Humans are sometimes called “the storytelling animal” because imagination and narrative have been the defining characteristics of the our species. The components of storytelling allowed us to predict the coming seasons and herd movements, to extend knowledge beyond a human lifetime through writing, and coordinate large scale projects like pyramid building. The technology has changed, from shadows by campfire to explainer videos, but the way our brains responds to stories is exactly the same. The business with the best story wins.
Knowing how to evoke the power and persuasion of a story with a marketing message can be the most powerful tool a company owns. There is an old marketing expression that says, “People don’t buy things from companies; they buy feelings from brands.” This really gets at the heart of why storytelling makes your business more valuable and moves you closer to the zero moment of truth in the consumer’s buying decision. Executive coach Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion, put it best for his interview in BusinessWeek, Storytelling and the Art of Persuasion:
“We sell things because that is how we, as capitalists, organize our creative energy, and we tell stories because, as human beings, that is how we organize our thinking. It is natural that the business world would seek to combine these two activities to maximize profits.”
The Hoffman Agency recently produced a thoughtful slide show as an introduction to the difference between storytelling and business speak. One of the most surprising facts from the slide show involves an article published in the journal Psychological Science. Stories activate the visual and motor sections of the brain to simulate the story action. This really means that showing potential customers how to use a product or service within the logic of a story helps to build long term memories. In terms of successful marketing, an impression only counts if it is memorable and that’s what a good story can deliver.
Videos are a great medium for telling stories, especially explainer videos. Video has conditioned us to dial down the skepticism and dial up the imagination. In addition, streaming video is something consumers can interact with anywhere – at work, on their laptops and even on their phones. Delivering motion, sight and sound is absolutely the most economical way to deliver the most information in the most memorable way.