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10 B2B MASTERS
REVEAL STORYTELLING SECRETS
No one is immune to the power of a good story. Even the most stoic business people,
regardless of whether they admit it or not, make decisions based on the emotions they
associate with their various options.
Yes, facts and stats matter, but connecting on a human level is the secret to winning over
your audiences.
To help you create B2B marketing campaigns that truly connect, we turned to the B2B
marketing masters. In the next few pages, you’ll get tips, insights and examples from the
following experts:
• Jay Baer
• Beth Comstock
• David Raab
• Bryan Eisenberg
• Tim Washer
• DJ Waldow
Enjoy!
• Jason Miller
• Jonah Sachs
• Bryan Kramer
• Lee Odden
What tips would you give to
B2B marketers aiming to
better tell stories?
Storytelling Tips for B2B Marketers
Jay Baer
President
Convince & Convert
Give Yourself Permission to
Make the Story BIGGER
“The problem with much of the B2B content marketing today is that the
stories being told are often self-referential. If your stories are all about
your products and services, and how they help improve your customers’
businesses, that’s not really storytelling… it’s a brochure.
Give yourself permission to make the story BIGGER.You can (and should)
provide interesting and useful information and education that is relevant
to your customers and prospects, even if it’s not about you, per se.”
Give yourself permission to make the story BIGGER. You can (and should) provide
interesting and useful information and education that is relevant to your customers and
prospects, even if it’s not about you, per se.“
“Click me to tweet!
Beth Comstock
Chief Marketing Officer
GE
Be True to Who You Are
“You have to be true to who you are. Sure, you need to aspire to always be
more, to be better. But you can’t be something you are not.At GE, we
know we’re not Facebook or Apple – we embrace our geeky side.
Remember why you are relevant to your customer: What do you do for
them? Why should they care? And constantly innovate to stay in motion. If
you stand still too long, you die.This is a key point for GE.We are an
invention machine. It’s important that our brand building be the same.”
You have to be true to who you are. Sure, you need to aspire to always be more, to be
better. But you can’t be something you are not.
“
“
Jason Miller
Sr. Content Marketing Manager
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Strengthen Your Story with Anecdotes
"Know the difference between an anecdote and a story when putting
together your brand narrative. By definition an anecdote is a short, usually
amusing, account of an incident, especially one that is personal or
biographical.A story, on the other hand, is the narration of a chain of
events. Stories are more complex than anecdotes and usually have a plot,
anecdotes do not.The foundation of a solid content marketing strategy is
based upon a strong brand story that is told through remarkable
anecdotes; instances that are strung together making up the narrative
holistically.
One of the best examples of this is the famous Nordstrom snow tires
incident.A man walked into the Fairbanks,Alaska, Nordstrom department
store, put two snow tires on the counter and asked for his money back.The
clerk handed the man $145. It did not matter that Nordstrom’s did not,
and never did, sell tires.That’s what the customer wanted."
This anecdote supports Nordstrom story of "providing outstanding service every day,
one customer at a time." Build, craft, and tell your story but along the way create
opportunities for anecdotes.“
“
Jonah Sachs
Co-Founder & CEO
Free Range Studios
Stir the Human Souls of Our Customers
"When B2C brands tell stories, they often focus on emotion, meaning,
identity. Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with
all the dimensions real people have. But B2B marketing too often flattens
audiences into one-dimensional robots trying to solve a business goal. It's
as if we're assuming that selling to a business customer is selling to the
most perfectly rational, heartless person imaginable. That thinking is
wrong.
Stories that work in the B2B space do need to be clear on their facts and
figures and their value propositions. But they should also connect on the
level of values and stir the human souls of our customers in the same way
the best brands sell sneakers or cell phones."
It's as if we're assuming that selling to a business customer is selling to the most perfectly
rational, heartless person imaginable.
“
“
Tell us about an inspiring B2B
brand that you think connects
well with its audience.
What can marketers learn from it?
Inspiring B2B Brand Stories
David Raab
Owner
Raab Associates
Address Real Human Needs
“There’s nothing more boring than office supplies, yet Staples did a
great job with its 'Easy' button of showing that they understand real
human problems and are there to help. Note that there’s nothing in the
concept about the quality of Staples products or low price, and really not
even much about service beyond making things convenient. Marketers
can learn from this on a couple levels.
First, you have to address the real human needs of your customers, which
rarely have much to do with the technical differences between your
product and your competitors. Second, that you can apply this to any
product, even one that’s as commoditized and boring as office supplies.”
You can apply [real human needs] to any product, even one that’s as commoditized and
boring as office supplies.
“
“
Beth Comstock
Chief Marketing Officer
GE
Great Concepts Can Create Life Outside
of the Brand
"Intel has created amazing mash ups of art and technology with The
Creator’s Project. It takes nerve to put your brand in the hands of such
a wide array of artists but Intel has been rewarded with some
inspiring and wonderfully weird work.
