Category Archives: Marketing Interactions

The role of traditional storytelling in B2B marketing

I’ve just watched a nice keynote presentation from a recent Demandcon marketing event in the US. It was made by Ardath Albee, and is available to watch on her Marketing Interactions blog. Storytelling Turns Prospects Into Buyers discusses how you can apply the principles of storytelling to your sales presentations, whatever form they might take.

It begins with the old idea of there being three characters in every story, a hero, villain and a mentor. The Hero is of course your customer (no, not you!). The Villains are the obstacles in front of them. And the Mentor is your company’s expertise. The second element is the setting. In a business environment, this is the market sector and company culture they’re in, and how that affects the generic problem. Then we can move on to the plot and theme: what do they need to do, and why do they need to do it? Every good story needs conflict, so what is the conflict which will make the story into an interesting one? What are the pitfalls along the way? At that point you can explain how you understand that these problems occur, and show how you’ve overcome the problem for other people.

Now we can move towards the climax of the story, which is where the hero – your customer – decides whether or not to work with your solution. Here you need to know the reasons why they might not want to go with you, and have the answers ready. Your testimonials are a good start here. Finally, once all this is in hand, you need to consider the method of telling your story. Don’t talk at people, try to simulate a conversation.

If you’re ever struggling to write a good piece to promote one of your products or services, or even your entire organisation, this approach can often give you the inspiration you need.

Don’t be influenced too heavily by Sales

A great article on the Marketing Interactions blog examines the reasons why marketing decisions should not be influenced too heavily by the sales department. “It’s not because they’re wrong”, says the author, “it’s simply that their areas of interest and focus are different.” Now, I know many of you are at companies which are small enough for you to be the sales and marketing department, so you’ll understand the different interests. Similarly, most B2B marketing managers of my acquaintance understand that their remit is more than just delivering sales leads. However, the sales team’s view of the market will be coloured by only ever meeting prospects who’ve made enquiries: prospects who have already gone through the education process. For the sales team, the need to get out and educate the market in the first place may seem unnecessary. It’s marketing’s job to insist on a broader approach.

Have a read of Where Sales Can Lead Marketing Off Course and let me know what you think.

Some ideas for “good content”

We all know that getting good content on your website is a massive help in drawing people towards it. But what is “good content”? It’s easy to say, but harder to define. As ever, we give you a lot of help in this direction on our Insider Programme. However, there are some super tips in a fine article called Marketing Content Salespeople Actually Use on the Marketing Interactions site. This piece is primarily aimed at making you think about how to write content which helps your sales team, rather than writing content designed to generate leads in the first place. But the suggestions it gives – Solution Story Slides, Validation Slides and Thought Leadership Articles – are terrific.