Written by: Mags Thomson, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Do you sometimes find it difficult to create genuine connections with your audience? Do you feel like you have shared and repeated information 100 times, yet people don't seem to get the message? Often the problem is not the information, but our delivery that doesn't connect with those viewing it.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
One of the first concepts that I was introduced to in my teacher training was the idea that everybody learns differently. Yet, as teachers, we tend to lean heavily on whatever our own preference is. The same is true for our marketing communication; we all have different preferences, both in consumption and delivery. There is an easy way to circumvent that bias.
Different Ways Our Brains Process Information
When you look at your marketing process as your audience learning about you and your business, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge about how people take on information more effectively and facilitate your message accordingly. Simultaneously, being aware of your own learning preferences can also make it easier to deliver your messages in ways that make you sparkle.
The most common ways we categorize how people like to learn are simply: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. That means that some people take things in best when they read about it, some need to hear about it, and others have to learn in a hands-on way to take on the new skills and ideas they are trying to absorb. In fact, we often want a combination of these (and other) input methods. However, our learning styles are more complex than that.
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:
Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)”
There are plenty of tests available online (such as this one) if you are curious to find out how you score on these, although you probably have some idea of this by just reading through the list.
How to Apply This in Your Marketing
Many marketing gurus will tell you to mix delivery tools throughout your channels. Taking the above information into consideration, you will understand that there is truth to that. But as I mentioned earlier, you also have your own preferences, and more often than not, these determine your communicative strengths and allow you to be your most sparkly self. Besides, you are probably already super busy and don't need the extra effort to create a myriad of content items. So, let's go straight to the learning preference pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: storytelling.
In The Storytelling Edge, Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow explain that we learn far more effectively when multiple parts of our brains work together. When hearing or reading stories, we engage in language processing and comprehension, just as we would when taking a simple factual statement. But, importantly, we also process emotions and images, using the part of the brain that’s responsible for cognitive planning. In other words, when we are told stories, our brains are primed to create connections and accept new ideas. This is how stories tap into a combination of the multiple intelligences, and therefore can engage with everyone in your audience, regardless of their personal preferences.
Just think about a time when you watched a film adaptation of a book you absolutely loved. Then, as your favorite character appears on the screen before you, you are filled with disappointment. They look or sound nothing like you had imagined. The way the lovers seem to connect to each other is utterly different than you thought. You see, while you read the book, your brain got to work creating images, creating the sound of the character's voices, imagining the backdrops and furnishings; you drew conclusions about emotions and thoughts the characters would have. I am sure you've experienced this, and it just illustrates how our brain responds to a good story.
Storytelling Invokes Trust, Connection, and Authority
There is much more to storytelling than just the ability to communicate effectively with your audience, regardless of their preferred ways of learning and communicating. Storytelling is an ancient part of human nature, a way for us to create trust and connection and learn about new ideas and experiences—another reason why it's such a powerful tool for your business.
As much as we'd like to think that we make our purchasing decisions on a rational weighing of pros and cons, we are much more likely to come to those choices by emotional stimuli. Your stories will activate those emotions and influence your audience's decision-making faculties. Moreover, neuroeconomist Paul Zak has explained how, during storytelling, the “trust hormone” oxytocin is released. This doubles your ability to create a positive connection to your potential client.
Especially when we are sole traders and service providers, our customers are more likely to make a sales decision because they like and trust you. We want to work with people we feel “get us,” and we make that estimation based on how they make us feel. My business coach had similar experiences as I have, which we bounded over before deciding to work with her. And although that wasn’t my rationalized reason to work with her, it has come in very useful at times. I am sure you have examples of service providers or clients you work with for similar reasons; we feel connected with them. By telling your audience your personal story, sharing the ups and downs, they will be able to feel the human connection between you, and that is where trust is built.
You may feel that sharing your personal stories and challenges is inappropriate as part of your professional brand. We are thoroughly imprinted with the idea that work is not the place for ugly tears, heartbreak, or childhood trauma. Yet, when it comes to connecting with your audience, these are the stories that matter. People need to see the transformation, connect to the challenges, and feel that you, more than anyone else, understand exactly what they are going through. It may feel daunting to share vulnerably, but you'll get the hang of it. I have spent the last few years sharing about my own emotionally abusive childhood and my healing. It was not always easy, and I sure learned a lot about managing my mental health in light of embracing vulnerability on a public forum. I share some tips on how to handle the vulnerability in the House of Hives Blog.
Finding out your own learning styles and communicative preferences will help you engage more effectively and confidently. Especially when you are first starting to share your personal stories, it helps to focus on your strengths. This will make your stories more appealing and support you as practice dealing with your feelings of vulnerability.
Are you a talker? Try podcasting. Are you a writer? Blog! Find ways to tell your story that help you feel more confident and secure, and start building a human connection with your audience.
Get unlimited leads on autopilot and turn lurkers into buyers to skyrocket your business in 2021. Check out House of Hives; we can help!
The Storytelling Edge (2018) by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow
The Science of Storytelling (2019) by Will Storr
Enchantment (2012) by Guy Kawasaki
Stories for Work (2017) by Gabrielle Dolan
Building a StoryBrand (2017) by Donald Miller
The Storytelling Animal (2012) by Jonathan Gottschall
How to Share Without the Vulnerability Hang-Over by Mags Thomson
Multiple Intelligences by The American Institute for Learning and Human Development
Mags Thomson, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine
Mags is a story coach, impact co-creator, and the founder of House of Hives. She helps female entrepreneurs and change-makers use their personal stories in their business, bridging the gap between emotive storytelling and strategic marketing. Together with developmental editor Karina Asti and event strategist Ana Gallo, she helps women co-create books and collaborative online summits to empower themselves and their brand.