Digital Kungfu

Storytelling

5 ways to tell your story instead of relying on features and benefits

If working with different technology brands across multiple verticals has taught us anything, it’s that companies fall in love with their solutions instead of falling in love with the market problem or need they’re trying to solve – and this is true of all industries, not just the tech space.

The natural result is a conversation that focuses on features and benefits: ‘This is who we are, this is what we do, these are the benefits of working with us.’ This is one of the biggest mistakes we see SMEs and B2B businesses making in the marketing space. They position themselves as the heroes in their own stories.

The problem is that while every great story needs a hero, the brand should never be that hero. Instead, the hero should be the customer, and the story should paint a picture of how the customer overcomes a challenge in their business as a result of using the product or service on offer.

This requires a fundamental shift in thinking, because as a brand and marketing team, you need to move away from ‘us’ and focus instead on ‘them’ – your customers and their needs, challenges and concerns, even in the absence of your solution.

Here are 5 ways that you can use storytelling to speak directly to your customers, instead of falling back on features and benefits:

1. Stories show empathy.

People want to know that you identify with the pain they’re going through.

When you communicate a story that lets your customer know that you understand their problem best, they will accredit you with the solution. The story should also demonstrate empathy and authority as it relates to the problem and clearly articulate the promise of what success looks like as a result of buying the product or service. Your aim isn’t to leave your brand or solution out of the story. Instead, you need to lead with the customer’s plight.

2. Stories build trust.

Underpinning every transaction in the B2B space is trust. Without trust you will struggle to sell anything.

Storytelling helps build trust with the markets you are trying to reach by letting them know that you understand the frustration that they are going through, that your product or service can take their pain away and that your business is the one most qualified to do this. But this takes time because today, trust is earnt in drops but lost in buckets. 

One irrelevant or misplaced message as part of a poorly planned advertising campaign and you will lose brand equity and run the risk of being ignored completely. The key is consistent and relevant messaging, in the channels your customers are consuming.

3. Stories offer social proof.

When you’re able to share your story and that of your customers, you’re addressing key customer concerns.

We’re all risk averse. We want to know that a solution is right for us, will work, will deliver on its promises and show a good return on investment. Nothing articulates this better than sharing the experiences and stories of other satisfied customers.

4. Stories sell the dream.

One of our clients, First Distribution, is a leading ICT distributor for datacentre, enterprise and cloud solutions in South Africa. Their products include Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 products.

One of the biggest benefits of Azure is speed – speed of deployment, operation and scalability, and so this is where traditional marketing speak would focus, on the benefits of Azure and its speed.

The problem is that this places Azure (and First Distribution) squarely in the ‘hero zone’. It doesn’t speak to the customer, their needs, challenges and opportunities. A customer hero story is different. How will the business transform as a result of Azure? What could the business look like, and what would the owners or exco achieve as a result? That’s the picture that storytelling can paint, and it has nothing to do with features and benefits.

5. Stories are human.

One could argue that there is no B2B or B2C, but only H2H or human to human.

As people, we are hardwired for stories from a very young age. As we move into professional and B2B markets, we are constantly on the lookout for stories that reflect our own unique challenges and perspectives. 

When we find them, we can’t help but see ourselves in those stories, which is why we resonate more with some brands than others. Consumer brands have long understood this, but it’s as relevant – if not more so – in the B2B space.

 People do business with people. They make decisions based on trust. If we feel a message is not relevant to us and the pain we need to solve inside our businesses, we switch off and look elsewhere. Your messaging and how you share it can mean the difference between a customer for life, and a few seconds of attention that you’ve already lost.

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3. Stories offer social proof.

When you’re able to share your story and that of your customers, you’re addressing key customer concerns.

We’re all risk averse. We want to know that a solution is right for us, will work, will deliver on its promises and show a good return on investment. Nothing articulates this better than sharing the experiences and stories of other satisfied customers.

Digital Kungfu Blog Covers Revised-03

4. Stories sell the dream.

One of our clients, First Distribution, is a leading ICT distributor for datacentre, enterprise and cloud solutions in South Africa. Their products include Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 products.

One of the biggest benefits of Azure is speed – speed of deployment, operation and scalability, and so this is where traditional marketing speak would focus, on the benefits of Azure and its speed.

The problem is that this places Azure (and First Distribution) squarely in the ‘hero zone’. It doesn’t speak to the customer, their needs, challenges and opportunities. A customer hero story is different. How will the business transform as a result of Azure? What could the business look like, and what would the owners or exco achieve as a result? That’s the picture that storytelling can paint, and it has nothing to do with features and benefits.

5. Stories are human.

One could argue that there is no B2B or B2C, but only H2H or human to human.

As people, we are hardwired for stories from a very young age. As we move into professional and B2B markets, we are constantly on the lookout for stories that reflect our own unique challenges and perspectives. 

When we find them, we can’t help but see ourselves in those stories, which is why we resonate more with some brands than others. Consumer brands have long understood this, but it’s as relevant – if not more so – in the B2B space.

 People do business with people. They make decisions based on trust. If we feel a message is not relevant to us and the pain we need to solve inside our businesses, we switch off and look elsewhere. Your messaging and how you share it can mean the difference between a customer for life, and a few seconds of attention that you’ve already lost.

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