Does storytelling work well for B2B marketing?
- Anjali Mathur, Chairperson & MD, TIC


Anjali joined The Information Company as COO in 2000 and took over as CMD in April 2019. Under her leadership, the company has become the go-to content and design agency for India's biggest corporate groups. The five-women management team that she heads is successfully navigating through the challenges of the post-pandemic world and delivering effective solutions to clients. A veteran journalist before she joined TIC, Anjali was resident editor of The Sunday Observer and executive editor of Gentleman magazine. She is also a founding member of the Network of Women in Media, an organization of women journalists with chapters all over India.

People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around

– Terry Pratchett

Many millennia ago, humanity graduated from sign language to spoken languages. That was when the tradition of storytelling began. Our fascination with stories is intertwined with humanity's earliest values and beliefs and continues to this day across cultures, countries, and communities. Stories rewired our primitive brains to capture our imagination, helped us grasp mysticism, understand the metaphysical, and inspired us to explore the new territories of land, art, and culture.

We are, as a species, addicted to stories. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories

– Jonathan Gottschall

That still holds true in the age of 24x7 marketing, advertising and communication. The familiarity of audiences with the art of storytelling helps build an instant emotional connection, inspiring storytellers to constantly discover, and explore newer ways to create a heart-share for brands with intended audiences.

In the immersive phygital world, digitally equipped, modern storytellers tell the stories of brands using gripping visual narratives to create an engaged and invested follower base, improving the quality of daily audience interactions and messaging of the brand.

Data can persuade people, but it doesn't inspire them to act. But a story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts

– Harrison Monarth

As a B2B marketer you are generally comfortable with quantifiable truths and facts. We suggest that you try conveying your 'truth' by weaving in an interesting brand story. Let facts play the supporting role. For once, let a story be the hero of your brand. In fact, storytelling relieves you from hard-sell tactics. Audiences are naturally drawn into your brand stories without realising a product or a service is being sold.

Storytelling creates compelling interactions around B2B marketing. A PowerPoint presentation often enables these interactions, through plenty of data, infographics and visuals. Storytelling changes the way you create and deliver even PowerPoint presentations. Instead of words and figures, you make your point through powerful visuals and minimal text. Take a look at this video of Pixar's former 'storyteller' Matthew Luhn; it's very illuminating.

Let us consider another, larger canvas of brand interaction at General Electric (GE) – an engineering company with a global portfolio of B2B products, dealing with logic, math, engineering and huge volumes of data in its daily interactions. Despite its success, GE still felt an innate need for compelling storytelling, and adopted it as part of the brand messaging – it sold B2B products, and yet managed to connect with the mass audiences through its stories.

Today GE shines as an inspiration in the art of storytelling and transcending obstacles of B2B marketing. Its end-users are not necessarily its direct customers. Though its products indirectly impact billions, there was always going to be an invisible wall that separated GE from its end consumers.

As a brand, GE overcame this marketing dilemma with a creative approach. It used storytelling as a powerful marketing tool to connect with key audiences. "People don't want to be sold, they want to be inspired. What's important for the company is to connect at the human level," says Beth Comstock in this video on storytelling. As a former Marketing and Innovation lead at GE, she should know.

GE also has a Chief Storyteller who develops a storytelling vision and brings to life core goals, and long-term strategy that helps build key audiences and positions the GE brand as the lead industry innovator. Storytelling is a vital need for the GE brand, and a part of its corporate DNA.

These examples are meant to persuade you, the B2B marketer with a logical mind, to think differently. The more you start telling brand stories during a presentation or a casual client interaction, the more your skill of storytelling and the story itself are refined. Make sure you weave those brand stories in your presentation as they invoke emotions, create impactful brand messaging, and inspire intended audiences to act.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you

– Maya Angelou

So, would you tell your brand stories, if they made it possible to retain your brand messaging by 12 times?

Organisations have many untold stories of success. While you consciously share these brand success stories, please choose to share brand stories of struggle, failure, and transformation also. Reveal the vulnerability of your brand and how it triumphed against all odds. A journey of transformation connects the audience better with the brand, on a common ground of struggle and triumph. That is the moment your brand sets out on a journey to humanise itself.

Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire. Believe in your brand's backstories and share them. Let your business ecosystem buzz with the contribution of fun and inspiring stories. Let your clients, employees, and vendor partners narrate problems your brand solved, and describe the length and breadth of its impact on them. Let your brand experience pride reflected in those impact stories.

Choose your storytellers. Tell your stories. Unleash your brand.

Impactful corporate storytelling narrated by TIC:


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