Video Storytelling Humanizes B2B Content

Published: November 16, 2016

B2B content today does not engage buyers or deliver value. That was the bold assertion made by Laura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, in her keynote remarks at Vidyard’s Viewtopia conference in San Francisco in November.

Content marketers struggle with content creation. Eighty-seven percent of marketers say that developing engaging content is a major challenge, according to Forrester. Additionally, the research showed that just 16% of content marketing efforts are “very effective” at delivering business value.

Ramos said B2B marketers need to shift their thinking. “It’s time to adopt a post-digital mindshift,” she said. “We need to approach marketing with a fresh set of strategies.” Those strategies include making sure content is “more human, more helpful and more handy,” she noted.

Buyers’ Brains Are Wired To Think In Stories

Storytelling in video is an effective way to get the message across, Ramos said, because it “makes stories come alive.” She pointed to several examples, such as Symantec, which created a video with “Simon, the head of security” as the protagonist, who “takes you through what it’s like to be the head of security in a large enterprise.”

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Ramos noted that video can convey the essence of a story in a short period of time. She suggests marketers create more video experiences for clients and prospects.

There are four key principles behind great B2B storytelling, according to Ramos:

  • Empathy. Create trust and deepen relationships. Empathize with and understand your buyers. “Show what it is your buyers care about, beyond understanding their business,” she said.
  • Emotion. Strike an emotional chord. “Use stories to stir buyer emotions,” Ramos instructed. “Experiment with the twin muses of humor and tragedy.”
  • Trust. People trust friends, family and peers. Illustrate value by relying on solid case studies and customer success stories. Let others tell your story, and deliver something of value without expected or immediate returns, she said.
  • Engage the senses. According to Ramos, engaging the senses leaves a lasting impression. “Visual and audio [mediums] are much more engaging than simple printed words on a static page,” she said.

Ramos also outlined a prescriptive roadmap for attendees to help B2B marketers adapt. She highlighted five things marketers can do now to turn storytelling into a way to engage with customers:

  1. Repurpose your best content as stories or narrative. Create interest, value and engagement. “Think about it from a standpoint of narrative, rather than details about your product or service,” she said.
  2. Experiment with long-form, multi-chapter content. Each chapter can extend to a minute-and-a-half, she advised.
  3. Put customers in the starring role, and use video to tell their story. Think about how you can create more dialogue, not more monologue.
  4. Shoot more video!
  5. Create a value exchange with buyers. “Give buyers something useful,” she said. “It’s the back-and-forth that gets people involved with and engaged with content.”

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