Everyone loves a good story. But did you know there are actual, physical reasons for a movie dominating the box office or novel staying at the top of the bestsellers list?
As I'm about to explain, storytelling is an innate part of being human because we're physically hardwired to gravitate toward it. And that makes video storytelling an incomparable asset for sales and marketing teams trying to engage and convert their target audience.
Storytelling and the Human Brain
Human beings are social creatures. That's one of the biggest reasons why storytelling is as old as civilization, perhaps even older – stories help us relate to each other and retain important lessons. They nourish the ever-important social aspects of our individual and collective well-being.
That's not just me pontificating, of course, but rooted in actual science. Put another way, there's a biological explanation for our natural affinity to storytelling. Actually, there are two of them.
1. Oxytocin Hits the Emotional Sweet Spot
Sometimes referred to as the love hormone, oxytocin is the neurochemical that fills us with a sense of trust and comfort. It drives empathy and a better understanding of how other people will think and behave in a particular situation.
As discussed in a recent HBR article, researchers wanted to test if video-based stories could induce oxytocin production at similar levels to face-to-face interactions. Unsurprisingly, the studies found that narratives are equally capable of producing oxytocin, even providing an accurate gauge of how much a person is willing to help another like, for instance, donating money to a nonprofit connected with the narrative.
In simpler terms, the greater the emotional connection with a story, the stronger the bond with the message and brand. Needless to say, oxytocin can be a sales and marketing team's best friend as long as they can effectively leverage the power of visual storytelling and create those emotional responses.
2. Mirror Neurons and Neural Coupling
You know that feeling when you're watching an action thriller on the big screen, where you can physically sense a character's fear, anxiety, or adrenaline as they fight for their life? That's the handiwork of mirror neurons, specialized information messengers in our brains that activate when we watch someone experience an emotion.
From a video storytelling perspective, that's why it's so important to convey excitement, hope, fun, and anticipation in your video content. When you’re on camera and speaking to a prospect, they literally feel the excitement you convey through facial expressions, your voice, and hand movements.
That mimicking sensation is called neural coupling, and it’s a direct response from those mirror neurons firing. And while I admit that neural coupling sounds like something straight out of science fiction, it's a natural phenomenon that syncs the minds of a speaker and listener, even when the communication occurs through video. Basically, when an audience engages with your storytelling, they interpret the information you transmit as their own, creating a symbiotic sense of trust from your messaging.
What the Science Means For Your Sales and Marketing
So from a practical standpoint, what does the neuroscience behind storytelling mean for your sales team and marketers? Well, for starters, it means video storytelling is a critical component of your ability to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Let's say you're shopping for a car and fill out online forms for three different dealerships. Two of them respond with a basic, somewhat boilerplate voicemail, email, or text message. However, the third takes the time to create and personalize a video for you, walking around the car and showing you the features you care about. Perhaps the salesperson even uses the video as an opportunity to share something about themselves and what they like about the car.
When it comes time to make a purchase decision, how much weight will the video response carry with your decision-making, both consciously and subconsciously? Probably quite a bit. Of course, the same goes for your messaging, no matter the industry or audience. When you use video to communicate with your prospects and customers, they naturally react to the emotions you convey through body language, tone, and facial expressions.
Simply put, other channels and content formats – voicemails and text-based emails, in particular – cannot match the deeper connections and trust video establishes between you and the audience. Remember, people buy with emotion and justify with logic. And for reasons built into our core biologies, there's no better way to leverage the power of emotion and compel your audience to take action than through video storytelling.