Let me know if this sounds familiar. You’re in your company’s leadership team meeting and you’re all discussing lead generation, sales performance and general company growth. Of course, you’d like it to be better, so you generate more leads, more sales opportunities and more new customers.
During the conversation, you decide to check out your own homepage. It looks pretty good, but the words on the page are basic – we make or do X, we’ve been doing it for 30 years, our service is exceptional and we hire the best people.
Since you’re curious about what your major competitors have on their homepage, you hop over to their sites. Guess what? Their sites have a similar story, similar images and similar words.
This is going on in companies and in all industries all over the world. Your company’s Big Story is not big or interesting enough to get anyone’s attention.
You’ve felt like this was an issue for a while, but you don’t know exactly how to fix it or even if it’s a big enough issue to try and fix. But you’d be wrong.
It’s very possible your story, or lack of one, is the major issue preventing you from generating more leads, adding more sales opportunities and growing your company.
Here’s how to fix it.
A lot of B2B companies think the Big Story concept is just for B2C companies. I understand why. That’s where we see stories like Just Do It (Nike), Protect This House (Under Armour) and Find Your Perfect Workspace (WeWork).
Perhaps 10 to 15 years ago, I might have agreed, but today, marketing has become an entirely personal exercise. People make purchase decisions, so marketing and messaging have to be designed to attract people, not companies.
Today’s digital playbook is 100% P2P (people to people). The more personalized and targeted to an individual, the better it’s going to perform.
With that as the backdrop, your company’s Big Story must be designed to attract people – the people you want to know about your company, the people you want to talk to about your company, the people you want to visit your website, the people you want to reach out to your sales team and the people you want sign your paperwork and hire your company. All these people need to FEEL connected, in some way, to your business.
People make purchase decisions emotionally first and then rationalize them later. They get an emotional feeling about your company that will dictate if they move ahead or not. The better the feeling, the more people you’ll attract and the more often they will want to learn more. Obviously, it’s important they want to learn more.
As I mentioned above, the more focus you can put on your target personas, the easier it is to come up with a Big Story. The same energy required for a light to light up a room is required for a laser to cut through concrete. The more focus, the better.
If you have to be everything to everyone, your story is going to be generic by design. But if you can narrow down and speak to just a small handful of people, your story can be very specific, and that makes it easier to see success.
This is especially challenging for B2B companies because most have multiple target markets and multiple personas. It’s possible to have one high-level Big Story and then drill down into more specific stories that relate to specific target markets or personas.
The high-level, emotional and engaging story works for all your target personas. Then you take that Big Story and adjust it, ever so slightly, for each of your specific target personas by applying those subtle differences that make the story resonate for each of your personas.
It takes practice, and it’s definitely a skill you acquire over time, but when this comes together it attracts attention, engages the right people and moves those people to act and engage with your company.
We’ve mentioned this idea of emotional and engaging a few times already, but what exactly does that mean? Specifically, it means the story touches on emotions to get someone’s attention and draw them in.
Consider we sell safety products vs. everyone goes home safe tonight. The second is an emotional story of how the company is focused on ensuring that people all go home safe every single night. Which is more appealing to you?
Here’s another example – we offer accounting services vs. we are tax warriors who help you save money. The second better illustrates how passionate they are about fighting to protect your hard-earned income. Which is more appealing to you?
These two examples are from B2B companies that for many years had very utilitarian stories that while descriptive didn’t do much to get people excited or interested in working with them.
In a matter of weeks, we transformed those vanilla stories into stories that were interesting, emotional, engaging and effective in keeping people on their websites, getting visitors to look around, helping their target prospects remember them and ultimately driving many more leads into opportunities for their sales teams.
Once the Big Story is crafted, the question might be, “What are we supposed to do with it besides using it on our website?” That’s a legitimate question. The answer with regard to marketing might be a bit more obvious.
First, you’ll want to use it to root ALL your educational content in the story. This means all your educational content must support the Big Story.
Next, any campaigns must be subsets of the Big Story, especially when you start designing campaigns for specific personas or target segments.
Consider the example of We Are Tax Warriors, the Big Story for our professional services firm from above. They ran campaigns for business owners that focused on helping them limit their tax liability by fighting for them and uncovering every opportunity to save tax dollars.
For managers of family offices (their secondary target persona), they focused on bringing specialized skills, tools and tactics to help those managers protect the earnings of their families.
Everything cascaded down from the We Are Tax Warriors story into email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing and video marketing. Even many of the events they ran had Warrior themes and reinforced the concept of them fighting for their clients.
It made their business remarkable in their industry, differentiated them against a lot of bigger firms and eventually helped them grow large enough to execute an exit that exceeded their partners’ expectations.
Using the new messaging for marketing is important, but it’s not to be overshadowed by the importance of sales using the same Big Story and reinforcing the messaging through day-to-day conversations with prospects.
The Big Story must support every single sales conversation, email and online chat.
At Square 2, we have a major story around delivering an experience people love – Love Your Agency – and we talk about this in almost every sales conversation, presentation and piece of material that is shared with prospects to reinforce the story.
The same beautiful story crafted for the entire company then has to be woven into the full sales process. When the choice comes down to you and your major competitor, it’s the story and people’s personal experiences with your company that they’ll use to decide between the two of you.
The same application we discussed in sales has to be equally used in your team’s interactions with current customers.
This includes people who call in, people who chat with customer service, people who email you and people who call you out on social media. Whatever your Big Story, that has to be part of their interactions as well.
It’s only when you spread the story out across the entire organization and artfully design processes and experiences that leverage the Big Story does it take flight and drive the business forward. It’s not easy, but if you want to grow, you’ll need it, and the sooner you start, the faster it will spread across your organization and fuel your growth.
More people will visit your website, more people will convert into leads, a higher percentage of those leads will be sales opportunities and they will be of higher quality. More of those sales opportunities will close and close faster.
You might be surprised to hear this, but an emotional, compelling Big Story for your business is almost always one of the major missing pieces when it comes to creating a revenue generation system that can drive your company to get to the next level.