Storytelling = Subliminal Selling

24 replies
I thought this article was a pretty neat read... there's a sentence in here
that REALLY stood out to me.

"The commercials Neistat produces don’t feel like commercials at all -- and that’s the key to their success. Neistat knows what brands want, but he knows what ad-averse millennials want, too: great storytelling, adventure and authenticity. And his formula appears to be working."

The storytelling part.

I remember YEARS ago, back in 2003 or so, I had built up quite an email list in my fitness biz.

But my emails were the typical.... "here's how to do pull ups the right way"

And usually at the end would include a link to a product.

Then I got onto Matt Furey's list, and it took me a few months to realize, but
almost every one of his emails was a STORY.

So, in my emails, I started talking about my daily life, how I worked out, and ate, and did cardio, etc...

Each email was simply a short story out of the day of my life.

And I did what Matt did, which was include a clear call to action in my P.S.

That one change... using stories each day, tripled my sales and revenues.

And here we are, 10 years later, this article talks about how this entrepreneur is
such a hit... because his ads aren't like typical ads... they tell stories.

But this goes way beyond just a story when writing a sales letter. These days, whether it's email, blog posts, Facebook posts, Instragram posts... my #1 thought is... "how can I weave this valuable insight and advice into a story, so people connect with it, can relate to it, and feel like it will help increase sales.

Anyways, very cool read here... and proves the point that since the dawn of time... we've been attracted to stories.. .whether it's through books movies, or, well, marketing.

How YouTube Sensation Casey Neistat Succeeded in Making Ads for People Who Hate Ads
.
.
.
.
#selling #storytelling #subliminal
  • Profile picture of the author quadagon
    There's been some really interesting studies into story telling and listening.

    When a story is being told a process called neuro coupling takes place and the brains of both the teller and receiver sync up with the same areas stimulated in the receivers brain.

    In the receiver the brain actually anticipates what happens next in the story the closer the story matches there predictive anticipatory response the easier the story is learnt.

    It ties in to the old methodology of say what you are going to say, say it and say what you said.
    Signature
    I've got 99 problems but a niche ain't one
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10343551].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Memetics
      Originally Posted by quadagon View Post

      There's been some really interesting studies into story telling and listening.

      When a story is being told a process called neuro coupling takes place and the brains of both the teller and receiver sync up with the same areas stimulated in the receivers brain.

      In the receiver the brain actually anticipates what happens next in the story the closer the story matches there predictive anticipatory response the easier the story is learnt.

      It ties in to the old methodology of say what you are going to say, say it and say what you said.

      Receptivity to stories is an ancient evolutionary "hack" to the mind's emotional centre.

      If you're in the persuasion business that's exactly where you want to be. The reason it became hardwired into the brain was; In the days before the written word it was the best way bar none to transmit information into another's mind.

      In the ancestral environment danger was an everyday possibility, telling a story to another member of your tribe was a way of getting them to run a virtual simulation of a potential opportunity or a possible dangerous situation and give them a tried and tested solution to it.

      Basically the story was saying: If this happens, this is what you do.

      Because the listeners critical factor could get in the way and interfere, your brain disabled it to some extent. The wisdom within the story was usually so tried and tested across the generations that accepting the story without interference was nearly always better for your genes as an action heuristic was more likely to save your life than trying to analyse a novel situation on the fly.

      As civilization progressed the stories became more and more complex and condensed even more information into themselves you ended up with the first great stories such as the Greek myths filled with tales of heroes overcoming adversity and ending up with both the girl and the kingdom through heroic acts, self-sacrifice and outwitting wily opponents.

      If you're living in a tribal structure then these acts were just the ticket for protecting your tribe and your extended family (people you share your genes with).

      Receptivity to stories became dominant in the population. It's still there ready to be utilised by any copywriter with smarts. Nature even built in a pleasure response when you correctly anticipate what happens next and the dopamine rush you experience is your reward for toeing the line.

      The actual science of how it works is unusually simple for a cognitive trait. It's to do with what's called "theory of mind". TOM as it's known can extend even beyond knowing what someone else is thinking [2nd Order] to even higher levels such as a 4th Order level.

