The chemical industry has begun taking baby steps towards digital transformation. Though late, the players have finally embraced this imperative. On average, chemical companies are expected to invest five percent of their annual revenue in digital transformation over the next five years to reach advanced digitization by 2026. That’s the good news. But there is a long way to go to keep pace with buyers’ and consumers’ evolving preferences, and one of the urgencies is to adopt storytelling to engage with consumers.
Why storytelling? Because today’s consumer needs to know the WFIM (What’s In it for me?) factor. How is the company running its business for the consumer’s benefit? How are its products helping consumers lead a better life? Remember, if your product touches people’s lives, they need to know how you ensure their safety.
There are plenty of success stories in chemical manufacturing, but they are all told from the company’s perspective. The company’s voice spoke about itself; now, it needs to talk to the consumer, and that’s where the storytelling comes in.
Today’s buyers and consumers are ahead of manufacturers because they are knowledge-driven, values-inspired, transparency-seekers, and outcome-oriented. There are no more guessing games between manufacturers and their target audience.
Manufacturers need to do more than just provide digital tools to support the ordering process, a few downloadable products, and regulatory minutiae on their websites and social media platforms. The buying process must be driven by information, knowledge, and empowerment. Messaging needs to be human-centric and less product-centric. All people are consumers, but not all consumers are the same people. Therefore, manufacturers must invest in delivering personalized stories targeted to each buyer persona for each step of their journey. It will fill their pipelines with more qualified leads and make their digital trip more successful.
How easy is this reimagined approach? It’s not an overnight job, but neither is it a daunting prospect. The first thing is to understand consumers not simply as buyers but as buyer persona, and it’s a critical differentiator to master.
- Who is using/buying my product?
- What do they want?
- What are their concerns?
- How can I engage with them to assure them?
- What do they want to hear from us?
Answering these questions requires developing capabilities and hiring new resources to leverage real-time data that will inform the heart-winning stories to be told. Correct timing and relevancy are magic words for a successful digital marketing strategy. But this cannot be achieved without knowing customers. Like other industries, the chemical manufacturing sector needs to adopt an aggressive approach to storytelling as its principal messaging tool.
Elements to consider for the stories to be told by chemical manufacturing companies
MAKE IT PERSONAL STORIES
It's not about you: it's about the consumer
Sustainable product development, access to real-time data, simplified and integrated online ordering, and personalized and trustworthy service are great virtues in the digital landscape. Still, are you doing them in an impersonal way?
Are you coming across simply as a manufacturer rather than a synergist? You need to communicate better than that. Tell stories to your consumers that offer solutions, reassurance, and concern about their well-being. Make it about them (they are your consumers, after all), their problems, and their experiences.
A story waiting to be told
A French skincare cream manufacturer was using equipment to clean up a particular hard-to-clean skincare cream from their manufacturing process that required 14,000 liters of water and more than 8 hours to return to acceptable standards. It approached another company to find a solution to reduce water usage and equipment downtime. After due diligence, the solutions provider proposed a successful cleaning process. Not only was there a reduction in the 1,14,000 liters of water per year but also a drop in downtime by 63 hours, allowing the production of 10 extra batches of the skin cream annually. Over and above this, the cleaning expenses were reduced by €46,000 annually.
Imagine the appeal of the skin cream for consumers when they learn of the manufacturer’s corrective steps for consumer safety and the environment!
There are thousands of such success stories in the history of the chemical manufacturing industry, but many remain untold.
More than 96 percent of goods manufactured by the chemical industry are critical to the health, safety, and sustainability of our lives and society. At its core, this industry is all about people and their safety – employees and consumers.
Most B2B companies in the other sectors have understood the importance of empathy for customers. A strategic approach of empathy supported by technology can do wonders in this industry’s storytelling campaigns. It is an essential part of adopting human-centric strategies that improve connection, increase engagement, make it easier for customers to do business with this industry, and gain a competitive advantage. Essentially, B2B customers are not looking for a product to buy; they are looking for an enduring experience for which they are willing to pay more.
Emotion is fundamental to human experience. The digital era has changed nothing about our need to stay emotionally connected. Engaging audiences and winning their hearts on digital platforms still calls for feeling. But it is crucial to understand well what kind of emotion buyers and consumers of the chemical industry respond to. It needs research and analysis – investment manufacturers and companies must be willing to make. As the competition for attention and loyalty intensifies, the chemical industry players must craft stories that humanize their brands and trigger an emotional response.
Selling and buyers in the B2B chemical industry are under pressure to contribute to sustainability goals. The commitment to these goals is a story that involves consumers and the planet. The consumer has a right to know how the company whose products they are using is pursuing sustainability.
Creating sustainable products is good; involving people in how and why the products are made is excellent, and it makes consumers feel inclusive and protected and builds a collective vision.
Every manufacturer looks for validation of their efficiency. How are they redefining processes that save energy, cost, and time when the volatility of raw material prices, fuel, and foreign exchange yields a decreased ROI in this industry? How are they doing better than their competitors?
Making consumers privy to this pledge is the most significant bond-building exercise manufacturers can undertake. It creates lasting alliances; ultimately, every manufacturer is looking for that alliance with their consumers.