"Storytelling is the most undervalued skill in business." This was a key takeaway from a recent Phoenix Business Marketing Association meeting. So how do you tell a story in a content-heavy marketing world, especially to other businesses? Do people really care about your story, or do they just care about closing the deal? It turns out, people connect more with the cause, more with the meaning, and more with your story, than anything else. What is the best way to tell your story in a B2B world?
Step 1: Start with the hardest question first.
Why is the message that you are conveying important? What is the motivation behind your story? This is crucial to storytelling in a B2B environment. Organizations that know and understand the “why” factor behind their mission, are always the most successful in conveying their message. Those organizations are able to translate their actions and feelings into words, creating a reason why others should take the time to care about the message they are communicating.
Step 2: Present a conflict.
Once others understand the "why" component, the second piece of the puzzle is to present the reader with a conflict. Speak about a time when your company was struggling, or when it was difficult to satisfy your customers. Every company, no matter the field, goes through periods when the challenges are tough, and the decisions are difficult. Engage your listener and find out what piece of your conflict relates to them. This sets your listener up for the final part of your story, where you present your resolution and successful ending.
Step 3: Explain the resolution process.
Explain the reasons behind your resolution, and allow your listener to fully understand the positive outcomes of the conflict. Reveal how your successes have helped others, and what benefits were gained as part of the resolution process. As you conclude your story, always make sure to capture the passion you’ve been feeling during your conversation or presentation.
Let’s take an example of successful storytelling, both in the B2B and B2C space. Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, tells a story about how when he was younger, his father ended up with no workers’ compensation or health benefits after being hurt during a work-related accident. Schultz said this memory of his father's experience continually stuck with him as he continued to build his company, Starbucks. You see, Schultz revealed that his passion for Starbucks lies in the company’s meaning, people, culture, and mission. Schultz stated, “I’m not as interested in what you make, as I am in what you’re passionate about. What business are you really in?” Because of this, Schultz has now made sure that the conflict he saw his father face, would not be a conflict that his employees would face. His resolution is making sure the Starbucks culture is consistent with their mission, their people, and their brand.
How can you successfully master the art of storytelling?
1. Start your story with the “why” factor.
2. Present a conflict that your listener can relate to and appeal to their emotions. The point of storytelling is to have a human connection with the reader.
3. End with your resolution, and describe how this helped others. Engage your listener by sharing your passion with them, and portraying your successes in a heartfelt manner they can understand.
4. Storytelling, even in a business to business environment, revolves around human connection. You must reach those emotional triggers, and portray the meaning behind the product, behind the pitch, and behind the company.
We invite you to schedule a complimentary inbound marketing consultation where we can discuss your current campaign initiatives, strategy and even the process you have outlined to make sure it's a success.