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Where’s your B2B marketing tension?

We consistently preach the value of brand storytelling. Not just because we think we’re awesome at it (we are), but because it delivers the emotion that ultimately delivers the sell. We buy based on emotion and later rationalize it with features so we can assign value to something other than our wayward wants.

So, knowing that storytelling hits upon the benefits and ultimately drives our decision-making process, what does good storytelling need?

Well, if there’s one thing missing from our B2B marketing world’s storytelling, it’s tension.  

Tension is one characteristic that makes a story great. Protagonist versus antagonist. 

We’d rather see our team win at the buzzer rather than a runaway lead. Because we enjoy the excitement of tension.

We proclaim ourselves storytellers. Then we ignore the basic rule of Storytelling 101.  

We craft business plans and creative briefs with contrived and convenient problem/solution scenarios like these: 

Insight: Our customers are strapped with financial obligations. 
Solution: Our product saves them money. 

Well, that’s convenient. 

Insight: Our audience is starved for time. 
Solution: Our product saves time.

Wow, we win again.  

The B2B marketing world fills ads with endless lists of product attributes. If we list enough attributes, surely one of them will be what our audience is looking for. 
The problem is there’s no tension in that. No tension = no story. 

No tension means no interest. They turn the page. They bounce from your website. They move on without the slightest hesitation. You had two seconds to capture the imagination and you failed.  

How can you build a little tension? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does your brand crusade against? Every story needs an antagonist. What or who is yours? 
  2. What’s going to keep you from reaching your goal? Identify it. Then attack it.  
  3. Why are your customers or prospects not purchasing from you? Instead of backing down from it, make your response to this question the next headline (figuratively and perhaps literally) in your next campaign. 

We want our brands to be the hero. Okay, let’s embrace that. Your brand is the protagonist. Well then, what—or who—is your antagonist? Find it.


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