Storytelling is at the heart of successful content marketing. Think about a few of the most impactful ad campaigns you’ve seen in recent years: Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, Budweiser’s 2017 ‘Born the Hard Way’ Super Bowl ad, and Nike’s Equality Campaign.
You don’t have to be a major brand to have a story, and you don’t have to be in B2C marketing to share a story. It’s human nature to be drawn in by a good story. Many of the most ancient and referenced writings capture stories of the heroes and events of a time thousands of years ago, yet they often serve as a theme in mainstream marketing materials and entertainment. Every company in any industry should appeal to their target audience through brand storytelling.
How Technology Companies Can Develop Brand Storytelling
IT, MSPs, and SaaS companies alike can strengthen their brands by building a campaign around a compelling story. Generic messaging is outdated, ineffective and too impersonal for your target audience to differentiate you from your competitors. Although a B2B model, it’s important for a technology company’s brand to speak to the human behind the business they are trying to attract. Businesses aren’t purchasing your service—humans with purchasing power are.
To begin generating your brand story, focus on these themes:
- The reason your company came to be (Origin story)
- What motivates you and your team to come to work each day (the Why story)
- Giving your audience an inside look at your company (the Behind the Scenes story)
These three overarching storylines will provide you with endless content and the ability to create spinoff storylines.
To be successful in your storytelling, you will need to learn how to appeal to your reader’s likes, wants, dislikes, and motives. You can begin to craft a powerful brand story using these three tips:
- Don’t underestimate the power of structure. Every great story has a beginning, middle, and end; use a model that will relate to brand storytelling: a problem, solution, and success. Keep the structure simple and focused.
- Connect with your customer on an emotional level first. The more powerful your connection is, the more likely your reader will remember a story. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Add personality to your story. In a Forbes article, Susan Gunelius has the best definition of a brand story: Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.
Now that you have a great story ready to share, it’s important to know how to properly share it via marketing platforms relevant to your customer. If you’re a tech company whose revenue-driving persona is a C-Suite Executive, then you shouldn’t be investing time and resources into a beautiful Instagram campaign. Find out where your customer consumes their information, and join them in a conversation there. Here are a few examples of where your customers can live online:
- Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- Industry publications & blogs (submit articles to become a contributor)
- Your existing database via email marketing (they want to hear your story too)
How to Leverage Storytelling to Build Your Database
Once a reader is brought in with a story, it’s time to turn the visitor into a lead. The stories brands share and the platforms they share them on should all have a specific call to action. There should always be an available next step for the visitor to gather more information about the company, products, or services. If a story is compelling and appears tailored specifically to address the visitor’s needs, it’s very likely they will seek more information. This call to action should include a content offer that leads to a landing page with a form.
On the form, a technology company can utilize a marketing solution called progressive profiling, wherein the system will begin to paint a detailed picture of the lead. This process will help you determine if a lead is qualified and worthy of pursuit. Progressive profiling is available through marketing automation software tools, such as HubSpot, which uses the lead’s cookie to replace previously captured fields with new, more detailed questions that will help companies gain a fuller understanding of the lead.
The call to action within a blog, social media post, or webpage should entice the visitor to a landing page. On the landing page, there will be more information about the content offer described in the call to action, and this page will also include a form for the visitor to fill in their information. As soon as the visitor provides their contact information they convert into a lead, and in exchange, the new lead will be provided with the content offer.
The lead’s contact information acts as a form of currency, and for this reason, it’s important the form has the same amount of questions as the perceived value of the offer. Don’t risk turning away a prospect because the form requests too much information. At a minimum, request a first name, last name, and email address. It’s a good idea to include a company name field as well. Stop there.
Think of this form as a first date. Just as you wouldn’t barrage your dinner guest with 100 questions for fear of them turning tail and leaving you alone at the restaurant, you should avoid doing that with your content offer forms. Keep it simple and light.
As the lead develops a relationship with a brand, they will become more willing to reveal information about themselves each time they visit a website looking for something specific. With progressive profiling, the form can recognize a returning lead and automatically replace the company name field with an industry field.
Follow these five steps to create successful conversions utilizing progressive profiling:
- Every story should include a call to action.
- Convert your visitor into a lead with a compelling content offer.
- Ensure the form is short and simple, and not intrusive.
- Use a marketing automation software tool, such as HubSpot, to capture your lead’s cookie and implement progressive profiling.
- Once you have enough information to qualify a lead, continue to provide tailored content that will move them through the buyer’s journey until they make a purchase.
How Technology Companies Succeed with Progressive Profiling
Technology companies, more than any other, should know how precisely important it is to maintain a clean, detailed contact database. With progressive profiling in place, your company will enter the world of big data. More than a buzzword floating around the Internet, big data is extremely large data sets that may be analyzed electronically to reveal patterns and trends related to human behavior and interactions.
Through progressive profiling, you’ll focus on gathering two types of data: demographic and psychographic. Having demographic data in your database such as age, job title, industry, income, state, etc. will narrow down your ideal customer from everyone in the world to a defined group. However, the use of demographic data alone isn’t enough information to properly build the foundation of a successful campaign. You also need to consider psychographic data.
Psychographic data is where you will separate ill-fitted prospects from revenue-driving prospects. This data is internal to your prospect, and you can include questions, such as the following, to determine what this data looks like for your company:
- What keeps the prospect awake at night?
- What challenges is the prospect facing?
- What excites the prospect?
Once you collect this information through progressive profiling, you can utilize your big data to map out content offers that will successfully lead prospects through the sales funnel. With the strong brand story you previously developed, use this content to draw in your prospect every step of the way. Using your big data to create a powerful brand story will give your prospect the perception you’re speaking directly to them and that you understand them entirely, which in turn builds trust. Provide the prospect content relevant to each phase of their buying journey and rely on progressive profiling to gather data every step of the way. This simple, improved marketing efficiency will directly increase sales by filtering out the noise and helping your team focus on your revenue-driving prospects.
Learn more about how progressive profiling and inbound marketing methods enable technology companies to generate qualified leads. Download our free 30 technology marketing tips, tricks, and ideas by clicking below.