      "He knows that I know that he knows I know"

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind

      It evolved in the higher mammals along with mirror neurons to allow them to run a virtual reconstruction of what another mammal was thinking and predict what it was going to do next (sort of like a sandbox) and act accordingly.

      Very handy for your genes if the other mammal intends on killing you!

      The problem is though there has to be a highway between your own mind and the simulated mind or to be technical the two "global workspaces"...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Workspace_Theory

      ...and this highway allows emotions another person is experiencing to leak into your own mind, it's a small price to pay for such a useful mechanism though.

      You experience it every time you watch a movie and feel the emotional triggers in the story. You know the hero isn't really trapped by zombies or handcuffed to a pipe in a rapidly flooding room, but you STILL feel the emotions of panic and unease the actor is portraying.

      As a copywriter you can sneak these emotions into your copy by using stories as the transmission vehicle. Emotions are the levers that create decisions.

      Whether they're someone else's you're experiencing in a story or your own pertinent ones it doesn't make any difference to how they influence you.
      Signature

      First we believe.....then we consider.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10345010].message }}
  • Yes, the noble art of telling a story.

    Why does it work so well?

    Once upon a time…

    Shocked and stunned copywriters realised the hidden secret to selling.

    NOBODY likes being pitched to.

    But they love hearing a good story.


    Steve
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10343569].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    Banned
    Furey is one of the best copywriters and info product sellers. Bought a lot of his products so it can work well. It depends on the product though I thinks.
    Signature
    ThermoNuclear Branding: The #1 Fastest Way To Improve Your Marketing: http://www.BrainstormPro.com

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10343907].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Good post. Casey's whole story rings true. High school dropout, young father at 17, washing dishes to feed his kid, deciding what to do with his life, realizes he wants to be a filmmaker.

    He and his brother start shooting movies in Manhattan in the early 2000s with a cheap video camera, shows lots of talent, gets a couple of huge viral hits pre-YouTube (iPod's Dirty Secret), gets an HBO show, Madison Ave. calls to makes ads for Mercedes, etc., gets paid big $ to speak worldwide, creates new social network (Beme).

    His life story is authentic, and his mostly young-skewing tribe responds to that in a big way. He's probably the best best YouTube vlogger from a quality standpoint. He admits he started daily vlogging a couple years ago as a warm-up to his Beme launch, but his transparency, high quality videos and authenticity were what sold his audience.
    Signature
    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10344026].message }}
    • Narrative bunnies been movin' hearts and minds since Tarot, horoscopes, an' kathlick bejesus.

      All is imagry and arc in the dark.

      Also, dialog.
      Signature

      Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10344797].message }}
  • Stick a buncha actors on a stage an' get 'em to pretend real good, an' grown men're gonna weep.

    But you gotta have frequent interruptions in the narrative or it's like watchin' cheese an' the magic don't happen.

    Indy strikes out, bags the booty, comes home.

    Nope, I ain't watchin' that movie.

    Ditto buyin' anythin' when I sniff a pitch.

    People are wisin' up quick, but guts an' theatre always gonna pull.
    Signature

    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10345307].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Great salesmen are often great story tellers. You will notice how effective Gary Halbert
    was at telling an intriguing story. That was the meat of his copywriting chops really. He
    always had a story to bring across his points.

    -Ray Edwards
    Signature
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347395].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Great salesmen are often great story tellers. You will notice how effective Gary Halbert
      was at telling an intriguing story. That was the meat of his copywriting chops really. He
      always had a story to bring across his points.

      -Ray Edwards
      Absolutely Ray... Gary had some of the best. Heck, whether it was in his copy, or an issue of The Gary Halbert Letter... you could almost always count on a story to come up.

      And it's funny how a lot of his students like Doberman Dan and Scott Haines, they use a lot of stories in their copy as well.. .especially when they bring up working with Gary.

      When you think about most people... there isn't a day that goes by where SOME kind of story isn't involved in their lives, somewhere, somehow.

      Like watching movies? It's the story.

      Like reading books? It's the story.

