Sell Feelings not Facts : The art of brand story telling

September 5, 2015

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin

We are living in the modern digital age of go-go-go and bigger-better-faster, swimming against the ferocious tide in a sea of noisy content. The digital media cluttered with billions of contents it is not easy to stand out of the crowd. According to a recent research “79% of people scan the web instead of reading a single word.” So as a marketer you have a fraction of a second to grab the user’s attention. This is where the art of storytelling comes into play. Stories fascinate. Facts bore. Yes, facts are important, but stories make us care and when we care, we respond.

Stories activate emotional centers of the brain and triggers emotions that can drive actions. Before we can think rationally all the senses travel through the limbic system of the brain where emotions are experienced. At the end of the day, all buying is emotional. A great business story starts with a sense of passion; an audience wants to emotionally connect to your story. Even the most analytical people are swayed by emotional drivers when making decisions. Honesty and transparency are essential if you are to build trust.

Another important aspect of your story should be a proper visual representation. Humans are visual creatures. With the rapid pace of images and content in all forms bombarding us, we often rely on visuals to determine if the content is worth engaging with further. A recent report from PR Newswire determined thatadding a photo to a press release resulted in a 14% response increase (over text-only releases). Good business storytelling should use quality images to clarify their messages, and drive home the “feel” of their message.

I am a big follower of Quora and I am very much involved in differentt discussions. There was a simple question on Quora whether a person can pursue MBA at the age of 28 or s/he is too old for that.  I wrote a simple answer: “Meet Mr. Sudhir Kumar. He is 56 now (twice of your age) and he was my classmate at IIM-K when I graduated in 2014. He prepared for IIM with his daughterand cracked it. Neither his age nor his physical problem could stop him to achieve his dreams. He was active in different committees and he ran Calicut Marathon too. So if you want to do something age is just a number.”But this was complemented by an image that users can connect in a second.

Within a week this post went viral generating 212,713 views, 12,606 upvotes and 110 shares in social media. So what made the trick here? This post described a situation that evokes happiness in readers’ minds in the form of inspiration. People want to share happiness with their friends and families. So as a result the post went viral.

This is not a story of a brand. This is a story of an individual. My post wasn’t intended to promote any brand. But in the age of social media every individual is a brand. I got more than 1000 followers within a week and I was the “Most Viewed Writers in Master of Business Administration” for the month. So a simple story created magic.

So the lesson for a brand is that do not create content just to promote your product. Create stories. Understand human behaviour and tap their emotion. If you can reside rent free in the minds of the customers you already have the key to the kingdom. So when they need any solution for their problems you are already at the top of their minds.