data-drive approach. What is their demographic and what problems do they need to solve? Are these buyers who are working with scrappy startups or enterprise companies? Both have different needs, aspirations, and difficulties. Your brand should position itself as a like-minded voice.
Dive deep to find stories in your company
Though authenticity is essential to a brand story, it’s also something marketers don’t do very well. 51% of consumers believe that half of all brands fail in this department. So, how can you create content that resonates and tells your brand’s unique story? Look for real-life stories in your company.
Every customer or person who works within your company has a unique — and more importantly, authentic — story that contributes to the overall culture of your brand. Maybe a team banded together to do some charity work, and that’s a primary focus within your company. Maybe a founder rose from terrible circumstance to achieve their dreams. Maybe your product helped a startup realize its true potential. You can use these stories to paint the picture of your brand and show a connection within your community.
Take a tip from Hollywood
Storytelling is storytelling, whether it’s for a brand or for a major motion picture. Take a page out of Hollywood’s book and make sure your brand story at least loosely follows the traditional 8-point structure of a narrative. This includes:
- Stasis: the point at which you meet the protagonist (i.e., your brand).
- The trigger: an inciting incident that sets the characters in motion.
- The quest: the journey the character follows as they try to achieve their goal.
- The surprise: the series of events that make the goal harder to achieve.
- Critical choice: the point where the character makes a significant, life-altering choice to accomplish their goal.
- Climax: the highest peak of tension within your story.
- Reversal: the consequences from the critical choice permanently change the character.
- Resolution: the conflict is resolved.
You should keep these elements in mind as you’re writing branding copy and doing PR outreach.
Show, don’t tell
When you’re finally ready to tell your brand story, it’s important that you show customers rather than tell customers. This creates a sense of authenticity and fosters a deeper emotional connection. Though you can show your brand story through well-crafted copy, video is particularly effective because you’re getting a verbal narrative and a visual narrative. It also never hurts to have backing music that tugs at emotions.
When in doubt, hire a publicist or branding agency
Some brands just don’t know how to craft a brand story that will resonate. Others are simply too busy running their business’ core operations to make it a focus. That’s where publicists and branding agencies come in. These experts have dedicated their careers to finding unique stories that make brands successful.
A publicist or branding specialist can help you craft a brand story that will propel your business forward for years to come. They’ll also be able to help you find the best ways to tell that story. Should you go on a like-minded industry podcast? Are there local trade magazines where your brand story will shine? What’s the best way to tell your story through social media or on your website? Professionals, like the ones at Elevation Marketing, can help you create a clear plan of action.