B2B storytelling – a completely new approach?

Carla Piñyero Sublett, IBM’s newly appointed CMO, is taking “a completely new approach” to B2B marketing using……. storytelling.

I know, right, nothing new there.

She revealed her plans in an interview recently published in Campaign Magazine.

Though to be fair to Piñyero Sublett and IBM, the tech behemoth has a history of promoting technology rather than exploiting more fertile storytelling territory where clients do cool and interesting stuff using the company’s technology.

A quick check of IBM’s online newsroom features plenty of clients, so they’ve moved on from just speeds and feeds.

But things aren’t as sexy on Linkedin, as per my feed today.

We’ve lowered our prices on bare metal servers and included up to 20TB of bandwidth cost free. Get a $200 credit and create your IBM Cloud account today.

Still, everyone’s gotta hustle.

Piñyero Sublett will soon up the storytelling ante with a push to uncover “rich stories that already exist within the organisation”, noting that IBM has won multiple Nobel prizes, for example, and invented technologies including the first PC, Lasik, the barcode and the ATM machine.

Sure, but those stories are a little dusty.

She also wants to get the word out about the important role IBM played during the pandemic, including partnering with CVS to answer millions of calls about COVID-19 vaccinations, and creating the Excelsior digital health pass that allows people to conveniently access their vaccination status, and helped New York City reopen.

These sound like great stories – clients doing cool and interesting stuff using the company’s technology…

Piñyero Sublett calling out B2B marketers for their lack of imagination is perhaps more noteworthy.

Since the advent of ad tech, B2B marketers have lost their way, she said. “We forgot that our No. 1 responsibility is to create relationships and add value. That’s not going to happen by peppering LinkedIn inboxes, chasing with banner ads or flooding emails. The days of white papers and longform emails might be over.”

Bang on.

That’s not to say B2B marketers should ignore these channels. Her main beef is the content.

“Folks are looking for rich videos with more substance, where they can actually learn something,” she said.

Piñyero Sublett envisions IBM’s website, for example, looking more like Netflix, with the ability to scroll through libraries of content, than a typical B2B website.

Can’t wait to see that, video pre-rolls and all.

Piñyero Sublett is on to something. B2B marketing needs a good kick in the pants.

If you want people to invest their attention in your message, you’d better deliver a decent return.

Tell a good story but, mostly, tell your audience something new and useful to their daily lives. Less about you, more about what’s in it for them.