5 Lessons a BtoB Marketer can Learn from “Breaking Bad”

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Have you heard of AMC’s critically acclaimed series “Breaking Bad?” If you’re a business to business marketer, you ought to check it out. I consider it an Owners Manual for B2B marketing today.

Perhaps you’ve never seen “Breaking Bad.” If not, let’s get you up to speed. Here’s how they describe it:

Breaking Bad follows protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife (Anna Gunn) and teenage son (RJ Mitte) who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live.

With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to secure his family’s financial security, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world. The series explores how a fatal diagnosis such as White’s releases a typical man from the daily concerns and constraints of normal society and follows his transformation from mild family man to a kingpin of the drug trade.

I believe the B2B Marketer can learn lots from a series like this. Here are 5 key lessons all B to B marketers should embrace:

  1. Tell a great story
    The power of a great story. A mild family man who runs a car wash becomes a kingpin of the drug trade. That’s riveting!

    In contrast, most B2B websites are deadly dull – products, services, about us and other boring content. That needs to change. Those businesses need to learn to tell stories. People love great stories. Where can you find great story-tellers? They’re out there. Visit 6 Ideas Content Marketers Can Take from Professional Journalists to learn more. B2B marketers need to learn how to tell stories about their people, products and services.

    You ought to hire a great story-teller. I look forward to seeing job listings for “Story-Tellers Wanted.”

  2. Use conflict and twists/turns to keep the audience guessing
    A mark of a great story is it keeps the audience guessing. It features conflict, like Walter White’s strained relationship with his wife and unbalanced business partner, Jesse Pinkman. It contains complex characters, like the seedy, chain-smoking hooker with a heart of gold.

    Surprises keep us guessing, like the recent episode that featured an almost gun battle between Jesse and two ruthless gangsters. Jesse’s walking up to the heavily armed thugs about to meet his Maker when Walter’s car comes from nowhere to mow down the gangsters.

    B to B marketers need to learn how to use twists and turns in their stories to keep prospective buyers engaged. Again, I want to see job listings for “Great story-teller.”

  3. Strong complex characters
    A good character has three dimensions. There’s a story around them. Check out a key character, the unbalanced and uncontrollable Jesse Pinkman.

    They are complex. How can B to B marketers create complex characters like Jesse?

  4. Give ‘em more to do
    New to the Show? Catch up here. Games and Trivia. Meet the Characters. Blog posts. Podcasts. and much, much more. That’s what B to B Marketers ought to do. Create landing pages filled with additional content. Brainstorm all of the angles around your story, like the folks at “Breaking Bad” did and put all that content on your landing page. Give your visitors a reason to stick around.
  5. Tease them with upcoming episodes
    After you watch an episode of “Breaking Bad,” you can’t wait to see the preview of next week’s show. Ardath Albee of MarketingInteractions calls these “cliff hangers.” Brainstorm ideas to keep your audience engaged. As a B to B marketer, you want to hold your audience. As a B2B marketer to create cliff hangers, you need to create a season of stories not single episodes. Cliff hanger are the “glue” that ties the episodes together.

It’s clear that deadly boring websites and static, dull content is no longer good enough to get and hold attention. B to B marketers need to embrace great story-telling, like “Breaking Bad.” Specifically, they need to find creative story-tellers for their staff.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the show? How do you think B to B marketer should embrace story-telling? We love comments and Retweets.

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