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The Marketer’s Guide to Authentic Storytelling

Stories drive human connection. Stories teach us about the past, expand our imagination and allow us to empathize and learn from the people around us. The power of storytelling extends beyond face-to-face human connection. If done correctly, marketers can harness it to reach their target audience and build meaningful relationships.

The great thing about stories is that they can release the same neurotransmitters that would be released if we were living the described events ourselves. Thus, good storytellers can evoke these sensations and move their target to an emotional place where they are more likely to make the desired decision.

The “Angel Cocktail” describes the release of three feel-good neurotransmitters: dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. This potent combination makes users feel more generous, trusting, bonded, focused, creative, and motivated. On the flip side, the “Devils” Cocktail describes the release of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones that cause dislike and irritability – exactly what you’re trying to avoid). The goal is to concoct the perfect “Angel Cocktail” through our stories and ultimately build customer loyalty.

Stories can act as social currency and help bring your business to life. Remember to take your customer on a journey. Establish a main character, a crisis they must overcome and a resolution as a recipe for success.

You can ask yourself some questions that may help you build a “good” story regarding your brand, product, or organization. Check them out:

  • What is your founding story?

Every organization has a humble beginning. First, share that initial spark that led your founders to create the business that exists today. Then, make sure to present it in an easy-to-consume format. Take inspiration from the Spanx founding story, in which founder, Sara Blakely, found that she didn’t have the right undergarments when getting ready for a party and the million dollar idea for her business was born. Even a “simple” getting ready story can be compelling and engaging.

  • How has working at your business impacted the life of staff members?

 Employees are critical to your organization’s success. Highlight their stories and successes to humanize your company. Remember to always be authentic and honest (fakeness always shows).

Take inspiration from Unilever’s campaign highlighting Magnum’s partnership with GLAAD. The brand showcased the launch through the viewpoint of an employee and highlighted the meaningful connection to their collaborators and their wellbeing.

  • What funny or interesting things have happened with customers over the years?

Your customers want to feel recognized and heard. So, share their stories and make them feel like the “main characters.” Customer stories will likely resonate with other potential clients. Consider following Video Pilgrim’s example and showcase customer stories via video – this medium can be a lot more engaging than simple text.

  • What charitable organizations have you worked with? To what effect?

Share the causes that inspire you, the reasons why, and your efforts to assist them. Likeminded individuals are likely to connect if you share the same passions and beliefs. A classic example of charitable storytelling done right is TOMS’s “Buy one give one” program. Although since retired, TOMS efforts to give a pair of shoes back for every shoe bought made for a highly compelling and motivating story.

Write the answers to these questions and keep them in mind the next time you want to evoke “feel-good” sensations and build a connection with your customers. Storytelling is a great way to humanize your business, evoke empathy and ultimately create a loyal community and boost sales. Try it out! You may be surprised by the results.

Liked what you just read? Check out my other posts here.

About the author: Gabriela Arocha is a Venezuelan marketer with a passion for human behavior. Currently based in Costa Rica, she uses her background in psychology to help professionals and organizations thrive through an optimized digital strategy. Visit her website or LinkedIn profile.

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