The galvanizing story part 3: a B2B positioning example

In post 1 and post 2 in this mini-series, we looked at how the content marketing revolution ended in a surprising way: it won.

We then looked at the new imperative in B2B marketing. The thing that, now that content marketing has bedded down, we all need to focus on: the galvanizing story.

A galvanizing story is the core narrative of your company (with other ones for each product line).

It’s the narrative that inspires and unites all your sales and marketing.

And it often includes five things: The change in the world; The potential; The obstacle; The breakthrough; And the pay-off.

The five things shouldn’t be a fill-in-the-blanks formula. More like a guide to answering some important questions.

Now let’s look at an example.

OpenMarket goes high

When OpenMarket came to us, they had a fantastic offer and a deeply loyal customers base. They provided large-scale SMS services for companies that wanted to communicate directly with their customers.

It was kind of a techie play and OpenMarket played it well. But they were finding themselves stuck in discussions about the features of their A2P (application-to-person) platform with the people who owned the text delivery problem.

As we progressed through our positioning process, working closely with James Cox and his team, a fantastic story started to emerge.

This wasn’t a tech story about delivering texts. It was a customer experience story about surprising customers with relevant, helpful information and interactions just when they would most welcome that interaction.

One example: a train company sending users of their mobile app a text about their arrival platform—30 seconds before the information hits the big board.

One more: a car dealership sending an appointment reminder the day before a test drive (and re-scheduling via text if necessary).

The galvanizing story

We built OpenMarket’s galvanizing story around the idea of the “Empathetic Interaction”, moments of utility and relevance delivered automatically to customers based on their profile, history and context.

The story goes something like this:

“Over the course of your relationships, your customers experience certain moments; moments when a timely, relevant interaction with you would make a disproportionate impact on them.

What’s different today is that they’re starting to notice those moments—and expect you to notice them too. If you seize these opportunities, you can blow them away with empathetic interactions they’ll thank you for.

The problem is, current ways of reaching your customers aren’t up to the challenge of delivering empathetic interactions at scale. No one opens emails. Automated voice systems annoy the hell out of people (and force them to make the first move). And call center experiences are frustrating for customers (and expensive for you).

OpenMarket’s Mobile Engagement Platform makes it easy to spot opportunities for empathetic interactions, then automate the delivery of intelligent, timely and helpful messages that seize those opportunities.

The result: remarkable customer experiences that drive revenue while building long-term loyalty.

That’s the story. Now let’s look at the five parts, as described in the last post:

The change in the world

This is the fresh spin on hard-to-deny trends, topped by a real change in the market that triggers the need for a response.

In OpenMarket’s case, the world view is about their customers’ customers—the way their needs vary over time and peak at specific moments; and the way their expectations have changed too.

Remember, the world view shouldn’t be controversial. Prospects should recognize it as the world they’re living and competing in. But it should also feel fresh. Not just an obvious truism.

In this case, the freshness comes from zooming in on specific moments of opportunity. And the accepted, recognizable part comes from the dawning realization that CX is pretty much the whole game now.

The new potential

This is about the new potential for improvement.

For OpenMarket, it’s not really about solving a problem, it’s about seizing an opportunity: blowing customers away with unexpected moments of empathy that make their lives easier—and doing it at scale.

The challenge here is that there are so many different examples of empathetic interactions created by a timely, automated text message. We need to get prospects to apply the approach to their own situations, coming up with their own ideas (a lot of the content in the OpenMarket program works on this).

The obstacle

The thing holding prospects back from seizing the new opportunity.

For OpenMarket’s prospects, the obstacles are the current ways of interacting with customers—chiefly email and the call center.

This one’s not a big leap. Current customer communications channels really are limited and just not optimized for the kind of timely, personalized, empathetic interactions we’re talking about.

The breakthrough

The change on the supply-side that makes it possible to overcome the obstacles and realize the new potential.

In this case, the breakthrough is the platform itself: a new combination of existing technologies (including workflow, core system integrations, multi-channel plug-ins, personalization, and relationships with mobile operators worldwide).

Like a lot of new ideas, this one combines new technologies with a new mindset—a new way of thinking about automating and personalizing customer interactions .

The pay-off

The final piece is about the benefits that the breakthrough will deliver and the reasons someone should consider change.

For OpenMarket, it’s all about upside: new customer acquisition, loyalty, revenue per customer, stuff like that.

The upside story will depend on the specific customer use cases, so credibility here depends on lots of customer stories (thankfully OpenMarket has plenty to share).

What their galvanizing story did for OpenMarket

Without a galvanizing story, OpenMarket would do what the vast majority of B2B companies do: bring a whole lot of different stories to market at once.

