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Kees Kruythoff

chairman and chief executive officer

Sir Martin Sorrell

founder & executive chairman

The role of storytelling in our B2B business

All too often, B2B marketing allows itself to be driven by data and metrics rather than emotion and stories

Storytelling is a fundamental tool for marketers, no matter the industry or business sector. But while that’s a no-brainer in B2C, the concept seems almost daring in the B2B space.

We’ve all stumbled upon those dreary B2B websites which may as well just be a salesman’s pitch-deck: facts, figures, products and features. Pretty standard, right? The reason for this is simple.

All too often, B2B marketing allows itself to be driven by data and metrics rather than emotion and stories. And the truth is, this simply doesn’t cut it anymore. B2B businesses need to look past their basic products and features and showcase their unique story.

Different targets, different story?

At Anyline, we make data capture simple for customers across a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing and FMCG to governments, healthcare, logistics and, more recently, healthcare. But with so many target audiences, how can you know you’re telling the right story?

Look beyond your figures and KPIs and listen to your customers. You need to understand who the end user of your product will be, how that industry works and, most importantly, what other effects your solution will have for them.

A tale of two serials

Here’s an example. One of our solutions is a mobile serial number scanner. Although it has uses for many industries, it’s used primarily by customers that are polar opposites to each other, which are presented below:

Bottle cap scanning for large FMCG companies

  • Company goal: to build consumer engagement and build brand loyalty.

  • Solution needed: an accurate mobile solution built around the best user experience.

  • End user: anyone who purchases this beverage.

Serial number scanning in a large manufacturing company

  • Company goal: a mobile and agile solution for optimizing operational processes.

  • Solution needed: an accurate solution for faster data entries with less manual typing errors.

  • End user: company employees and front line workers.

As you can see, marketing ourselves purely in terms of products and features would fail to reach either audience. Although it's the ‘same’ technology, it would be unrealistic to market to both audiences with a single product focused campaign.

That’s why we love stories!

Stories are universal. We all grew up hearing them and can understand anything easier when placed within a narrative. It’s human nature! What’s more, people want to connect to the stories they are told. We want to feel emotion, magic and wonder.

So when it comes to B2B marketing, the first thing I want to hear is not how the product works, but how it will make me happy when I can see how it will solve my problems and help me achieve my goals or dreams. After all, that is the joy storytelling has brought us since we were young.

How easy is storytelling to implement?

So how can we take the magic of storytelling as we know it and infuse it to our business communications? In my experience, the first step is the hardest nut to crack, but always worth it.

Recently, we launched our new website and it was clear that we wanted to do things differently. We wanted every user’s very first impression to be our story, literally right at the top of the home page.

But since we work with so many different industries, our challenge was telling a story that each visitor could relate to, no matter what sector they come from. We kept asking ourselves: ’How can we tell a story that showcases our product portfolio to such diverse target audiences?’. Combining all of these into ‘one magic moment’ – that was the task.

Invest in your briefing

The briefing for a project like this can be the difference between success and failure, so every moment you can spare for it is crucial. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions that may seem obvious: ’What’s the message?’ ’What are your values?’ ’How about the tone?’ ’How are you unique?’ ’What should you avoid?’

This interrogation helped distill our ideas into a single message for the video, that “Anyline provides a solution, no matter where you are, no matter what you do, no matter which industry, and no matter which use-case”.

Creating a magical concept

Even with all of this in place, there is still space to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if your final presentation lacks an ‘aha!’ moment. The goal should be to find a story that captures the true essence of who you are, what we do and what ‘magic moment’ makes you stand above your competitors.

For us and our video, we had to do all this in 45 seconds. I think we might have bottled lightning, but you can be the judge!