For all of history, human connections have been built through storytelling. In fact, stories have been used to pass down knowledge and ideas for thousands of generations — so why should it be any different when it comes to your business?
Whether you’re building brand awareness, advertising a product, or educating through your content, stories are the key to building real human connections between you and your customers.
We recently had the authors of The Storytelling Edge, Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, on the Content Experience Show to discuss this very idea. There’s science that shows the best way to connect with your audience is by telling stories.
To start, Joe and Shane give us a bit of background on their book — it’s about the art and science of storytelling, and how to use it to transform your business. They reveal the secrets they’ve learned over the last seven years at their company, Contently, while helping brands like AMEX, GE, Chase, Mint, and Marriott build their content marketing programs through storytelling.
“One of the things that we really have honed in on over the years is how stories aren’t just good for marketing…they’re actually a very good way to connect to an audience in any presentation or any sales meeting, any kind of cold outreach.” — Shane Snow, Contently
Shane explains how as humans, stories help us get to know each other and build trust, whether at a professional meetup or a first date, and it’s so true.
Joe shares an interesting stat that really drove the importance of storytelling home: 5 percent of all branded content gets 90 percent of engagements. He went on to say that while there are a few brands that are doing content really well, a lot cling to the same old “copycat” content.
The hope that Joe and Shane have is that their book will help bridge this gap, and help brands leverage some of the formulas that the best storytellers on Earth have used for hundreds of years.
During the show, the team from Contently also dive into what happens in our brains when we experience a story, whether we hear it or we read it or we see it — and not just the psychology of stories, but also the neuroscience of stories.
Shane tells us about the last time he cried. It was while watching a piece of branded content from HP featuring an emotional story about a father and daughter’s relationship. He watched it in a lab with a neuroeconomist, hooked up to a brain scanning device and a machine that measures how much oxytocin you have in your blood.
He explains the story to us, and how the brain scanning device indicated a spurt in his attention every time he got more emotional, or showed feelings for the father. Every time there was a particularly moving moment, there was an increase in his oxytocin, and at the very end, there was a huge spike when he became really emotional.
Maybe it’s because I’ve got young kids, but I got a little teary while he was explaining the story too. But I think that’s the recipe that we fall in love with when we watch Disney movies — it’s that story arc, as it creates tension and the resolution, and the buildup that comes from that.
My chat with Joe and Shane really got me thinking about stories, and the value they bring to our content marketing. I’m wondering, have you found storytelling to be successful in your marketing? What stories have you told that resonate the most?
If you’re interested in listening to the full episode, you can check it out here. Would love to hear what you think!