“Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.” ~ Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
Our brain is split between left (logic) and right (creativity) — yet in today’s world the voice of one tends to overshadow the other. When “money talks” it’s sadly more common to hear “how will you make money?” than “how does it make you feel?”
This email starts with a story and ends with an action. If you’re struggling to communicate the value of your product or services, I recommend reading it through.
When prompted to share her most powerful compliment, Madi T. told this story:
I fly a lot, and I like to grab a book at the airport bookstore before I travel. There used to be a man who was always at the Hudson Booksellers at the airport whom I would ask for recommendations. Turns out every book he recommended, while each being completely different from each other, ended up really impacting me and changing the direction of my life. One day I walked in, stared him down, and loudly said…
“You sir, have changed my life.”
I had the full attention of everyone in the store now. “Every time I come here, I ask you for a book recommendation. And every book you give me changes my life. Thank you so much.”
“No, thank you,” he said. “I have something to tell you. The reason I work here is because I wanted to change people’s lives. I went to a cartographer and told him this. I asked him to draw up the coordinates on the one spot on Earth that would allow me to positively impact as many lives as possible. And the coordinates he gave me where that of this store. I am so glad to know that my life’s purpose is happening.” Crazy. And to think…
If I hadn’t had a couple of beers and was feeling ballsy, perhaps he would never have known he was making a difference.
If I went into a diatribe about the universe, energy, etc. my ‘one thing’ for the day would be lost and we’d end up talking metaphysics for the next week.
I’ll tell you what I told Madi T.,
The more you embrace a gut feeling the more you learn its intelligence. I can’t tell you how many times I just had a feeling like “go left” and ended up meeting a business partner that became the reason I moved to Los Angeles (which was one instance). Listen to that feeling and assess later whether it was right or wrong. The more you go through that process the more you’ll be able to hear it and trust it when it happens.
During a client call this morning we discussed the most effective language for him to use in his headline, sub-headline, and call to action. The more we discussed, the more a pattern became clear — connect with emotion, justify with logic.
Want to see this in practice? Airbnb’s site has been a recent obsession of mine:
In just two words — “Welcome Home” — they evoke a powerful emotion as to the value that their service brings. They follow with a logical quantification of this value proposition and a clear call to action. While most people would feel uncomfortable or unable to explain that they chose to use Airbnb for the emotional experience then tend to cite the “wonderful pricing” or “ease of use” as their primary motives.
To paraphrase neuroscience by sharing the insights of Simon Sinek’s TEDtalk, the Limbic Brain is the core of our minds and lacks the capacity for language — it’s the origin of your “gut feelings”. The Neocortex is the more evolved brain that surrounds this and is where our higher thinking originates. While you may feel “I need to buy an iPhone (Limbic) you will justify with logic (Neocortex) and state that as the reason.”
More often than not people act on their gut feelings, but justify them with logic.
This raises the question, how are you speaking about your offerings? Are you selling with logic or emotion? Look back at your advertising variants, emails, etc. and see if you can break down the messages. What do you lead with? What’s the ratio?
One of the most common marketing mistakes I see is an ineffective (or inability) to sell the story of the business — to make people feel the value, not just hear it.
Take pause to look at how you’re communicating yourself and your business on a high level. Look to those who you aspire to be and compare your style (content, engagements, emails, etc.). Differentiate the emotion from the logic and see which leads the conversation. Identify what is compelling from what is quantifying.
Here’s a challenge, in less than 140 characters — make me feel your value.