Communication Lessons for the Marketer in African Tradition
When elders in Africa want a key message to stick, they would either talk via proverbs or through moon light tales. Reason for this is simply people relate to stories better because they provide a garb for the key message to take residence, flight and arrive the desired destination as it were unscathed
Well-deployed stories can and do improve an ad’s impact, and they are great instruments for engaging people since they generate more emotion and are more likely to be enjoyed than other types of ads. Storytelling can also be an excellent tool for conveying information if the brand has a clear role in the story—in other words, the brand cannot be an afterthought. It must have a role, and the role it plays must be believable.
We know that stories are powerful devices, but our research at Kantar Insight shows that story ads are not always more persuasive than non-story ads. This ineffective persuasion is likely caused by a lack of brand fit in many story ads and a consequent lack of believability. While a story might be enough to engage viewers and generate emotions, if it jars with how people think of a brand, then it won’t necessarily be compelling.
The mere presence of a story in an ad is not enough to make it persuasive, and a bad story is worse than no story at all. If they don’t relate to the brand, or are not integral, then stories can make ads less compelling. Just as we Africans cherish storytelling we also hate irrelevant perambulations and not hitting the desired story objective on the head. So many people in Lagos would typically say in pidgin English leave mata or leave that story when a story is becoming purposeless.
Neuroscience techniques that use real-time facial coding can be very helpful in determining whether a story ad is appropriate and working for your brand. Are people responding where you would expect? If not, why not? Do what viewers experience help explain what they take away from the ad? Employing storytelling successfully is about identifying the drivers of people’s responses.
While there may be commonalities among summary metrics (lots of expressions are better than no expressions, more smiles mean more enjoyment, etc.), stories come in many shapes and sizes, so there is no one type of story or storyline that is most effective for all ads. Knowing whether the reactions are correct for the story you are trying to tell is much more useful. You need to know whether your story is working for your brand or not.
And rather than merely jumping on the storytelling bandwagon, know when to employ a story and when to choose a more straightforward approach. Stories can evoke stronger enjoyment and engagement, but without a clear and compelling role for your brand, the emotion generated by the story will be wasted.
Marketers can also go one step further by Innovatingly asking for consumers feedback on the stories or marketing communication heard as a second level of creating buzz for the brand while ensuring understanding of the marketing communication at play. When Africans tell stories in the moon light the storyteller would ask for feedback and a summary lesson of what the story is driving at. Once the purpose is understood and there is a connect, it is assumed that the story would do the job that it is meant to do which is sell the brand and making if profitable. Africans have used this route for thousands of years and this method is still relevant to society today. Engaging the end users of the brand is a win – win strategy to ensure memorability and communication recall.
As a way of conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the savvy ness of the African story tellers as their method is still very relevant till date. Kindly share your stories and thoughts with me through : @michaelumogun / firstname.lastname@example.org / + 234802 311 7969 .
Michael Umogun is Marketing and New Business Specialist at Kantar Insight Nigeria.