Email marketing, social media, blogs, PPC, calls to action and landing pages. These are just some of the tools in any successful marketers toolbox. For years, these pieces—just like other offline outbound techniques—were used (and misused) for one purpose: To generate a large quantity of leads. And most of those leads were bad. Why? Because the pieces were never made whole through marketing storytelling.
Marketing storytelling is a narrative science. You use the data you have learned about the leads in order to tell them a story about your brand. And you build the story, not through one email or tweet, but rather through a series of interactions (lead nurturing) that move the narrative forward. Your lead nurturing should tell a complete story... in three acts:
Act 1 - Address a Buyer's Problem
Open on a buyer pacing about the office, struggling to overcome an ongoing challenge. Determined to find a solution, the buyer sits down at a desk, turns on the computer and heads to the Internet in search of answers. After feverishly clicking through LinkedIn posts, Tweets and search results, the buyer finally stumbles on your website.
In the first act of a marketing story, a buyer finds a piece of educational content on your website he or she needs right now. After the first download, it’s confirmed that a buyer has the problem, so you send a series of marketing messages that provide additional educational content. Each message further explores the problem the buyer faces. Even if the buyer isn’t ready to purchase your solution the moment he or she visits your website, these messages provide the exposition needed to introduce your solution.
Act 2 - Introduce Your Solution
The buyer exits a meeting where approval was finally given to pursue a purchase to solve a problem. Excited to get the ball rolling, the buyer immediately returns to his desk. There he checks his voicemail and begins listening to a sales message from your competition. He promptly deletes the voicemail because he can’t buy quite yet. Then the buyer checks his email, where he finds a new message from your company—one that introduces your solution.
Once you’ve addressed a buyer’s problem, the next part of the story is connecting your solution up to the educational content you’ve already sent. Here’s where you have to avoid the urge to simply focus on the bells and whistles of your solution. You have to weave it into the story. If you can’t make your solution part of the story, a buyer has no reason to continue following along.
Act 3 - Let the Buyer Contact You
Visibly exhausted, the buyer returns to the desk in his office. His problem still hasn’t been solved, but he’s ready to talk to someone about a solution... today. Before he can get to his web browser, an email from your company pops up in his inbox asking him to contact your sales team. The buyer clicks, and, intrigued by the content, fills out the form immediately.
Like the climax of any good story, the last act in marketing storytelling ties together all of the messages that came before it. The dramatic tension of the moment should leave the buyers wanting more. And how do they get more? By converting on a bottom-of-the-funnel offer (request a demo, consultation, quote, etc.) that has them asking for a sales call.
While it’s great to get those closed sales as quickly as possible, blasting bottom-of-the-funnel offer emails at the same list is not nearly as effective as it could be. And sending the same message to people who aren’t interested in your product in the first place produces the same results.
In reality, 25 percent of your leads are ready to buy, 25 percent are unqualified and 50 percent are qualified but not ready to buy. Those 50 percenters will likely buy from you or your competition in the future. Lead nurturing and marketing storytelling should give the people who are ready to buy an opportunity to do so. However, the 50 percent of leads that are in limbo need just as much attention. And keeping those leads engaged through lead nurturing and marketing storytelling makes them more likely to become your customers.
Dan Stasiewski is an Enterprise Data Consultant at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.
photo credit: atoach