March 19, 2018

The Art And Science Of Storytelling: How To Connect With Your Audience


neuroscience in marketing
Made you wonder, right?

Why?  Why do certain images or ads get attention, while others fall flat?  While there’s no simple answer, new insights are telling an old story: it starts and ends in the brain.  


The magical science of storytelling

Advertising and marketing bombard shoppers on social media, TV, radio, email, magazines and billboards. Brands are using advanced digital marketing techniques and metrics to break through the noise. They recognize there’s an art to telling your brand’s story, but, they also see the need to prove the science behind your customer’s purchasing decisions. 
Stop and think about the last purchase you made. What drove you to buy that product? Most of us would answer, “I needed it. Or at least wanted it.”  But beyond this surface level, we rarely think of the “why” behind our purchases. In fact, most of our decisions happen subconsciously.
It’s surprising, but it’s because you use a different part of the brain to answer the question “why”. The very act of firing the conscious or rational part of the brain leads to vastly different outcomes.
ConversionXL uses a scientific study on strawberry jam, of all things, to explain further. 
neuromarketing and storytelling
Strawberry jam, courtesy Jonathan Pielmayer


The first group of customers ranked jam solely based on taste. Then, the scientists asked a similar group to give a rational explanation for their rating.
The results flipped. By the simple act of thinking through their reasoning, consumers changed their minds and the best tasting jams became the worst tasting jams.
Why did this happen? Because the brain responds differently based on the thought process used.

How to get a customer to see your brand message

The Crescendo Agency says our brains process millions of bits of data every second. Yet, less than 1% is consciously absorbed. The subconscious brain makes most decisions.
“Does it truly make sense to only focus on the 1%?” says A.K. Ahuja of Crescendo, which emphasizes neuromarketing.
“It’s getting more challenging by the day to effectively market to consumers, so marketers are integrating advanced analytics to help slice & dice consumer data in order to produce better returns. The challenge is that data alone helps answer the “What” of marketing based on historical trends (i.e. what action the consumer took, what ad converted better, etc.) but it doesn’t answer the “Why.” Neuroscience uncovers subconscious consumer emotions, behavior and response to various types of marketing stimuli…in order to successfully answer “Why” your target consumer actually behaves/responds/reacts to your marketing. And when Neuroscience is combined with Data Science, marketers have emotional insights and a much deeper understanding of their target consumer.”
Neuromarketing involves biometrics like eye tracking and other sophisticated tools to measure physical responses. While those tools are not an option for everyone, there are still ways to consider it.
Here’s an example of how it works.
Humans, especially babies and children, are often used in ads to grab a customer’s attention. Yet, most ads have the baby in the ad facing forward, looking at the would-be customer.
Crescendo found the reader focuses on the adorable tiny human’s face rather than the brand message.
Neuroscience in marketing heatmapping
Eye Tracking Courtesy: Crescendo Agency


If you have the baby in the ad turned sideways so he is looking at the brand messaging, the reader immediately looks at the message. One small tweak in the ad impacts how many people will see a company’s marketing.
Neuroscience in marketing heatmapping
Eye tracking changes Courtesy: Crescendo Agency

Science drives sales


It’s important to draw attention to the appropriate parts of the ad, but you also need to know your audience.
For example, Frito-Lay used neuromarketing with Baked! Potato Chips. The brand researched the science behind female purchases.
They found their target audience feels guilty about a lot of things (saying women feel guilty about everything is a surprise to exactly zero women. It’s like a study that says homelessness is bad for your health or that men spend more time on the toilet).  But it does provide a critical insight:  don’t trigger that emotion or the chips won’t sell.
Frito-Lay made sure its bag design did not set off the part of the brain that likes to go on guilt trips.
The brand found bags with ingredients that seem better for you and healthy-looking packaging trigger thoughts like “Eat me. I’m good for you” versus “That’s another 10,000 steps.”  Which, of course, translates to more sales. 
 By acknowledging and understanding the science, you can better connect to your audience. Add the magical science of storytelling, and you have a powerful way to impact sales.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 70% of customers are likely to buy a product when a video connects emotionally.  Crescendo Agency concurs.
Emotional Storytelling
Emotional storytelling sells. Courtesy: Crescendo Agency

Keep it simple 


Science is technical. That’s why it’s not everyone’s favorite subject. Break it down for people.
Your product message should be easy to understand. Simple sells.
For example, cell phone companies offer lots of plans. Some are easier to understand than others.
As ConversionXL points out, most people choose the unlimited plan even if it’s not the cheapest. This happens because the unlimited plan is the easiest to follow.
When a product offering is full of facts or fine print, there’s a risk you’ll lose the customer while they wade through their rational thought process.

Make it emotional

Just because something is simple, does not mean it should be devoid of emotion. Your brain is designed to pay attention to stories. Take your science and translate it into a good story.
Here’s your brain’s response to facts.
neuromarketing science 
Now, look at your brain when it sees or hears a story.
 storytelling science
When someone sees a story, several areas of the brain fire up like the 4th of July. With facts, it’s Columbus Day.
In this fast-paced world, simple is more important than ever before. You don’t want people to think about their decisions. You want to engage them with a story that triggers emotion and feelings.
Remember that jam example? When people had to think, the best tasting jam became the worst tasting.
Instead, tell them a story about a childhood picnic with grandma, and that peanut butter and jelly sandwich will bring suddenly offer feelings of sunshine and nostalgia, and taste so much better.
neuroscience in marketing
Happiness and Rainbows, Courtesy: Bobbie Kittle


When a brand tells a story, with emotion and a storyline that connects, the customer responds. Hopefully with a sale. 
The difference is remarkable. Touch the brain and the heart, and reach consumers like never before. 
Have you seen sales increase when you used science in your brand messaging?  Email me to share your story about the magical science of storytelling and how it worked for you.