Companies in the business-to-business (B2B) space often take a safe approach to their marketing communications. They fear being too bold and straying from the typical corporate speak we're all so used to. One needs only to go as far as a brochure, website or presentation to see that most communications material is not only boring, but ineffective at grabbing its audience's attention.
In a world of me-too imitators and countless competitors, we can't afford to sound like the business next door. Doing so will impact how effective we are at attracting new clients to fuel business growth.
So how do you break free from cookie cutter communications? Start by telling compelling client stories.
Let me give you a real-life example: A client of mine became famous for giving away extravagant gifts such as trips, televisions, computers and more on his employee's birthdays. The company was able to do this because its accounting firm saved him a great deal of taxes year after year and with this extra money, my client had enough to give his employees gifts.
Rather than tell the market about what the company does, and how it does it, the marketing manager at this particular accounting firm should share the story of how it saved its client so much money that it could offer its employees some nice perks. It's a much more compelling story. After all, the accounting firm not only helped my client save a great deal of money on taxes, but that money allowed my client to treat their employees to something special with the extra money. This in turn contributed to an increase in morale at the office, which helped with retention.
It's still something that employees rave about to all their peers in the industry. This benefit also contributed to my client's ranking as one of the Top Small and Medium Employers in Canada as ranked by Queens School of Business and a Best Workplaces as ranked by Great Places to Work Canada.
Three steps to build compelling client stories
If you're telling the market about what you do and how you do it, chances are, most of your prospects' eyes will glaze over out of boredom. Consider instead taking the following three steps:
1. Start with the end in mind.
Did you increase revenue, productivity or retention? Those are all great things to identify, but they're not enough to be compelling. Go the extra step and ask what your clients were able to do with that increase in revenue. What did the increase in productivity for their business? What did increased retention mean to their bottom line? By asking these questions, you reveal incredible insight that fuels a powerful message you can use in your marketing communications.
2. Turn that feedback into a story.
Take the feedback from interviews with clients to creates stories you can share with your marketplace. These stories should come in the form of case studies and testimonials in all formats both online and offline, in print and in video. Post these stories front and centre on your website, in your presentation decks and sales collateral because this is what will get you noticed and keep you top of mind.
3. Conduct your compelling communications audit.
Be sure to keep the majority of your communication vehicles communicating compelling client stories. A good rule of thumb is to have 75 per cent of your communications telling a compelling client story. The other 25 per cent should be about your frameworks, processes and approaches. You want the majority of your go-to-market messaging telling client stories because it resonates, it is compelling and it strikes an emotional chord with your prospects.
My Challenge to you: Cookie cutter communications are highly prevalent in marketing departments across the globe, so take that first step and be the one in your industry to stand out in the market by sharing your compelling client stories – do not be afraid, take that first step.
Ryan Caligiuri is the founder of Ryan Caligiuri International, a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small– to medium-sized enterprises. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators.
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