Ep. 97 – Interview w/ Donovan Chee

How to Tell Better Stories in B2B Marketing

B2B marketing has evolved significantly over time, and one aspect of it that is definitely getting more attention is the art of good storytelling. Why is it such a crucial component in B2B marketing? What are some elements that B2B marketers should be paying attention to? Where can they get their inspiration from?

Join us as we dive into this topic in our recent conversation with expert B2B raconteur Donovan Chee (Head of Marketing and Communications Southeast Asia, Bureau Veritas). During our discussion, Donovan elaborates on the importance of creativity in storytelling, why B2B companies should deviate from focusing solely on products and services, and why having first-party data is crucial. He also talks about what mistakes to avoid and provides great examples of what good storytelling in B2B looks like

Play Video about EP 97 Donovan Chee

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Donovan shares some examples of great storytelling in B2B [4:58] | [36:41]
  • Some of the common mistakes and misconceptions that B2B marketers make when it comes to storytelling and how to address them. [11:52]
  • Donovan talks about the importance of having first party data and research for good storytelling [22:30]
  • Donovan talks about the different components that are required for great and effective storytelling for B2B [29:18]

Companies & links mentioned:



Christian Klepp, Donovan Chee

Christian Klepp  00:00

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting Christian Klepp. All right, everyone. Welcome to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I am joined by someone, first of all on the other side of the world, and someone who is on a mission to help B2B companies tell better stories through marketing communications, Mr. Donovan Chee, Welcome to the show, sir.

Donovan Chee  00:49

Thanks for having me here. Christian. How you doing?

Christian Klepp  00:52

I’m doing well. And I think is it 5am your time over in Bangkok?

Donovan Chee  00:57

Yes, yes, that’s right. 5am in Bangkok, but I’m not from Bangkok. I’m not based in Bangkok. I’m actually Singaporean. I’m right here on a working trip. And so I thought, you know, I like to start my day early. And that’s why I decided to do this early in the morning. Because if I would do it late at night, that’s not going to work out.

Christian Klepp  01:17

Well, much appreciate it. Thank you so much for getting up early to have this conversation with me. And I’m slightly jealous that you’re in Thailand. So if you can, um, you know, when the opportunity arises, have some Pad Thai for me and some Thai iced tea or Singha beer?

Donovan Chee  01:31

Sure. Absolutely. I really think not just Pad Thai, I had my Pad Thai yesterday already. I think I’m gonna have my board noodles. What else do we have? I’m gonna have my Tom Yum Soup… Oh, Food here is great.

Christian Klepp  01:44

No, fantastic, fantastic. Let’s, let’s start this conversation. And it’s on a topic that I believe is really important. It’s also close to my heart. But more… More importantly, I think it’s a topic that tends to sometimes get overlooked in the world of B2B marketing. Right? So, on that note, you wrote a post on LinkedIn, a while back that got some incredible engagement. And in this post, you talked about how marketing isn’t art, and at the heart of great marketing is good storytelling. So can you talk to us a little bit about this post? And why you felt… why you feel so strongly about good storytelling when it comes to B2B marketing?

Donovan Chee  02:30

That’s a great question. Christian, I think I have been very lucky to have seen the evolution of B2B marketing. Now, my experience is probably not as extensive as a lot of my other peers within this function or within this sphere. But I’ve been lucky enough to have seen how B2B marketing has evolved from the way it used to be to how it is now. I mean, case in point, when I first started out, what happened was, I, I felt that marketing, or at least the marketing functions that I was looking after, it was just about what I would call a coloring book department, you know, we were just doing PowerPoint slides, corporate brochures, corporate profiles, updating a website and sometimes we are almost like an ad hoc photographer, just to save money. And to them, to those companies, that was essentially marketing, you were just there to support the sales. And you will never face of part or rather a part of helping the company to achieve anything tangible. So as you know, you’ve got a sales colleague who comes to you and say, Hey, Don, I need this corporate PowerPoint presentation slide by tomorrow, can you just help me do it? That’s the role of marketing.

Donovan Chee  03:47

And then, you know, I’ve also seen where, how product marketing was like when it comes to say, advertisements, and you recall having it being at one of a MNC, where we were doing filtration products. And I clearly recall this brand identity guidelines they told us that we could do it two ways for our advertising. One, we could either put the product in there or two, we could either put the product packaging in there, there are no two ways about it. And they gave the tag lines which will constantly reuse all over the world. Because they felt that that was the best way to brand the product. So I will share what exactly happened for that, because that was something that I thought we could actually try to achieve something when it comes to creativity. And because they told me that I could only use the product or the packaging. I told them, Look, I’m going to try something new. I’m not going to do that. So Christian, I suppose you do drive right. So if you drive you have to go to carwash shop and change your filters. Yeah, 

Christian Klepp  04:57

I do. Yeah. 

