Storytelling for B2B SaaS companies – how to create a narrative that sells
Everybody loves a good story.
It’s through stories that people communicate on every level, from friendship to business. But for those who run B2B SaaS ventures, building a narrative into their messaging is tough because you always risk compromising the technical to add more story elements.
A balance needs to be struck.
What’s more, you need to be able to demonstrate the sales impact that your storytelling has to prove that it’s worthwhile to use it. That’s where our framework comes in – it shows you how to create a brand narrative that sells to B2B clients.
Brand storytelling is the creation of narratives that are 100% unique to you and your business. Narratives that are spun in unique ways, consistently over time, to help you build a more powerful emotional connection to your audience.
The uniqueness is the most important part here.
Since your story relates to you and nobody else, it can serve as your brand’s differentiator. But that differentiator can’t do its job if you don’t bridge the gap between the story and the emotional connection it’s supposed to invoke in a B2B client. No bridge means no sale, meaning your goal is to take your super-inspirational and creative story pieces and turn them into super-relevant bite-sized chunks for your audience.
Before I get into the framework that will help you to bridge that gap between story and emotional response, I need to confront a common misconception that B2B companies have about narrative copy:
You can’t measure brand.
And it’s something that you can measure a lot more easily than you might think.
When it comes to measuring the quantifiable impact of your storytelling, brand awareness and the size of your audience are the first two metrics to highlight. Both show you how much people are engaging with your narrative. From there, look to your existing customers. You can measure loyalty and the prevailing sentiment surrounding your brand – both indicators that your storytelling is having an impact.
Differentiation is also measurable. Speak to your customers and ask them what they think about your brand in comparison to others. The less generic their answers are, the stronger the impact of your storytelling.
Finally, you can measure conversion rates.
A lot of marketers just got a whole lot happier after reading that. Using incrementality testing, both prior to creating your narrative and afterward, you can actively see how much your storytelling has boosted conversions.
So, the impact of storytelling on your brand is more quantifiable than you may think. Granted, you can’t measure just how deep the emotional connection you’re forging with your client may run. But you can look at these metrics to indicate just how effective your stories are.
Let’s wrap up this section by looking at some stats that explain why you should build a brand narrative in the first place. Attention and memorability come in first – people remember stories 22 times more than they remember facts. In other words, your product’s feature list may be impressive, but it’s going to take a customer 22 reads before they remember it compared to just one read of an engaging story.
Then, there’s the difference between emotionally engaged and highly satisfied customers. An engaged client is 52% more valuable than one who’s simply very satisfied – again demonstrating the impact of a strong story.
Here’s the thing with stories – anybody can tell them.
Almost every person on the planet is a natural storyteller because stories are how we communicate with one another. Your goal is to take the big fuzzy stuff from your story and turn it into a brand narrative – an expression of your company’s purpose, mission, and values.
A brand narrative is holistic. It’s generative, based on customer insights, and offers a simple translation of your brand into marketing. What it isn’t is an exhaustive and fixed tale that you repeat over and over again.
So, how do you create your narrative?
You’ll use a framework that includes three different buckets:
The good news is that you likely already have a lot of your foundation for narrative storytelling. Your company’s purpose. Its mission and values. Why your brand exists. That all feeds into this bucket, allowing you to create a statement that allows you to express your cultural values and what you to do maintain those values.
Think of these foundations as the building blocks of your story.
Every company has them. And at this stage, you might not be seeing much here that differentiates you from your competitors. It’s when you start layering feedback on top of your foundations that a narrative starts to form.
Your feedback comes from the people who “own” the brand inside your company.
Traditionally, this is going to be the “Head of Brand Marketing” or something similar, but that’s not the only person who delivers feedback. The entire company is involved in bringing your story to life, which means almost every person you employ will feel like they have some sort of ownership over the brand. Yes, there’ll usually be one person on your team who’s like the brand shepherd. But they’re just leading the way for everybody else.
So, you want to pull feedback from people inside the business to discover what your brand means to them.
The C Suite and your founders are obvious starting points – they’re the people who are most closely tied to the company’s mission. But don’t forget about your content and marketing teams. They’re actively communicating the brand’s message right now and, crucially, they have insight into the product side. Social media managers are important, too. They’re putting snippets of your message out there and interacting with your clients directly, making their feedback crucial.
Ask all of these people about what your brand means to them. What are their stories? What are their experiences within your company? All of their answers add layers to your foundation by putting real people behind the company’s purpose.
Finally, there’s the research side of things, which you can split into external and internal research.
External research is all about what the culture and market surrounding your brand are doing today. Its trend reports and customer feedback that highlight what’s happening in your segment of the wider market. As for internal, that’s more obvious – what comes from within? The feedback bucket covers a lot of that, so make sure you’re using internal surveys and similar tools to research what your own people think about the brand.
Once you’ve filled your buckets, you have everything you need to create a collection of brand narratives. I say collection because your company doesn’t have just one story – it has many, with each relating to a different aspect of what you do:
Every single aspect of your company has a narrative (or several) that you can build around it. Start with your foundations and build on them with your feedback. Add a dash of research and then focus on building narratives around the four categories highlighted above to start telling your company’s story more effectively.