The sales-focused era made sense when information was scarce. Salespeople were the custodians of product specifications, implementation schedules, and past successes. For a buyer to glide from the top of the funnel down to a purchase, a salesperson was needed.
That is no longer the case today. People self-educate online. Websites are effectively vast knowledge bases that should provide prospective buyers with the information they need. We are living in an age of information overload, with statements, statistics, and stories available at every corner of the web.
Navigating the Age of Information Overload: The Imperative Role of Marketing for B2Bs
When researching products and services today, people do not want to speak to a salesperson until they are fairly knowledgeable about the company and their offerings. Research from Gartner has revealed that B2B purchasers, when evaluating a potential acquisition, allocate just 17% of their time interacting with prospective vendors. And if these buyers are weighing options from several suppliers, their engagement with an individual sales representative might be as low as 5% to 6%.
People feel empowered to learn about the products and services they need through company websites, testimonials, how-to videos on YouTube, and more. What ultimately leads a prospective buyer to speak with sales is an element of trust and the potential vision of partnership.
Related Reading: B2B Content Marketing: A Curated Guide
Why Storytelling and Strong Digital Narratives are Essential for B2Bs
There is arguably too much information online. Parsing it all is virtually impossible, yet B2Bs still need to reach their target customers. To do this, a compelling digital brand narrative is essential. That’s what helps businesses stand out in an oversaturated market. Managing the amount of content posted–-when to post, how to post, where to post—can be overwhelming. But by continuously managing your brand’s online presence, especially with the help of an agency, you create a consistent digital footprint—multifaceted and built layer by layer, leading to industry influence and recognition in the long run.
Crafting a Compelling Digital Narrative: The Key to B2B Success Amid Information Overload
B2B purchases vary greatly from B2C purchases. With a B2C purchase, you are marketed a product or service you are compelled to try. You purchase it thinking, I really hope that I like this product. If you don’t like it, you can often return it—if it is something like a TV, pair of shoes, or protein powder. B2C purchases are made individually, unless the consumer consults their friends, family, and network. Even then, the risk of the product not being all that it’s hyped up to be will not have a detrimental effect.
B2B purchases are different. Organizations rely on a select few individuals to vet products and services, and choose a provider that will best serve the organization’s interests. In B2C, buyers are trying to avoid purchase regret; in B2B, buyers want to avoid purchase blame.
The New Dynamics of B2B Purchases: How Storytelling Shapes Decision-Making
The buyers—unless they are founders—are not using their own cash to make a purchase, rather, the buyers have been entrusted within a larger organization. This creates an entirely different dynamic for both buyers and sellers. Target buyers are driven by fear of failure. Rather than hoping for the best, they aim to mitigate risk and choose the best partner. Once a purchase is made, it is challenging to go back. B2B products and services typically need to be implemented by multiple people and teams within an organization, and adoption can feel like their burden.
Related Reading: 8 Ways the B2B Sales Cycle Has Changed
B2B Brand Recognition in an Overloaded World: The Role of Content and Storytelling
B2Bs know that to be successful, they need to be better, more transparent storytellers than their competitors. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and buyers look for brands that align with their values. The customer needs to be convinced that the product they are considering can be implemented and adopted by their organization.
Marketing for B2Bs should focus not only on the features and benefits of your offerings but also on the peace of mind that customers will experience in doing business with you. Customer testimonials, case studies, your NPS score, and any industry certifications are a few examples of providing that peace of mind. Having this information will help to pre-validate partnering with your business and create a sense of brand recognition.
Redefining B2B Marketing: From Pushy Sales to Authentic Storytelling
Brand recognition is essential in an overloaded information economy. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t live up to their promises. Others are extremely capable boutique shops that don’t have a marketing team to help fully communicate their value.
B2B brand awareness is critical and can be built with a thoughtful content strategy. You may be thinking: content doesn’t drive revenue. And in some ways, that’s true. Content marketing doesn’t often get its own line in the EOY ROI discussion.
But content marketing shapes how people perceive your brand. It used to be that websites could get by with bare-bones information, leading prospects to sales to gather more details. Buyers today do not have the patience or tolerance for this anymore. There are abundant providers that are available globally. If a company is cryptic in its marketing, prospects have no reason to dig deeper.
In a sea of options, brands can cultivate their awareness by being active across social media platforms, religiously posting blog content, and showing their unique attributes. Original content will be especially key to surprise buyers who have seen many competitor sites, and will be impressed with something new and inventive. This is easier said than done. It takes a thoughtful strategy that is keenly aware of your target persona and ideal customer profile. Who is the person that you want to appeal to, and what content appeals to them?
Even the Best Tech Doesn’t Speak for Itself
Oftentimes, companies with excellent services and products struggle to reach their target audience. They know their engineering and design are superior, yet there is a major disconnect.
We see it all the time at Zen Media. High-tech companies are notoriously in this position because they believe that their offering can speak for itself—that the backend capabilities are sufficient to make a sale. Information overload makes this virtually impossible. Business leaders tend to detect that their strategy has a missing piece, yet they perceive marketing as pushy. “They can talk to sales if they have questions,” some say, but people don’t want to talk to sales. There is no reason for salespeople to gatekeep information.
Storytelling to Reach Target Audiences and Answer What They’re Bound to Ask
Marketing is more important than ever in the age of information overload because good marketing is storytelling. At our core, humans are narrative creatures. We have been telling stories since the dawn of time—around campfires, in cave drawings, through songs, and in legends. Stories help us connect, empathize, and understand the world around us. In an age where raw data and information are plentiful, stories bring warmth and humanity.
Goliaths keep selling, but Davids have the better products. Narrative compels people to act because they feel seen and understood, like your company can really help them. With countless products and services available at the click of a button, consumers often grapple with decision paralysis. A strong brand story can simplify this process, giving consumers a clear reason to choose one product over another based on the narrative that resonates most with them. It is precisely this that drives brand recognition and empowers Davids to beat Goliaths.
Brands that master the art of storytelling can create a powerful emotional bond with their audience. These stories embody the brand’s values, mission, and vision. Over time, customers don’t just buy a product; they buy into a story and what the brand represents.
With so much information competing for our attention, a well-crafted story can rise above the noise. A compelling narrative can grab our attention, evoke emotions, and stick in our memory long after facts or data points have faded.
For B2Bs, crafting a compelling story isn’t just about marketing but about forging connections, instilling trust, and driving decisions. Brands that pivot to this narrative-centric approach don’t just sell products; they offer values, visions, and veritable experiences.
Ready to see how marketing can help your brand become the default choice? Reach out today.