      Like some of the HBO or Showtime shows? Stories.

      Plays and theater? Stories.

      Love listening to music? Most songs are stories.

      So yeah, I'd have to say there's a little something to this story-thingy when writing
      copy :-)
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347416].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author dmaster555
    it is natural human instinct to use stories to get our point across.

    All of these copywriting "techniques" and concepts really are things people naturally do themselves in their everyday life they just don't consciously realize it like a copywriter would and don't deliberately work to improve on these skills.

    Think of a time you had to convince your friend of something - maybe you know them so well that mentioning this "one thing" would for sure make them agree, or maybe you lied to your parents as a kid, tried to convince them to take you somewhere, whatever. I bet you used many of these persuasion tactics before you knew they existed.

    I have a seperate swipe file that I use for Amazon reviews. I've realized sometimes when I personally wanted to buy something, especially on Amazon, I look at the reviews and there's usually one person (probably a paid for review who knows?) who tells a good, realistic story about their use of the product and it pushes me to the edge to buy.

    I realize this and swipe the review to look it over later to determine why/how.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347567].message }}
    • Last time I hit on a movie for a synopsis was never.
      Signature

      Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347814].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by dmaster555 View Post

      it is natural human instinct to use stories to get our point across.
      Not really. Many people are terrible at story telling and don't even try.

      And most of those who do tell stories are just running their mouths... doing it to be the center of attention.

      For the most part, it's only persuaders and educators who use a story to make a point.

      Alex
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347951].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author dmaster555
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Not really. Many people are terrible at story telling and don't even try.

        And most of those who do tell stories are just running their mouths... doing it to be the center of attention.

        For the most part, it's only persuaders and educators who use a story to make a point.

        Alex
        People are telling stories all day in regular conversation whether it be true or made up. I didn't exactly say they were "good" at it, but it is done instinctively.

        If you lie about something, you gotta make up a story to prove to them you are innocent, don't you?

        A girl gossiping about how she hates a girl will tell a story about something stupid she did in order to make the point of why she hates the girl no?

        You hate your gym class so you're going to tell your friend something your teacher did to piss you off one day most likely.

        You love your girlfriend so much, so you tell your friend something sweet she did - you're proving a point that you love her...

        You're not consciously saying, "let me tell a story to prove my point" you just do it instinctively. That is what I mean. Everyone tells stories, doesn't mean everyone is a pro at it.

        It is usually when people "try" to tell stories for a specific purpose that they are terrible at it because they haven't deliberately developed that skill.

        The same way everyone has persuasive skills instinctively. However, if you ask them to deliberately persuade someone to do something, they will have no clue. It is an instinct that is not observed or improved on by most people.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10347965].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Instinct is an inborn pattern of behavior.

          In all candor, I'm not the least bit interested in story telling per se... only as it applies to persuasion.

          A story written to aid the selling process is not instinctive in the least. It is carefully constructed with selected persuasion elements.

          Alex
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10348168].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author dmaster555
            Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

            Instinct is an inborn pattern of behavior.

            In all candor, I'm not the least bit interested in story telling per se... only as it applies to persuasion.

            A story written to aid the selling process is not instinctive in the least. It is carefully constructed with selected persuasion elements.

            Alex
            You don't need to be interested in story telling to tell a story. It is what you will naturally do.

            Are you telling me you've never told a story about something that happened to you in your life, ever? an experience?

            You've never came back from a vacation and told someone an experience you had? something that happened with your friends, family, kids?

            You've only told a story to persuade someone in the selling process for a service / product in your whole life?

            I find that hard to believe.

            And I never said storytelling to aid in the selling process was instinctive, I said storytelling itself is instinctive, yet most people have not developed the skill to deliberately do it to sell a product because then they are not doing it naturally anymore.

            It is usually when people "try" to tell stories for a specific purpose that they are terrible at it because they haven't deliberately developed that skill
            Also, people use persuasion elements everyday without being aware of it . These "persuasion" elements are natural human behavior, copywriters didn't invent them. They just observed them and therefore learn how to manipulate them.
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10348778].message }}
            • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
              You say that story telling is instinctive. I say it's a learned behavior.

