Augustine Nyemah
Augustine Nyemah 25 April 2016

Storytelling in Marketing : An Art Proven by Science

Chandreyi specializes in building engaged online communities and sparking conversations about business-to-business marketing trends while at Skyline Group.

Can storytelling overcome the modern day obstacles marketers face and gain customer buy-in experience better? Its truly said that “A person who is awake for 16 hours per day experiences over 7 hours of daydreams on average. This totals approximately 2000 different dreams each day, meaning that most people aren’t paying attention to what is going on for just under half of the time they’re awake.”(Source: Klinger, 1978).

The facts and statistics behind Storytelling

Have you ever noticed how engaged a young, otherwise rambunctious child becomes when being told a story? Furthermore from marketing perspective, the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that modern customers in 2015 have a mere 12 second attention span, a 33% decrease from the year 2000, making it increasingly difficult to engage customers. Finally, less than 25% of TV viewers and magazine/billboard readers place any value or trust in the ads they see.

Considering these findings, how can marketers better reach their perfect audience? Do stories truly hold the power to break through distractions, engage attention, and earn the buy-in of modern day customers?

The Science of Humans and Storytelling

1. Stories Improve Memory – The same part of the brain which creates stories using the imagination is also in control of memory. Therefore, when something is associated with a story, it becomes easier to recall. This effect is magnified when an emotional trigger is involved, because dopamine is released in the brain which improves memory and the accuracy of memories. Stories Change the Brain’s Chemistry – Stories that elicit emotional reactions are shown to also stimulate the brain’s production of oxytocin. This leads to increased kindness, trust, and compassion. People hearing the story will feel more empathy for the storyteller and be more open to what they have to offer.

The beauty of storytelling in marketing is its ability to captivate and hold the focus of the human mind. Below are the interesting scientific discoveries which uncover what is going on inside the brain when a person is being told a story.

2. Stories Cause Neural Coupling – Neural coupling is a process wherein the brains of people listening to a story experience neurons firing along the same patterns as the speaker. This enables people to experience a story as if it is their own idea and personal experience, creating a sense of connection.

3. Stories Cause Increased Brain Activity – Normally, when people hear information, the following two brain areas are activated: The Wernicke’s area, responsible for reception and comprehension language; The Broca’s area, also responsible for language processing and comprehension. However, a good story can engage multiple areas including: The motor cortex, responsible for executing movement; the frontal cortex, responsible for problem solving, memory, language, judgment, impulse control, social behavior and motor function; the sensory cortex, responsible for sensing sight, taste, smell, and sound.

Additionally, Aaker says. “A story is a journey that moves the listener, and when the listener goes on that journey they feel different and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.”

That action is exactly what marketers work so hard to achieve. Within the content marketing arena, these six tips will help you incorporate sophisticated storytelling into your digital marketing efforts:

1. Develop a true understanding of your target audience. This goes deeper than a one-page “buyer persona”. You must speak to your customers and ask why they bought from you. What drove them to start searching for a solution? How did they find your brand? What questions did they ask your sales team? Once you understand their answers, you will be able to create material that truly speaks to your audience.

2. Through your conversations, identify emotional drivers your buyers experience. This emotional analysis will help determine what your customers truly care about and how to tap into that passion.

3. Prioritise authenticity as much as possible. Highlight stories from employees, customers and other industry folk. Don’t shy away from using details like names, settings and positive outcomes. The more relateable your story is, the more your audience will respond.

4. Whether you are using Facebook, a blog, Twitter, direct mail or even a billboard, use the strengths of your channel to tell your story appropriately. From two words to 140 characters, create a story that’s shareable across your channel of choice.

5. Give your stories credibility. “No one says facts and figures should be completely eliminated from your storytelling,” Aaker says. “When data and story are used together, audiences are moved both emotionally and intellectually.”

6. Encourage user-generated content to share different perspectives of your overarching story. Try hosting a contest, managing a hashtag or interviewing industry leaders to create third-party content with storytelling flair.

Finally this further suggests that the listener, may be a prospect of your products and services is experiencing a relevant story as if it is happening to them, it results in a deeper engagement before you own them.





Originally Published 

Follow her at Google+ or tweet her at @chandreyisaha.

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