Lee Odden

Facts Tell, Stories Sell – How Infotainment Inspires Action in B2B Marketing

Lee Odden     B2B Marketing, Content Marketing

10 B2B Marketing Masters

In the B2B marketing world, there’s a perception that “B” means “boring”.  Of course that’s just not the case with modern B2B marketing.

According to a recent CMI & MarketingProfs study, 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing across an average of 15 different tactics. But it’s not just quantity that wins with B2B buyers.

Individual buyers and buying committees have to sort through a lot of information to make decisions and the marketers that can make the experience of information discovery, consumption and next steps a easy and positive one, will win the day.

One of my favorite expressions that illustrates this evolution in B2B content is:

Facts Tell, Stories Sell.

Stories, told well, are incredibly effective at engaging intellectually and emotionally with buyers. Turns out, I’m not alone in this thinking as LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (a TopRank client) has put together an excellent eBook highlighting 10 B2B Marketing Masters and their insights on storytelling.

Here is my  excerpt from the ebook and below that you can see the full eBook that includes contributions from B2B Marketing Masters like: Beth Comstock, Jay Baer, Jason Miller, Tim Washer, Brian Kramer, Bryan Eisenberg, DJ Waldow, Jonah Sachs and David Raab.

Infotainment Inspires Action

The drive to scale B2B marketing performance is strong, because companies want to see a return on their investment. A singular focus on revenue has caused a lot of B2B content and social media to become more mechanical than meaningful. The result? Thousands of white papers, ebooks and newsletters left unread and dead to their target audiences.

There’s a saying, ‘The B’s in B2B are people too.’

Connecting with buyers on both an intellectual and an emotional level creates experiences that provide a clear differentiation from other companies. B2B marketers that can both inform and entertain (infotain) prospects will attract more engagement and inspire action that can scale in the most profitable ways.

Here are a few examples of “Infotaining” stories from B2B Marketers:

Cisco Vine

Short and Sweet B2B Stories on Vine – Philips, Cisco, Adobe and General Electric all have active profiles on Vine using them to create short and interesting perspectives (stories) their target audiences would be “infotained” by.


Creative Content Campaigns – Numerous B2B marketers have employed creative content campaigns to leverage useful information in an entertaining way. Here are examples 11 award winning B2B campaigns from SunGard, Limelight Networks, Logicalis, Sales Benchmark Index, Lattice Engines, Optum, ADP, Demandbase, Xeros, OpenText and Crowe Horwath citing the creative assets as well as the performance of each program. Being infotaining pays!

B2B Video FTW – While big B2B brands like HP, Microsoft, UPS, Cisco, Oracle, Accenture, Intel, SAP, Fedex and IBM all have a presence on YouTube, attracting large business audiences, smaller companies like Kinaxis have pioneered B2B storytelling with projects like Suitemates, a series of humorous webisodes published several years ago featuring professional actors like Kevin Pollack poking a bit of fun at the growing industry-wide frustrations with ERP mega-vendors’ supply chain offerings.

For insights from some of the industry top thought leaders and B2B brand marketers on more meaningful B2B marketing, here’s the full eBook of B2B Marketing storytelling advice on Slideshare:

If you’re a B2B Marketer, how are you using storytelling in your content marketing?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Even in dry industries,creating educational content is key to attracting customers.With the right knowledge, a little creativity, and an open mind, you
    can transform your web presence into a leading community.

    • Interesting thing about dry industries: the people in them don’t usually think of them that way. It takes understanding their needs and goals to create the kind of “infotaining” content that will be effective for them. Even if it’s a bit boring to those outside of that industry.

  2. Hi Lee,

    My blog says “story” 😉 If you click through and check it out, I share my travels around the world, and tips for living an internet lifestyle. Travel pictures plastered all over and most posts tie in my travels with some story, related to prospering online.

    Awesome post, and even more key message. People dig stories!

    Thanks 😉

  3. Avatar Lilia MacCannell says

    Great points on online marketing strategies! As an owner of small business I think that some part of work should be outsourced. You can make a smaller investment to building your marketing plan until your growth provides the cash flow needed to hire more permanent staffing. Also, you often need the expertise of more knowledgeable professionals providing strategic growth plans and your budget doesn’t not allow for that level of investment for the long term.

  4. Avatar dreggstah says

    Come visit us:

    dreggstah.tumblr (dot) com

  5. Avatar Andy Detweiler says

    Hi Lee,

    Thx for the examples.

    To your point in the last blog comment below, it always amazes me how folks throw around the words “epic,” “interesting,” “entertaining,” “valuable,” etc., without acknowledging the subjectivity that’s inherently involved in all such labels.

  6. Thanks for this, Lee. We deal with ‘boring’ on our end using the principle that nobody wants to hear about toothpaste, but everybody could use tips on oral hygiene. Like David Raab said, real human needs that transcend the product.

    • Exactly. Toothpaste = whiter teeth & fresher breath = that special someone saying yes to a date = and so on and so on. It’s about telling the right story for the audience and offer.