How B2B Marketers Can Leverage the Art of Storytelling to Engage Buyers

Matthew comes from a lineage of toy store owners. In the early days, they sold not just toys, but many different things: buttons, pots and pans, trinkets – similar to a variety store. They simply loved bringing joy to their customers.

One day, a woman came in, very desperate. She was in search of a button. She was frantic because the button she needed was no ordinary button. It was a very specific button for her husband’s favorite coat. Her husband was going to a job interview, and he needed this favorite coat in top condition.

So, my Grandpa Morton and Grandma Birdie scrambled all through the store in search of that matching button. They emptied jars, cleared out drawers, and turned the store upside down. They looked everywhere.

The woman got more and more desperate. Then, she froze. Her eyes widened. Her jaw dropped. Finally, she points at my grandfather’s sleeve on his coat and says, “That’s the button!”

Immediately, Grandpa Morton opened the drawer, got a pair of scissors, cut off the button, and handed it to her free of charge. Said, “Just get to your husband as quickly as you can.” That woman and her family ended up becoming some of our best customers and told all their friends.

The takeaway: customers always comes first. That’s the feeling my family has always wanted with the toy stores – the customer comes first.

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We recently had the pleasure of hosting Matthew Luhn for a webinar in conjunction with the ABM Masters Alliance. Matthew is a writer, master storyteller and former Pixar animator (25+ years).

His work includes Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Monsters Inc., Monsters University, Finding Nemo, UP, Cars, and Ratatouille. Alongside his story work in Hollywood, he also trains companies, organizations, and other business professionals how to craft and tell stories. He helps them bridge the gap between heart and business to build stronger brands that connect with the audience. His clients include Adidas, Target, Coke, Procter and Gamble, Facebook, Warner Brothers, Sony, and Google.

When asked, on the spot, to tell a story in under 2 minutes, the story Matthew pulled out of his hat was that of his grandparents and the lady who needed a button.

As you can see, a business can use the post of storytelling too. It’s not just for Hollywood. You can use many of the same principles to connect to your audience throughout the buying journey.

During this presentation, Matthew shared his process for creating new ideas, great stories, memorable characters, and how to make stronger connections with your audience.

If you want to dive even deeper into the art of storytelling for business, Matthew wrote a book called The Best Story Wins, which will be published on August 28th. I highly recommend checking it out!

Here are some of the top takeaways from the presentation.

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“My job is to make you cry.” And also, to make you laugh and cheer and be inspired, to be moved, to feel something.

At Pixar, they put story first, above anything else. Without a great story, everything else falls apart. The characters, the setting, the theme and all of the other elements are held together with a story.

But how do you tell a great story? How do you tell a story that compels people to feel something?

Creating memorable stories

Matthew explained that stories are memorable because they are memorable, impactful and personal.

Memorable – stories are 22x more memorable than facts alone.

Connecting with people with the 5 senses:

1)    Visual

2)    Touch

3)    Taste

4)    Smell

5)    Sound

Impactful – create uncertainty and anticipation.

When you see a hero succeed and fail, you experience empathy with the character. This keeps you on the edge of your seat and boosts generosity and trust.

You make your decisions first with your emotional brain (right side of your brain), then you rationalize it later (left side of your brain).

Personal – create an authentic connection.

5 Steps to a powerful story

Here is a framework for crafting a powerful story:

  1. Create a great hook – This should be done in the first 8 seconds. Think “What if…”
  2. Make it about transformation – How will the listeners’ lives change?
  3. Connect – People desire love, safety and freedom.
  4. Be authentic – Don’t be clever; be vulnerable and be honest by and speaking from the heart using personal anecdotes.
  5. Structure your delivery – Use timing, rhythm and pacing to set the story up, build the plot and deliver the payoff.

The Story Spine

Fill in the blanks:

  • Once upon a time…
  • And every day…
  • Until one day…
  • Because of that…
  • And because of that…
  • And because of that…
  • Until finally…
  • And since that day…
  • And the moral of the story is…

If you look at the opening story, it follows this Story Spine.

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To connect with Matthew, visit For a deeper dive into how to tell your story and engage your buyers, check out Matthew’s book The Best Story Wins (pre-order).

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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