Nothing holds human attention like a story

Nothing holds human attention like a story

For millennia, storytelling has touched the emotions and enriched the soul. A good, well told story excites the senses, sparks the imagination, nurtures empathy and promotes participation and discovery.

Stories infiltrate just about everything we do, in ways that we often don’t recognise.

Human stories, reality stories, news stories, sports stories, social stories, human movement stories, stories told through music.

The fact is storytelling engages people like nothing else – and storytelling has the power to change even the most entrenched of mindsets. Take the American sitcom Will & Grace as one example.

In its ninth season, Will & Grace is about two best friends, however when the show came to TV screens in the mid-90’s it challenged a taboo in American society: same sex relationships. For those who haven’t seen the show, Will is gay.

The writers of the show were brilliant storytellers, telling Will’s story in a way that challenged people’s perceptions of gay people, hence normalising homosexuality.

Psychologists have studied this power of storytelling to influence human behaviour for all the right reasons. The show has been credited as having a profoundly positive impact on American’s attitude towards gay people with social scientists labelling the phenomenon ‘The Will and Grace Effect’.

So, if you’re thinking, how can behavioural science help your marketing campaign, the answer is simple.

It’s the study of decision making, something all marketers want to master. Whether its persuading customers to switch brands, pay more for it and buy more of it.

Richard Shotten, best-selling author about to launch ‘Behavioural Science for Brands’ thinks one of the best examples of behaviour science applied to advertising is De Beers Diamonds.

“When De Beers began advertising heavily in the 1930s, there was no heritage of buying diamond engagement rings: sapphires and rubies were just as popular. But De Beers changed that. They forged a link between a diamond’s durability and the enduring nature of true love, as captured by Frances Gerety’s strapline, “A diamond is forever”.

“However, once De Beers had persuaded romantics that a diamond was the ideal token of love, they still had to convince them to part with a small fortune. To do this, they embedded the idea that nothing less than a month’s salary would do.”

One major advantage of behavioural science is that it allows you to identify small changes that make a dis proportionally big difference. Something that government policy could apply.

At The Brand Pool our approach to ‘nudging’ for our government clients is based on a proprietary tool I designed call the 4E’s of social marketing.

Make it Easy, make it emotionally Engaging, use facts to Educate and make it Enduring.

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