In the year 2019, we’re still very much in the throes of our technological transformation. Conversations are constantly buzzing about AI, the cloud, and connected devices. But while true breakthroughs take us leaps and bounds into the future, that type of disruption isn’t happening every day. The lulls between those breakthroughs create flat spots on our evolutionary y-axis that allow competitors to catch up.
As other players enter the market, competitive differentiation becomes a challenge. The products have some variation, but as time passes those differences become less significant in the eyes of our audience. So when we can’t rely on features, we’re forced to turn elsewhere to help us create preference and adoption. That’s where storytelling comes in.
As technology becomes more ubiquitous, storytelling can be a powerful means of making our products more compelling. To do that, our message must become less about the products and more about the value, reality, or status quo they enable.
Market Leaders Tell Stories About People
We see the most inspiring market leaders do this all the time.
Look how Microsoft has turned their attention toward the maker movement. Regardless of whether or not their offerings are better, that’s not what they’re pushing. They’re pushing access to innovation and inspiration. They’re showing what people are capable of when they combine passion with the right tools. And they’re able to communicate that message by highlighting stories of people who are doing just that.
The researcher exploring experimental treatments for terminal illness. The engineer working to improve accessibility in downtown spaces. The student designing and programming robots for school competitions. They’re human and relatable. The products are there, under the surface, but the heroes are the people. And that’s what makes these stories so compelling.
Many Companies Still Lead With Product
Many B2B enterprises have been slow to adopt this storytelling approach. And that creates a tremendous opportunity for those that have. By focusing on the applications of our products and sharing stories of our customers, we’re able to create a sense of culture around our value. And that’s something with a lot more staying power than feature differentiation as technology evolves.
Shifting the Mindset to Create Value With Storytelling
These stories help people bridge the gap in understanding the usefulness of our technology for their specific applications. They allow us to address both explicit and implicit needs of our audience and more directly answer the questions they’re asking – which is exactly what Google’s algorithm is looking for, by the way. The result gives our content greater potential to capture the attention of both active and passive information seekers.When you’re in a position to merely convert people already aware of and searching for your product, a list of specs will do, but that isn’t the current reality for many technology markets. When you’re competing for market share in a complex and increasingly competitive landscape, you have to tell a good story in order to capture attention and differentiate your value.