In B2B marketing a brand story well told provides an emotional connection in a buying decision that is not just analytical about which vendor has got the most features at what price, but an emotional decision about who to trust.
The story of the brand gives the buyer the feeling of who will help them, who agrees to their world view and who are “their kind of people” but marketers, especially in B2B, should look beyond this and tell their story of their category, in which of course, they are the hero.
It’s a challenge in many businesses for marketing leaders to do this and move content marketing from a tactic to a strategy, trapped in a cycle of execution or as I call it “the hamster wheel of marketing” as marketers become the typing pool for the company, working to a self-obsessed inside-out agenda defined by the business, focused on product releases and features. They have no time to look up, think about who’s on the other end of the screen and nurture the buyer’s trust, empathy and (dare I say), love, through telling the company story.
Taking the time to define a brand story is necessary and fantastic, but changing the definition of a category, and owning the story of the market in which you play is hugely powerful.
At the beginning of the sales part of my career, the solution selling advice I had referred to “re-engineering the client’s vision”, fancy words for a sales guy in the field convincing an individual buyer that their problem was slightly different to the one they had stated in their RFP or procurement process. The goal is to edge the client toward needing a solution that was in the sweet spot of the software that they are selling and possibly away from the sweet spot of a competitor.
The beauty of defining the category and telling its story is that you are re-engineering the vision of an entire market, not just training sales guys to try and browbeat a prospect into seeing it their way. You are opening doors, providing “air cover”, not giving a sales guy an escape room type puzzle to get through (or the nine-block model).
For example, Salesforce did not invent the CRM category, but it told its version of the story of the category that featured “no software” and it re-engineered the vision of all the category buyers. Buyers were now convinced to include the mandatory requirements like “it must run in the cloud”and now everyone in that category is defined by Salesforce.
Doing this content marketing is never the role of just marketing, defining a brand story that is authentic that buyers will trust requires alignment of the corporate strategy, product development and support and this is even more relevant when it comes to understanding and defining the category in which you play.
EVERY employee needs to be signed up to it, it’s not enough to have a visionary marketer or CEO. Salesforce Founder and CEO Marc Benioff’s story of no-software, the redefinition of CRM and Saleforce’s leadership of the newly defined category would have fallen on its ass, if his engineers could not support the story with the software, to make it true, trusted and authentic.
Defining and consistently telling a brand story is winning move but shifting a category just a little in your direction changes the whole game.
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