One of my favorite authors is David McCullough. His award winning books, some winning the Pulitzer Prize, have included 1776, John Adams, Truman, and The Greater Journey. He has become an American treasure and true master at historical storytelling. David McCullough is one of America’s most revered authors and historians. Captivating millions of readers across the globe.
What has made David McCullough special is his meticulous research and narrative storytelling. Going at great lengths, taking years, to research historical events as well as to interview people who were there. Combing through and reading stacks of letters. As well as finding distant relatives of historical figures from more than one hundred years ago to interview. Pulling together unearthed stories, obscure facts, and attitudinal reflections from a bygone era into a powerful narrative and story.
For many McCullough fans, there are moments filled with exclamations of – I never knew that!
Today’s marketing and sales leaders have to become somewhat like David McCullough. Committing to getting to know their existing customers and opportunities at a deep level. Not only to understand the narrative of their buyer’s story, but to also empower marketing and sales to communicate a brand story. A brand story connected to your buyer’s own narrative.
Buying Criteria Is Not A Story
Coming from the supplier direction towards buyers is product-centric, supplier-centric, and buying criteria-centric information, content, and messaging. Representing a uniformed cacophony of noise indistinguishable to buyers. No doubt, as I have heard in conversations helping leaders, hard work going into attempts to reshape the nuances of features and criteria-driven messaging around price, quality, service, product features, and more. To no avail.
These commoditized virtues do not represent a compelling brand story. They represent the mere checklist of requirements. Many a suffering buyer has read through content or sat through presentations, which drone on about criteria-based superiority. A collective sigh and yawn can be heard at any time in corporate America. If you hear it, you will know what it is.
The David McCullough Way
How can you attain not only understanding your buyer’s story, but also provide a compelling brand story? A brand story, which offers your buyers a reason to exclaim like many David McCullough fans in saying – I never knew that! Here are four suggested steps to take:
Research your buyers meticulously. It starts with getting out there and conducting buyer insights research. Just like David McCullough, you must find the obscure, the unarticulated, the not so obvious, and more about your buyers. Going at great lengths to understand your buyer’s story.
Develop a narrative about your buyers. One of the specialties of a great historian is the ability to pull together the research and not only tell a story, but also provide meaning. Using tools and best practices associated with buyer insights research and buyer personas, you can develop a compelling narrative about your buyers.
Create story tenets. Using the insights you have gathered and narrative developed, establish a set of story tenets – which are your style, messaging, language, terminology, and etc. These are your building blocks for communicating with buyers in ways, which are connected to their goals and their own narratives.
Develop your brand story. Create your brand story so it is consistent across all channels and sits on a foundational narrative connected to your buyer’s world. Think David McCullough. Each chapter continues the riveting unfolding story. Even if you already know the end – you must read through to the end. And, you can read such a compelling story on your iPad, Kindle, Nook, or even the good old fashion way – hard cover book. You can even be daring and go to the library!
The Difference Maker
Today’s B2B organizations, if they are going to stand out from competitors will need to learn new competencies in understanding buyer narratives and creating compelling brand stories. It will be the difference maker in terms of how buyers make choices today.
If they do not understand your brand story or if there is a lack of one, it will be like a boring book. They will put it down and seek another. One, which offers a more compelling story, they cannot put down.