From a very early age – be it with nursery rhymes, fairy tales or family chronicles – we are entertained, enlightened and comforted by stories throughout our childhood. Most of us develop emotional connections to storytelling that lasts a lifetime. Who among us doesn’t still smile when reminded of a favorite fairy tale from our childhood, no matter how advanced our age?
As we age we continue to seek stories that resonate with our values, our history, our aspirations, according to Laura Davis-Taylor, co-founder and Principal Consultant of The High Street Collective, and she believes that compelling stories can also drive our shopping behaviors.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Laura for our Retail Experience Project podcast series, to discuss how retailers that integrate compelling stories into their digital strategies can garner greater emotional currency (and hence more conversions) with their customers.
The conversation with Laura was full of insights that I think can help retailers in every category develop, evaluate and refine customer experience strategies.
Laura began the conversation by suggesting that brand stories can act as “sharp hooks” inside the shopping journey. When stories are well crafted they can help develop the type of emotional currency that leads to conversion.
“When you can engage someone in an emotional way through storytelling, you can light up neurons in their brains that create resonance,” she told me. Laura and her partners at High Street Collective work with retailers to “…try to help them get away from a limited focus on product, price and place and encourage them to tell stories.”
She cited Old Spice as a colorful and personal example of a brand story that really resonates with her: she says that their story about a deodorant that evokes palm trees, coconuts and freedom has converted her into a loyal customer…for their men’s deodorant!
Laura went on to tell me that stories are one of the “Four Ways Forward” that her company believes brands must follow in order to achieve their most important objective of optimizing the customer experience:
1. Celebrate PLACE
2. Honor DATA
3. Embrace INNOVATION
4. Tell STORIES
During our conversation, Laura expanded upon her strong belief in the Four Ways Forward and how retailers must commit to each aspect of that philosophy in order to fulfill shopper expectations for compelling, resonant experiences.
She further suggested that retailers, in addition to embracing the Four Ways Forward, should also measure every experience investment against three primary responses: emotional, behavioral and transactional. She explained that when any experience investment – large or small – results in irrefutable data indicating that the experience moved the needle on one or more of these three measures, then it is time to look beyond just the PR values of the new experience and expand the investment. Then, and only then, is it possible to take the data and make a case for expansion to the always-risk-averse executive suite to solicit further investment.
Investing further, she told me, typically means translating and exporting each new experience to stores in the suburbs. During our conversation she shared more insights on how best to do so, including examples of experiences that she believes worked very well, in both flagship and suburban stores.
To hear our full conversation – and all of Laura’s powerful insights, visit The Retail Experience Project and tune in to Episode 5, “Hacking the Customer Experience.”
I think you will find it well worth your time.