The Project’s success shows that if you have a great concept, you can allow
partners and collaborators to experiment and create something that has
life outside of the brand."
…if you have a great concept, you can allow partners and collaborators to experiment
and create something that has life outside the brand.
“
“
How do you feel about this trend
towards humanity in B2B
marketing—are you embracing it?
If so, how?
Humanizing B2B Marketing
Bryan Eisenberg
Managing Partner
Eisenberg Holding, LLC
Agile Companies that Deliver B2C-Like
Experiences Will Win
"We've been telling people for almost two decades that corporations don't
buy anything, people do. Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the
customer wants to buy and help them do so. It doesn't matter if you are
selling B2C or B2B, it is still about people's individual buying journeys
and what level of consensus is required to make a buying decision.
What defines a great experience is what people become accustomed to
through their consumer experiences. B2C has upped the ante.The
experiences they have with B2C set the expectation for the experience they
expect from B2B companies.Those companies that are agile enough to
adapt to these kinds of consumer experiences quickly are the ones that
will win the lion’s share of the B2B market."
We’ve been telling people for almost two decades that corporations don’t buy anything, people do.
“
“
Bryan Kramer
President & CEO
PureMatter Brand Marketing
& Interactive
There Is No B2B or B2C
"As marketers, we’ve been trained to speak 'business to business' (B2B) or
'business to consumer' (B2C). But instead of this creating a simple
framework for dialogue between humans, it set forth an unnatural
language for marketers, using words like 'synergy' and 'speeds and feeds'
to tell the stories of products and services to their buyers and partners. 
The fact is that businesses do not have emotion. Products do not have
emotion. Humans do. Humans want to feel something.And humans make
mistakes. It’s how we connect and do business. It resonates more now than
ever because we’re all looking to bring back the human side of
communication, in all its imperfection, empathy, and simplicity. For this
reason, I felt compelled to write the book in real-time: 
There is no B2B or B2C: Human to Human #H2H."
We’ve been trained to speak B2B or B2C. But instead of this creating a simple framework
for dialogue between humans, it set forth an unnatural language for marketers.
“
“
Lee Odden
CEO
TopRank Online Marketing
Info-tainment Inspires Action
"The drive to scale B2B marketing performance is strong, because
companies want to see a return on their investment.As a result, B2B
content and social media is often more mechanical than meaningful. 
The result? Thousands of white papers, ebooks and newsletters left unread
and dead to their target audiences.
There's a saying, 'The B's in B2B are people too.' Connecting with buyers
on both an intellectual and emotional level creates experiences that
provide a clear differentiation from other companies. B2B marketers that
can both inform and entertain (info-tain) prospects attract more
engagement and inspire action that can scale in the most profitable ways."
Connecting with buyers on both an intellectual and emotional level creates experiences
that provide a clear differentiation from other companies.
“
“
Tim Washer
Sr. Marketing Manager
Social Media
Cisco Systems
Humanize Your B2B Marketing
with Humor
“When I can’t find a compelling statistic to support my argument, I invent
one: 73% of people who read B2B blogs are people.
For me, it’s easier to humanize marketing by producing content that
removes the brand from the story and focuses on the customer: e.g. a mini-
documentary about industry pioneers and inventions; a humorous series
where a clueless waiter interrupts a CIOs’ dinner.These approaches help to
convey authenticity, and are the ones that have been shared the most by
industry influencers.”
When I can’t find a compelling statistic to support my argument, I invent one: 73% of
people who read B2B blogs are people.
“
“
DJ Waldow
Digital Marketing Evangelist
Marketo
Have Some Fun with It
"I LOVE the trend towards more H2H in marketing communications. Are
we embracing it? HECKYEAH! On a personal front, I always try to be as fun/
human with any email I send - subject line, copy, call to action, and even
email signature. I encourage all marketers to eliminate the dreaded 'do
not reply' email address and instead actually reply to all emails. Crazy
concept, I know. Even better, if you want to have some fun - and get
really human - try replying to all of those out of office emails you get on a
big database send. Personalize each one. Have some fun with it.
As far as Marketo, we're always trying to infuse 'human' into our
messaging - from our Definitive Guide to Lead Generation which featured
pets of Marketo employees to our April Fool's Definitive Guide to Aerial
& Sky-Based Marketing, we do our best to add the human element to our
campaigns."
office emails you get on a big database send. Personalize each one. Have some fun with it.
“
“If you want to have some fun - and get really human - try replying to all of those out of
KEY TAKEAWAYS
① Never assume you’re marketing to a completely rational, completely
logical person. EVERYONE loves a good story.
② You can humanize your marketing and tie emotion to your offerings
regardless of how ‘boring’ or ‘commoditized’ they are.
