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Karen Dietz
June 11, 2014

Here’s the bottom line: if your content does not engage your reader emotionally, their connection to you is puny. Their ability to remember you vanishes. Your value to them is lost. No no, don’t go down that road! Yet it happens too easily.

Any content you create needs to connect and emotionally engage your audience so you can achieve business success. Period. But how the heck do you do that?

Let’s stop bumbling around in the dark. Here are the best articles I’ve found on the topic that will bring light to the topic, arm you with knowledge, offer examples you can copy, and give you tools to move forward.

First, Here’s The Why

What Marketers are Missing About Emotional Connections

sleeping at computerThis is what I really like about this article: it clearly explains the different types of empathy and how marketers keep missing the mark.

It’s great to try to understand the world from your customer’s perspective — and hard to do — unless you are able to build empathy with them. By the way, sharing stories back and forth builds empathy. But you still need to shift from a place of being competitive (one versus another) to a place of building a ‘we’ experience.

This article from Douglas Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing, takes us through to market your business more effectively, build empathy, and create life-long customers. Yeah! Plus he shares great examples so we can actually see how this works.

Second, Here’s the How

Going Viral – The Science Behind Sharing

StickyThis is a 14 minute podcast with author Jonah Berger who recently wrote the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

You will definitely want to listen to this quick piece because it is chock full of critical information about creating content that is shared. The transcript of the podcast is also included in the post for those of us who just want to read the text.

Berger talks about the science behind why people share content and stories. Knowing this information will give you much more understanding and control as you are creating content and hoping it is shared a lot — or could possibly go viral.

Berger also discusses how certain types of both positive and negative emotions facilitate sharing – and that not all negative emotions are bad in this case. In addition he covers how to think about controversy, because there are benefits to controversy, if handled well. Certain emotions and sometimes uproar can move people to action, which is the point to sharing our business stories.

There is a lot of other great material that Berger covers. I’m certain you will be able to use his insights well to help you in your business!

The Role of Stories and Emotional Engagement in Marketing

This article by Souri Somphanith focuses on reading, so think of all the business stories you tell in your content creation across platforms — blogs, websites, emails, articles, presentations, videos, digital stories, and the like.  And yet the research shared here holds true for sharing stories in person, too.

The point of this post is what I find fascinating: the more a listener is engage in a story, the more empathy grows over time. The result? People become more empathetic to you and your brand through emotional engagement and storytelling. If you want emotional engagement and people feeling empathy towards you and your company, share stories.

But not any old story. Share stories with characters they can relate to. If they can’t relate then there is no engagement, no empathy. And it must be told in a way that people can connect to. In other words, deliver a story badly and you won’t get the engagement, empathy, or result you are seeking.

Leaders need to know this when sharing stories about values, vision, change efforts, etc. Marketers need to know this for brand loyalty. Small businesses and entrepreneurs need to know this for relationship sales.

This is a very short article with powerful points. Even better, there’s a link to the original research so you can really get all the insights.

Brilliant Video: Dumb Ways To Die

dumb ways to dieWhat an ingenious 3-minute video called “Dumb Ways To Die”. It’s been viewed over 50 million times, and received Grand Prix honors at Cannes! And LOL — I now have today’s earworm to deal with from the song on this video! That is simply a testament to what works. So pay attention and be prepared  🙂

Now the point I really like that Gabrielle Dolan, the author of this blog post, makes about the video is this: the Transportation Authority spent the bulk of the time in this video building an emotional connection to the audience before it ever delivers its message.

And that is exactly what we should be doing with our biz storytelling, as Dolin also says. I agree.

While the video isn’t a story, it does contain a great lesson for us about creating emotional connections as we continue to hone our content creation and storytelling skills. Enjoy the video!

Make It Stick

This SlideShare presentation examines in more depth why the funny video “Dumb Ways To Die” really sticks. It’s based on the Dan and Chip Heath’s book “Made To Stick.” The presentation was put together by Orsolya Nemes in Budapest, Hungry who is a consultant/trainer. Her points are right on.

It’s a fabulous primer about how to craft your stories (and other material) so people remember it and repeat it via word-of-mouth marketing. The video is less a story, but it embodies many devices we use in storytelling to make our work memorable and repeatable. You will want to take note of these elements.

That’s a good thing! So have fun going through the slide presentation to understand why it works so well.

ToolbeltThird, Here Are Some Tools

Making Your Ideas Stick

What an interesting article this is for anyone in business! The post by Henneke Duistermaat discusses 7 triggers to fascination and gives lots of examples to illustrate the points made.

And even better, there’s a link to the book this article is based on, and a link to a personality test to see which emotional triggers you already are using. Sweet!

As I read it, I could see that the triggers to fascination that they list are also emotions that are often part of business stories. So this is a twist on common articles that talk about emotional connection in marketing.

So which of the 7 psychological triggers to fascination do you gravitate toward? And which ones end up in your biz stories?

More “Why” Plus Cool Charts To Use

emotion chartConnecting with people emotionally is the bedrock of effective storytelling. But what emotions produce results? Fear? Anger? Joy? Hope?

This article by Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski lays out the case for viral marketing, along with the emotions that when activated, can result in viral sharing. The research is fascinating. And the charts are well worth keeping handy.

And here’s what I know about storytelling and how this relates: sure, stories can arouse fear, ire, anger, indignation, etc. But ultimately those feelings need to be resolved in some way and transformed to another emotion where people feel empowered to take action.

So fear and anger can still be present (“I’m so angry about how I’m being treated!”) but also connected to hope so that by taking some action, change can happen (“So I’m going to sign this petition.” or “So I’m going to purchase this product.”).

I know, this is tricky and imperfect. And this article helps us sort through what to do. Good examples and tips are shared, along with the results companies have experienced.

Storytelling isn’t the only way to engage emotions, and you may think of many other ways to emotionally engage customers and prospects. In the end I hope this post gives you lots of ideas and the charts prove helpful.

What Do We Share Online? 4 Emotions + More Charts

What a terrific summary article this is about 4 key emotions in marketing. It covers not only why emotions work, the author Courtney Seiter also talks about WHICH emotions get shared and why.

Seiter covers happiness, sadness, fear, plus anger and the types of reactions each creates. I also like the charts and graphics she uses to make her points.  You will recognize one chart from the article cited above. The others shared here are also extremely helpful.

And what I think is really cool is how she shares recent research from IPA dataBANK who validated — once again — that pure emotional content wins out over a combination of rational and emotional.

So check out the article. It is well done. If you want to gain mastery over crafting content and stories with specific emotional content, then this post will bring a lot of clarity to your work.

The End

These 7 articles are chock-full of insights, tips, examples, and tools to use. Get your game on. Use the material to connect emotionally with audiences even more than you are doing now. Post your questions and comments below. Happy day!

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Profile photo of Karen Dietz
Karen Dietz has been working in business storytelling with organizations for over 2 decades. She is also the top global curator on business storytelling at www.scoop.it/t/just-story-it. Karen is the co-author of the just published book "Business Storytelling for Dummies" by Wiley. You can find this and more at her website here.
  • Great post, here is my problem. I can’t figure out how to have a story for my social media site, it feels like a business to business story is more difficult to develop and use emotions for marketing. Any ideas?