Once upon a time….
Before we had computers,
Before Clay Tablets,
Even before Stone Etchings
We told Stories.
Storytelling was how we passed down our myths, our legends,
All of it was passed down in this timeless narrative form.
Like the Great Pyramids, these stories had staying power, many of them remaining intact through generations of oral tradition, surviving into the modern age. Even in this age of information, with digitized data at our fingertips, the story still thrives.
Hard Data is great, but nothing sells it like a good story.
It should not be too surprisingthat research into what makes us tick has found out what those old storytellers in front of the campfire already knew. Listening or reading a story causes a person to engage their minds in manner that is much more comprehensive than just merely processing data.
Let us say that you found out the absolute softest brand of tissue paper and you want to tell all your friends on Social Media.
You could simply say: “Brand X (not a real brand) is the softest tissue paper around.”
Nothing wrong with that right?
Succinct and to the point. Gets the information out there. Perfect for Twitter. And, if one your friends happens to catch your post while in the tissue aisle, they might even benefit.
Most others will most likely see the post, process the information about Brand X, go to the next post, get distracted by a cute kitten video, and then forget all about Brand X.
Damn you Cute Kittens.
Of course, it is not really the kittens fault. It is the fact that your informative post about the softness of Brand X failed to properly engage your friends.
You really should have told a story about it first.
On his site, Alex Turnbull relates how he presented readers with two different versions of the same article. One, like your unimaginative Brand X post, simply stated the facts. The other version started out with a story that helped to engage the reader and pull them further into the information. Both articles had the same actionable information. The only difference was the story.
Guess what happened?
Despite having basically the same information, the article with the story had three times more readers scroll all the way down it. People also spent an astounding 520% more time on the story article than the one without a story.
Getting any ideas about that Brand X post yet?
If managing to get a 300% rise in readership is not enough to convince you of the power of story then perhaps Chip and Dan Heath can:
After a Presentation, they found that only 5% of their attendees managed to remember the stats they presented while an amazing 63% remembered the stories that they related.
Eye Opening isn’t it?
So, if you really want people who read your post to truly discover how great Brand X tissue is, instead of just stating how great it is, tell a story about it instead.
For example, you could post:
“Woke up today with my cold still lingering and my waste basket filled to the rim with tissues. Generally, by this time, my nose would by all raw and dry from the constant blowing and wiping. Thankfully, I found Brand X tissues. Using these tissues is like wiping my nose with kitten dressed in silk pajamas.”
Ha, take that Cute Kittens.
Besides taking a nice dig at those dastardly kittens, by starting your post with a story, you help to better engage the reader, activating more than just the data processing parts of their brain. Since everyone has spent the night with a stuffed up nose, the reader’s sensory cortex would activate as they put themselves in your place, imagining the awful feeling of having a raw, over wiped nose.
Don’t be surprised if you get three times as many likes and a plethora of comments about the softness of Brand X.
So, next time you are working on your newsletter and want to really engage your subscribers, instead of dumping a bunch of dry facts upon them, try using the awesome power of the story. You can, for example, open up with a relevant story that help drive the point of your data home. It can be a personal story from your life or you can even try to simply make something up as you go along.
By opening your newsletter with a story, you will start to engage the reader from line one, making it much more likely that they will finish the article and better retain the information you are trying to get across.
This will help you to connect with your subscribers on a much deeper level and help guarantee that the next newsletter you send them will not go unopened.
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