Ever wonder why your competition seems like they’re always a little bit ahead of you? What about that company that looks so ordinary operationally yet seems to be killing it with leads? Or how about your friend’s firm, which you know is a mess, but just keeps growing?
It’s not an accident. It’s not dumb luck. They have a great story, and you don’t. In many cases, it’s that simple.
Even the worst-run companies with the weakest products can see massive growth if they tell an emotional, compelling and dynamic story.
It’s time to upgrade your B2B story with something that gets people’s attention, gets them engaged and gets them to want to do business with you.
When it comes to designing a story for your B2B business that moves the needle, there are a couple of elements and a few components to keep in mind.
People do business with people. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, it doesn’t matter. People make purchase decisions, and they generally make those using emotions first and then rationalize the decisions afterward.
According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, consumers aren’t as savvy as they might like to believe. For example, while many consumers report comparing multiple brands and price points when evaluating a purchasing decision, Zaltman’s research indicates that this is not the case.
Also, by studying consumers’ unconscious physical reactions, Zaltman found that people are driven by unconscious urges, the biggest of which is emotion. Emotion is what really drives purchasing behaviors and decision-making in general.
This leads us to understand how every business needs a story that directly connects emotionally with its target prospects.
Most B2B companies are utilitarian in the story they use to represent their businesses:
Those are five stories for five different B2B companies. All are accurate and ineffective at emotionally connecting with their target prospects. Thus, they are ineffective at generating leads, sales opportunities and new customers.
Not a single story is interesting enough for anyone to care about, let alone learn more.
Consider these alternatives:
Each of these upgrades is emotional, interesting and engaging enough to get visitors and prospects to want to learn more. That’s the definition of a well-crafted, strategic B2B story, and you need one for your company if you want to grow.
With the emotional angle covered, we have to make sure it’s different than every other competitor in your space. Why? Because your prospects are looking for options, and they’re doing it on the web.
When they land on your website, if they don’t see anything different than they’ve seen on the last two sites they visited, they’re hitting the back button and they are gone. Maybe they never visit your site again.
Google and Microsoft Research estimate people spend 10 seconds on your site before deciding whether to bounce off or stick around. You have 10 seconds to tell your story and get them to click around.
You do that by continuing to tell the emotional story we created above in a way that positions your company as obviously different. We like to use the word "remarkable" to set the bar even higher.
Typically, there are a handful of remarkable elements associated with a business.
In the case of Square 2, we do six months of work in just 30 days. We have a system called RGS (Revenue Generation System) that we teach clients how to use and coach them along the way. We also have a proprietary methodology, tools and frameworks that we use to help our clients get better results when compared to other agencies or their own in-house efforts. These are all statements no other agency can make in the same exact way.
You have to challenge your own status quo and create a handful of remarkable elements for your company. Remember, if any other competitor can say something even remotely close, it’s not remarkable.
This is big when it comes to creating a B2B story that works to generate leads and revenue. The story has to feature your prospect as the hero. It has to be about them, not about you.
This is especially hard for companies to do. It’s very comfortable to talk about your company, your products, your people, your factories and your experience but, and this might hurt, no one cares about you. They only care about what you’re going to do for them.
They have to be the center of your story. What will you do for them?
They’ll get six months of work in just 30 days. They’ll learn a new system that they can run on their own. They’ll get tools that will help them grow.
You should be talking about your prospects 80% of the time and talking about yourself just 20% of the time. Most companies have this backward.
In the examples I’ve been using, here’s what makes those stories about their prospects/customers and not about them:
It’s all about them and what they want, what they need, how they aspire to see their companies run and what they can accomplish.
Everything in marketing should be designed to drive a specific action. Your B2B story should be designed to get them to want to learn more about your company and how you do what you say you’re going to do.
Since your story might be the first thing they see or hear about your business, don’t expect that first action to be a meeting with your sales team. Instead, just expect that first action to be a click or multiple clicks around your website.
If your site does well at continuing your story, then you could expect the next action to be them giving you their contact information in exchange for additional information you’re willing to share.
Now you have a new contact, a marketing-qualified lead and a potential future customer – but only if you tell a compelling story, deliver a helpful and simple website experience and stock your site with educational information your prospects will want because they find it helpful.
It’s a series of steps many people overlook or underinvest in, but without this set of sequences, you’ll never generate any significant lead flow into the company.
It all has to tie together and execute flawlessly.
I know every CEO wants sales-ready leads and people who want to buy from you today, but the reality is almost all people that marketing gets interested in your company are NOT going to be ready to buy right now.
This means your story must be equipped to move people who are interested but not ready to buy into the ready-to-buy mode.
It also means you have to nurture all your new leads through their buyer journey so that they get ready to buy faster and then close more frequently.
The act of nurturing leads means your story has to have enough depth to extend it through your prospect’s entire buyer journey.
This should lead you to realize that creating a story for your company might not be as easy as you think. This story needs to be extended into campaigns, sales conversations, your nurture campaigns and customer campaigns.
Everything should be tight, orchestrated, strategically crafted and designed to get your prospects to take action.
Today’s marketing can’t be random. It can’t be entirely reliant on the tactics. Random acts of marketing tactics are never going to produce the results you desire.
Instead, take the leap and invest in creating an emotional, compelling and engaging story for your B2B business. That story will pay off time and time again when you start to drive marketing tactics to your target market.