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2 min read

Storytelling: Use Your Ads to Wake Up Their Brains

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We've been talking about why cute puppies or clever cameos don't drive sales

We've even commiserated with Jon Hamm about it. 

So now that everyone is adequately frustrated by trying to achieve the seemingly impossible with their ads? Let's talk about how to make it work. 

Immersion is the goal. But Storytelling is the path. 

Storytelling is the best way to create immersion in the brain. That's why those quick cuts of celebs dropping one liners don't drive sales. And it's why we often remember the funny premise of an ad to tell at a party . . . but cannot possibly recall what brand it's for (Hello every single auto-insurance commercial.)

Why is this? As our founder, Dr. Paul Zak likes to say: the brain is a lazy republican. 

A 10% increase in immersion correlates to a 5% bump in sales (1)

The brain is lazy: 

The brain takes an immense amount of energy to run - about 20% of the calories you eat. So it wants to idle whenever possible. Our brains want to relax until something really important happens so they can avoid burning up needless fuel in the interim. 

The brain is conservative: 

Since our brains evolved over millions of years, some brain processes are not perfectly adapted to situations in the modern world. This "misfiring" is the cause of poor decision-making but is also why movies make us cry and why advertising can be persuasive. 

These two factors explain why people don't buy every advertised product or service they "like." A good joke or a loud noise might grab the brain's attention - but to persuade someone to spend processing power on a message, you're going to need more work than that. 

How do we convince the brain to get off its lazy butt so its human will take action?

Humans are social creatures. One of the most natural ways we can spend our brain's energy is to figure out what all the other humans are doing.

Evolutionarily this has been wildly important to humans' survival and success. Our brain prompts us to get up off the couch and do something when our brains value what the other humans are doing, even in a commercial. Immersion is the value the brain gets from social experiences, including advertisements. For social creatures like us, it is "monkey see, monkey do." 

Narratives with conflict, crisis and resolution build immersion and produce a desire to do what others are doing.  Our brains dig a narrative arc. They crave a story. They tag the information in those stories as valuable - creating tension that results in action. 

Our brains dig a narrative arc. They crave a story. They tag the information in those stories as emotionally valuable - creating much greater recall post-event. 

Even better? A great story will create a tension in the brain that only an action can resolve. Understanding a story about a set of headphones that makes achieving your dreams possible? Only the purchase of those headphones is going to relieve that tension. 🤯

Think your content is good enough to get your audience's brain off the couch?



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