The Digitalist Team
November 25, 2021

The “art “ of B2B storytelling

I. Setting the mood

This article is primarily meant to talk about B2B content development. E.g.: White paper, eBook, One pager, presentation…etc. Be that hardware, software, platform, solution, etc. I will be referring to the subject as a product for clarity’s sake. As you may have guessed, I will mainly be referring to IT related products. The aim here is to share a set of best practices I accumulated over the years that generally works well and may help people new to this line of work.

II. The “art “ of storytelling

So, with all that  out of the way it’s time for story telling. Let’s see what’s the big secret behind B2B content development? Well, it’s all about telling a good story. Really, that’s about it. Okay fine let’s dig in and see all its aspects.

Just like with any good story it needs an Introduction, a midpoint and a conclusion. Simple enough, but here is the twist. In the case of a product these three sections should look like this.

  1. In the introduction talk about challenges. Things that organizations and relevant personas face on a daily basis without the help of the product.
  2. The midpoint should focus on how the product provides a solution to these challenges. How its features help both the entire organization and the ones who will be using it on a daily basis.
  3. Lastly, the conclusion should talk about benefits. What does the product additionally bring to the table on top of solving the previously described challenges?

That’s about it in a nutshell but let’s elaborate on these three sections a bit more.

II.a. Balancing challenges and solutions

Make sure that you maintain a structure. If you have six challenges you need to address each of them individually with a solution. Why? Because just like with any good story you need to cover all grounds so that the reader won’t get mixed up. A good example is in movies where the story is so forced that the viewer starts asking questions like: Who is this person? Didn’t they say X earlier but now they are doing Y? Basically, you don’t want questions like these to be raised as it detracts from the story you want to tell.


II.b. The friendliness of the “Benefits section”

I really like the benefits section as many times when you are building the story some elements may not particularly fit with the overall premise. Yet I still like to add those extra elements somewhere. So I simply put those under benefits.

For example: A feature that isn’t part of the main theme? Boom, it's a benefit now. An extra use case that can’t fit the narrative? Low and behold we got ourselves another benefit! I think you get the point, reserve the benefits section for great ideas that otherwise you can’t be put in any other section.

III. Let’s take a quick break

I would say that what you read so far are the basics. If you are just starting out and need to make let’s, say a one pager ASAP this is all you need. Don’t overthink it, just make a challenges-solution-benefits paper and you are good to go. Maybe a contact us section at the bottom but that’s about it. But if you are willing to stick around, I’ll be happy to entertain you a bit longer. 😉

IV. The nifty little tricks & details

From here on out I will touch on a few extras that can make your content just a little bit better. Some added spice on top so to speak.

1. Listen and understand

Either working full time for a company or helping out multiple clients as part of an agency or as a freelancer the first thing to do before making any content is to listen and understand. You need to listen to those who work with or on the product in question on a daily basis and understand what it does, how it does it, and what are its key features.

2. Summarize before you start

The last thing to do before making any content is to create a summary or outline that you and the one who requested the piece of content agrees on. Essentially don’t start working on anything before everyone knows what the end result will approximately be like. This saves you from a lot of frustrations and extra work. 

3. You are the expert!

Most of the time people asking you to create content don’t really know what they want exactly. Sure, they know they need something but not really sure if it should be a one pager, a white paper, an eBook or something totally different. You need to figure out that from the inputs and its purpose. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions on what this content should be or how it should be structured. You are the expert after all!


4. Creating order out of chaos

When interviewing someone on a product or doing some research you will have a lot of information scattered around in bits and pieces. What you will need to do is bring order to this chaos. Create an overarching story and tie the information you gathered around it. Don’t worry some may not fit. For those either use the benefits section or use it in another piece of content.

5. Short and sweet

Let’s face it no one reads B2B content for fun. People are reading it because they have a serious problem and they need a solution fast. The thing they want is clear and simple information. So, make sure you don’t make it unnecessarily long winded.

6. A Diverse audience

A lot of people, especially in IT, are using English as their second or third language. This is one of those things to keep in mind when writing. I know it's so much better to use slang or fancy words but with all honesty make sure to write in an easily digestible manner.


7. Respect your audience’s level of knowledge

This is tied to the short and sweet but it deserves a bit more thought. Don’t start your content at the very basics. People who are reading it know what they are looking for. They want to know how your product is better or different from others on the market.


8. Demonstrate your level of knowledge

IT is a very, very industry jargon heavy environment. Make sure to read up on how to properly use terminologies if you are unfamiliar with them. If you are coming from a non-technical background, it might look like a daunting task when you start out but with time you start to see patterns and logic and understand more and more as you go. In IT there is a logic behind everything trust me. But you need to understand it so you know what you are preaching about.

