4 storytelling strategies B2B companies should use to generate ROI on videos

Many websites will try to claim that they know how to tell a good “marketing” story. They’ll tell you the “simple tricks to nail down your B2B marketing story” and explain the deep branding and economic benefits of using it in your advertisements. Yet what most companies and marketing executives fail to remember is that consumers don’t want a story about marketing. More often than not, they aren’t even curious about what you have to say unless you deeply pique their interest, according to New York Women In Communications.

Here’s what your consumers want out of a story: Heart. Yes, even B2B marketing can have personality, gusto and emotion that can sweep viewers off their feet. Here’s how to tug at your viewer’s emotions by following these four storytelling techniques and plot points for your animated company videos to increase ROI.

1. Create a strong exposition moment
In order to avoid coming off like this hilariously self-aware brand video, you must create an establishing moment for your characters that shows their relationship to the brand. In literature, this is known as the exposition moment on Freytag’s Triangle, or the singular moment when a viewer understands the environment and the character’s purpose, according to the Harvard Business Review. Without this moment, the character won’t know that this is a person of interest or importance in the plot line.

Let’s create our own exposition for a moment using our example character Jennifer for our animated corporate video. She’s a young, energetic and strong-headed employee of a company walking in confidently on her first day. One way we could establish that she is new is if we show a woman walking to an empty desk with her nametag on it and a smile on her face. This gives the audience the exposition and clues they need to know she’s a new employee to the company.

Like proper architecture, your story should follow a clear progression with well-defined characters and variables.Like proper architecture, your story should follow a clear progression with well-defined characters and variables.

2. Develop a complication
Next, your character must go through a deep conflict that will pull the viewer in. This creates a reason for the viewer to keep watching and see if that person will overcome their obstacles. In the famous advertisement “Lost Dog” by Budweiser, this conflict starts when the puppy is taken away from the Clydesdale horse and jumps into the travel trailer, leading him on a series of misadventures. The beginning of the commercial established that the puppy and horse are close, making an emotional bond for the viewer once the conflict begins.

Take Jennifer as a character example again. She is new to the company and exudes a bright and happy spirit in the exposition, but her conflict begins when she tries to impress her clients and they grow angry with her. She may start to show signs of disappointment and a loss of confidence, leading the audience to feel sympathetic for her.

3. Give the character something to fight for
A character on a mission is good, but a character on a mission with an underlying reason is even better. Consider the top reason the puppy in the Budweiser commercial wanted to go back to the horse: a sense of friendship. This gave the dog something to fight for, a motivation to see the horse again. When establishing motivation, be sure to solidify the character’s desires during the exposition. While a story can still work without establishing a strong driving force in the beginning, it will not feel effective and may come off as inauthentic or generic.

In the case of Jennifer’s story, we may give her a motivation at the beginning of the company animation video such as a flashback to a family member telling her to go “make them proud” or to “kill her enemies with kindness.” When Jennifer feels she is losing hope, she may remember this flashback and attempt to resolve her workplace conflict of having dissatisfied customers by using one of these tactics. This is where the character’s sense of agency comes in, or his or her ability to make profound choices that shape the story’s action, according to the Surley Muse.

Giving your characters an emotional bond or something to fight for will bring your video to life.Giving your characters an emotional bond or something to motivate them during the exposition will bring your video to life.

4. Create a turning point & strong conclusion
This is where things change either for the better or worse for your character, known as the climax in literary terminology. Consider the example of the puppy in the Budweiser commercial again. The climax is when the puppy is saved by the horses from the hungry wolves. In the story of Jennifer, this part could be when she decides to take a leap of faith and compliment each of her clients face-to-face in a row, telling them they are important and valuable. This will in turn create a happy ending and show that the brand has humanity, leaving your viewers satisfied and more likely to share or talk about the video.

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