Marketing – The Power of Storytelling
Information and in particular the medium of storytelling has been one of the most powerful tools used to influence mankind since time began. Indigenous Australians are one of the oldest storytellers on earth today who still use this form of sharing information to teach their youth about their history, the land, culture, animals, their law and ancestors. Many may dismiss this process as outdated and primitive, especially in today’s high paced digital age, but what this process generates in memory and recall has been highly misunderstood. The old secrets in communication can be the key to the effectiveness of your marketing and communication strategies today.
In 2006, the journal NeuroImage published a study by researchers in Spain who asked participants to read words with strong olfactory (sense of smell) associations, together with neutral words. Participants were scanned by an fMRI machine as they observed the Spanish words for “perfume” and “coffee,” for which their primary olfactory cortex lit up. However, the region remained dark when they saw words like “chair” or “key.” A similar study conducted by Emory University researchers successfully roused the sensory cortex with metaphors like “the singer had a velvet voice,” and the motor cortex with others, like “Dave kicked the ball.” This investigation confirmed that storytelling activates our language processing areas concurrently, thus triggering more parts of our brain. 1
According to Maxine Alterio, who researches formalized storytelling at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, storytelling can do more than inform and entertain. Among other things, listening to stories helps learners stimulate critical thinking skills, capture non-linguistic complexities of situations and construct new knowledge. 2
Many of us in business are seeking more opportunity and many of the activities we put in place to achieve this are around association and recall. If we can get people to associate ‘sustainability’ with my new line of recycled plastic bathers then my business will be more profitable. So we deploy intelligent branding, with great design, a jingle and environmentally friendly packaging to cut through the noise of the modern market. All these things, however, are ineffective without a well-told story that galvanises and propels these other tools. The most successful are brands and campaigns that move you to act. A brilliant and game-changing example of this was the ‘Kony’ campaign by Invisible Children. This campaign put storytelling at the core of its execution and the retention and action that was activated were attributed to this specific strategy. This storytelling centric approach not only disrupted the charity and fundraising space forever but so many other industries who learnt and deployed similar tactics to try and achieve the similar euphoric cut through and important action to mobilise and donate.
When developing your marketing and communications strategy, centralise the story in your approach. Find ways in which to tell your story more effectively and continuously so that your market remembers and importantly shares it with others. Lastly, let’s learn from our elders, musicians, authors and artists who practice it everyday as there is much to learn in successful delivery.
Gurindji/English Australian, Owner of Marketing, Communications & Creative Agency; Little Rocket.
1 & 2 – Nick Santaniello, 2017 – The Neuroscience of Storytelling will make you rethink the way you create.