9. Managing faulty feedbacks 

I always say that if the feedback you get is something like: “I don’t like this.” or “This should be changed”. Then that is not actual feedback. Feedback requires suggestions. A good comeback to situations like these is something like this: “Okay so we can change it, what do you want there?”



10. Limiting feedback to the necessary minimum

Feedback should be straight to the point. Change x to y. Nice and simple but also make sure to limit how many people are asked for feedback. The magic number is 1 or 2 max. Any more and you end up with a never-ending suggestion marathon where everyone has something to say. Don’t let that happen!

V. A word of advice

Look, you are the one making that piece of content because you are the best at it at your company. Make sure to state your mind whenever you don’t agree with ideas, deadlines or anything else but just like with the part about “messaging feedback” don’t just say no offer alternatives and come to a conclusion that benefits everyone.

VI. A little side note & extra story 

So, the funny thing is, I was planning to make this article a little bit different. The plan was to tie everything around the so-called “hero’s journey” , a common framework used in storytelling. Characters like: Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins all go through this framework essentially. Basically, all of them have a need (a desire for adventure) they go out to seek a solution to their need, they find it, they face challenges along the way and once they solve it, they come home as a new and improved person.

TLDR: I was planning to make the same framework when describing content development where the product is the hero and it must go on a similar journey. Eventually I realized it is over complicated and won’t fit the narrative.

But at the same time, I noticed that the real hero of the B2B content stories are the customers. They are the ones who have needs (to improve something at their company) they are the ones who venture out and seek solutions. They face challenges but with the right products they can overcome them and when their journey aka project is finished, they created a much better place to come home to.

Yeah I know super fancy and all but here is the thing. It is a great example of having your overarching story changed around to fit with what you want to get across. If you need to change up things and let it be told in a more streamlined way so be it. Meanwhile your previous idea could be used in another way. 


VII. Conclusion

So, conclusion for real this time, pinky promise. I hope what I described can help you in some way. I could talk hours on end about content development as it is a major part of my work and to be honest, I’m still loving it. I love coming up with new ideas on a daily basis and creating something fresh and unique out of basically nothing and helping people to find the right solutions to overcome their challenges. For those who share my passion, kudos to you!

So I had one of those days last week around 1am when I felt like: “Gosh, I'm bored, but not sleepy yet. Let's do something.” So I ended up putting together a blog on how Content Development works. Or at least touched on the most important parts. I hope it comes off for everyone as either an educational or an entertaining read.

No items found.
November 25, 2021

The “art “ of B2B storytelling

I. Setting the mood

This article is primarily meant to talk about B2B content development. E.g.: White paper, eBook, One pager, presentation…etc. Be that hardware, software, platform, solution, etc. I will be referring to the subject as a product for clarity’s sake. As you may have guessed, I will mainly be referring to IT related products. The aim here is to share a set of best practices I accumulated over the years that generally works well and may help people new to this line of work.

II. The “art “ of storytelling

So, with all that  out of the way it’s time for story telling. Let’s see what’s the big secret behind B2B content development? Well, it’s all about telling a good story. Really, that’s about it. Okay fine let’s dig in and see all its aspects.

Just like with any good story it needs an Introduction, a midpoint and a conclusion. Simple enough, but here is the twist. In the case of a product these three sections should look like this.

  1. In the introduction talk about challenges. Things that organizations and relevant personas face on a daily basis without the help of the product.
  2. The midpoint should focus on how the product provides a solution to these challenges. How its features help both the entire organization and the ones who will be using it on a daily basis.
  3. Lastly, the conclusion should talk about benefits. What does the product additionally bring to the table on top of solving the previously described challenges?

That’s about it in a nutshell but let’s elaborate on these three sections a bit more.

II.a. Balancing challenges and solutions

Make sure that you maintain a structure. If you have six challenges you need to address each of them individually with a solution. Why? Because just like with any good story you need to cover all grounds so that the reader won’t get mixed up. A good example is in movies where the story is so forced that the viewer starts asking questions like: Who is this person? Didn’t they say X earlier but now they are doing Y? Basically, you don’t want questions like these to be raised as it detracts from the story you want to tell.


II.b. The friendliness of the “Benefits section”

I really like the benefits section as many times when you are building the story some elements may not particularly fit with the overall premise. Yet I still like to add those extra elements somewhere. So I simply put those under benefits.

For example: A feature that isn’t part of the main theme? Boom, it's a benefit now. An extra use case that can’t fit the narrative? Low and behold we got ourselves another benefit! I think you get the point, reserve the benefits section for great ideas that otherwise you can’t be put in any other section.

