When it comes to B2B content marketing writing, you must sell the story first. Here’s what that means to your business and brand.
B2B Content Marketing Writing
Tell the Story First
Everyone loves a good story. From the time we’re able to understand the world around us, the words “once upon a time” transport us to new worlds.
This is the power that we tap into when we tell brand stories. Unlike product descriptions or sales copy, brand stories shape perception by engaging the imagination.
Scientists tell us that information flows in different directions in the brain depending on whether we engage our imagination or reality. Sales copy which focuses on product descriptions engages the reality centers. Stories, on the other hand, engage the imaginative centers of the brain.
Despite the difference in how the information flows through the brain, imagination is perceived as reality by our minds. What this means to content marketers is that encouraging consumers to imagine themselves using a product (videos or stories) or facing a similar problem in which the product solves (case studies) brings people one step closer to actually owning the product. Engaging the imagination feels real; the next step is to make it real by owning the product.
Content Marketing Writing Storytelling Basics
Like all good writing, good B2B content marketing writing includes the basics of strong narration:
- A hero
- A villain
- A challenge to overcome
- A beginning, middle, and end
Let’s look at an example: manufacturing ERP software. ERP, or enterprise resource planning software, is a business process management software. It integrates many areas of business knowledge, including accounting, finances, manufacturing, supply chain, inventory, and more.
Companies researching ERP software have a problem. Perhaps that problem is siloed information, a common problem faced by manufacturing firms that add software piecemeal over time and find that it’s no longer working well for their needs.
Our hero, in this case, is the software. Let’s name it Software X. Software X challenges a villain. The villain is the proliferation of software across the company. The challenge to overcome is how to synchronize information across multiple departments and plant locations.
One Narrative, Multiple Formats and Channels
I love writing B2B content marketing writing stories because one story can turn into multiple formats for a variety of channels.
Once I have the gist of the story and a hero, villain, and challenge in mind, I can then spin the story in many ways for different audiences.
- Write a series of blog posts about the “villain” or problem of older software not communicating with one another. The bad guy in this scenario is lost profits and time.
- Narrate it as a story using illustrations of a child’s game of telephone where messages get lost as they are passed along. Removing steps in the transfer of information maintain data integrity and accuracy.
- Choose a different angle on the problem, such as how much time is wasted by gathering raw data and inputting it into spreadsheets in order to make it usable by the organization.
Once the basic story format is known, you can spin so many narratives and formats from it that it starts to fill an editorial calendar by itself!
In every case, the B2B content marketing writing begins with figuring out the story angle.
Every brand tells a story. The implicit promise, the problem solved, the villain conquered. Figure out the characters in your story and you’ll engage the imagination of your customers, motivating them to take action.
Jeanne Grunert, president of Seven Oaks Consulting, is an award-winning direct and digital marketer with over 20 years of senior marketing leadership experience. She’s passionate about mentoring marketing managers and providing exceptional content marketing programs and services to Seven Oaks clients. Jeanne holds an M.S. (awarded with distinction) in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University and frequently lectures on content marketing, search engine optimization, and project management techniques.J