Storytelling: A powerful marketing strategy

By: Jama Pryor

Reflecting on more than a decade in healthcare marketing and philanthropy, I’ve wondered if the same storytelling techniques used to humanize healthcare and build trust and loyalty can be used in business-to-business (B2B) marketing. 

Quite honestly, it has always been almost effortless to gather and tell stories about patients, their hero physicians and personal comeback journeys in the service of healthcare marketing. It’s not quite as easy to tell an emotionally compelling story about product marketing. Or is it? 

In a matter of days, we’ll see creativity explode in 30-second increments, with great brands spending record-breaking $7M fees for airtime during the 2023 Super Bowl. But this type of creative storytelling rarely makes its way to the lower levels of a customer’s journey. 

At FireStarter, we help B2B and B2C companies with market research, brand positioning, brand messaging, persona development, market planning and storytelling. Investing in storytelling is more important today than ever whether your audience is consumers or other businesses. 

Many B2B marketers don’t think much about storytelling, but it is critically important for their audiences. A story is like a pitch that allows you to get your foot in the door, and helps to do three important things:

  1. Be more memorable
  2. Increase relatability and likeability
  3. Inspire your audience (our brains are wired for stories, not numbers and facts.)

Marketers can apply a story-telling framework across the entire marketing funnel. A content marketing funnel helps to map your editorial content to your customer’s journey considering these four stages: 

  • Awareness – people are looking to learn and problem-solve
  • Evaluation – this stage involves awareness and interest
  • Conversion – some customers may require reassurance before acting
  • Retention – leads become customers and your stories serve to keep them engaged and getting the most from your solutions.

Awareness:  The top of the funnel focuses on stories about your brand and what you offer. This type of story approach allows for connecting emotionally with your audience and attracting fans. 

Evaluation: This stage includes those who are aware and interested in your product. Adopt this middle-of-funnel strategy to share narratives aligned with your buyers’ pain points. 

Conversion:  During this ready-to-buy phase, focus on one buyer or segment using a more personalized story tailored to their buying interests and needs. 

Retention: When retaining customers, stories featuring clients’ experiences with customer service and performance enhancements seem to resonate well and keep your brand upper most in mind. 

One of the main benefits of B2B storytelling is that it allows companies to communicate their unique value proposition in a way that is easy for the target audience to understand. By weaving a story around your products or services, businesses can create an emotional connection with their audience, which can be more effective than simply listing features and benefits. This can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers, making them more likely to consider doing business with your company.

B2B story opportunities exist at all levels of the customer journey. And when we make customers the heroes of these stories, we succeed by not only making the story more relatable and personal to them; we also allow the brand to position itself as a helpful guide and mentor on the customer’s journey.