Using PR and Storytelling in Your B2B Marketing Strategy

Mar 11, 2020

Your company has a story and people want to hear it.

Remember the last time you heard a great story? If you’re anything like me, it was probably a movie or T.V. show. Since the entertainment industry makes money by telling good stories, this makes sense. But in our fast-paced, tech-driven society, we rely on text messaging (guilty!), email and IMs and we don’t  take the time to tell stories like we used to.

In the Don Draper, Mad Men, days of advertising storytelling was relatively simple. Come up with a catchy phrase and call it day. Now that we are bombarded with marketing campaigns on a 24×7 basis, it is harder to cut through the clutter.

That’s where storytelling and public relations come in. But what does it take to tell a really good story? Especially in a B2B environment?

Not too long ago, I was asked by my marketing team to think about a B2B brand that really made an impression on me. Of course, my first reaction was come on. B2B + engaging content = doesn’t add up!

But then I thought about it and remembered a simple phrase that a sales representative from Wrike told me, “what you need is a single source of truth.”

If you aren’t familiar with Wrike, it’s a project management platform that can be shared across teams and business. It really can be that one source of truth rather than combing through endless emails to find that one URL or status update that you might have accidentally deleted because you tried to check your work email on your phone while at happy hour (I’ve only heard via storytelling that these things can happen!).

That phrase single source of truth will never leave my brain. Because it is precisely what my brain needed to hear to solve my need for organizing information.

Now I am an unofficial brand ambassador for this company. And that is the power of knowing your brand’s story.

At the end of the day, your story shouldn’t be about you at all. It should be about the things that matter to your buyer personas, but it should also be personal. (Yes, even B2B can be personal; we’re still humans in the work environment).

Never underestimate the value of making an emotional connection in the B2B world especially in healthcare. With health IT becoming more and more saturated, the B2B landscape is changing and it’s becoming more critical for strong B2B brands to do what strong brands do around the world engender trust and reduce perceived risk.

We have critical problems to fix in healthcare and every single client I work with creates technology that betters the lives of so many patients, physicians, nurses, payers the list could go on for days. But sometimes getting to the root of how this technology is shifting the healthcare environment is challenging.

Successful public relations activities rely on being able to tell powerful and insightful stories. Storytelling is an important aspect to public relations strategies because it allows companies to better connect with their audience.

Here are four ways your B2B brand can become a good storyteller.

1. Start with a broad narrative that helps tell the story of your company.

Purpose is essential to a strong corporate culture and it is often activated and reinforced through narrative. Individuals must learn to connect their drives to the organization’s purpose and to articulate their story to others.

A professor at Harvard University developed a simple framework for those hoping to develop a narrative approach to their purpose-driven organizations: “Self, Us, Now.”  “Self” looks at the real-life events of the leader or leaders that created a company it helps to establish the values that will ultimately become the values of the organization.

“Us” aims to connect those values with broader shared values of your audiences or stakeholders, e.g., clients or employees. By weaving these personal narratives into the narratives of others, you create a common narrative for the group or organization.

And finally, “now” is the urgent call to action for those who wish to achieve the same purpose as your organization.

2. Consolidate your narrative into an elevator pitch.

Now that you’ve develop what I like to call the soul of your company, it’s likely a lengthy narrative as it should be since your company is solving some of healthcare’s most complex challenges. The elevator should pull out some of those key emotion-grabbing narratives and concisely explain:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you offer?
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How are you different (unique selling proposition)?
  • Your call to action

3. Adapt your elevator pitch into something that could be used as an “About Us.”

Now that you have a well-developed narrative that explains your unique identity, craft your story! Evoke an emotional response in your buyer persona. Provide a simple and clear value proposition, establish your credibility, and give a call to action. As they say, the best way to sell something is to not sell anything. Earn trust and loyalty by telling a compelling story to help stick in your customer’s mind.

4. Frame up your narrative against core themes that can represent your overall business.

Likely you’ve got a lot of products but talking about each product separately can quickly become overwhelming. If it’s overwhelming for your marketing team, then it is overwhelming for your customers too. Work to identify the core themes that your products can be categorized into. Then tell how those themes are solving our most critical problems.

Storytelling can’t be mastered overnight. It takes practice but it is worth it as there is nothing more powerful than making your content and news relatable to your audience. Tell good tales, and you’ll quickly find your audience will see you as a true thought leader and they will come to you.