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Brand Storytelling: B2B Brands Need to Catch Up

Content marketing battleLast week I attended CeBIT 2014, the world’s largest information technology and telecommunications trade show. This year’s event was geared towards a B2B audience (again), with an agenda focused on delivering B2B solutions. As a communications manager, it struck me that the agenda was missing a big element: storytelling.

Increasing investment in content marketing budgets continues to be key trend – 74 per cent of brands are planning to increase spend in content marketing activity in 2014 according to the Econsultancy Marketing Budgets Report. Content marketing is becoming more of a necessity, with the rise in brand journalism – particularly within the consumer space.

So, to gain insight into how this trend translates within the information technology and telecommunications sectors, we conducted some research amongst the B2B exhibitors and attendees (with over 100 respondents) at CeBIT.

The results on how B2B brands are using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy were surprising:

  • Over half (54 per cent) stated that they currently have no content marketing strategy in place.
  • Of this 54 per cent, 32 per cent do plan to implement a content marketing strategy in the next year.
  • However, a concerning 28% of those without a strategy, think content marketing is not relevant to their business and audience.

On a more positive note, of the 46 per cent of brands that have a content strategy in place, 79 per cent stated that storytelling was central to their strategy. The remaining 21 per cent focus more on creating content for multi-channel usage.

With regards to overall communications strategy, we asked what the primary focus is for brands in terms of investment and allocating resources:

  • For nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents it is PR
  • 18 per cent voted social media
  • 14 per cent said events
  • 12 per cent said that advertising is their core focus

The remaining 10 per cent stated that the majority of their communications efforts are focused on story development (i.e. storytelling) that can be used across multiple channels.

Although this is encouraging, it seems B2B brands – particularly within the information technology and telecommunications sectors – have a long way to go if they are to catch up with their B2C counterparts.

Storytelling should be at the heart of all successful communications campaigns. But for many B2B brands, they remain fixed on short-term programmes.

B2B brands should seek inspiration for their content marketing strategy from consumer brands such as Coca Cola – having earned influential brand journalism status. One B2B brand that has built a reputation as an expert storyteller is IBM.

Find out more about brand journalism and how it can benefit your business with our New Rules of Content e-book.

For inspiration on how to enhance your storytelling read these great tips from Jon Favreau, President Barack Obama’s former Director of Speechwriting.

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  • http://business-storytelling.com Lori Silverman

    Agreed, Uwe.

    Storytelling should be at the heart of all successful communications campaigns. But it’s not yet achieved that status. I’ve actually not seen much of an increase since my 2006 book, Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results, where we focused on entire chapter on examples of storytelling in branding.

    Karen Dietz and I also addressed this subject in our latest book, Business Storytelling for Dummies (Wiley, 2013) by offering specific tips and techniques to make this happen. What I’m learning from the emails and phone calls I’m getting on this latest publication is that people who say their companies are using storytelling for branding are not. At best, they’re using case studies or short anecdotes. So we have a bigger issue: even those who state their using business storytelling may not be engaging the level of rigor that you and I would say is necessary to label the narrative as story.

    So we have a couple challenges to overcome!

    Thanks for sharing this data and for offering your own observations on it.

    Kind regards,
    Lori Silverman