Imagine that someone shows you a list of words for a few moments. A little while later, after going about your day, spending time at work, dialing numbers on the phone, and talking to friends, kids, or coworkers, you’re asked to remember the words from that list. How many would you remember? Chances are, you MIGHT remember a few.
But say you’re told an interesting story. Maybe it’s the story of a boy who is mistreated by his aunt and uncle, lives under the stairs, and then finds out he’s a wizard. Later, after going about your day, you’re asked to remember details about that story. Where was his scar located? What was the boy’s name? Who told him he was a wizard? Most likely, you’re going to remember these details.
Stories are more than just entertainment.
According to Jennifer Aaker, a Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, people remember stories 22 times better than they remember facts. Our brains are hardwired for narrative; evolutionary biologists say that we developed the ability to tell stories around the same time we learned to speak. We’re genetically hardwired to love a good story.
This makes storytelling a powerful tool when it comes to making an impression on your audience, and inspiring customer loyalty. You don’t want to be just another list of buzzwords. A clearly communicated story is imperative to your business marketing plan.
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book, and cringed or cried when something happened to your favorite character? That’s because as we get invested in a character’s story, our brains release oxytocin, the chemical that tells us we should care about someone. We begin to bond with them. We’re invested in them, not just emotionally, but physically. But if a character we didn’t know anything about was shown on the screen and thrown into danger, we probably wouldn’t care as much. We wouldn’t know their story, and stories are how we generate empathy.
To connect with today’s consumer, empathy is important.
Millennials, who spend about $65 billion annually, have grown up distrusting corporations and big business. They don’t want to give their money to a faceless organization, they want brands they can connect with.
And if you think it’s important to grab Millennials, watch out for Gen Z. This new generation on the block spends a whopping $143 billion. This generation values authenticity and they want to have a conversation. Consumers need something or someone to connect with, and while having a meaningful purpose is important, you need to be able to communicate that purpose to your audience in order to gain their trust and their empathy.
The biggest companies in the world already know how important gaining empathy is, and their numbers show it.
Google, Apple, and Tesla have all been ranked among the top most empathetic companies in the Global Empathy Index. They are also amongst the most profitable and fastest growing in the world.
Find Your Story.
Not sure where to start when it comes to storytelling? That’s okay – you don’t have to look for just one story; there are a variety of narratives out there to help inspire you. In fact, research has shown that we don’t even have to be telling our own stories to gain the benefits of storytelling. Just telling stories around each other, reading from a book, or remembering tales from childhood can help us feel more connected to each other. This tradition goes back to our very beginnings when we had to form tribes for survival, and gathered around the fire and shared experiences. Often, these stories were about those that came before, how they lived, what they ate, how they hunted, where they found food…these stories helped the next generation survive.
So what advice can you offer to help the next generation survive? What lessons have you learned from those came before you? What have you learned from your customers?
Find your story by thinking about the stories that encourage you.
Do your customers inspire you? Tell their stories. Use video to capture their journey and share it with the world.
How did you get started? Did you stumble upon an idea for a business or spend years brainstorming before the right idea finally clicked? What was your first big failure? Your first big success? Your customers need to know you’re human, and mistakes make us human. Share your own. Why do we cheer when the hero defeats the villain or when the couple finally kisses? Because we’ve been following their journey. We’re invested. We can relate to their struggles and hardships and we’re going to cheer for their successes…and possibly purchase their services.
Remember that boy under the stairs? We remember the details of his journey because we’re invested in his life. His story hooks us, pulls us in. We can see the details unfold around us, and later, we’ll remember the color of his hair and his broken, black glasses.