What Your B2B Brand Can Learn from B2C Storytelling

the-tempest-setStorytelling has become a steadfast part of consumer brand marketing, and as a result there are tons of B2C companies that offer prime examples of how to use this thought provoking, discussion evoking tactic to their advantage. Everyone is a natural storyteller and once you’ve found the right tale to tell, there’s simply no stopping your brand from capitalising on this content marketing must.

Whilst storytelling is a proven approach for B2C, for the most part, the B2B community is falling behind, but there is much to learn from consumer brands and indeed the B2B brands that are using storytelling well.

The challenge with B2B marketing

B2B brands have a difficult image to shake off when it comes to their marketing campaigns. A recent study conducted on behalf of AdRoll found that as a whole B2B marketers struggled to engage and even reach early stage buyers. Traditionally, the marketing prowess associated with B2B brands is often seen to be less exciting than the stimulating paths taken by B2C brands, but times are indeed changing.

Whilst storytelling isn’t a route used widely as yet within B2B communications and marketing campaigns, from a digital marketing standpoint, the lines are blurring. The gap between B2B and B2C storytelling in marketing communications is beginning to close, and as a result there is a range of successful B2C and B2B strategy examples that both big and small brands can draw inspiration from.

Not just for consumer brands

Alongside the adoption of B2C specific marketing tactics like programmatic ad buying, PR stunts and data usage, storytelling gives B2B brands the chance to develop and share their personal voice through the telling of a story close to their hearts. The transparent nature of brand stories is what really entices potential customers to want to learn more, whilst a look into the everyday lives of the people behind your business is also a powerful tactic that can translate from B2C storytelling to B2B.

The science of storytelling looks at just how consumers evaluate and respond to brands, using emotion instead of information to drive the decision-making process, and whether they are B2C or B2B customers, it is personal feelings and experiences that win the day. From company history and product development to customer case studies, employee focuses and community involvement, there is plenty of scope to use the power of storytelling in your B2B marketing campaign.

B2B brand story heroes

The B2B brands that are adding storytelling to their content marketing strategies are finding success too, and there is a selection of examples that could offer inspiration for your own campaign. GE’s The Boy Who Beeps is a touching story about a boy who can communicate with machines, a tale that provides a poignant link with the company’s reputation for powering the technology behind businesses. Google Small Business’ The Story of Jacob and City Gym is another story that resonates with B2B buyers, and it’s Jacob’s own journey (we won’t give away any spoilers don’t worry) that inspires an emotional response that you were sure you wouldn’t have watching a video produced by our favourite search engine!

Intel’s IQ Project uses a different approach, focusing on not content production but content curation to engage with B2B buyers across the web. In March alone, the portal – which uses a human element to connect viewers with its technology – clocked up 2.2 million unique views making it a major contender for the coveted title of best B2B storyteller.

The ones to watch from the B2C world

Authentic, impactful and engaging storytelling campaigns are possible for B2B brands, and there are several campaigns that offer masterclasses, some from consumer brands and others from B2B companies. Campaigns like Innocent’s Big Knit, an initiative that gives 10% to charity Age UK, actually makes the audience the hero whilst merging the brand’s commercial aims with their truly authentic social mission, a key example of striking the right storytelling balance.

Another B2C company that is winning on the storytelling front is Dove with their long running Campaign for Real Beauty still producing the most talked about stories 12 years on. Its 2013 video Real Beauty Sketches, which shows women describing their own appearances to a forensic artist, became the most watched ad ever after just one month on YouTube.