Donovan Chee  04:58

So we’ll take the point of a cabin filter. So cabin filter in a nutshell is really meant to filter the air that’s coming through your aircon and make sure that everybody’s healthy and breathing clean air. And I think at that point in time, a lot of the marketing that is being done is geared towards the direct customer, i.e. that is your distributor, or your car workshops, a lot of times people forget that these are not the end users. So I took a different approach, I wanted to reach out to the end users to let them understand the brand that they should be looking for when they go to the carwash shop and request for filter change. So you could actually increase then the demand of the filters. And then of course, you know, it would indirectly affect the supply. And of course, then you will generate revenue. So for that particular campaign, when we worked out the advertisement, we did it differently. Now, because we understood the pain points of our customers, we always felt that or rather we always hear what they say your price is too expensive. I think it’s very evident throughout Asia, all the customers who just say your price is too expensive, can you lower it.

Christian Klepp  06:12

Or even here. 

Donovan Chee  06:13

Yeah, I think, okay, maybe all around the world, it’s always a price. So if the price is the problem, is the quality an issue? And I think that company felt very proud of his quality. And for that I think it makes sense. So if we’re going to go by that way, then we decided we wanted to showcase the part where if you invest in a premium product, your car could actually last longer, or the savings-wise, right, that you’re going to accumulate during that period would actually be better. So you’re going to pay a little bit more for the one time purchase yet over the course of say that one year, you’ll be changing your filters much lesser than if you use a less premium kind of filter. But a lot of times, you know your customers are short-sighted, they don’t really see that. So we essentially create an advertisement out of that. And we then use a… we put a coin bank or rather we drew a coin bank in the shape of a car. And the colors were in our product colors. So I wasn’t gonna… wasn’t deviating away, there’s a product packaging, but I was just doing it differently. When I was doing I was using a coin bank to essentially show that the customer was going to purchase the product, he or she was going to save a lot of money because we’re going to have a stack of coin beside the coin bank. And we give it a sort of feeling where you buy it, you’re gonna save money through this car, to this car coin back. So I think there were a lot of different meanings in that image with a car coin bank in our product packaging with a stack of coins. And of course, the tagline was worth every cent. And also something that I was proud of because it was not done at all, it had never been done at all and it was something that was very new. And obviously, I had a lot of discussions with head office because they were a little bit, you know, a little bit hesitant about going down this route. They were worried that once they do it, it will open a can of worms. But we made a business case we convinced them and thankfully, it worked. And then this advertisement was voted by my global colleagues as the best advertisement for the year. And coming from, you know, being a novice in marketing. At that point in time, I felt so proud and honored but humble, you know that a lot of my senior marketing colleagues, who have so much more years of experience than me, they actually felt that that was worthy to win something. So to be recognized by them was great. But back to the point on creativity, I think, sorry, I’m sorry, telling why do I feel that way? I you know, talking about the evolution of B2B marketing and why and how it is now today. I’ve always asked myself, you know, is marketing, actually an art or science? I always feel that marketing should be an art, not a science, because if you’re going to do is science is no different from doing accounting or doing, you know, being a biochemical scientists, no disrespect to those professions. But I feel that in terms of marketing you by being creative, by being able to come up with great stories. By looking at it as an art form, you’re able to really play out of the play not within the sandbox that you have created, or really think out of the box and push yourself to the limits. Right, and there are no boundaries in terms of what you can create. And that’s what I think every marketer should really think about. You know, don’t let anything stop you from creating something. Think about whether it makes sense. That certainly would would be a good question to do but having said that, I always say, push yourself first, be creative. Think out of the box, then you figure out whether it makes sense or not to do it. So don’t limit yourself. And that’s, that’s the reason why I feel that, you know, storytelling is so essential in B2B and especially on the part where you really have to be creative in it. 

