Stop me if you’ve heard this before…
“We partner with our clients to solve their business problems and help them to achieve their goals. Our best-of-breed (slash world-class slash bespoke) products, end-to-end (slash turnkey, slash holistic) solutions, and leading-edge (slash innovative, slash agile) products and services save our clients time and money and make them more efficient and effective. We’re committed to excellence and always go the extra mile because we put our customers first.”
That’s a lot of words that say very little. And yet, you’ll find a version of this word vomit on most B2B tech business sites because that’s how most position themselves.
So many businesses with amazing stories to tell are getting lost in a sea of sameness. They’re losing an opportunity to engage with their customers and prospects because they opt for jargon and drivel rather than focusing on what really makes them different — their people, and their people’s stories.
You can do better. Anyone can do better. It’s easy to stand out when everyone is saying the same thing.
Show, don’t tell
I have no doubt that your B2B tech business has awesome products that will help your customers to “optimise processes, reduce costs, boost productivity, and streamline operations”. But so do a million other businesses selling similar products.
It’s noisy and confusing out there, and people are already overwhelmed with life and change and COVID.
The beauty of strategic storytelling is that, even if everyone does it, no two stories will be the same. And, believe it or not, it is possible to show prospects that you’re agile and customer-focused without telling them outright.
So, please, for the sake of my sanity and your customers’, banish these buzzwords and tell stories that are relatable, that create empathy and connections, and that put your customers in the spotlight.
All businesses have to be agile these days if they want to survive (thanks, COVID). But if you’re not in software development, or you think ‘scrums’ and ‘sprints’ only happen on the sports field, then there are better ways to show agility.
Prove it: Tell us about a time when everything changed. Better yet, tell the story from the perspective of a single person in your business. About the moment that person made a decision to change something and the impact it had on the rest of the team.
Being “customer-centric” is an empty statement. We expect businesses to meet our needs. If they don’t, someone else will. Businesses are nothing without their customers, so this one is a no-brainer.
Prove it: Tell a story about a single customer. Just one. How did you put that customer first and what difference did you make in his life? Show him using your product in real life applications and the impact this has had on him personally. Being customer-centric means making an impact for one person, not a bunch of people lumped into a demographic profile or marketing persona.
Remember that time when life was “normal”, and Uncle Cyril put us in Level 5 lockdown? That’s disruption.
Disruptive companies shake things up. Everything appears calm on the surface, but then they the Teslas, Amazons, and Airbnbs of the world come along with their bright ideas and new ways of doing things and derail the whole fucking train.
If you’re not derailing the train, you’re not disruptive. Sorry.
Prove it: Disruption is exciting and provocative. It’s the kind of stuff that keeps us on the edge of our seats in an action movie — the explosions, the cursing, the skop, skiet, and donder. Everyone wants to hear the story of how you blew shit up and left everyone in your dust. Tell it.
If you’re going to say this, you better be able to back it up (no, not by listing your awards — no one cares. Sorry.).
Being the best at something is great, but it’s a title you have to keep defending because anyone can pull the smug rug out from under you. And you won’t see it coming (see ‘disruption’).
Prove it: People know when you’re bullshitting and there’s no faster way to lose customers than to say you’re the best when you’re not. You can’t be the best for everyone. But for one person, you might be. The person who had tried everything until they found you. The ONE PERSON you made more productive. The impact you had in the life of a single project manager because your solution changed how her team communicates.
I know it’s unlikely that these words will magically disappear in 2021, but B2B tech businesses need to get better at strategic storytelling and stop throwing meaningless words at their customers, hoping one will stick. Only stories stick.
Don’t think you’re a good storyteller?
Pick one of the buzzwords above. Find a way to SHOW it, without talking about your product or service. Without even mentioning it.
Start with your purpose. Then talk to people — your customers, employees, service providers, partners — and find ways that they’re living that purpose. You might be surprised at how many stories you could tell.
Still stuck? Get in touch.