              We don't agree.

              Alex
              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10349133].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author max5ty
                Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

                You say that story telling is instinctive. I say it's a learned behavior.

                We don't agree.

                Alex
                Story telling is absolutely instinctive...however, the instinct can be studied to better learn how to modify the behavior your story takes.
                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10349226].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author Memetics
                Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

                You say that story telling is instinctive. I say it's a learned behavior.

                We don't agree.

                Alex
                I know how you feel, I used to feel the same way until one day standing in an airport check in line everything I had learned about narrative persuasion just clicked into place.

                Quite an "aha moment" I can tell you.

                Here's an interesting piece by Glen McBride a professor at the University of Queensland School of Psychology.


                "Natural Selection for Storytelling

                The first was the experience children gained from playing realistic hunts they had never observed, learning new skills from every story. Play became a real training for the day boys joined the adult hunters. Trained hunters brought more food to the troops, with fewer injuries.

                The second is the attention gained by skilled storytellers. Attention gives status and status brings many benefits. Good storytelling earned attention and respect independently of rank. Perhaps this was an early step from rank to status. Skilled storytellers might also have been subject to sexual selection.

                The third and most important was that those in the troop able to learn from the experiences of others now faced every new situation with relevant experiences greater than they alone could have acquired. To learn from others of a thousand specific dangers and successful reactions within their own environment increased their chances of escaping, to live to the next adventure. Stories were the culmination of natural selection's great search to produce experienced adults without huge waste. Each sunset heralded story time. Every remembered adventure and escape could be shared. Over time, tribes accumulated large repertoires of stories, experiences, adding new ones, and recounting old well-loved ones passed from generation to generation. A treasure-trove was available to every wide-eyed child, cuddled close to its parents through the darkening mysterious evenings, soaking up every story. Have children changed? With language, stories create forums as different experiences are exchanged. Diamond (2014) has shown how such storytelling is ubiquitous today in New Guinea tribesmen.
                "

                And some other links on the subject.

                https://www.melcrum.com/research/str...d-storytelling

                Science of storytelling: why and how to use it in your marketing | Media Network | The Guardian

                https://hbr.org/2014/10/why-your-bra...-storytelling/

                The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains


                To make your stories as powerful as possible there are a number of methods but the goal is to make the protagonist in your story as similar as possible to your prospect.

                The more similar the protagonist the more "lanes" of traffic (beliefs) in the highway between your global workspace and the virtual one the story is creating.

                You can't "know" your prospect's belief structure entirely as everyone is different to some extent, but you can chunk down to core beliefs and motivations which everyone holds.

                By doing so your own story will really resonate with your prospect's own cognitive program and have them exclaiming to themselves "This guy knows exactly what it's all about!"

                As a rule of thumb for copy you should use these methods to achieve maximum resonance with the prospect's as they're all hardwired into the human mind.

                1/ Throw in some cognitive biases (social biases are especially powerful)

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

                2/ If it's a niche sector use a lot of trancewords and phrases in your dialogue.


                3/ Use some cold reading to create a sense of knowledge of your prospect's past but stick to "Forer Effects" and avoid "shotgunning".

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading

                4/ Weave a framework to your story based around Archetypes.

                Archetypes - ROAD at Iona

                Expect some spectacular results if you can seamlessly integrate all four into your copy.
                Signature

                First we believe.....then we consider.

                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10350207].message }}
                • Hey, Mem -- guess it's ultra-personalized eTarot for a nichier & needier media-rich version of the same ole spitball.

                  Thx for the links.
                  Signature

                  Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10350225].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
                  Originally Posted by Memetics View Post

                  .
                  To make your stories as powerful as possible there are a number of methods but the goal is to make the protagonist in your story as similar as possible to your prospect.

                  The more similar the protagonist the more "lanes" of traffic (beliefs) in the highway between your global workspace and the virtual one the story is creating.

                  You can't "know" your prospect's belief structure entirely as everyone is different to some extent, but you can chunk down to core beliefs and motivations which everyone holds.