Christian Klepp  10:18

Yeah, absolutely. I love that case study. I mean, I remember in our previous conversation, you brought up that story, and I thought it was such a great example of how you could, you know, like, pick your analogy, push the pencil, push the limits, right? Push the needle, I mean, and do something unconventional. And, you know, we’ve seen it in B2B time and time again, it’s almost like a rank and file approach where everybody is saying you either you talk about the product, or talk about the packaging, or talk about the services, and these are the taglines and, you know, I used to always call those types of that type of approach, reduce, reuse, recycle, right.

Donovan Chee  10:58

But the thing is now, you know, people are now talking about purpose driven content, it seems like people are now picking up on it, you know, and even Simon Sinek, right, he is now talking about marketing the Golden Circle, right. And I thought that is very interesting way to put it, because now people are slowly accepting the fact that nobody cares about products and services anymore. It’s really about how you’re going to help solve your customers pain points, or help them achieve their business objectives. So we should really deviate away from you know, talking about your own products and services. That wouldn’t work anymore.

Christian Klepp  11:38

Right. Right. You brought up some of these already. But let’s talk about some of the common mistakes and misconceptions you’ve seen out there, the B2B marketers make when it comes to storytelling, and what should be done to address these.

Donovan Chee  11:52

Okay, I think the first thing that really would be a problem, as I touched on before would be focusing too much on your products and services. That shouldn’t be the case. Now, we all know how good our products and services are. That’s, that’s for sure you’re working for a company, you don’t want to get fired. The next day, I say how bad your products and services are, right. But having said that, of course, the companies that you’re working in wouldn’t be surviving for so long, if they are not doing well enough with their range of capabilities. But what we need to understand is, whatever we can do, our customers can do it. So well, competitors can do it. Right? Does it make sense not to be shouting on the rooftop and saying, Yeah, we can do this and your competitors are saying the same thing? How are you going to differentiate yourselves. And so essentially, how you’re going to do that is to make sure that you are able to understand your customers, right, if you understand clearly understand your customers, their pain points, their business objectives, and you know that you’re able to help them achieve that. They’ll hire you know, to either help them achieve their business objectives or to help them remove their pain points, then that is the best way you could do when it comes to focusing on the kind of story that you want to develop. And I think that’s the reason why we have also seen a rise in customer success stories, right? Nobody, I think about 10 over years ago, it was always about testimonials. You take a quote from someone you put the the quote unquote sign and then after that, you just put a couple of sentences, name, the title of the gentleman or the lady that you’re spoken to the company and then a picture and then that’s it, you will call it call it your track record. But now, you know, those don’t work anymore, because first and foremost, probably going to validate it, right? How are going to verify if it’s authentic or not. So customer success stories, I think, making sense making perfect sense. In fact, the other day, I was just chaos to do one with a couple of our customers. And it heartens me to actually hear that the products sorry, the services that we are, we are doing for them that we are selling to them, actually help them remove their pain points, and helps to actually create a wider opportunity for them in terms of what they’re trying to do. And then there’s the main thing in terms of what you’re trying to do. When it comes to your business. You want to make sure that your business, your services, your products, your capabilities, have to benefit not just your customer, but I think right now is really the society as a whole. We cannot forget that, especially when it comes to B2B marketing, no matter how many times we we actually selling we may be called B2B. You may be called a B2B function, right? And it’s business to business. But a lot of times people seem to forget that there is an end user. And that’s not the business. The business may be the intermediary in between that is helping us to provide our products or services to the end user. So if we’re able to make sure that we partner our customers and help them do better good for the society or for the end users and benefits the end users. That to me, means that your marketing is done very well. And of course, then that would also mean you need to really touch on the, the two organs. I was calling to organize, you got to touch on their brains, you got to touch with their heart, because you know, when you’re doing B2B Marketing, a lot of times again, we go back to oh, I’m doing B2B marketing. So I must focus on my products and my services. But you forget that you’re actually selling to a person and your, your customers are actually comprising people, right? Your key decision makers that could be C suite level or could be the operations people, regardless, the thing is, you’re actually still marketing or selling to people. And then you need to understand where their needs are coming from, right, for example, the C suite, certainly they were looking at profitability, they do not want to make any losses, they want to make sure that their revenue is growing. We know the operation side, they want to make sure that the efficiency of the project is being, well, double on time, perhaps, you know, or maybe they are looking at less downtime, depending on what the project entails. So if you’re able to create stories that help to allay their fears, or to help them, convince them and ensure that what they are worried about is definitely not a problem for you, then certainly will help to make sure that they understand what you are capable of doing, and add value to what they’re doing. That’s something that we need to understand that we’re not just here to provide the services and products, and then we just say, Hey, we’re that we’re also here to add value, be a partner to our customers, and ensure that whatever they do, they will get the benefit. And when they prosper, of course, we will prosper. Because they will come back to us and say, hey, look, you’re adding value to my business. I meet you again. And we’ll be glad to help. So then, of course, on the other side, they will know that we understand their business, we understand their pain points, we understand their business objectives. They don’t need to find another supplier or vendor, that thing that you know, I have to repeat everything again. What’s the point? They now know that they can go to, go back to us? And they? Yep, we know it. We totally understand that business.

