How Storytelling Boosts Neuromarketing Success
Before the written word was commonplace, humans used storytelling to communicate important information and to motivate each other. We quickly learned that stories have a stronger motivating effect on the minds of the listener than simply listing facts and warnings!
In Inuit culture, parents warn their children against wandering out alone onto thin ice by telling stories of the Qalupiluk, boogeyman-esque monsters that would snatch wayward children into the freezing water below.
In Ireland, during the violent and chaotic times of the Troubles, fighters would inspire their comrades by telling stories of the legendary warrior Cú Chulainn, who (according to folklore) was strong, brave, and crafty enough to hold back all the armies of Ireland single-handedly.
In ancient Greece, the proper way to conduct religious rituals and to behave in daily life was communicated through myths, in which arrogant people who flaunted the rules faced the wrath of angry gods and spirits.
These are just a few examples from rich histories around the world! There’s a long history of using storytelling to motivate others to act a certain way—whether warning them against breaking the rules or inspiring them to act. And we haven’t stopped telling stories like this in the present day!
Ever wondered why, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, public messaging that started out so chaotic soon took a hard shift into a more coherent message? By a few months in, everyone knew they were supposed to mask up, stay home, socially distance, and, eventually, vaccinate. Even if someone chose not to take that advice on board, or even to protest against it, they could still repeat it!
One genius aspect of the way COVID-19 safety protocols were communicated to the public was the use of narratives. Narratives—that is, stories—are well-established by neuroscience as being virtually wired into human brains. Not only do narratives catch and hold our attention, but they also stick in our memories much longer than cold hard facts and inspire us to take action more than a list of facts ever could!
Recently, a scientific study of the effect of narratives and storytelling in motivating the public to take action against COVID-19 has been released, showing just how important storytelling remains in the modern day. Coming to us from neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania, this study examines how the use of stories with clear main characters and plots was key to convincing people to take action.
While this is all very interesting, if you read this blog, you’re not just here for interesting facts—or even interesting stories! You want to learn how you can use neuroscience to boost your business, achieve your goals, and motivate more and more customers to buy your product!
In the second half of this article, we’re going to talk about how you can use storytelling in your neuromarketing campaigns to convince customers that you really understand what’s causing problems in their life, and that you know just what could put things right—your product, of course!
How Storytelling Motivates Action Against COVID-19
The study we’re going to highlight today was the brainchild of Mary E. Andrews, one of the University of Pennsylvania’s keen doctoral candidates. Andrews wanted to determine the best way to communicate to the public that they needed to take action—not only to keep themselves safe from COVID-19, but to protect people who were less able to protect themselves!
To do this, Andrews and her team recruited volunteers to listen to messaging about the dangers COVID-19 posed to both healthcare workers and people incarcerated in prisons—both groups that were particularly at risk.
Andrews selected these groups because of the positions they hold in people’s minds.
Healthcare workers are viewed positively by the public, and people are usually sympathetic to the dangers they face. Healthcare workers witnessed the worst of COVID-19, caring for the sick and putting themselves in danger for the benefit of all—dealing with equipment shortages, overwork, and even physical assaults along the way.
On the other hand, prisoners aren’t viewed as positively in the minds of most people. Some people were generally unaware of what prisoners were going through during the pandemic, while others were pleased to hear that “criminals” were getting what they “deserved,” despite the societal forces that cause many people to end up incarcerated.
Incarcerated people live in cramped conditions, making it harder to avoid those who have been exposed, and have little freedom that would let them take action to protect themselves. They also dealt with shortages of masks, gloves, and other protective equipment.
What’s more, stress dampens the immune system—something that put both groups in even more danger than they would be otherwise!
Some of the volunteers heard a list of facts about the dangers faced by each of these groups, while others heard personal narratives following the story of one main character. A control group didn’t hear anything at all—this group was present to represent people’s mindsets about COVID-19 before they received any kind of messaging to motivate them to take action.
After the volunteers listened to messaging, they were asked about their motivation to take action against COVID-19 to protect each group of people. They were also asked how immersed in the story they felt, and how strongly they felt that action should be taken to protect that group.
If you’re familiar with humanity’s long history of using stories to inspire and motivate others, the results won’t surprise you, but if you aren’t, the results are astonishing.
Regardless of whether they heard about incarcerated people or healthcare workers, the people who heard narrative stories were much more motivated to take action in comparison to the other two groups. They felt more strongly motivated both to help these vulnerable groups of people, and to protect themselves and their neighbors in their own lives.
