The Neuroscience Behind Storytelling For Marketing
One evening about 30,000 years ago, a prehistoric content creator was hanging out at by a local firepit, socializing with his friends and family, when he posted a picture of a rhino on a cave wall.
His target audience was immediately hooked and began inviting friends to take a look. A few even started drawing their own rhinos, cave bears and horses.
Thousands of generations of followers drew and re-drew animal figures on the walls of the cave – and what’s more, similar versions of the figures were drawn in caves vast distances away.
The Cro Magnon cave drawing had gone viral.
As technologically sophisticated digital marketers, we’re on a constant quest for psychological shortcuts to triggering human attention, memory, and persuasion.
Yet the primitive men and women figured out a formula powerful enough to “stick” in their collective memories for thousands of generations.
How did they do it?
Simple: they told stories.
For better or worse, storytelling has become a major buzzword in businesses. While it’s been one of, if not THE, most powerful and influential methods of digital marketing in human history.
Some companies and brands have done an incredible job of leveraging the power of storytelling to achieve a number of goals and some have 100% missed their mark.
It all boils down to the fact that, great marketing is all about mastering the art of persuasion.
Stories that evoke emotions are much more effective at compelling your audience to take action- whether through social media engagement, a free download, or a purchase.
Social Storytelling isn’t only useful for grabbing your audience’s attention — it’s also highly effective at retaining their attention and dialing up their passion and loyalty for your brand.
According to researchers at Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine, experiencing unexpected pleasure triggers the release of more dopamine, a chemical that plays a huge role in motivation, reinforcement, and reward, than when you experience an expected pleasure.
In other words, people enjoy pleasant surprises more than the things they already like.
Additionally, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, when these pleasant surprises trigger the release of dopamine, the neurochemical helps us form long-lasting memories of the experience and its surroundings, so we can remember exactly how to experience those feel-good chemicals again.
There’s no question our brains are instinctively activated by certain types of stimulation.
Our challenge is to harness and channel the right types of stimulation to create more effective marketing content.
Fortunately, neuroscience can be an important asset for us, teaching us how to use emotions to wake up our brain, how to appeal to our brain’s innately self-serving interests, how to feed our brain’s desire for familiarity and simplicity, and how to surprise our brain with word games and other unexpected language manipulations.
Conventional wisdom and industry gurus will tell you that optimization is the key to marketing success. Because if everyone else does it, it must work, right? Wrong.
If you truly want to slash through the clutter clouding your space and make an impact on your audience, tell more stories — creative storytelling is the only path forward.