I had the pleasure of attending the MarketingProfs B2B Forum last month in Boston, and one of the sessions I attended was led by Jeannine Rossignol and Katrina Busch, both experienced marketers in their own right. They said one thing that definitely resonated: “All memorable content comes from great stories.” Further, they noted, it’s even more important to tell stories in B2B marketing.

This gets me back to what I’ve been saying all along: that stories are critical to B2B marketing. Software marketers in particular may not feel like there’s much of a story in a cloud-based CRM system, but I’m telling you there is. There is a customer out there who wasn’t on a CRM system, or was using an outdated one, and their customers in turn weren’t receiving the kind of service the company wanted to provide. There was a unique yet all too relatable challenge: missed cross-selling opportunities, chances to view the customer’s entire history with the company at all touch points. And there was a solution, and now the company has increased sales, Facebook likes, and more.

And there’s a story behind the company as well. Maybe the B2B software company started in a garage with a couple of college kids working on a school project; maybe it was a disgruntled IT manager who was sick and tired of trying to keep track of inventory with the same slow ERP system. The point is, storytelling can run deep in B2B marketing, particularly content marketing, where companies have a chance to do a lot more than just sell.

Rossignol and Busch also offered some interesting statistics:

  • 50-90 percent of marketing materials go unused by sales, because generic marketing materials don’t work for every situation
  • 40 percent of the sales force’s time is spent creating marketing materials or customizing existing materials, which results in off-brand and sometimes nightmarishly misspelled content
  • 60 percent of leads make no decision after reviewing materials and meeting with vendors, because no one has met their needs
  • 57 percent of customers already have made a purchasing decision prior to contacting the B2B company
  • 88 percent of buyers say that thought leadership is critical to buying.

What that means for B2B marketers is that they need to create content that targets people, not businesses, according to Rossignol and Busch. At the end of the day, it’s a person making the business decision, and they have their own needs: adding a workflow to approve orders more efficiently, meaning he can leave early to catch his child’s soccer game, or ensuring data is secure, meaning she can upload sensitive information and work on approvals while she’s traveling.

Stories. People. That’s what B2B marketing is coming down to, and that’s where content marketing is heading. As the holder of a journalism degree and contributor to tech publications, I approve – and can help. Contact me to learn how I can infuse storytelling into your marketing and help your customers decide on your solution.