Christian Klepp  17:25

Absolutely. Absolutely. You brought up so many points. And I was furiously taking notes here. But let me see. No, there was something that you brought up, which, which I think is so important, and it annoys me how people used to dismiss this in B2B marketing / storytelling, like they say, just take the emotion and rationale out of everything. Right. Yeah, and case in point, all of those things that you just mentioned, it highlights or it proves the point that emotions are important. It’s just not the same. It’s just not exactly like 100%, the same emotion that people apply in, you know, in B2C, right and consumer facing products. But back to your point, it’s about like addressing those pain points, alleviating the fears, right, and helping the customer to understand that you are here to help them solve a problem, which goes back to another point that you raised about the role, the important and strategic role that I personally feel, marketing and communications plays. It’s relationship building, right? Because it’s not necessarily just in Asia, in my experience, it’s like all over the world. Once the annual contract is up, and then it comes to contract renewal, oh, man. Right, we’re gonna have the same conversation again. But as a service provider, that’s doing a good job. If you’re delivering and you’re helping set client to achieve their goals, then you don’t have to worry about them having to, you know, go and find somebody else, because they already know that, you know, you’re here to help them and they have built up this relationship with you, and they can trust you to deliver on what it is you promised to do. Right?

Donovan Chee  19:11

And there’s a reason why I always encourage marketers to go out and meet customers, right? A lot of times salespeople may not be too keen to bring marketers out, but I always say they should go out to get the salespeople to meet customers. I mean, if we look at it this way, the function of the sales seem obviously is to bring in sales, right? And if we step into the shoes of the customer, sometimes they look at salespeople, they go like, Yeah, I know what you’re here for, you know, you’re just here to try to sell me things again. And it makes perfect sense. So they tend to just… sometimes you may not get any traction out of that meeting. But if you go as a marketing, you bring your marketer or I or you and I go and visit customers. I look at it from a different point of view and customers will certainly look at me from a different point of view. And the kind of conversations you would create with a customer will then give you an insight into what you’re facing, they would give you a lot of knowledge, you know, they’ll tell you about trends that may be happening within the industry, they may be telling you problems and issues that may be happening within the industry, they may even be able to tell you why, you know, they’re not able to sell your products or what problems that customers are facing, and from there, then you’re able to get first hand data on what kind of content you want to create to make sure that ultimately, when they succeed, you succeed. So I always tell my market is my team, go out, meet your customers. And there’s something I was also like, you know, the relationship building parts, because, you know, subsequently, when you go back to them, you ask them, Hey, are you happy with this? Does this help you, they appreciate what you do. And they understand that we are going the extra mile for them. And I think also the other part where we should mention was, I think a lot of people do not realize the B2B buying journey is really very long, it’s a long gestation period, it’s not like going to the supermarket, you grab something, and you’re like, Hey, let’s go, we’re gonna go make a payment already. It really is a long period, it could be a tender project. Or it could be something that is, you know, in the making for a couple of years, because for example, you could just be doing a building. And you need to do all your develop your, your pre, your project staff right before you even start drawing up your first building. So all of these things need to come into the do your mind and really understand it, because this long period, long buying journey is already there. For B2B, when it comes to B2B, we have to start right from the from the start to make sure that you understand all aspects draw this customer journey where their pain points are. And once you do that, then you create the right content to make sure that you elevate or address their concerns and each of these pain points. So as long as we understand that, then there shouldn’t be a problem in an ideal world.

Christian Klepp  22:08

Exactly, exactly. No, I love it. I love it. And I’m glad you brought up the topic of research and data because that was such a that’s such a beautiful segue into the next question, because it’s the importance of having first party data and research for good storytelling. So your thoughts on those?

