By Ellen Baron
When was the last time you listened to a good story? One that made you want to do something, complled you to act right away? Consumer storytelling can help us understand how to leverage a great story for better insight.
Consumer Storytelling and Emotional Imprinting
Well told stories are convincing because they are emotionally moving. They urge you to do something, even if they never ask you to. Emotionally compelling stories work on the audience by emotional imprinting or tapping into the stored emotional memories we all have. It is all about how emotional events leave a ‘scar’ or imprint on the ‘emotional tissues of the brain’.
Emotional Flashbulbs Connect Us Subconsciously
Listening to stories that are funny, traumatizing, angering, or empowering imprints a feeling on the listener that subconsciously that causes us to draw on relevant emotional memories and experiences from the past. These emotional ‘flashbulbs’ light up cause us to ‘relate’ to the source, the feeling or the need. Stories of frustration connect us to our ‘frustration’ scars, heightening our feelings of frustration, triggering a desire in us to change or fix the situation. Stories of joy, connect us to our ‘joy’ marks, giving us a lingering feeling of pleasure that we may want to lengthen in some way.
From an insight perspective, utilizing this form of emotional connection is much more powerful than presenting a number on a page. The insight is embedded in the emotional unconscious – and the problem or issue will now nag, bother and urge action from the people who need to do something about it.
Storytelling Events Tap into Emotional Imprinting
Ruby has tapped into the concept of emotional imprinting and cultural insight to create an a Storytelling Session event that connects stakeholders emotionally to the stories that consumers or customers tell.
The idea behind the Storytelling Events is invite key stakeholders along, most often on the company premises or at a company offsite. For the customers, being able to walk the corridors of a company they feel invested in, makes them feel like the company takes them seriously. For the stakeholders it is more than “seeing is believing” as can be the case with focus groups alone. In some circumstances we have found that sitting behind the glass at a single group discussion is the only time the stakeholders have been connected to their customers – and this has got to change. Storytelling events make this easier.
However storytelling sessions are not a focus group per se, there is no glass mirror, there is no list of questions to get through. It is about creating an emotional ‘event’, to understand what is behind a big issue or to understand how to improve brand-customer relationships.
How to make Storytelling work for your market research
- Start with a compelling consumer question. It must be a big, open-ended question, designed for storytelling narrative.
- Help consumers build the story with background. Provide context to build the story, but to also understand the tension.
- Allow the story to rise to an emotional peak. People often feel a range of emotions – go with it to get underneath the big issues.
- Brand impact & consequences. It is critical that this is drawn out for the benefit of the listeners. Not everyone listens in the same way nor ‘hears’ the same issues.
- Brand Resolution: This is where the consumer can provide some ideas but also where stakeholders can ask questions, test fast theories or assumptions
Storytelling sessions are a powerful way to make insights stick, but they are also are a convincing way for research to get up the C-Suite ladder. It is the perfect tool for challenging sacred cows in the business, and myth-busting. Consumer storytelling can also add more depth and weight to your market research offering.