③ Build your own story. Stand for something you believe in and
strengthen your story with anecdotes that reinforce the essence of
your brand.
Connect with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

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10 B2B Masters Reveal Their Storytelling Secrets

  • 1. 10 B2B MASTERS REVEAL STORYTELLING SECRETS
  • 2. No one is immune to the power of a good story. Even the most stoic business people, regardless of whether they admit it or not, make decisions based on the emotions they associate with their various options. Yes, facts and stats matter, but connecting on a human level is the secret to winning over your audiences. To help you create B2B marketing campaigns that truly connect, we turned to the B2B marketing masters. In the next few pages, you’ll get tips, insights and examples from the following experts: • Jay Baer • Beth Comstock • David Raab • Bryan Eisenberg • Tim Washer • DJ Waldow Enjoy! • Jason Miller • Jonah Sachs • Bryan Kramer • Lee Odden
  • 3. What tips would you give to B2B marketers aiming to better tell stories? Storytelling Tips for B2B Marketers
  • 4. Jay Baer President Convince & Convert Give Yourself Permission to Make the Story BIGGER “The problem with much of the B2B content marketing today is that the stories being told are often self-referential. If your stories are all about your products and services, and how they help improve your customers’ businesses, that’s not really storytelling… it’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story BIGGER.You can (and should) provide interesting and useful information and education that is relevant to your customers and prospects, even if it’s not about you, per se.” Give yourself permission to make the story BIGGER. You can (and should) provide interesting and useful information and education that is relevant to your customers and prospects, even if it’s not about you, per se.“ “Click me to tweet!
  • 5. Beth Comstock Chief Marketing Officer GE Be True to Who You Are “You have to be true to who you are. Sure, you need to aspire to always be more, to be better. But you can’t be something you are not.At GE, we know we’re not Facebook or Apple – we embrace our geeky side. Remember why you are relevant to your customer: What do you do for them? Why should they care? And constantly innovate to stay in motion. If you stand still too long, you die.This is a key point for GE.We are an invention machine. It’s important that our brand building be the same.” You have to be true to who you are. Sure, you need to aspire to always be more, to be better. But you can’t be something you are not. “ “
  • 6. Jason Miller Sr. Content Marketing Manager LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Strengthen Your Story with Anecdotes "Know the difference between an anecdote and a story when putting together your brand narrative. By definition an anecdote is a short, usually amusing, account of an incident, especially one that is personal or biographical.A story, on the other hand, is the narration of a chain of events. Stories are more complex than anecdotes and usually have a plot, anecdotes do not.The foundation of a solid content marketing strategy is based upon a strong brand story that is told through remarkable anecdotes; instances that are strung together making up the narrative holistically. One of the best examples of this is the famous Nordstrom snow tires incident.A man walked into the Fairbanks,Alaska, Nordstrom department store, put two snow tires on the counter and asked for his money back.The clerk handed the man $145. It did not matter that Nordstrom’s did not, and never did, sell tires.That’s what the customer wanted." This anecdote supports Nordstrom story of "providing outstanding service every day, one customer at a time." Build, craft, and tell your story but along the way create opportunities for anecdotes.“ “
  • 7. Jonah Sachs Co-Founder & CEO Free Range Studios Stir the Human Souls of Our Customers "When B2C brands tell stories, they often focus on emotion, meaning, identity. Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have. But B2B marketing too often flattens audiences into one-dimensional robots trying to solve a business goal. It's as if we're assuming that selling to a business customer is selling to the most perfectly rational, heartless person imaginable. That thinking is wrong. Stories that work in the B2B space do need to be clear on their facts and figures and their value propositions. But they should also connect on the level of values and stir the human souls of our customers in the same way the best brands sell sneakers or cell phones." It's as if we're assuming that selling to a business customer is selling to the most perfectly rational, heartless person imaginable. “ “
  • 8. Tell us about an inspiring B2B brand that you think connects well with its audience. What can marketers learn from it? Inspiring B2B Brand Stories
  • 9. David Raab Owner Raab Associates Address Real Human Needs “There’s nothing more boring than office supplies, yet Staples did a great job with its 'Easy' button of showing that they understand real human problems and are there to help. Note that there’s nothing in the concept about the quality of Staples products or low price, and really not even much about service beyond making things convenient. Marketers can learn from this on a couple levels. First, you have to address the real human needs of your customers, which rarely have much to do with the technical differences between your product and your competitors. Second, that you can apply this to any product, even one that’s as commoditized and boring as office supplies.” You can apply [real human needs] to any product, even one that’s as commoditized and boring as office supplies. “ “