Donovan Chee  22:56

Well, like I mentioned earlier, as much as… now I think a lot of times people now think especially when it comes to modern marketing data means you know, your engagement rates, your clicks, your MQL, your SQL, I like to think I go back to the traditional way it gets. visiting customers, that’s where you really get your first party data, you speak to them, you know, what you’re looking for, you ask the right questions, you’ll be able to get the right answers. And when you get the right answer, this gives you an understanding of how these industry is like or what the customers are facing. And I always go back and make an appointment when I go back to do my own marketing reports on what I think or what they have told me, and what I think could be we could do to help them. And of course, the situations that could be forecasted, you know, two years down the road. So that’s how we create content or create campaigns for marketing. But, you know, I’m the kind of, I strongly believe that data first party data is essential in terms of helping us understand the customers. So you obviously would have to have gated content for certain type of content that you’re putting out, I myself, I would like to usually put gated… I would like to use white papers as gated content usually, because I think that they are an essential source of information. That would certainly benefit the customers. And I think customers who are already in a certain advanced stage of the buying journey, they will want to know more information, not brochures, where they already know your capabilities, I think those are content that you can actually give it out to them for free, or white papers or good information for them to understand. And help them make sure that they feel that they’re doing the right thing when it comes to sort of selecting the right service provider. So there’s the kind of first party data that we would like to collect because then it allows us to reach out to our customer to this potential customers and speak to them and study the relationship, right, we need to engage them and nurture them. And one thing is, I think we’ve B2B Marketing, a lot of times customers, they actually already know what they want. They’re already probably about 20% there. They would have heard of your name already or else they wouldn’t have come to your website or tried to look for materials. 

Christian Klepp  25:19

They need verification, right? 

Donovan Chee  25:21

Yeah, correct. 

Donovan Chee  25:23

Validation. Exactly. And they are there to actually make sure that they are on the right track in terms of, you know, is this company really what I think could help me, you know, and in that case, the information or the content that you put out has to be very useful for them to make sure that they want to click on it, they want to give you their details, and to make sure that this is what they’re looking for. So once we get it, we immediately speak to them, nurture the relationship. And one thing I realized is having worked in international companies, the journey is so different in different countries. In Europe, I recall. Well, actually, I recall this conversation in terms of the fields that we needed to put forward get the content. That was very interesting, because at that point, in time, when this first started out, they told me, we needed to nurture the customers at different stages of the buying journey. So at the very first stage, you only need names, their contact details, for example, the email, as well as the telephone numbers, then their country, and that’s it. Then subsequently, they would do again, they will send out emails to continue to nurture and then they will ask for more details again. But I think within the Asian context, a lot of times you don’t want to do that, because they are… our customers are busy enough already. You want them to just go straight into it, make it as simple and as easy for them, go their input all the details that you need. And once you capture all those details, immediately, you start maturing them, by engaging them, not give them another email to say hey, would you like another ebook? And then you please input all your details again. I think that is one step too many for customers in Asia. And suddenly we want to strike well, that, you know, the rod is hot, right? So you make sure that you go straight into it, you engage them because they have already indicated their interest level by downloading your content. Why are we waiting, go straight into it within 48 hours, if there’s a process that you have, that suddenly the process that I have indicated for our sales team is to go into it 48 hours, make sure that lead is still hot, and speak to them and engage them and hopefully results in, you know, revenue for our company.

Christian Klepp  27:37


Christian Klepp  27:38

Absolutely, absolutely. So there were two things that you brought up, right, like in past couple of minutes, which I want to go back to, first of all, on the topic of gated content. Well, first of all, thank you for bringing that up, because I am one of these people, right. That if I read another post on LinkedIn about somebody saying, like, you should just, ungate all your content. I mean, seriously, I’m just gonna like, because I understand where they’re coming from. But I guess it goes back to your point. I don’t think that everything should be ungated and white papers is definitely one of them. Something that’s proprietary, or something where the company has clearly invested time and resources, like, for example, coming up with research papers, right? I mean, I think if companies are gating that kind of content, that’s fair enough. Alright, that’s fair enough, like you want you want access to this. Okay, you got to do gotta give us something in return. All right, number one. Number two, it was the last point that you brought up, which is so true. And I’ve seen that play out like, in China, or even here in North America a couple of times, what works in one market really well might fall flat in another market, right. And there’s a lot of like factors at play there, as you can attest to, right. There’s cultural differences, linguistic differences, people are busy, or they’re on the road, and they’re not going to have time to sit down in front of a desktop to fill out a form that has 25 fields in it, for example, right. So it’s important for people to understand those differences, because the world has become so much smaller now, thanks to digitization and so forth. I mean, look at us, we’re having this conversation. You’re sitting in Bangkok when I’m here in Toronto, right?

