Why Marketers Should Stop Telling Stories

I am now back at my office after spending the better part of last week at the Content2Conversion Conference, hosted by DemandGen Report in New York City.  It was a great two days of connecting with colleagues and hearing from some great content practitioners.

One of the things that I heard many times at the conference was the whole approach to “story telling” with our content.  The idea that if we are going to be able to truly connect with our buyers, we need to be able to tell that buyer (and in most B2B buying scenarios) multiple buyers a compelling story.   While this may seem right on the surface, if we really stop and think about this, it is not the right way we should approach content especially within the context of Demand Generation.

story timeRather than thinking through the development of a compelling story, B2B marketers should be thinking about using their content to create a meaningful and compelling dialogue with their buyers.  This is a subtle difference, but has huge impact.

When someone is told a story, it is a one-directional form of communication.  It means I am speaking to you and describing things that I want you to hear and understand.  There is little to no back and forth – it is one way.  This is why I believe many organizations struggle with content – they “tell” and when they tell, they tell the buyers the things that they want them to hear which is usually focused on the vendors product or service.

When we look to engage buyers in a dialogue, it is a much different approach.  I am looking to have a conversation (two-way communication) and not just tell the buyer things I deem important, but also hear from them what is important, compelling and what they are looking for in terms of solution and education about their problems.

When marketers begin to understand that we should engage in conversations or dialogues with our buyers, it changes the approach we take to creating content.  We begin to think how we should start the conversation with the buyer. What kind of inbound engagement content do I need to develop to have the buyer want to engage in the conversation?  Secondly, what kind of follow-up nurture content will I need to ensure the buyer wants to continue in this discussion and not disengage, or worse, opt-out.  These are key insights that should be driving the content creation process, not the idea of “storytelling.”

As marketers, we have been trained to tell stories, but as we seek to engage a more sophisticated and modern buyer, a one- directional story will no longer suffice. We must create a discussion and ensure that discussion pivots on the buyers’ needs and interests, not ours, as vendors and story tellers.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS