B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Storytelling is the Common Element

B2B marketers often focus on the vast differences between B2B vs. B2C marketing such as buyer motivations and purchase cycles. But a recent book got me thinking about one important commonality. Jonathan Shapiro’s “Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling” makes a compelling case that all professionals should use stories to advocate, influence and persuade. We marketers would benefit from following Shapiro’s advice regardless of whether we communicate with people at home or at work.

“Storytelling is how we make the truth believable and relevant,” says Shapiro. What could better sum up the challenge of marketing? Whether you are marketing shoes or million dollar software systems, you have to build a case and inspire action. Information is best received through stories, which means it includes the basic elements of character, motive, conflict and resolution. That’s why humans have been telling stories for thousands of years.

Most B2B marketers are story-challenged

Storytelling is particularly challenging for B2B marketers, who are usually marketing products and services that are highly technical or scientific. The information that describes those products is less obviously tied to basic human needs and emotions, and their competitive advantages and applications are usually complex.

Uncovering the human tie-in is hard work. So is weaving information into a compelling narrative that benefits buyers. Marketers usually take the easy way out, and the result is a dull list of one feature after another. They forget that it’s the story that gives companies a personality and brings data to life.

Storytelling…a competitive advantage

But companies that market through stories really stand out from the competition. For example, HP’s Sprout software doesn’t say anything about features and benefits. Instead, it tells an inspiring story about hands and the amazing things they can do. This simple story has universal appeal, but especially with its target users – designers and production people. It gets their attention and inspires them to connect to learn more. The technical details come much later after the relationship has developed.

Uncovering your brand’s story takes a lot of work and creativity. It’s called Brand Identity, and it’s one of the ways our agency adds the most value. When it comes to stories that inspire, it is not B2B vs. B2C marketing. A good story is equally important to both and will be remembered long after the ad or sales pitch. Let us help you find your story.

All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all marketing tactics, the marketing program becomes more effective and cost efficient. As a B2B agency, we developed B2B 360 Integrated Digital Marketing to meet this improved performance need. To learn more about B2B 360 and how it will benefit your business, download our free eBook: The Better Path to Top-Tier Tech Marketing.

Chris HenneghanChris is one of Schubert’s longest-standing employees, starting with the agency in 1987. She now serves as Senior Vice President and Brand Strategist. Chris is a Notre Dame grad and enjoys tennis, golf, hiking and reading.