Unlike its business to consumer (B2C) counterpart, business to business (B2B) marketing and engagement is premised on selling products and services to organisations where the sales process is often more convoluted. Joseph Moore, Senior Account Manager at Copper Consultancy, provides his top five tips for cutting through the noise within an organisation to ensure your story is heard by senior decision makers.

For millennia, humans have traded stories that have captured imaginations and driven decisions. Today, communicating with those who call the shots within an organisation is no different. We’re still looking to use narratives to simplify complex subjects and services and connect on an emotional level with individuals.

Think back to the last time you viewed an advert or saw a campaign that captured your imagination. Every year, we sit and wait in anticipation for the latest John Lewis Christmas campaign. We have come to associate their brand with deeply enriched storytelling that stays with us long after the Christmas lights have been reluctantly taken down.

We all know what storytelling is and how powerful a medium it is. What I’d like to offer you is a few top tips on when and how to deploy storytelling to achieve the greatest cut through with your target audience.

1. The customer is the hero

Your brand, product or service is merely a guide for customers and target stakeholders to solve their own problems. Your storytelling should drive empathy for the main character because the problems they face could well become our own. Your offering is the key to helping an individual or organisation overcome the hurdles found within the story. You in effect, become the supporting actor in the wider story.

Whether you’re promoting the construction of a new road or selling an innovative service, the key is aligning your story with that of your customers to ensure they are the hero of your story as well as their own.

2. Let your heroes talk

Successful businesses and organisations have at their disposal a network of influencers who can humanise a project or product and encourage others to see the benefits. By encouraging customers to tell their own story can exemplify emotion to others. Allow their voice – through case studies, social media content, guest blogs, vox pops and other engaging content – to shine through and breathe life into your offering. This then changes the focus of the narrative away from your product / project and moves it towards the tangible benefits.

3. Catch their eye

Attention spans on the internet are dwindling and the use of written content is no longer enough to capture the interest of customers and stakeholders. The use of visual aids such as videos, animations and social media graphics can go a long way to telling your customer’s story without the need for individuals to read the accompanying text.

This is only one part of the story, however. Facebook recently revealed that the average attention span on the platform for video content is just 2.5 seconds on a desktop computer and 1.7 seconds on a mobile phone. It is important that you tailor your content for your audience and understand what they want / need to see within the first few seconds to encourage brand recall and ensure they view your content for longer.

4. Don’t shy away from data

Storytelling in B2B and project-specific communications shouldn’t shy away from data. It is important that we interpret and translate data back into its real-world implications. To effectively tell a story that customers can empathise with we need to demonstrate what the numbers show. Data grounds your story in reality, but the approach to storytelling gives that data meaning to your reader’s everyday life.

In addition, grounding your storytelling in data can help you take a more tactical approach to content development. Leveraging it successfully can help you discern the questions your audience are asking and detect their pinch points.

Put simply, you should have specific data points but balance this with your customer overcoming a central challenge.

5. Be honest

People know when they’re not being told the truth or the full picture. Your content should be as honest as possible at the earliest opportunity to demonstrate your transparency as a business, to protect your reputation, and to avoid the embarrassing blowback that comes with having to explain your earlier reluctance to tell the public the truth.

Sometimes the truth really does hurt, but not nearly as much as it could hurt your organisation. There are times we all have to bite the bullet and tell a story that will not benefit every customer. In these instances, be honest about how you will mitigate the impacts and ensure that everyone feels included in the journey.

We all have a story to tell. Whether you’re promoting a major new infrastructure project, pitching a new product to the media, or encouraging local people to support a planning application, the story is at the heart of your mission. Get it right and success is likely to follow. At Copper Consultancy, we pride ourselves on our ability to put ourselves in your customer’s shoes and to tell the story from within – helping to make the complex, simple.

If you’d like to discuss your organisation’s approach to storytelling, email: joseph.moore@copperconsultancy.com.