Donovan Chee  29:21

Yeah, correct. And I’m not even based in Bangkok.

Christian Klepp  29:25

Exactly. All right. You talked about some of these already, but break it down for us right. Tell us about the different components that you think are required for great and effective storytelling for B2B?

Donovan Chee  29:40

Okay, there’s a very good question. I think a lot of times it comes from within first, you must really dare to think out of the box, right and push the boundaries, I think that has to come from within. Because if you are able to do that, then you should be at least I hope, be able to think of a lot of creative ideas. But other than that, those kinds of… the kind of I wouldn’t call them skills were the kind of attitude or the kind of the way you will want to approach your storytelling. The other way is really to look at what other industries are doing. Is important that as marketing As you do not just close yourself up, you wrap yourself within the industry that you’re looking at. And then you just look at what your competitors are doing. Rather, that’s fine in terms of research, that’s fine in terms of trying to see the best practices within the industry. But if you look at what other B2B industries are doing, you can pick up a little bit of, you know, go here and there, and you could adapt, see, or rather, you could bring in, you know, see what’s useful in those in what they have been doing and see what they could adapt to what you’re trying to accomplish down here, within your industry. So don’t close yourself and say that, Oh, just because I’m in this industry, I’m only just focused on what our competitors are doing. And we try to do better than that, suddenly, that’s the end game to do better than your competitors in terms of marketing. But you don’t have always have to follow the rulebook. Look at what industry or industries are doing, and see what’s the best beats pick from them, learn from them, and then you throw it in to what you’re doing. But of course, you know, when it comes to a real structure, in terms of how you’re going to really come up with great stories, I think you need to have a structure in place first a framework in place in terms of how you want to create good stories. So you obviously need to have your context and background of what the issue is about the whether the your customers pain points, or what their customer what your what your objectives are. That is the context in terms of why you want to create this story. As long as you know, that part, you should be able to start, you know, start to build the foundations of a good story. Next would be how your capabilities actually helped to benefit them, not just directly, but as I mentioned before, the wider impact on your services, your cater your products, your capabilities, how it impacts not just them, but their customers or the society as a whole. Then, of course, do not make yourself the hero. I think that’s the part where we have to understand that we are here to provide the solutions for our customers. But ultimately, the one that is happy is the customer. So the customer should be the hero because they are now able to do what they need to do, they’re now that you have actually helped to solve their pain points, right, they’ve actually helped them accomplish their business objectives. So now they can do what they need to do thanks to you. And they are the real heroes, because you’re actually helping them… help build a better place, for example. So if you could focus on them being the hero and you’re there as a partner in their journey, that would be part of what I think would be a good way to create a good story. And last but not least, I think you really need a call to action. But it has to be very subtle, we’re not going to go like you know, in Singapore times “lay long lay long , come come”… you know, we don’t have to do that. It has…, like I mentioned earlier, you know, really nobody cares about products and services. But at the same time you want people to know that, hey, I’m here to help you if you need me. This is where you can find me. Right. Right. So that I think in essence, it pretty much makes up the I hope they can see good building blocks of a good story.

Christian Klepp  33:45

Yeah, I think you definitely hit the nail on the head there, Donovan, and I’m sure you’ve heard about this before. But I had a conversation with a few guests who are talking about, like, especially branding or brand storytelling and so forth, right. And two names always came up, right. One is Joseph Campbell. And the other one is Donald Miller. Right. So Donald Miller is the author of a book called Build Your Story brand and Joseph Campbell was a professor. Don’t quote me on this but a professor of mythology, so he doesn’t…

Donovan Chee  34:15

Just to cut you in that Christian. Joseph Campbell. If I remember correctly, I’m not sure if you’re  Zack Snyder fan. I love Zack Snyder, I watched his students I love I love that this version of Superman. He actually use Joseph Campbell’s quotes, right on on the Superman symbol. Oh, I can’t remember. Was it the Superman symbol? Or was it about the belt? So he specifically use that because like you mentioned the philosopher and it was so amazing to use a quote and he actually translated in the Kryptonian. So they had to hire language expert to do that, to sort of create a Kryptonian language. And then they use a Joseph Campbell quote to put in there. It’s amazing. I’m sorry to cut you off.

