In the age of data and analytics it’s easy to overlook the processes that actually drive human interaction and decision-making. Consider this: given the choice would you rather read a list of ingredients and nutritional facts or a story about the farmer who grew one of them and how his farm has been in his family for six generations. For most people the choice is obvious.
Our brains were hardwired to remember stories. People have been using stories, folktales, and epic poems to remember history and moral lessons since the earliest societies. A recent Nielsen study finds that while much time has passed, in this respect, people haven’t changed, and that “there is room for improvement by marketers to make a more personal connection with consumers.”
While it may seem like a less direct or less effective means of communicating with your customers, infusing the story of your company into your marketing materials makes a much more direct connection with your customer’s brain.
There’s data and research that support moving (slightly) away from data and research.
Fast Company reports that “when reading straight data, only the language parts of our brains work to decode the meaning. But when we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well.”
Because stories replace the brain’s own internal narrative and daydreams, they help combat the dwindling attention spans and overwhelming marketing landscapes companies face.
They also stand out in the sea of advertising and marketing customers experience every day. Recent research found that Americans consume more than 100,000 digital words every single day. And, nine out of ten of them want those words to come in the form of a story.
The story can be something as overarching as the creation of your company or the impetus behind your mission, or a smaller scale retelling of how you created one product or one innovative piece of technology.
Ford used storytelling for the launch of the Focus RS. The company filmed an eight-part documentary about the team of engineers under immense pressure to meet the deadlines necessary to get the car to market on time.
“We exposed the true story – setbacks, conflict, compromises and ultimately success,” says Ford’s Europe vice president of communications and public affairs Mark Truby. “Once you’ve watched this you can never see an RS on the road again without understanding just how much passion went into creating it.”
Podcasting network Gimlet capitalized on this same idea by making a podcast called Start Up, that told the story of the creation of the network in real time giving investors and listeners a peek behind the scenes and a real sense of connection to the brand. It was so popular it not only helped them reach their funding and listenership goals months ahead of schedule, it’s also being turned into a TV series.
Often the stories behind companies seem so commonplace to the people who lived through them that they discount the power they hold. If you feel that way, consider telling your story to a customer or friend who has never heard it before and see what stands out to them. It can help bring the personality and drive behind your company to light for your customers in a whole new way.
If you would like assistance with telling your story, please contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com.