Why stories work - 4 stages of realization


We can argue all day long, but the simple truth is that people buy because of a want, not because of a need. 

Of course we have needs to satisfy, but even when selecting the must-have-product, the choice to do so is still dependent on what story we tell ourselves. Our perception of the truth - our story - affects how and why we choose a certain brand over another.

How believable is this story that I tell myself? 

I buy domestic products because I like to think that the producer I've chosen doesn't use chemicals and additives in their products. I believe I'm making a good choice for my family and I want to believe that I'm taking care of them by doing so.

That's the "story" I tell myself. 

I think it's safe to say that I'm kidding myself if I think a company is going to be fully transparent. Which is why I have to write my own story. 

We all end up writing the story we want to believe in. And these are the stages that get us there...

How do people discover - The 4 Stages: 

Stage 1 - Evaluating the newness 

I want you to imagine going to your local grocery store. The one you always go to where you know the content of each and every aisle. 

I want you to think about the aisle that has all of the olive oils. I bet that within the past year you had a moment where your gaze was disrupted by a jar of coconut oil. 

That jar of coconut oil caught your attention because it was different; It disrupted the status quo. 

You only notice the new, and then you compare its originality to the things you know. If it’s not new and interesting enough, we ignore it.
— Seth Godin

Stage 2 - Theorise 

Our brains cannot cope with randomness. We theorise to understand why things are a certain way. 

Coconut oil in the aisle of olive oils? What is this? Why is it here? It must have similar capabilities. Otherwise it wouldn’t be here, right? 

We instantly build a theory about the things we see or experience. 

How many times have you driven passed the scene of a car accident and instantly started theorising what might have happened: "By the angle of the car, I bet they were driving too close to the edge and they were sucked right off the road!"

This is a prime example of our imaginative brains trying to explain something that is random or surprising to our cognitive system.

Stage 3 - Make a prediction 

Whether we'll admit it or not, we all need to feel like we know what is going to happen next. This reaction occurs to appease our minds and bring it back to the unstimulated stage. Only then can we mentally move forward.

Consider the coconut oil. What else would make you choose the coconut oil over your beloved olive oil other than the story of better health benefits or versatility?

Some TV-shows use this stage especially well. They leave the viewer in such a mental state that you just have to watch the next episode. Netflix has the power to put even the strongest people into a transitive binge-watching state of mind. Those who don't binge-watch might cheat and do a little online research at this point...

Stage 4 - Make a cognitive lie

Once we have made a theory and then a prediction, it's very difficult to shift our minds to believe something else. 

In the car crash scene, I bet you argued with a friend or a spouse on what really happened. Why? Because both of you have written your own story.

“Agree to disagree”.

Marketing is all about storytelling, every little detail adds to that story. As long as those details are not based on lies, your story is ready to be told.

But to whom? 

The best stories are told with a small target group in mind, because stories are spread by people and no story is believable to everyone. Only the true stories can become great and sustainable. 

Now, go and tell your story... and share mine! 

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