The expanding role of storytelling—from brand to ABM
by Janet Knight
Successful brands are investing in concurrent conversations.
Feeling the buzz in Boston Harbor
The B2BSMX 2023 conference brought together smart, energetic marketers from across the B2B spectrum. There was a palpable buzz for those who made the trek to Boston Harbor, and all seemed ready to learn more about some of the hottest trends in our business.
Multiple, well-attended sessions covered a range of important topics—from the newsworthy (generative AI and its impact on B2B marketing) to the new (defining and executing go-to-markets) to the now (the ROI power of ABM). What stood out to me as a creative-agency leader was the common thread of storytelling across all of these topics.
Long associated with brand experience, storytelling is the act of defining a brand’s story and activating its components into a larger campaign. I was particularly impressed by the intentional focus on the importance of storytelling, not simply at the brand level but all the way through the funnel to data-defined, account-focused touchpoints. After all, what is an account-based marketing strategy if not an initiative focused on key-insights and how a solution can help the target audience achieve its objectives? When planned and executed properly, storytelling can help provide a coherent thread from brand awareness all the way through to the personalized mid- and late-funnel touches.
The evolving art of brand storytelling
With the continued emergence of new and relevant marketing technologies, the story a brand tells can be customized without having to ask the audience a single question. This frees marketers to concern themselves less with sustaining a consistent message and more with maintaining coherency across multiple, custom omni-channel messages. These messages target a wide range of personas, at different stages of the journey. It’s still storytelling, albeit with more of a “Chose your own adventure” mindset. We’re already seeing successful brands embrace this strategy—moving away from a single brand expression and investing in concurrent conversations, powered by data-driven insights, across multiple channels and stakeholders. Pretty much the ideal scenario for any ABM effort.
Gone are the days when a single overarching narrative can effectively resonate with every member of a target audience. Today, thanks to technology, we have the power to know that our audience comes from different backgrounds, with different priorities and pain points, and their unique perspectives shape the way they perceive and engage with marketing.
To truly connect with these diverse groups, many B2B marketers are adopting a multi-faceted approach by crafting multiple narratives that cater to various segments of accounts. To some, this approach may feel overly complicated and counter-productive (by detracting from the brand’s promise to its audience), but it’s actually an opportunity to be more authentic and relevant. Having the ability and freedom to highlight relevant brand values and commitments for each segment—matching back to customer wants and needs—actually helps position a brand to be a better partner. This level of authenticity establishes trust and fosters a stronger connection between the brand and its targets. Such a custom, MarTech-powered approach is, in fact, the embodiment of modern-day storytelling.
Start embracing the power of multiple narratives
As I learned at this year’s B2BSMX, modern marketing storytelling is no longer about a single, catch-all narrative. To engage a diverse and discerning audience, brands must embrace the power of multiple narratives. By segmenting and personalizing messages, marketers can demonstrate a commitment to authenticity and inclusivity unachievable with a single narrative. In an age where B2B buyers seek connections that mirror their own experiences, the ability to tell stories that reflect these varied perspectives is the key to unlocking meaningful engagement and lasting brand-consumer relationships.
Head of Client Development, NA