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Ann Handley: B2B Marketers Need To Be Real-Time Story Tellers

Ann Handley headshotWhen B2B marketers watch content from B2C heavyweights like Oreo and Red Bull go viral, it can make them yearn to do the same. While they may not have the same reach, there are some things that B2B marketers can borrow from B2C content marketers and traditional publishing and even go beyond that model.

“In reality, content is a struggle for most of us,” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, told an early-morning audience at the recent 2014 Marketing Nation Summit. “Let’s take what we know works in traditional publishing and give it a makeover. We need content that conveys empathy and experiences that go beyond articles and blog posts.”

While B2B content might not get the same traction as a Super Bowl tweet, she said that real-time interaction is just as important for B2B marketers. “Tap into conversations that you want to be part of, as they are happening. Take a look at what’s going on in your space today and see what you can add.”

While it may be easier for more consumer-focused businesses, B2B marketers can engage buyers with stories. “Whether you’re selling toasters or technology, you can tell stories about people.”

Handley encouraged the audience to “think about experiences, not just narratives.” Share real-life examples and let buyers interact with your current customers, she said. “Let them experience what it would be like to use your product or service.”

While it is easy to get frustrated by what you can’t accomplish, Handley said, a “DYI” attitude is critical. “You’d be surprised by what you can accomplish, even on a small budget or with a small team.”