In Daniel Pink’s, A Whole New Mind, he talks about Steve Denning, an expert in organizational storytelling. According to Denning, “storytelling doesn’t replace analytical thinking…. It supplements it by enabling us to imagine new perspectives and new worlds…. Abstract analysis is easier to understand when seen through the lens of a well-chosen story” (p. 108). From a communications perspective, storytelling can enable the target audience to engage at higher levels of involvement in a campaign message by creating an experience that adds dimension, emotional investment and increase persuasiveness of an idea.
Creating Empathy vs. Using Logic
The key reason that high involvement leads to increased persuasion is the formation of empathy in the minds of the target audience. As Pink suggests, empathy “is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s position and to intuit what that person is feeling”. Empathy can be an effective form of persuasion, especially when the marketer is targeting their communications towards an Affective-thinker (someone who reasons through “I feel” rather than “I think”). When communicating with cognitive versus affective-oriented thinkers, appropriate use of “I think” versus “I feel” in the context of messaging will increase the likelihood of resonation within each audience.
How do we determine cognitive versus affective thinkers in our audience? Although gender is not an absolute definition, “on average, women are more affectivelyy oriented than men” (Mayer & Tormala). So if you can segment gender in a targeted communication, you might increase your likelihood of persuading your audience without changing anything other than “I think” vs. “I feel”.
Here’s a short but very clever story on the art of persuasion, told by none other than a fellow Canadian. The moral of her punchy story – if you want to persuade, a little creativity goes a long way…and that Canadians are fabulously nice people 🙂