  • The sales guys would go in with a story, for instance, about SMS delivery efficiency.
  • The website would be all about the global platform.
  • The content would cover a whole bunch of issues for different audiences and funnel stages.

And none of it would add up to anything.

With their galvanizing story, everything OpenMarket does refers back to this core narrative.

There are still lots of different campaigns and content pieces, but they all hang together. They all contribute to a cohesive narrative.

Taking the story to market

Armed with our new galvanizing story, we went to market with clarity and focus.

In the first few months, we produced fourteen inter-connected pieces of content – including ebooks, workbooks, a video, an interactive String and a number of customer stories.

The top-of-funnel content evangelized better customer experiences driven by text interactions, while middle-of-the-funnel content highlighted real-world use cases and bottom-funnel stuff drilled down into the platform itself.

The content was delivered through a new website and resource center plus a series of lead nurture streams executed via marketing automation.

Here’s one of the videos:

Results

The new positioning and new story resonated, seeing a spike in every engagement and conversion metric and leading to a $10 million pipeline and three big, flagship customers in the first year.

The early indicators of engagement and conversion for the first 6 months included:

  • 22% increase in new users
  • 182% increase in session duration
  • 54% increase in social network traffic
  • 48% increase in organic traffic (helped by a hike in domain authority)
  • 21% increase in online PR traffic (blogging and news sites)

It worked because the whole marketing program was aligned around one strong story. A galvanizing story.

Next post in the series? A surprise.

Comments

This comment is a part of the emphasis comment-series on the galvanizing story blog-series; you can see one on each article.

For the third comment, I equipped my glasses with the Galvanizing lens to search for another B2B brand with a galvanizing story. And yes, Doug was right; not many have one. (Or maybe they asterisk it at the footnote of a slideware?).

But one quite popular brand, with an equally popular founder, has it embedded within the copy of its website – on the home, about (probably the best place, duh!), and services page.

That B2B brand is Jay Acunzo’s Unthinkable Media (currently in the process of being rebranded as Marketing Showrunners).

With zero alphabet/letter changes, I have picked copy from different pages of the website* to compile the galvanizing story of the brand and emphasize on how talented marketers leverage it.

Here it goes.

The change in the world:
Our mandate has changed. We used to be in the business of acquiring attention. Today, however, marketing is all about holding it: subscription, hours of time spent, and building and inspiring passion audiences around shared belief systems and interests — THAT is modern marketing.

The potential:
The best marketers today prioritize subscribers, not impressions; quality time spent, not total visitors; and depth of resonance, not just broad reach. Something audience adore, which turns passive audience into active superfans.

The obstacle:
Too many marketers assume they have two options: Either create something like NPR or Chef’s Table (with a staff just as large) or host an interview show (the unedited, droning, commodity show, “Talking Topics with Experts”). We don’t want to build commodity companies or lead commodity careers, so why are we creating so many commodity series?

The breakthrough:
It’s not rocket surgery: Don’t create “yet another.” Create the ONLY. Own a theme, turn traffic into audience into community, and spark a movement. There’s no system to game here. The only “hack” is to create something genuinely worth your audience’s time.

The Pay-off:
The lifetime value (LTV) of each person who knows you goes up, while your customer acquisition costs (CAC) go down thanks to word-of-mouth.

What did this bring in for the brand?

Unthinkable Media (now Marketing Showrunners) is the most sought after B2B Podcast Agency for brands looking to nail storytelling and hold attention.

There is a lot to learn from Jay’s brand but one thing truly topples them all: a genuinely galvanizing story demands Showmanship.

Such showmanship strikes trust (realizing the potential); followed by authority (breakthrough might work) and (if you have a looto-grade-luck) an emotional connection.

(The last one sounds, as Doug would put it, Kool-Aid in B2B but I firmly believe that the E-Factor depends on the type/category of the product/service and the personal-perspective of the person on your story.)

The next comment? A surprise. (Much like the next post)

——–

*The website’s terms and conditions page expressly mentions that publicly performing and/or showing any Website material is restricted. I hope for the sake of us, marketers, being educated, Jay might let this one go.

Standing ovation.

The Jay Acunzo example, is, of course, spot on.
That is one tight Galvanizing Story.
And shows remarkable insight into the Acunzo method…

Which might be because you, Sherlock, ARE the mysterious Acunzo.

I’m right, right?

    If I tell you now, I would ruin the surprise I promised for my next comment.

    There is a reason I am using a pseudo here and I’ll disclose it in the next comment.

    I think you’ll like the reason, Doug.

    P.S: I literally stood up after reading “standing ovation” 😉

Okay, now I have to fast-track the next post.
Moriarty.

    Delayed! Fourth post coming…

Animated gif of getting the popcorn out needed here

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