In Search of Storytellers

by Admin on July 21, 2010

I’ve been meeting with a variety B2B companies lately.  All of these companies are very successful and market movers within their industries.

As we’ve been planning out ways to build their digital channel, extend their brand equity online and help grow their business – part of our conversations have lead to storytelling.

At its very core, good marketing is storytelling.   The best marketing programs – service engagements, product experiences take us on an emotional journey appealing to our wants, needs and passions for something larger, deeper, more personal and connected. All the while, connecting with their customers – with the best traits of good storytelling.

Grabbing your attention from the start, pulling us in and taking us on an adventure along with characters and situations you can believe in and associate with elements of humor, drama, spectacle, action or mystery as catalysts to spark attention and interest. All the while cutting through any marketing hyperbole and inwardly focused messaging because good storytelling is about engaging with an audience – tapping into their needs, passions, fears – not talking about yourself.

Storytelling Can Become Your Differentiator

Facts and figures, function, specifications and price all still matter, for certain. But it takes stories to connect with customers on an emotional level. The motivation to choose one brand, solution provider over another – when the choices are vast.

Now Comes The Creative Content Strategy
Theme Focus: Humor

IBM used Humor to humanize their Mainframe business.  A mainstay and very profitable business line for IBM but perhaps not the coolest or easiest to excite people about.

IBM turned to Tim Washer , a bona fide, professional comedian and storyteller to humanize their complex product line.   I met Tim last month at a Harvard Business School event where he spoke about his role as head of social media productions for IBM.  What first attracted my attention to Tim works was an article in TEXAS magazine, followed by a blog post about this viral video he helped produce for IBM.    And to Tim and IBM’s credit, they’ve measured the impact of these humorous Office like produced videos.

More recently, software giant, Infor, launched an interesting marketing campaign against their competitors, SAP and Oracle.   The campaign revolves around an Infor sponsored website called DownWithBigERP.com.

The campaign includes a “Declaration of Software Independence” and describes their competitors as “Big ERP”.   And they’ve  moved their storytelling beyond its main website – establishing its main messaging persona on Twitter and cross multiple social and digital channels.

To be a successful brand storyteller, you must first understand how your brand’s products and services meet a customer’s emotional needs.  Even business-to-business products and services fulfill emotional needs:  I will get promoted. I won’t get fired.  I will be a hero if this works.
Next, understand not only where your customer will be exposed to your message, but what their emotional state will be when engaged with that media.

Lastly, tell a consistent story about your company, your product or your service regardless of where the message is delivered.  Inconsistencies degrade the power of the story and cause mistrust.

Every brand has a story.  Tell it well, and you’ll give your customers a reason to believe.

Photo CreditSean Drellinger

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