III. Let’s take a quick break

I would say that what you read so far are the basics. If you are just starting out and need to make let’s, say a one pager ASAP this is all you need. Don’t overthink it, just make a challenges-solution-benefits paper and you are good to go. Maybe a contact us section at the bottom but that’s about it. But if you are willing to stick around, I’ll be happy to entertain you a bit longer. 😉

IV. The nifty little tricks & details

From here on out I will touch on a few extras that can make your content just a little bit better. Some added spice on top so to speak.

1. Listen and understand

Either working full time for a company or helping out multiple clients as part of an agency or as a freelancer the first thing to do before making any content is to listen and understand. You need to listen to those who work with or on the product in question on a daily basis and understand what it does, how it does it, and what are its key features.

2. Summarize before you start

The last thing to do before making any content is to create a summary or outline that you and the one who requested the piece of content agrees on. Essentially don’t start working on anything before everyone knows what the end result will approximately be like. This saves you from a lot of frustrations and extra work. 

3. You are the expert!

Most of the time people asking you to create content don’t really know what they want exactly. Sure, they know they need something but not really sure if it should be a one pager, a white paper, an eBook or something totally different. You need to figure out that from the inputs and its purpose. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions on what this content should be or how it should be structured. You are the expert after all!


4. Creating order out of chaos

When interviewing someone on a product or doing some research you will have a lot of information scattered around in bits and pieces. What you will need to do is bring order to this chaos. Create an overarching story and tie the information you gathered around it. Don’t worry some may not fit. For those either use the benefits section or use it in another piece of content.

5. Short and sweet

Let’s face it no one reads B2B content for fun. People are reading it because they have a serious problem and they need a solution fast. The thing they want is clear and simple information. So, make sure you don’t make it unnecessarily long winded.

6. A Diverse audience

A lot of people, especially in IT, are using English as their second or third language. This is one of those things to keep in mind when writing. I know it's so much better to use slang or fancy words but with all honesty make sure to write in an easily digestible manner.


7. Respect your audience’s level of knowledge

This is tied to the short and sweet but it deserves a bit more thought. Don’t start your content at the very basics. People who are reading it know what they are looking for. They want to know how your product is better or different from others on the market.


8. Demonstrate your level of knowledge

IT is a very, very industry jargon heavy environment. Make sure to read up on how to properly use terminologies if you are unfamiliar with them. If you are coming from a non-technical background, it might look like a daunting task when you start out but with time you start to see patterns and logic and understand more and more as you go. In IT there is a logic behind everything trust me. But you need to understand it so you know what you are preaching about.

9. Managing faulty feedbacks 

I always say that if the feedback you get is something like: “I don’t like this.” or “This should be changed”. Then that is not actual feedback. Feedback requires suggestions. A good comeback to situations like these is something like this: “Okay so we can change it, what do you want there?”



10. Limiting feedback to the necessary minimum

Feedback should be straight to the point. Change x to y. Nice and simple but also make sure to limit how many people are asked for feedback. The magic number is 1 or 2 max. Any more and you end up with a never-ending suggestion marathon where everyone has something to say. Don’t let that happen!

V. A word of advice

Look, you are the one making that piece of content because you are the best at it at your company. Make sure to state your mind whenever you don’t agree with ideas, deadlines or anything else but just like with the part about “messaging feedback” don’t just say no offer alternatives and come to a conclusion that benefits everyone.

VI. A little side note & extra story 

So, the funny thing is, I was planning to make this article a little bit different. The plan was to tie everything around the so-called “hero’s journey” , a common framework used in storytelling. Characters like: Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins all go through this framework essentially. Basically, all of them have a need (a desire for adventure) they go out to seek a solution to their need, they find it, they face challenges along the way and once they solve it, they come home as a new and improved person.

TLDR: I was planning to make the same framework when describing content development where the product is the hero and it must go on a similar journey. Eventually I realized it is over complicated and won’t fit the narrative.

But at the same time, I noticed that the real hero of the B2B content stories are the customers. They are the ones who have needs (to improve something at their company) they are the ones who venture out and seek solutions. They face challenges but with the right products they can overcome them and when their journey aka project is finished, they created a much better place to come home to.

Yeah I know super fancy and all but here is the thing. It is a great example of having your overarching story changed around to fit with what you want to get across. If you need to change up things and let it be told in a more streamlined way so be it. Meanwhile your previous idea could be used in another way. 


VII. Conclusion

So, conclusion for real this time, pinky promise. I hope what I described can help you in some way. I could talk hours on end about content development as it is a major part of my work and to be honest, I’m still loving it. I love coming up with new ideas on a daily basis and creating something fresh and unique out of basically nothing and helping people to find the right solutions to overcome their challenges. For those who share my passion, kudos to you!

So I had one of those days last week around 1am when I felt like: “Gosh, I'm bored, but not sleepy yet. Let's do something.” So I ended up putting together a blog on how Content Development works. Or at least touched on the most important parts. I hope it comes off for everyone as either an educational or an entertaining read.

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