In 1998 Andrew Wakefield, a doctor at the time, released a research paper stating there was a link between the MMR Vaccine and Autism. He used falsified data and performed unethical experiments on children with disabilities to try and support his stance. Since it’s release, the document was debunked, and Andrew Wakefield discredited and banned from practising medicine anywhere in the UK.
However, the anti-vaccination movement has seemingly gone from strength to strength. We have seen an increase in preventable diseases, especially measles, as more people decide not to vaccinate their children. Preferring to listen to the advice of friends and strangers on the internet, instead of doctors. Many people question, how this is possible. The facts and figures clearly show there is no link between Autism and vaccines, and the Doctor who claimed such connection existed was proved to be a fraud.
So what is the answer? For many people, it is as simple as hearing a story.
Stories are an essential part of how we communicate. Our brains are hard-wired to enjoy stories as a matter of survival. From the dawn of humankind we have used stories to share knowledge, warn each other of danger and entertain around campfires. If early cave dwellers didn’t use a story to pass on information, they might have run a risk of being eaten by something larger than them.
Imagine if Zonk and Cronk the cave bros were hanging out by the cave fire. Zonk turns to Cronk and says
“Ugh, don’t go near the big rock, dangerous.”
Zonk has passed on a message, but with little to no detail, the chances are Cronk won’t listen. He probably sees himself as tougher than Zonk, what is dangerous to Zonk, is nothing to Cronk.
But if Zonk turned to Cronk and said.
“Ugh, Damn bro, don’t go near the big rock. This morning I was walking along minding my own business, and suddenly this giant terodactyl came out of nowhere and tried to rip my arm off. Luckily I was able to whack it with my cave club and then run away, if I were you, I would stay away.”
Cronk could reply with, “Ugh bro, thanks for the warning, I will stay away, but where was the p in pterodactyl?
“The p was running down my leg” Zonk would reply.
A narrative gives information in easy to digest and understand format.
What do stories have to do with Anti-Vaxxers?
The way our brains work, stories have a habit of overriding logic, facts and figures. To most people, talking facts and figures is boring, hence we tend to be more excited about movies that tell a compelling story, over films about some guy doing his tax return. A well-told story can overpower raw data any day of the week.
This is one of the reasons why the anti-vaxxer movement has continued to grow. When people first started hearing the horrific story of their sister’s husband’s auntie’s second cousin’s son, being autistic apparently because of vaccines. They couldn’t help but be intrigued, we all love a good story, but we love a horror story even more. People felt compelled to share these tales amongst friends and online. To combat the spread of misinformation, doctors and scientists tried to explain that vaccines are safe.
The problem? They used medical and scientific words to educate everyone. People found the words boring, hard to understand. Thus they would turn away from science-y words and turn back to short, dopamine-releasing stories about a tragedy.
The tragic stories were more enthralling compared to scienc-y words, and stories about children being vaccinated and nothing wrong happening to them did not create a compelling drama which left them ignored.
Thankfully Scientists and medical professionals have learnt to fight fire with fire. There are now many websites which display stories of people who didn’t vaccinate their children, and now wish they had. These tales of heartache will begin to change the hearts and minds of those who are currently strongly opposed.
How does this all help you?
If a tale based on false information can start a movement. Imagine what your story based on truth can do for your business. Your marketing should contain stories to intrigue your customers, a narrative of your struggles to get to where you are, will help people feel connected to you. A retelling of what made you pursue your line of business shows people you care about what you are doing. A paragraph from an old customer about how you solved their problem will show people you are good at what you do. The idea is to move away from too much technical data, and move towards words that create connection and emotion.
How to write a story.
A story doesn’t have to be an epic novel, in fact, the more information you can put in fewer words, the more powerful the story can become.
There are some guidelines to follow;
Every story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
The beginning is the introduction, the back story, the hook.
The middle is the conflict, the catalyst for change.
The end is the conclusion, the happily ever after.
There also needs to be a hero, a villain, and a goal.
The hero in the story can be you, a customer or a friend, the hero is the protagonist, the person we want to be rooting for.
The Goal is something the hero wants. This can be anything a customer might wish to have a mowed lawn or a freshly squeezed juice. It is merely something they desire.
The Villian is anyone or thing stopping the hero from achieving their goal; this is an obstacle to overcome, this creates the tension needed to make a story interesting.
There are more elements to a story, but these are the must-haves, starting to implement a story or two into your marketing and you will see an increase in engagement with customers.
Not sure how to create a compelling story that will attract and convert customers?
let me do the work.