How To Create A Connection With Your Customers

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel

[WARNING: Game of Thrones fans, Season 6 Ep "The Door" Spoiler Alert in this article]

We discussed the power of emotion in our first segment, "The Surprising Thing That Helps You Sell" TL; DR / Recap: To sell, you have to move people, to connect with their emotions and build a relationship.

How do you create that connection with your customers? Through storytelling.

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The power of storytelling isn't a new concept, neither is it's use in marketing and growth. That's because stories affect us in significant ways.
How else can a character with just one line in the script, of a show with 50+ episodes, bring us to tears? We're talking about none other than (Game of Thrones Season 6 Spoiler Alert) Hodor, hodor. 


Not only do stories affect our thoughts but they also have the power to alter our actions. (I KNOW! It's incredible; I have an entire piece on that coming next.) First, let's explore the ways in which stories impact our brain.


1. Neural Coupling & Mirror Neurons | Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Remember

"His long fingernails scraped across the chalkboard."
"I could feel the spider crawling up the back of my neck."
Did you cringe while reading those sentences? Why?

About 20+ years ago in Italy, a neuroscientist and his team were studying motor movements in monkeys. On accident, they found that the neurons that fired up when the monkey reached for food also fired up when someone else reached for food. As mundane as that may seem, this was an unprecedented finding! This discovery of these brain cells, known as mirror neurons, showed us that our brain allow us to experience the emotions of another person. That's one of the most primary reasons storytelling makes an effective marketing tool. Our brains are geared to react to storytelling. 

The study on mirror neurons was further validated when a study at Princeton University found that the same areas of the brain in the storyteller and the listener light up when sharing or listening to a story.

When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains.
— Uri Hasson, neuroscientist at Princeton

When these associations are repeated, the communication between these neurons strengthens from a dirt road to a paved interstate highway. Thanks to Dr. Eric Kandel, we know that these changes are physically cemented in the brain, sometimes for a few hours, a few days and often times, even years. This is why storytelling is key to developing a brand. Every time a potential consumer hears about your brand, an association is formed. When you take control and tell your brand's story, you ensure it's a positive one.


2. Broca's & Wernicke's Areas v All the Cortexes | Facts v Stories
Many businesses wonder, what about the facts? Why does it have to be a story?
When a brain hears facts, the Broca and Wernicke areas, the regions that process language, are highlighted. However, when the brain hears a story, every part of the brain that's involved in an experience lights up. This includes the sensory cortex, the frontal cortex, the pre-frontal cortex and more! (NYT) This is one of the many reasons stories tend to stick in the brain longer than facts and more proof of why storytelling is vital to growing a brand.

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3. Dopamine | If You're Happy & You Know It, You'll Remember
When we experience an emotional event, the amygdala, an almond-shaped area of the brain which allows us to feel a range of emotions, releases dopamine during pleasant experiences. Researchers showed subjects a range of photos, from inanimate objects like chairs to emotionally charged faces of people. Unsurprisingly, they found that the amygdala lit up when they looked at photos of other faces vs photos of furniture. What is surprising is that the amygdala also released dopamine! Why is that important to your brand? Molecular biologist, author and inspirational TED talker, John Medina explains it best:

When the brain detects an emotionally charged event, the Amygdala releases dopamine into the system. Because dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing, you could say it creates a ‘Post-it’ note that reads ‘Remember this’.
— John Medina, molecular biologist, author, TED talker

As a brand, if your story and your content, whether it's your blog or your Instagram photos or Snapchat stories, relays emotional relevance, they will resonate with your audience. They will cut through the clutter of the many distractions we face daily as consumers. Most importantly, they will be remembered and people will associate your brand with positive emotions.

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel

Each touch point with your potential consumer should be curated with Maya Angelou's words in mind. What do you want others to remember your brand as?

This post shows how storytelling affects consumer brains and how we can use it to grow as a brand. Next, find out what changes consumer behavior and how it can help you grow as a business!