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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

May 16, 2023

Stories have a tremendous impact on the way we perceive the world and make decisions. They are deeply rooted in our human nature and can be incredibly effective for marketing and brand strategy. Utilizing storytelling in marketing creates an emotional connection with the audience, which is integral for influencing decisions and shaping behavior. Stories have a unique ability to captivate attention, evoke emotions, and create a sense of empathy with the characters, all of which are powerful tools for businesses to reach their target customers.

During the podcast, Michelle Auerbach shared the importance of focusing on a specific character or situation when crafting a story, to achieve a strong emotional impact. By providing a relatable context, stories can effectively communicate complex messages and ideas that may get lost or appear less engaging when presented as plain data or statistics. Auerbach emphasized that incorporating storytelling into marketing and brand strategy can be an essential factor for success, as it encourages the audience to connect with the brand and take action that benefits everyone involved.

  • Master the art of storytelling for influencing human behavior and boosting your business potential.
  • Implement the three-point story arc for powerful communication and establishing deeper connections.
  • Trigger emotions through captivating storytelling techniques that drive decision-making and prompt action.
  • Reinforce group cohesion and empathy through genuine and relatable stories.

Show Notes:

  • 00:00:00 - Introduction,
    Melina introduces the episode and its focus on the power of story. She explains that over the next few weeks, there will be guests discussing various aspects of storytelling in life and business.
  • 00:03:14 - Michelle Auerbach's Background,
    Michelle talks about her childhood and her love for stories, which led her to pursue a degree in literature and a career in teaching that as well as ancient world languages. She then transitioned to organizational change and leadership development, using storytelling to help organizations develop culture and change.
  • 00:06:01 - Story's Role in Change Management,
    Michelle explains how story impacts change management in several ways. Story has a somatic impact on the brain, helps with co-regulation, facilitates learning, and helps people see possibilities they wouldn't otherwise see. Story also helps people focus and remember information, and it produces cortisol and oxytocin, which encourage pro-social behavior.
  • 00:11:10 - The Power of Story in Marketing and Brand Strategy,
    Melina and Michelle discuss how storytelling is used in marketing and brand strategy. Michelle explains that storytelling can help organizations connect with their audience by creating empathy and helping people understand the impact of their work. By focusing on one person's story, it can create a powerful emotional response and motivate people to take action.
  • 00:13:29 - The Biology of Storytelling,
    Michelle explains the biology of storytelling and how it impacts the brain. Story produces cortisol and oxytocin, which help people focus and remember.
  • 00:14:50 - The Importance of Storytelling in Business
    Michelle shares her expertise in storytelling and how it can be applied to business. She emphasizes the power of story in bridging gaps in communication, sharing scientific information, and even changing perspectives. She also suggests a simple three-part story structure that can be used in presentations, conversations, and even conflict resolution.
  • 00:19:28 - Different Story Structures
    Michelle talks about the diversity of story structures found in different cultures and how they can be used in storytelling. She gives examples of Japanese and West African story structures and emphasizes the importance of not forcing one's own story structure on others. She also suggests ways to learn about other people's favorite stories and how it can build affinity and rapport.
  • 00:25:06 - Using Story Cubes to Open Up
    Melina shares her experience using Story Cubes in her workshops to help people open up and share more about themselves. Story Cubes are a fun tool that uses images to trigger memories and stories that people might not have shared otherwise. Michelle also shares her love for Story Cubes and how they can help people tap into different parts of their memories and experiences.
  • 00:27:00 - Priming with Storytelling
    Michelle talks about the concept of priming and how it can be used in storytelling to set the tone and mood for an event or meeting. She gives examples of how organizations with a strong "why" or Credo can use storytelling to bring that purpose into the room and lead from that place.
  • 00:28:59 - Using Story Cards,
    Michelle created story cards with pictures from art students to help people tell stories and add visuals to presentations. The details in stories evoke feelings that anchor learning and change.
  • 00:30:25 - Using Visuals in Storytelling,
    Adding visuals to storytelling evokes feelings in another way and helps with group cohesion. It's using our biology to benefit learning and decision-making functions.
  • 00:33:01 - Overcoming Biases with Storytelling,
    Storytelling helps overcome biases, especially status quo bias, by evoking feelings in the decision-making processes. It's important to make people feel the impact of a situation rather than just presenting data.
  • 00:37:51 - Top Tips for Using Storytelling,
    Start by listening to other people's stories and figuring out what you like and what's possible for you to do. Practice being a good story listener and asking story questions. Then, tell stories from an authentic place and don't tell people how to feel about a situation. Instead, ask them to tell you about their own experiences.
  • 00:41:26 - Storytelling for Behavior Change,
    Michelle shares her experience in Japan, where a doorman's story about wearing masks "for politeness" helped her quickly change her behavior. When telling stories, it's important to share your own motivations rather than telling people what to do or feel.
  • 00:43:20 - The Power of Story,
    Michelle explains that storytelling has been part of human culture for thousands of years. She shares that stories are powerful because they evoke emotions, which are needed to make decisions. A good story is relatable and makes abstract concepts more tangible. By telling stories, you can help people understand and feel your message.
  • 00:44:16 - Everyone Can Tell a Story,
    Michelle encourages people to embrace their storytelling skills. She says that everyone is born with the ability to tell a story and it's a skill that can be developed. Michelle suggests that to become a better storyteller, you should listen to stories and figure out your own storytelling style. Don't try to be someone else because it will be inauthentic and not work as well.
  • 00:45:30 - Using Storytelling in Business,
    Michelle explains that storytelling can be used in business to help with change management, persuasive presentations, and creating compelling sales pitches. She recommends using a simple structure to tell stories, answering the questions: what's going on, what did you do, and what happened. The right metaphors and connections can make a story more powerful.
  • 00:48:30 - Connecting Through Stories,
    Michelle shares that she includes a recipe in her weekly newsletter because food is part of cultural stories. She believes that by sharing stories and experiences, you can create connections with people. Michelle encourages people to use stories to engage with others and make them feel something.
  • 00:49:13 - Conclusion,
    Melina's top insights from the conversation, a recap of Michelle’s three-part storytelling framework, and items for you to consider as you implement what you learned. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media -- you'll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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