                  By doing so your own story will really resonate with your prospect's own cognitive program and have them exclaiming to themselves "This guy knows exactly what it's all about!"
                  That is only one of the persuasion techniques a story in copy can use. And perhaps the most powerful. But there are numerous other persuasion elements a story also can (and should) include.

                  Think of the story as a "wrapper" for virtually every persuasion technique you know. I could go into more detail here, but I share that one with my students only. :-)

                  Alex
                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10351055].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author quadagon
                  Originally Posted by Memetics View Post


                  3/ Use some cold reading to create a sense of knowledge of your prospect's past but stick to "Forer Effects" and avoid "shotgunning".

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_reading
                  Ian Rowland's full facts of cold reading books is one of my secret weapons. I find it's really best suited for email marketing but still worth a read for all copywriters.

                  One area I think is underutilised in copy is the combination of story and testimonial. Me telling you a story about 'x' is still as sales pitch.

                  Someone else telling that story is an endorsement and far more powerful.
                  Signature
                  I've got 99 problems but a niche ain't one
                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10354747].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author art72
    While I am not into theatrics style writing or fiction per se, for over a decade people have told me;"you should write a book!"

    Meanwhile, it always came by way of my brutal honesty when describing a personal experience, usually containing some form of humiliating circimstances that were either derived from, or leading to a measure of accountability in finding the solution.

    Often, I've questioned whether including yhis in specific marketing arenas would be of benefit? -or- damaging to ones credibility?

    As with the drop out making films... It works, if the extenuating circumstances (humility/failure/lack of 'x') is over-written by empowering the solution (experience/success/accountability) is sincere and transparent.

    But, if you try selling your failure with no solution... You might be a good comedian, and get a few laughs.
    Signature
    Atop a tree with Buddha ain't a bad place to take rest!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10349271].message }}
    • All stories are a series of emotive hooks arranged in a narrative arc.

      Fiction, movies, comics, copy, oral tales, myth: all follow this broad format.

      Storytelling is kinda instinctive, 'cos showin' what we know is key to survival.

      So most people can tell stories about what they did that day, or the funniest thing that ever happened in their lives, or mebbe summarise the plot of a movie for a friend who missed it.

      But what kinda stories would these be?

      Mebbe kinda humdrum, or kinda boringly told -- so most people ain't gonna want to know.

      For stories to be effective, they gotta be good stories. And they gotta be brilliantly told.

      This is where anything instinctive gotta subject itself to the rigor of craft.

      Anyone can write a dumb story about a stoopid girl who discovers a secret door, but to make the bestseller fiction and movie list, you gotta have talent honed by years of painstaking fiction craft, kinda like Gaiman did with Coraline.

      Ditto movies. The narrative plays the same, but the means of delivering it, the expertise, differs from literature. Any goober can make a home movie on a vid camera these days -- but who's buyin'?

      Same with alla the other stuff I mentioned, includin' copy.

      Anyone can have a raw stab, and the result will prolly be a crock of crapola.

      Anyone 'naturally' half decent gonna be tempted to refine their craft, learn the stuff that mebbe ain't so instinctive, ain't so obvoius, and relates specifically to copy narrative rather than movie narrative or fiction narrative.

      Ultimately, every story, however it's framed, whatever its purpose or 'genre', is a series of emotive hooks arranged in sequence from beginning to end that clearly outlines/describes/shows a change, a transformation.

      In fiction, typically the protagonist triumphs over some kinda adversity, in movies, some guy in a cape saves the world from Godzilla, and in copy, the reader is moved to pick up the phone or buy the product or whatever you persuade 'em is

      THE END.
      Signature

      Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff togethah.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10350091].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author TakenAction
    I love following Andre chaperon, Ben Settle, and John McCullon. They all tell stories via email to sell their products.

    Some of them intertwine their stories over multiple emails ( more effective ) and some just use a separate whole story per email.

    Nonetheless they all have mentioned their revenues skyrocketed when telling stories to sell versus just plain selling via email.
    Signature

    The best thing you can do is put yourself out there.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[10350855].message }}

Trending Topics