Storytelling as a marketing tool isn’t a new concept by any means. Companies have been using this technique for decades to sway consumers to purchase their products and services, but the advent of social media has paved the way for greater potential with storytelling. Brands can now push stories to thousands or even millions of people with the click of a button.
Before we go into modern-day storytelling in marketing campaigns, let’s take a few steps back in time, waaaay back.
Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of mankind. From the Locklove, NV cave drawings depicting Native American hunters chasing down buffalo, to the ancient Egyptian pyramids depicting a myriad of brilliantly detailed hieroglyphics, there’s an innate desire in all of us to tell, and read, stories.
Even today, mankind continues to create stories. They may not come in the form of ancient cave drawings or hieroglyphics, but they are all around us nonetheless. Opening up a magazine or flipping through the channels on your TV will reveal dozens of different stories, both fiction and nonfiction.
But what exactly drives us to stories? And how can companies focus the power of storytelling in their marketing campaigns? These are just a few questions we’re going to address in this week’s blog post.
Fact or Fiction: It Doesn’t Matter
Modern-day science has given us some insight into how storytelling affects the brain. A recent study by researchers at Washington University’s Department of Psychology, St. Louis found that fictional stories trigger the same region of the brain as real-life activity. This may sound confusing given the fact that we can obviously differentiate between a fictional story and real life, but scientific evidence suggests the two are linked on a subconscious level.
So even through you know there’s no such thing as a talking gecko, watching that otherwise ridiculous Geico commercial activates the same region of your brain as performing a real-life activity. This allows companies to connect with their target demographic by telling engaging fictional stories.
“Different brain regions track different aspects of a story, such as a character’s physical location or current goals. Some of these regions mirror those involved when people perform, imagine, or observe similar real-world activities. These results support the view that readers understand a story by simulating the events in the story world and updating their simulation when features of that world change,” wrote WUSTL researchers in the study’s abstract.
Stories Trigger The Release of ‘The Love Hormone’
According to a recent study, the human brain releases more of a chemical known as oxytocin (AKA the love hormone) when we read or listen to stories. Oxytocin receives its namesake “the love hormone” because of its relation to emotional and romantic interaction. Activities involving positive emotion tends to release this naturally occurring chemical, but surprisingly stories may release it as well.
Paul Zak, economist, author and proponent of neuroeconomics, reveals how stories in books and television shows trigger the release of oxytocin; thus, making them even more interesting and engaging. As we read or watch these stories, our brains release this powerful ‘happy’ chemical. You may not realize it, but there are chemical reactions taking place within your brain and body when you are exposed to a story, and the release of oxytocin is just one of them.
Stories Help To Resolve The Chaotic Mess In Our Brains
Our brains are exposed to thousands of situations, topics and elements in any given day. The massive influx of information creates a world of chaos that’s impossible to manage. However, scientists believe that stories aid in the organization of this information overload, allowing us to make sense of our surroundings.
How To Effectively Use Storytelling In Marketing Campaigns
There are a countless number of ways to use storytelling in marketing campaigns. In fact, you’ve probably used storytelling before – whether in ad copy, a blog post, YouTube clip or other media.
The MayoClinic.org has a section on their website dedicated specifically for patient stories. These are real first-hand stories of patients who are either going through a disease or illness or have survived a disease or illness. People going through the same conditions can release to these stories, even finding comfort in them.
By incorporating more stories into your marketing campaigns, you’ll connect with your audience on a deeper level. Now let’s take a look at some effective ways business’s can leverage the power of storytelling…
Tips For Effective Storytelling In Marketing:
- Share your own personal stories with your target audience.
- Publish testimonials from previous customers and clients on your website. In addition to creating a story, they also help to establish your site’s credibility.
- Quotes are an excellent way to convey stories, as readers connect with the subject.
- Publish case studies related to your niche/industry.
- Share stories on your social media accounts.
- Encourage your site’s visitors to share and submit their own stories.
- Take note of stories that affect you on a visceral level and implement them into your own marketing efforts.