Get Your Story Straight

Your brand should be a story. You know, a “Once upon a time…” story, a “What’s your story?” story. A proper page-turner with heroes and villains, ambition and jeopardy, conflict, journey, epiphany, and, if you’re lucky, a bit of good old-fashioned magic.

While it would be lovely if all organisations were forced to communicate via the medium of the fairy tale, what I’m getting at here is connecting with prospective customers, talking to them in the way that their brains want to listen and talking about something that actually matters to them. Most organisations don’t do this very well and it’s especially noticeable when they’re talking to other organisations. B2B communications are still largely dominated by the features of the products and services they’re trying to promote and the physical attributes of the organisations offering them. They talk about themselves and their widgets. And that’s completely understandable because that’s their area of expertise; it’s what they know, it’s who they are.

But the problem is they’re not the only ones talking about those products and services, unless they’re very lucky – and even then it won’t be for long.

The gaggle of carbon copies of any commercial enterprise you can possibly think of are all talking about vanilla versions of same thing.

For the prospective customer this is a nightmare. On the face of it, choice would seem to be a good thing. But it can very easily be an “unwelcome benefit”. The act of choosing is an outcome arrived at following of a whole host of other processes and acts, most of which happen below the level of our conscious, rational minds.

Choosing implies making a decision, favouring one option over another (or several others usually). It implies that there are criteria for judgement against which the favoured alternative is deemed to perform better, that it is somehow more suitable and that the others are less suitable. That’s asking quite a lot of the customer. If it were true, it would require them to not only be experts with detailed product knowledge but also ready with a predetermined virtual “score card” of criteria, against which each of the available choices would be judged individually. Some purchase decisions are made like this of course. A whole discipline has evolved within larger organisations to try to rationalise all purchasing activity in the name of accountability, and these days CSR too. And that’s a good thing, in many ways.

Most things are not bought like this though.