10 Reasons Storytelling is The New Product Marketing

April 20, 2013

Storytelling is the new product marketing


Whether it’s a white paper, product sheet, case study or video testimonial, product marketers need to tell good stories. People enjoy stories. They don’t enjoy white papers.

I once interviewed a client for a case study and told them, “I want to tell a story and present you as the hero. So help me understand how you achieved something heroic.” They liked that analogy and set out to help me assemble the story.

Do you see what I just did? I used a story to make a point about storytelling. Did you like my story? Let’s consider ten reasons why storytelling is the new product marketing.

1) We grew up with them.

We’ve consumed stories our entire lives. It started with the bedtime story, continued into poems and fables and then into novels, books, film and TV. Stories get passed down from one generation to the next. If only your product collateral could do the same.

2) There’s a beginning, a middle and an end.

Yes, I know. All content has a beginning, a middle and an end. The difference with a story is that we come to expect a rather clear sequence. Once upon a time…

3) We all love a good plot line.

It keeps you glued to the television. It keeps you up all night with the reading light on. A good plot line keeps the reader engaged, because they need to know what happens next, as well as the final outcome. Your product marketing won’t be as suspenseful, but create a good plot and you’ll hold your reader.

4) We associate with protagonists and heroes.

We associate with heroes, like Rocky Balboa

Photo source: Wikipedia. Who doesn’t love Rocky?

And of course, in the story, the hero uses your product. Who says product placement doesn’t work?

5) Places your candy into an attractive wrapper.

B2B content can be quite dry. Speeds, feeds, dimensions, features, specifications and the like. Conveying this information via storytelling places that boring and sugar-less candy into a neat looking (and recognizable) wrapper.

6) It works in presentations as well.

Product marketers are called on to give presentations to customers, prospects, partners, media and analysts. Captivate your audience by telling good stories. I try to fit a story in during the beginning, middle and end – this makes the entire presentation a story in itself.

7) Stories create an emotional connection.

A good white paper engages with your mind. A good story engages with your heart. Which would you rather have? Find stories in customer use cases of your product. Can any use cases be presented in a way that makes an emotional connection with the reader?

8) It has the chance to entertain.

An entertainer is a form of content marketing

Photo source: flickr.

A white paper or product sheet rarely entertains. Tell a good story, however, and you may be able to entertain your reader. Once you do that, you had them at “entertain.”

9) It increases retention and recall.

Think about everything we’ve covered: plot line, emotional connection, suspense and entertainment. Achieve all that and I can nearly guarantee that your readers will have better recall of your content. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” As product marketers, it’s our mission to create memorable feelings (not just content).

10) It’s fun!

Hopefully, you produce stories that are fun for the reader. Better yet, you produce that are fun to make! I have a lot more fun producing product content when it’s formed around a story.

With Lead Generation and Virtual Events, It’s a Journey, Not a Project

October 23, 2010


Virtual Events can be highly effective in generating leads to fuel your sales pipeline.  Here’s a 5-step process that I call the “Virtual Event Lead Generation Virtuous Cycle“:

  1. Generate
  2. Engage & Qualify
  3. Score
  4. Re-Engage
  5. Assess

Step #2 (“Engage & Qualify”) is quite unique for virtual events, compared to other online lead generation activities.  Virtual events allow you to generate leads (Step #1) and engage and qualify them on the spot.

With a white paper download or an on-demand webinar, the engagement and qualification occurs after the prospect has requested your content.  Note that I said “requested” – with a white paper download, you don’t even know if the prospect read the paper.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

As the diagram above illustrates, effective use of virtual events for lead generation is done in a circle (or cycle), where you begin the next event with learnings from your prior event.

By knowing what worked and what didn’t work from your last event, you fine tune and optimize your strategies and tactics and become more effective in generating and engaging leads with each event.  So think of virtual event lead generation as an ongoing journey and not a discrete project.

To help on your journey, here are some useful resources that I’ve come across.

Generating Leads (Step #1)

  1. From BetterCloser.com, “Sales is Personal, Why Isn’t Your Lead Generation?”
  2. An eBook from Brian Carroll, “Eight CRITICAL Success Factors for Lead Generation
  3. From BtoB Online, “2010 Lead Generation Guide
  4. An interview with The Funnelholic, which includes insights on lead generation with virtual events.

Lead Scoring (Step #3)

  1. From Brian Carroll, “Lead scoring thoughts to share

Lead Re-Engagement (Step #4)

More commonly referred to as Lead Follow-Up, also includes Lead Nurturing

  1. From Marketo,  “Perfect Timing – When to Call a Prospect
  2. From LeadSloth, “What Lead Nurturing Content to Send When?”

Lead Assessment (Step #5)

A subset of Lead Management

  1. From The Funnelholic, “Lead Management: 67 tips from the biggest experts in the field

Lead Generation and Virtual Events – A Book

I’ll soon be publishing a book that provides related advice on generating sales leads with virtual events.  For further information on lead generation and virtual events, “Like” the book’s Facebook page.  Updates on the book’s availability will be posted here.  Best of luck on your own journey!

Eight CRITICAL Success Factors for Lead Generation

%d bloggers like this: