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Direct Marketing » Trends, Tips & Facts, Best Practice | 13.05.2013

Why stories have a higher impact than facts in Direct Marketing


The brain loves stories! Asendia in talk with Marketing expert, Werner T. Fuchs, about the fact that emotions work better than facts. This should be taken to heart in direct marketing, too.

Asendia: Mr Fuchs, why does storytelling work better than communicating the pure facts?
Mr Fuchs: Because the brain loves stories. Since the ability of our brain to absorb is limited, it turns large quantities of information into stories and stores it. This is based way back in evolution. That's why right from early childhood we learn through plots and not predominantly through thinking.

When is a story good?
Basic themes such as love and hate, good and evil, hope and despair, searching and finding or life and death are central. Scriptwriters also like to make use of subjects such as adventure, a rise and fall, escape, revenge, salvation, pursuit and transformation.

Can you give an example for the theme transfor-mation?
Let’s say we’re advertising a surgical intervention for gastric bypass. Easy to write, afterwards you’re healthier, doesn’t touch emotions. But if we go into social acceptance as a consequence of the transformation, then we reach people at a totally different level. The basic theme, however, is not enough by itself. A good story needs a hero and a villain. And in the end it also lives through helpers, through the scenery and through props.

"A good story needs a hero and a villain. And in the end it also lives through helpers, through the scenery and through props."

How do you get good stories?
All the good stories have already been told, so it’s worth reading collections of stories and seeing films. Today, every story is a variation of one that already exists. There are about 100 variations of Cinderella and yet it doesn't get boring if the story is told well.

Have you ever received a mailshot with a really good story?
Luckily, many times. For instance, one I really liked was a birthday mailshot from a 4-star hotel in Lugano, Switzerland. It had a picture that depicted the team with a birthday cake and a recipe from the head chef. If I had baked this cake, taken a picture of it and sent it to the hotel, I would have received a voucher to use in a bakery in Lugano. Bottom line of this many-sided and appealing mailshot: A good story triggers more stories.

What are the key points to focus on when telling stories in a mailshot?
You really have to consider what’s behind the story. Which product is to be advertised and who's the recipient? After all, we want to sell something with the story. That helps us to concentrate on something. Many people pack too much into a mailshot. Don’t just write a page-long letter. Come up with enclosures. And make use of other channels. Further information will most certainly already be available on the website. Storytelling also helps to structure the mailshot. Tell a well-rounded story in the main text and put information, tips and purchase requests in the PS.

Does storytelling really work in all countries?
Yes, because the brain works according to the same basic patterns in all people.

Can you tell one story in different countries?
The basic story in any case, but the story cannot be used 1:1. Heroes, scenery and props have to be adapted to the cultural characteristics. Maybe the hero needs different clothes, maybe a different symbol is needed as background, maybe a teacup instead of a beer mug. Those who want to advertise internationally have to pay attention to such details. If needed, bring in experts like local middlemen, lawyers or corporate consultants. Trade associations and chambers of commerce also offer help as a rule.



Get the interview now!

The brain loves stories! Emotions work better than facts.

About Dr. Werner T. Fuchs

Dr. Werner T. Fuchs studied German studies and theology. He has worked intensively with brain research for the past 25 years, transferring his findings to marketing and now passing on his knowledge as a book author, lecturer, speaker and agency owner of Propeller Marketingdesign.