Isn’t it interesting that today’s marketers have to capture their online audiences within seconds, or risk losing them to another site, yet so many people devote endless hours to binge TV?
New research says it’s neuroscience. Because we humans are uniquely capable of empathy, we can also become engrossed in others’ discomfort or elation – even those we don’t personally know – adapting to and internalizing their psychological perspectives. According to cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, the hormones cortisol and oxytocin rise when we’re in the grips of a good story, and we actually crave the long narratives that today’s best television can provide.
So, what does all this mean for modern marketers? How can we leverage the natural human gravitation to compelling stories to engage them in our brands?
Just as storytellers like Alfred Hitchcock (and creators of today’s binge-worthy productions) are masters at orchestrating exactly what they want audiences to see, think, feel and predict, successful marketers can lead consumers in the same way with engaging content based on intimate knowledge of their prospects. But first, lest you assume “leading” means “manipulating,” it must be done earnestly and with the utmost integrity – and nary a whiff of a sales pitch.
“Consumers are not inherently opposed to brand communication, but they don’t want interruption,” said Column Five Media’s Katy French, referring to brands infusing their stories with a subplot to sell, sell, sell. “Consumers crave engagement marketing…built on trust, mutual respect and common interests. They don’t want to be treated as a faceless dollar bill.”
Modern direct-to-consumer marketers would do well to realize the remarkable parallels between what attracts audiences to today’s binge TV (and yesterday’s epic stories around the hearth) and effective content marketing. Humans’ psychological need for stories makes us predisposed to investing personally in conflict and resolution.
The identification and incorporation of consumer pain points into your brand story, followed by your answer(s) to the problem, feels instinctive to customers and prospects because of their ability to relate and empathize.
Indeed, psychological studies have shown that when we hear a story, our brains change dramatically because we experience them as though they were real, and we become the main character of every story we hear.
Imagine the possibilities of making our audiences the heroes of our brand stories! While they are virtually endless, crafting great stories takes time, effort and skill. Too many companies and organizations hack out content just to have it, while completely missing the boat on how to make it work.
Considering again that pain points and solutions form the framework of any good story, quality content marketing builds upon that foundation with a character(s) facing a problem your brand can solve, a way for that character to access and employ your solution, and lives made better for it.
Tell your story in a distinct voice – yours – across all formats and platforms. Don’t get high and mighty in vaulted language or bogged in marketing gibberish; rather, talk to your audiences like you would your co-workers, your family, your trusted friends. After all, that’s who you want your customers to be.
Like a beautiful, comfortable home you never want to leave, your brand story needs more than a foundation. It needs details, layers, that demonstrate to your audience that you know them, understand them, want to please the punch out of them. For instance, identify what you have in common with your readers or viewers, outside your service or product, and tie those kindred elements into your story.
The End – It’s Only the Beginning
Like the finale of a favorite binge series, leave your audience wanting more, providing them with multiple ways to share and respond to your story. Let there be no end to what you can offer, only beginnings with ever more heroes in your own special tale.
Let our team of experts mold your story, help you tell it, and share it with the world.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.