Physically and neurologically, human beings are hardwired to tell and receive stories. Parts of the human brain have been shown to light up in response to storytelling, and it’s this deeply emotional neurological connection that we, as advertisers, still need to tap into with our message.
The way in which we tell these stories, and the channels, may have changed. However, the organism itself hasn’t changed. We are still human beings with the same needs, and our aim, as advertisers, is to figure out how we emote with and connect with those humans we wish to reach.
While there certainly is a greater amount of clutter and a lot more noise distracting the average consumer, this also opens up far more opportunities with which to reach them.
Yes, everyone is on their phone all the time, so what better place to reach our consumer? We all bemoan social media, but so much of the same storytelling psychology and the need to be heard lie behind the power of the medium.
It is the ultimate digital 'campfire' – a platform on which everyday people can now tell their own story; a story that means something to them. This provides advertisers and marketers with a wonderful opportunity to co-create content and allow the consumer to spread your message for you.
We no longer need huge budgets to connect with people if we cleverly tap into their need to be heard. Find a way to ask them for their opinion. What’s their story? What do they think? It doesn’t have to be about one big idea, you can now come up with fifteen smaller ideas that each appeal to a different segment.
Once we you receive feedback, you can then tweak your message to create fifteen more. You not only simplify the process but speed it up too.
There is the example of the debt management company DebtBusters. Debt is certainly not an exciting topic for anyone. It’s also essentially intangible. So how do we go about making it into a story to which our audience can relate? The entire campaign was based on the insight that debt, like most addictions, is invisible.
So we posed the key question: What would we do if the debt that we keep secret suddenly became visible? As a result, in each execution, the main character becomes literally marked with images of his debt all over his body – a physical manifestation of all his hidden debt. It’s a visceral image of a story to which we can all relate to, and it immediately had the hard-hitting effect we were aiming for.
The campaign, which included TV, radio, print and out-of-home, resulted in a marked increase in uptake for DebtBusters, with a 57% year-on-year increase in conversions over the same period. Leads increased by 33% year-on-year over the campaign period.
The way in which marketers and communication practitioners are operating has certainly changed with the increasing pervasiveness of digital media. Both agencies and clients are definitely battling to keep up.
But, instead of disrupting people’s lives by remaining focused on telling our stories, and making sure they’re stories that are meaningful and relatable, there’s an opportunity for us to be part of their lives in a way that is more impactful than simply shouting to get their attention.
The communication landscape may be changing rapidly, but some basic principles remain the same.
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