This is a fantastic discovery, but what does it mean for you? Read on to find out how you can use storytelling to motivate consumers to take action—in your case, to buy your product!
But first: Are you someone who wants to grow your business, increase your income, and achieve your goals using neuroscience? Of course you are! If you want to learn more ways to skyrocket your success, sign up for the 5 Day Business Breakthrough Challenge today!
How YOU Can Use Storytelling in Neuromarketing!
In our previous articles about neuromarketing, we’ve talked about how you can use narratives to motivate customers to buy your product. From sponsorships, to testimonials, to parodies of pop culture, to jokes with snappy punchlines, it’s pretty much impossible to separate neuromarketing from storytelling—that’s how intrinsic narratives are to the human brain!
But in this section, we’re going to look deeper into how you can use narratives to motivate customers by addressing pain points. In other words, by telling stories that will convince your customers that your product will improve their lives!
What are Pain Points?
Pain points are the reasons we buy things besides the basic essentials (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). Merriam-Webster defines a “pain point” this way:
“A persistent or recurring problem (as with a product or service) that frequently inconveniences or annoys customers; something that is a recurring source of trouble, annoyance, or distress.”
Our lives are full of things we wish were easier, and so, if someone convinces us that they have a product that will smooth things over—at a price they can convince us is worth it—we’re more likely to be motivated to buy that product!
Using Storytelling to Address Pain Points in Neuromarketing
Imagine you’re someone who really hated it when your windshield fogged up in the morning. Which of these commercials would you find more convincing?
“During winter, windshields commonly fog up when the driver turns on the heat inside the car. Anti-Condensation Window Spray prevents the windshield from fogging up so you don’t have to wait for it to defog. This way, you can get to work sooner.”
“Hi, I’m Susan, a mom just like you from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I used to hate waiting for my windshield to defog on winter mornings, and sometimes, it even made me late for work! But now that I have Anti-Condensation Window Spray, I’m on time every morning!”
This is a silly example (with a bit of a silly product!), but anyone can say that the second advertisement would be much more effective than the first! While both ads address a pain point, the second one does it much more effectively by using storytelling. Here are some ways you can use storytelling to address pain points and motivate consumers in your own neuromarketing:
- Inspire empathy and show that you have it for your customers!
- Use a main character (like Susan) who your intended audience will find relatable, and have that character tell a story that addresses the problem your audience faces, shows how it makes their lives worse, and how your product will make their lives better!
- The story doesn’t necessarily have to be about the product—at least not directly. You can also tell an interesting, humorous, or relatable story as a background to your advertisements to motivate customers to stay engaged long enough to hear about your product.
- The famous “Long Long Man” ads were a very effective series of advertisements by Sakeru, a Japanese snack company, that used a dramatic, soap opera-like narrative combined with dirty jokes to sell candy.
- The “pain point,” while pretty minor overall, was that the previous version of Sakeru’s gummy candy was too boring.
- The ad series tells a story about a young woman who is tempted to cheat on her average fiancé by a man who is not only more attractive and intriguing, but who also has the new version of the company’s candy—which as you might have guessed, is long!
- The ads caused customers to remember the product, because the story stuck in their minds—as did the risqué humor and catchy jingle!
- Don’t forget to demonstrate in the narrative just how dramatically your customer’s lives will change when they buy your product!
- An ad from the insecticide company Chaindrite, which aired in Thailand, uses people in costumes to represent termites in order to show how invasive and uncomfortable a termite infestation is.
- The comedic actors playing the termites demonstrate how Chaindrite’s product, which causes termites to bring insecticide back to their nests and pass it to others before dying, will exterminate termites much more effectively than spraying them normally.
- At the end of the ad, the human couple from the beginning tell viewers their infestation is “clear,” looking satisfied with a job well done.
Here at NeuroGym, we believe that you have the power to use your knowledge of neuroscience to your advantage—whether it’s training your brain to be primed for success or using neuroscience to motivate customers to buy your product!
Now that you know how storytelling can motivate us to take action—as well as how you too can use storytelling to motivate your potential customers—it’s time to get out there and start boosting your income, building up your business, and achieving more than you’d ever thought possible!
Want to learn even more ways you can use neuroscience to your advantage to succeed? Sign up today for the 5 Day Live Business Breakthrough Challenge and hear it from the experts!