  • 10. Beth Comstock Chief Marketing Officer GE Great Concepts Can Create Life Outside of the Brand "Intel has created amazing mash ups of art and technology with The Creator’s Project. It takes nerve to put your brand in the hands of such a wide array of artists but Intel has been rewarded with some inspiring and wonderfully weird work. The Project’s success shows that if you have a great concept, you can allow partners and collaborators to experiment and create something that has life outside of the brand." …if you have a great concept, you can allow partners and collaborators to experiment and create something that has life outside the brand. “ “
  • 11. How do you feel about this trend towards humanity in B2B marketing—are you embracing it? If so, how? Humanizing B2B Marketing
  • 12. Bryan Eisenberg Managing Partner Eisenberg Holding, LLC Agile Companies that Deliver B2C-Like Experiences Will Win "We've been telling people for almost two decades that corporations don't buy anything, people do. Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so. It doesn't matter if you are selling B2C or B2B, it is still about people's individual buying journeys and what level of consensus is required to make a buying decision. What defines a great experience is what people become accustomed to through their consumer experiences. B2C has upped the ante.The experiences they have with B2C set the expectation for the experience they expect from B2B companies.Those companies that are agile enough to adapt to these kinds of consumer experiences quickly are the ones that will win the lion’s share of the B2B market." We’ve been telling people for almost two decades that corporations don’t buy anything, people do. “ “
  • 13. Bryan Kramer President & CEO PureMatter Brand Marketing & Interactive There Is No B2B or B2C "As marketers, we’ve been trained to speak 'business to business' (B2B) or 'business to consumer' (B2C). But instead of this creating a simple framework for dialogue between humans, it set forth an unnatural language for marketers, using words like 'synergy' and 'speeds and feeds' to tell the stories of products and services to their buyers and partners.  The fact is that businesses do not have emotion. Products do not have emotion. Humans do. Humans want to feel something.And humans make mistakes. It’s how we connect and do business. It resonates more now than ever because we’re all looking to bring back the human side of communication, in all its imperfection, empathy, and simplicity. For this reason, I felt compelled to write the book in real-time:  There is no B2B or B2C: Human to Human #H2H." We’ve been trained to speak B2B or B2C. But instead of this creating a simple framework for dialogue between humans, it set forth an unnatural language for marketers. “ “
  • 14. Lee Odden CEO TopRank Online Marketing Info-tainment Inspires Action "The drive to scale B2B marketing performance is strong, because companies want to see a return on their investment.As a result, B2B content and social media is often more mechanical than meaningful.  The result? Thousands of white papers, ebooks and newsletters left unread and dead to their target audiences. There's a saying, 'The B's in B2B are people too.' Connecting with buyers on both an intellectual and emotional level creates experiences that provide a clear differentiation from other companies. B2B marketers that can both inform and entertain (info-tain) prospects attract more engagement and inspire action that can scale in the most profitable ways." Connecting with buyers on both an intellectual and emotional level creates experiences that provide a clear differentiation from other companies. “ “
  • 15. Tim Washer Sr. Marketing Manager Social Media Cisco Systems Humanize Your B2B Marketing with Humor “When I can’t find a compelling statistic to support my argument, I invent one: 73% of people who read B2B blogs are people. For me, it’s easier to humanize marketing by producing content that removes the brand from the story and focuses on the customer: e.g. a mini- documentary about industry pioneers and inventions; a humorous series where a clueless waiter interrupts a CIOs’ dinner.These approaches help to convey authenticity, and are the ones that have been shared the most by industry influencers.” When I can’t find a compelling statistic to support my argument, I invent one: 73% of people who read B2B blogs are people. “ “
  • 16. DJ Waldow Digital Marketing Evangelist Marketo Have Some Fun with It "I LOVE the trend towards more H2H in marketing communications. Are we embracing it? HECKYEAH! On a personal front, I always try to be as fun/ human with any email I send - subject line, copy, call to action, and even email signature. I encourage all marketers to eliminate the dreaded 'do not reply' email address and instead actually reply to all emails. Crazy concept, I know. Even better, if you want to have some fun - and get really human - try replying to all of those out of office emails you get on a big database send. Personalize each one. Have some fun with it. As far as Marketo, we're always trying to infuse 'human' into our messaging - from our Definitive Guide to Lead Generation which featured pets of Marketo employees to our April Fool's Definitive Guide to Aerial & Sky-Based Marketing, we do our best to add the human element to our campaigns." office emails you get on a big database send. Personalize each one. Have some fun with it. “ “If you want to have some fun - and get really human - try replying to all of those out of
  • 17. KEY TAKEAWAYS ① Never assume you’re marketing to a completely rational, completely logical person. EVERYONE loves a good story. ② You can humanize your marketing and tie emotion to your offerings regardless of how ‘boring’ or ‘commoditized’ they are. ③ Build your own story. Stand for something you believe in and strengthen your story with anecdotes that reinforce the essence of your brand. Connect with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions