Story Time: How to Connect to Business Users as Consumers
I was hooked at an early age. From Star Wars to Bollywood melodramas to tales of Indian epics, I grew up with the love for a good yarn. And as a marketer, I discovered that powerful stories cross cultures and boundaries and connect us all.
At Apigee, the API company, I’ve had a unique opportunity to bring the power of storytelling for our business audience.
We recently released Adapt or Die, an action adventure film. Shot among the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico, the film covers new territory for us in more than one way.
What’s an API software company doing making a spy movie? Well, as traditional B2B marketing is unraveling, we are adapting to the fast-changing landscape of technology marketing.
It’s easy for users today to try a software product for free and see if it fits their needs and does what it touts. Furthermore, technology buyers now have access to free, open source technologies and cloud computing, which make it easier than ever to build or buy software. Yet, for most companies product usage alone doesn’t drive revenue, and for many, the buying process can be complex.
So, how do businesses engage with their buyers today? Despite the rapid pace of innovation in the last decade, brand differentiation for technology products is at an all time low. Technology simply is not enough to drive brand preference anymore.
What does? A bedrock of trust. This trust can emerge from how your products and your people interact with your customers: from first contact to product discovery, from trial to procurement, from on boarding to support and renewal. In our connected world of LinkedIn, Twitter, and GlassDoor, customers know who they are working with, just as you know them. Who you are matters as much as what technology you bring to bear.
Don’t get me wrong. We still have to deliver great products and strong support that delights users. But to earn trust, businesses have to build an emotional connection with their customers; a connection that is both grounded in the value they provide to customers and is built upon their unique point of view in the industry.
For technology products, this point of view must acknowledge the conflict the technology generates by challenging the status quo — and how the product resolves this conflict. Such a point of view self-selects out the nonbelievers, the laggards, and the naysayers. It turns out that stories are an extremely effective mechanism to share a provocative point-of-view and build a connection.
This is not new. What is new is that storytelling has gone digital — and thus exploded.
Among modern consumers, long-form journalism and long-form storytelling is on the rise, contrary to the popular belief in the demise of our collective attention. TV shows running six seasons and sixty hours are de jour. Thousand page book series are more popular more than ever. As consumers, we have become used to this digital explosion — in our social feeds, news feeds, and abundance of video streaming channels. We are willing to be engaged deeply, if we are enthralled.
Business marketers are just waking up to this. And this is a huge shift: it requires that technology marketers treat business buyers as everyday consumers who are adept at — and have the appetite for — consuming more complex stories. Stories that bring to life not just the technology solutions, but a unique point of view — in a direct emotional way.
That’s why we made the movie.
Apigee delivers API software to help businesses adapt faster to changes brought by mobile, cloud, and IoT technologies. We started with a simple realization: these technologies are creating havoc in industries as software “eats the world,” and within this disruption, APIs are everywhere. They are essential to how modern software is built, connected and scaled in the cloud. And APIs are how every asset, from a new sensor to a legacy banking app, is made accessible to developers for use in their programs.
But APIs are hidden in plain sight. We wanted to bring APIs — and their impact, to the center of attention of our audience: those leading the digital change in enterprises. From our customers, the business imperative was clear: adapt or die to the changes wrought by digital technologies.
We settled on spy movie genre as a provocative way to express our point of view. In fact, to engage with more technical developer audience, we have created an additional version of the movie annotated with real APIs and code. The most fun part has been to have Apigee’s developers and architects create APIs that drive the movie plot. From doors unlocking remotely, to car crashes, to drone chases, we can’t help ourselves: we see APIs everywhere. And now you can too.
Visit Adapt or Die to watch the full Adapt or Die movie, the movie version annotated with APIs, the trailer and other behind the scenes extras from the making of this film.