Christian Klepp  34:58

No, no, no. This is great. This is great. I love where you’re going with this because Joseph Campbell did research on different legends and myths from cultures across the world. Right. And he came up with this format that is applicable, not just in marketing, but I think Hollywood took this playbook. Right. And basically it’s seven steps. Right. And you mentioned you mentioned them. So it’s a hero hassle problem, meets a guide/partner, who gives him or her a plan encourages them to take action, so that they will succeed and avoid failure. Right? The next time you read a story book to your kids, look at that pattern. The next time you look at a campaign, look for that pattern. The next time you watch a movie, look for that pattern. It’s a, it’s applied across the board and the way that you laid it out, it falls exactly into that into that format. Right. And I love how you brought that up about making the customer the hero because I think it’s getting better now. But in the past, we see, okay, they’re making the company’s product the hero of the campaign.

Christian Klepp  36:05

Yeah, correct, correct. And then becomes almost like a commercial, or it’s not the way to go. Because ultimately, you want to show how you have actually supported your customers journey. Right? If you’re gonna make your own products and services the hero, hey, then, you know, customers are gonna say, Are you sure? I could just buy another competitor.

Christian Klepp  36:28

Exactly, exactly. So you brought up already one great example at the beginning of this conversation, but give us another great example of great storytelling in B2B, either from your own professional experience, or something that you’ve seen out in the market?

Donovan Chee  36:46

I wouldn’t dare to say they are great stories, not, not what I’ve done. You know, this, I’m just going to share some of them though, but I wouldn’t have to call them great. So here’s the thing, one of them one of them…

Christian Klepp  36:59

I won’t allow you to call them.

Donovan Chee  37:03

Humblebrag, you know, I will let you do it. I will let you say this great. Now, look, here’s the thing. One of them was when I was at a technology company. And… we were actually doing defense equipment. Right? We were essentially a defense equipment manufacturer. Now, I think the thing with defense equipment is that you have, you know, we have always one camp that thinks defense equipment is evil. Because it creates wars, it creates death. And fair enough, I totally understand that perspective. So, in essence, when we were looking at trying to create a video and story on how to actually make it more relatable, and resonate with the common audience, and, you know, put it and make sure that it is nice to look at, it feels good to look at yet at the same time, we recognize the importance of having defense equipment, we actually sat down to brainstorm, what should we be doing? Now, we don’t want to go down the whole traditional route of just saying this is a rifle. These are the specifications. This is what we can do full stop that’s this, next one. So we created a video. And when we came up with this concept, we actually had quite a few weeks to brainstorm in terms of why are we doing that? What is our purpose in terms of building defense equipment? So the idea that we came up essentially, was something that I felt it would totally resonate with Singaporeans, because Singapore males like me, we have to serve what we call a national service. So you spent two years in the Army, where you learn how to protect your country. So when we came up with the concept of the video is all about defending your country defending your loved ones. And that’s why you need defense equipment. So just to give you a gist of what is this story was about, it was about a man that went back home, looked at his daughter that was sleeping, and daughter was about four or five years old, his wife say hello. And then he got called up to the military because there was an invasion. So he went back to army camp. And then of course, he will equip like an Ironman, you know, with all the different products or with all the different equipment. And that’s how we sort of, you know, share the kind of the technical requirements, or rather the technicalities of each defense equipment, in a very subtle way. And of course, you win a war, you go back home, you see a family and you know that your loved ones could sleep peacefully because of what you have done. And it’s all because of the defense equipment that has helped to actually defend the country and how to protect your loved ones. And that was, in a nutshell, what we did. And it felt that we it resonated very well because we premiered it at one of the trade shows that was open to the Singapore public. And a lot of children were actually sitting down a lot of families were standing there to watch. So as much as there are no specific metrics, I think, the fact that you have families sitting down there or standing there gathering to watch the video. It was it was heartening to see. And, you know, you can just tell the bosses. Well, these are the metrics that you actually want the number of people that, you know, are looking at your video. And that’s the kind of engagement we had. And essentially, it made sense for us to go down that route when we created that story is because we do not want to just talk about, again, how this equipment can… how many rounds this equipment can fire. Really, I think every engineer and every defense personnel would know, but how are we going to make sure that people understand that there is a need for defense equipment, you know, without actually harming or without actually being a problem to the society, it really is about protecting your loved ones. And you know, you have got family, Christian, I’ve got my family, and I want them to be sleeping peacefully. I do not want any, you know, touch with any any sort of invasions and wars? 

Christian Klepp  41:18

Of course not, nobody does. 

