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Build Trust: Use Storytelling to Nurture Demand

December 02, 2014 | By Ashley Paris

Audience definition and planning are foundational to storytelling and creating demand. Find out how b-to-b organization can use storytelling to nurture new prospects.

Shane Snow, co-founder of brand content provider Contently, recently delivered a Tedx talk at Columbia College about the power of storytelling. He led with this fact: When 3,000 survey respondents were asked whether they would trust author J.K. Rowling or the Queen of England as their leader, people overwhelmingly picked Rowling. Snow goes on to describe the power of storytelling and the connection and trust that great storytelling can foster.

Because I eat, sleep and breathe demand creation, I considered how deal deconstruction – which is partly the identification of similarities in successful deals to inform demand creation planning – is very much like dissecting a story. There are a series of events that happen through the course of an individual’s decisionmaking process, and a concerted effort on behalf of demand creation professionals to insert programs and tactics to support and improve that progression. We’re able to measure what tactics play a greater role in movement through the buyer’s journey, but at the end of the day, the story is made up of variables that are sometimes out of our control. Despite that, it’s our responsibility to understand the entire dramatic structure of a deal from the exposition, rising action and climax to the falling action and denouement – positive or negative.

Audience definition and planning are foundational to storytelling and creating demand. When organizations align around audiences, they define the cast of characters with whom they are willing and able to communicate in a relevant way. By understanding the audience’s functions, initiatives, and challenges – you can plan a dialogue that responds to their changing information needs as their stories unfold.  

Once audiences are defined, the story needs be planned. Often, organizations get caught in the “one and done” cycle of creating demand without thinking about the buyer’s journey as a progression. Have you ever opened up a book and started reading in the middle? You probably become confused or bored because you lacked context for what you’re reading.  Like a story where important plot details are revealed systematically, the content and tactics that are used to attract, engage, and qualify demand should be ongoing and planned. Great modern marketers know that “one and done” tactics are supplementary to delivering ongoing information delivery that is based on topics of interest, adheres to a theme and maps to the buyer’s journey.  

Like J.K. Rowling’s storytelling, thoughtful content planning for demand creation builds trust between the organization and the buyer. Buyers who consume information cumulatively become subject matter experts. They become confident that they can make an educated purchase decision and defend that decision to internal and external ratifiers.

Demand creation professionals who approach content delivery like storytelling establish their organizations as trusted advisors in the eyes of their audience. I doubt anyone will argue that earning a buyer’s trust can be a powerful differentiator.  

Ashley Paris

Ashley Paris is a dynamic communicator who believes in the transformational power of data-driven marketing and automated demand management. For more than eight years before joining SiriusDecisions, she innovated b-to-b and b-to-c digital strategy using her combined understanding of marketing automation technology and the principles of demand creation and management. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashesVv