B2B storytelling

Last year, we saw retailers and other B2C companies diving into storytelling with enthusiasm and plenty of Hollywood flair. Recently, it seems as though B2B companies picked up the torch and really ran with it.

Telling B2B stories requires a heavy dose of authenticity, or they won’t ring true. They also have to be really compelling, or risk being a total snooze-fest.

In this post, we take a look at some of the very best examples of B2B storytelling from Google, Square, and Amazon. We’ll tease out the key elements that make them truly outstanding, so you can apply these takeaways to your own videos.

Inspirational

Many of the most compelling examples of B2B storytelling are focused on inspiring members of their target market to take a certain action. Sometimes it’s helping others, improving operations, or starting a business.

The ultimate goal of this type of video is to generate demand for the services the B2B company provides. Rather than showing off the attributes of the B2B company’s product, the best videos in this category focus on what the product helps its target audience achieve.

Taken a step further, hearing directly from the entrepreneurs or business owners themselves makes a huge difference to the impact of the video.

Google

Our pick for this category comes from Google. Google offers such a wide-range of products and services that it’s hard to single out just one way that they can help budding entrepreneurs get a business idea off the ground.

In this excellent example of B2B storytelling, we learn how one CEO got an unexpected start in launching her own business at a birthday party.

When you think about starting a business, you don’t necessarily think about starting with a YouTube tutorial. By seeing how it helped jumpstart one woman’s career, you might think again.

We like this video because it highlights how a Google product can help you learn new skills and gain the confidence needed to launch a business. By using a real-life entrepreneur, and showing the reality of her day-to-day life, this video is really motivating for other would-be entrepreneurs. It makes you feel like you’re just a tutorial away from starting on the path towards your dreams.

Emotional

A B2B product can feel very sterile, and remote from the human lives it can touch. Maybe that’s because animated videos, or talking heads interspersed with b-roll from office environments were the go-to for B2B videos to date.

Those days are clearly behind us. In these powerful B2B storytelling videos, products take a back seat to the emotions of the people using them.

Square

When you think of payment processing, you might nearly pass out from boredom before you realize it’s a vital service nearly every business depends on. It’s just not that sexy as a topic.

That certainly didn’t stop Square from taking B2B storytelling to the next level in its Dreams campaign. The core of the campaign is a lofty mission statement:

We believe in an economy that has room for everyone’s dreams. Where there’s a shorter distance between having an idea and making a living from it. Where anyone can build what they want to see in the world.

Pretty powerful, right? Just wait till you see our favorite video from their Dreams series.

In this series, Square showcases how everyday people achieved seemingly impossible things. Square’s products aren’t really mentioned in any of the films. The goal is to demonstrate how anyone can change their lives or community for the better.

This particular video features a small town in Iowa that was faced with a particular community crisis: the closing of a beloved historical movie theater. It could really be any Main street in any small town in America, and that’s the beauty of it.

This video is emotionally charged, and incredibly relatable. As a result, the message of how working together can change things for the better is especially salient. Nearly anyone in any town USA could probably find an analogous issue, and take a stand, rallying their community.

Amazon Fulfillment Services

When a package arrives at your door, you don’t often give much thought to how it got there. You only see one end of the equation: the person actually delivering it, and the package itself.

On the other end, quite a lot is happening behind the scenes. A person started a business, which conceptualized and produced that item, then packaged it and shipped it out across the country.

That process is incredibly complex, as anyone who’s ever tried to run a business, or been exposed to inventory management and distribution, can tell you.

In this video, Amazon Fulfillment Services managed to make distribution and shipping feel personal.

The video tells the stories of the people behind the products, and their charitable initiatives. Because you gain a deeper understanding of their motivations for starting their companies, you feel a real connection to them.

Takeaways for Your Videos

Inspiration and emotions are clearly powerful ingredients for exceptional B2B storytelling. However, there are a few extra elements that help these videos hit home, and which are important to get right for your own videos.

Authentic

From entrepreneurs, to small town America, to business owners trying to make a difference, all these videos feature real people dealing with real world problems.

They are hard-hitting because they are relatable. You can picture yourself taking those first steps towards starting a company, or making a difference in your community.

Let the people in your videos tell their own stories. Help to show their story with footage from their daily lives. Keep it real, and it will ring true.

Targeted Messaging

You certainly could read takeaway a purely altruistic message from the videos we featured above. However, each video is closely aligned with broader business goals.

Google wants people to uncover the wealth of information its products can deliver. Square needs more people to start businesses and use its payment processing services. Amazon wants to handle the gory details of order fulfillment, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on the core of their businesses instead.

Because they use such engaging storytelling techniques, you barely notice that it’s a marketing video. Still, the message is loud and clear.

Production Value

You don’t need fancy editing or special effects to put a similar video together. You do need a few basic video production skills, however.

  • Frame your subjects properly to maximize the emotional impact of your footage. Close-ups and details will likely factor heavily in your shots.
  • Structure the story in a compelling manner. Arguably, there are eleven key ingredients to telling a story.
  • Capture plenty of b-roll. A lot of the footage in our examples is just the day-to-day life of the people featured in the videos.
  • Of course, good lighting and clear audio are tremendously important. Whether indoors or outside, work with what you have to get the best lighting possible. For optimal results, try to capture any audio recordings of people speaking in a controlled environment.

So, if your video features an inspiring, emotional tale, with authentic, targeted messaging, and high production value, you’ll likely have a B2B winner on your hands. Easier said than done, to be sure.


Do you have a favorite B2B video? Why do you think it was particularly effective? Share with us in the comments below.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted November 14, 2017

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