Donovan Chee  41:19

Yeah, exactly. And this is one way we wanted people to know that, look, the, the people that we’re selling to, the defense armies that we’re selling to that they are actually using it to protect their country, their loved ones, and the assets, that’s why you could sleep at home. So that’s one story that I’m very proud of. And is still it. I’m not sure if they’re still using it today. But I hope they are, as far as I as I’m concerned. And something that I’ve heard is that they’ve been using it for quite a few years. So we do a lot of trade shows. So that was great. But having said that, of course when it comes to resonating with your audience, you need to find a common point, right? In terms of the culture side of things. What is it that your audience and you have in common when you’re thinking about crafting a story. So you have to always be in the shoes of your audience, understand your audience what they’re looking for culturally, and then create something that makes sense to them. So you use… you have got an experience that will bond, both parties. And that’s how you create a good story.

Christian Klepp  42:27

All right, now I’m gonna allow myself to say that was a great example. Good story. But, all jokes aside, I think what I liked about that story, because you, you shared that with me in our previous conversation, but what I really liked about that, that case study, if I can call it that was the originality. Because I think one thing that you guys did not do was go down, I would say, the path of predictability. Alright, so you didn’t, we all know, what the product is. But that’s one thing that you didn’t necessarily have to like, you know, shout from the rooftops, as you said earlier on in the conversation, you created a story around, okay, what is this product reason for being? And who benefits from? Well, hopefully, somebody’s not using the product, but like, if they need it, it’s there. Right? For example. The other one was not making it about the company or the product itself. Right. And that goes back again, to some of the points that you were bringing up earlier on in our discussion, right? It’s making the customer the hero, making the end customer the hero. Talking about, like, what the greater purpose of the company is beyond the, the obvious products and services themselves. Right?

Donovan Chee  43:51

Correct. And I think purpose driven content is essential to what you know, you have to know your company’s purpose, you have to know the purpose of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And how it benefits. If you do not sense that purpose, there’s no way you can create a great story. And I think that’s something that should have touched on earlier. Because purpose driven content is really the… it will show your customers use this society or even the end user what your role is when it comes to helping the society right. And that’s also the reason why I think a lot of marketing nowadays is not just get to us B2B is now B to B to C, right? Because you have to you have to make sure that the end user knows what you’re doing and why you’re doing that. And that is a good way because a lot of times I think when it comes to B2B companies, nobody knows B2B companies as much as B2C companies, unless you really have got a good brand name. So in, in essence, when you have a purpose driven content, the end user will then say, Hmm, okay, look. So this way, when I’m doing this, I now know that this company actually played a role in making sure that what I’m doing right now can be done. You know, for example, if I’m eating a fish that says it’s been sustainably sourced from a farm, for example, but who is it verified by? Right and if the company that I’m working at is the one that has done the work certification. And somehow the marketing is so purpose driven such that I now know the common man on the on the street now knows what this company is doing. It makes perfect sense. Yeah, so I think purpose driven is really the part where we also need to know and really focus on when you tried to churn out great content.

Christian Klepp  45:41

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, Donovan, this has been such a great conversation. I think we could have gone on for another couple of hours. But I think the sun is already rising in Bangkok. (laugh)

Donovan Chee  45:53

It’s setting over on your side Christian.

Christian Klepp  45:54

It’s gonna set in another hour or two or over on my side. But um, thank you again for coming on the show and sharing your expertise and experience with the listeners. So please, quick intro to yourself and how people out there can get in touch with you.

Donovan Chee  46:08

Right. Thank you very much for inviting me to show Christian. Well, my name is Donovan. And I’m actually the Head of Marketing and Communications for Bureau Veritas, which is a company, a French company, actually, with over 200 years of history in the testing, inspection and certification ministry. So I’ve had, I’ve been in a B2B marketing sphere for about 12-13 years already. It’s not long, not short, but I think it’s given me quite a ride so far, but a journey as I mentioned earlier, and I’m very happy to be on this journey. You guys can find me on LinkedIn. If you look for Donovan Chee, I hope it shouldn’t be a problem. But otherwise, you know, you can always message Christian and he’ll be able to direct you to where I am at. But this is great. It is really great. And I thank you so much Christian for inviting me to be on the show.

Christian Klepp  46:59

Fantastic. Fantastic. Once again, thanks for your time. So take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon. 

Donovan Chee  47:05

See you. Bye. 

Christian Klepp  47:06

Thanks, bye for now.


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