Storytelling is a popular ingredient in content marketing programs. Content creators love it because it gives them an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. Business leaders and executives love it too because it offers them an opportunity to gloat about the business. Who hasn’t heard an executive demand, “we have a great story to tell, let’s get it out there.”
Nevertheless, our attempts at storytelling often fall flat and underperform. One way to create better stories is to understand the impact that a story has on the reader, listener, or viewer. And let’s keep in mind, that each is a prospect and potential customer.
According to Katarina Gajdacsova, Chief Marketing Officer at Kiz Digital, including a good story in our marketing content mix helps to connect your products or services with a prospect on an emotional level. After all, we’re human and try as we might to remain logical when making purchases, there is a significant emotional component to big B2B buying decisions.
An Emotional Connection Gains Importance With Buyers
Alexandra Dimitropoulou, news editor at CEOWORLD magazine, says that millennials are now making 73% of B2B buying decisions. “Millennials are now the backbone of that buying cycle, and it’s essential to tailor communication and rewards towards their wants and needs,” writes Dimitropoulou.1
For the record, millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996. They are often described in distinctly different ways than their Boomer and Gen X predecessors. They tend to be values-driven, place more emphasis on social interactions at work, and have a passion for learning and wanting to understand the why behind what they do.2 For this generation, trust is a key prerequisite in making a purchasing decision.
Gajdacsova says that storytelling is the perfect catalyst in building trust between sellers and prospects. A good story can make a deeper connection with a prospect, help them be less critical, lowers their natural human defenses and opens them up to listen more closely to what the seller has to say. However, a good story’s impact goes beyond surface emotions.
The Often-Overlooked Scientific Impact of a Good Story
When immersed in a good story, says Gajdacsova, our brains produce dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, also known as the happy hormones, that promote positive feelings.
Stories contain plots, or they should, which causes readers to anticipate what might come next. Consider a case study you may have read that began by highlighting a problem that a customer had, the same problem you have with your business. Were you not excited to keep reading to hear how the problem was solved? That is dopamine at work. It also helps us focus better and increases memory retention. Both are critical in a digital world oversaturated with content.
Oxytocin is produced by human beings during labor and delivery, and is thought to contribute to the intense bonding relationship between mother and child. It is also produced when we have empathy for others and vice versa. That’s why storytelling when used in content marketing should contain a heavy dose of customer empathy. I am a big advocate of making your customer the main character in your storytelling, and the seller should play a supporting role. When done well, it can create a deep connection between seller and buyer.
We produce endorphins when we exercise. They reduce stress, can relieve pain, and put us in a happy mood. Storytelling, according to Gajdacsova, can put us in a good mood. Consider the earlier case study example. Presenting a problem and offering a viable resolution produces endorphins in the reader. Your prospects are left feeling like there is a solution to a problem they have, and you, the seller can help.
Make Your Customer the Hero in Your Stories
Let me emphasize that it is important to make your prospects and customers the main characters in your stories. They should be the heroes, not us. This requires us to take the time to understand the issues they face and the solutions to overcoming them. And we must describe both the problems and solutions the way they do, not in our internal-speak.
Empathy, and the oxytocin it generates establishes the trust that is so important between sellers and buyers, especially millennials who now make 73% of B2B buying decisions. So, we must resist speaking about ourselves in our marketing storytelling. Suspend all the “we, me and I speak”, that does not capture the attention of customers. Instead, place them at the center of the stories you tell.
Katarina Gajdacsova is the Chief Marketing Officer at Kiz Digital. She has helped launch multiple new businesses in a variety of industries during her career with a skillset that combines marketing and project management. Katarina has worked to launch start-ups as well as boosting sales with more established businesses with great success. No project is too big or small for her. Her expertise spans both B2B & B2C markets and includes Digital Marketing, Business Automation, Project Management, Problem-Solving, Excellent Communication Skills.