MARKETING AFRICA MAL 18/17 mal 18:17 online - Page 68

stories of his time in school, at play, at swimming, etc. Simple stories of course, but stories all the same. Research has shown that personal stories and gossip make up to 65% of our conversations. For a long time we’ve known that stories are a really effective way of engaging audiences, and now we have a scientific understanding of why. We feel stories Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of participants when they were told a story. Sensory words like ‘coffee’ or ‘perfume’ engage not only the brain’s language centers but also the areas associated with olfactory processing. That basically means if we listen to the story of a lady with a vanilla scented perfume we almost literally can smell the vanilla. In addition to this, sentences like ‘he threw a ball’ or ‘she shook her head’ lit up not only the language centers of the brain but also the centers of the brain associated with motor control and body movement. (At least now I understand why at times I find my head and body moving when watching ‘Fast and Furious’). Telling stories results in speaker- listener coupling Researchers showed that when a speaker shares a story, his brain activity is spatially and temporally coupled with the listener’s brain activity. When a storyteller shares his story, the listener actually feels his pain, happiness, fright, anger, sadness, etc. This ability to engage emotions is what connects humans and causes them not only to retain facts but to also act on those facts. Hormone release Scientists at the University of California discovered that when people listened to stories they naturally increased their production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also referred to as the ‘love hormone’ and is released by every human being during love- making and by mothers during breast- feeding. That dose of oxytocin creates bonds and is addictive. Of course, we release much smaller doses of oxytocin when we listen to stories as compared to for example love-making. This however tells us that stories are quite useful in social bonding and it’s no wonder we relate better with people who are good story tellers. Let’s not forget also hormones like cortisol and dopamine. Cortisol is a stress hormone and is released during a story’s climax; during the peak of tension. Dopamine is a reward hormone and is released when the story’s end is happy (I suppose this is especially so ‘‘ Researchers showed that when a speaker shares a story, his brain activity is spatially and temporally coupled with the listener’s brain activity. When a storyteller shares his story, the listener actually feels his pain, happiness, fright, anger, sadness, etc. This ability to engage emotions is what connects humans and causes them not only to retain facts but to also act on those facts.” 66 MAL 18/17 ISSUE for romantic stories). So to every parent, when your son or daughter spends his or her whole weekend watching a series, please understand. Considering the above points every brand ideally should embrace storytelling as a means to communicate with target audiences. To emphasize this point a little more we should consider what a brand truly is. A brand is more than just a product in that brands hold for us meaning conveyed through values, emotions, personality type, gender, etc. Stories represent a superior way of communicating these meanings to our target audiences which then causes them to empathize and want to be even more closely related to brands. Research has shown further that humans think of brands as human that is, when we think of brands we use the same parts of our brain that we use when we think of friends and loved ones. Human beings tell stories; let your brand tell stories. There are many sources of story for your brand including: the brand’s provenance (e.g. in the case of a corporate brand, what drove the company’s existence?), your customer’s experiences, latest innovations, a day at work in your company, staff victories, amongst others. Note also that there is a plethora of channels that you can use to tell these stories. The point is to create synchrony and synergy. Twitter for example doesn’t work like Facebook or Instagram. Use each creatively, keeping in mind the different advantages brought by each. Let your story also be like a tea bag; it’s possible to use one tea bag for up to three cups so make sure you’ve exhausted all communication platforms when sharing a story. With the advantages of storytelling mentioned above, a number of brands will still struggle with sharing stories