PART THREE: Relevancy

Author: Joseph Arco, President, Multimedia Marketing Group

About this White Paper Series

Neuromarketing is on the global business community’s mind today. Few marketing firms offer the rare combination of top-tier Neuromarketing expertise and actual client applications to explain how to use this marketing exploration breakthrough in the real, not the theoretical, world. As online social networking sites are deeply embedded in the majority of Americans’ lives today, Transmedia storytelling is a vital platform for your brand.

Scientific research in multiple fields, such as neuroscience, behavioral economics and psychology, have highlighted that consumers’ decisions are driven as much by gut instinct as considered thought. Yet how can marketers understand something as nebulous as “gut feel”?

Emotion is a basic form of decision making, a repertoire of know-how and actions that allows people to respond appropriately in different situations. In ancient times storytelling was the main form of communication. It was the way that values, traditions and history was passed on to the next generation. The ways of the tribe, the lessons of experience were all told through stories. There was no other way. The story had relevancy.

Emotional Thought: Relevancy

One reason that relevancy is important is that stories reconnect us. On so many levels: individual, community and societal, your viewers are looking for an emotional connection, a truth, a sense that their life has relevance and meaning. So how do your products, your services, and your company find a relevancy connection for and to them?



In a wide-ranging way, relevancy, expectations, cognition and emotion are regarded as interrelated aspects of human functioning. Naturally, we want to establish a dichotomy between emotion and cognition. While it is perfectly reasonable and necessary to distinguish between these aspects in learning and growth (Fischer & Bidell, 1998), the overly stringent preservation of this difference may actually obscure the fact that our emotions comprise cognitive as well as sensory processes.

Why is Relevancy Important to Your Story?
Strategic story relevance for your organization is a choice. Many organizations either fail to understand this or don’t know how to position themselves to achieve relevance within their marketplace. Even fewer marketing professionals realize that being strategically relevant is a choice that they own.

Relevancy then, is the condition of being story relevant, or connected with the matter at hand: Some traditional institutions of the media lack relevance in this digital age. Effective relevant storytelling is a tool that has the power to educate, persuade, motivate, and entertain your audience. It can offer a truly immersive experience. This is one of the best ways to know where your brand stands today and predict where you’ll be tomorrow.

Decide to Decide Precisely Why Your Influential Brand is RelevantFinal Pillar 7-12

From the beginning, you want to establish your relevance for your viewer — who you are, what you do, and who you serve. This is basic story positioning. Stories, when you think about it, are all around us, inside our heads, all day and every day. As a case in point, psychologist Robin Dunbar’s research suggests we are telling stories 65% of the time. The most influential brands are the ones who can tell engaging stories – ones that have you and me paying attention, thirsting for the message, caring about the outcome. There’s an emerging body of Neuro research that supports this idea, including how powerful stories influence the aspects of our brain chemistry linked to attention, relevancy and empathy. Storytelling is in our DNA. Songs, pictures, movies – we all have relied on various stories to understand and retain information. Remember this; your story is the narrative -or telling- of an event or series of relevant events, crafted in a way to interest your audience. At its most basic, your brand story has a beginning, middle, and end. It has compelling characters, rising tension, and conflict that reaches some sort of resolution. It engages the audience on an emotional and intellectual level, motivating your viewers to want to know what happens next. By rising beyond your brand specifics, a story will gain greater relevance for a wider audience.

Annette Simmons says in her book The Story Factor – “when you tell a story that touches me, you give me the gift of human attention…the kind that connects me to you, that touches my heart and makes me feel more alive…We crave something that is real or at least feels real.” This is what will make your filmed presentation watchable, viewable and actionable.

The steps to becoming strategically relevant are completely within your control. They include:

  • Redefining marketing in a way that relates to your audience.
  • Aligning new transmedia marketing goals with the performance of your business.
  • Measuring performance rigorously and consistently for the results that matter most
  • Reflect the conjunction with all four principle of storytelling; Authenticity, Sensory, Relevancy & Archetype.


If you truly want to strengthen your storytelling muscle, start with your relevant ideas. Because your brand is your story, using this as an example, we define ourselves by our experiences, or more specifically, the lessons we take from those experiences, and what they tell us about ourselves and the world. When we tell those brand stories purposefully, authentically, and with relevancy, we do so both to make sense of our experiences, and to influence others in a positive way. Transmedia Marketing is a technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the simple objective of driving profitable viewer action.

Psychologist Leda Cosmides and her anthropologist husband, John Tooby in their article, “Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions,”1 state that evolutionary psychology is an approach to the psychological sciences in which principles and results drawn from evolutionary biology, cognitive science, anthropology, and neuroscience which are integrated with the rest of psychology in order to map human nature. According to this theoretical relevancy framework, an emotion is a superordinate neural program whose function is to direct the activities and interactions of the neural subprograms governing perception, attention, inference, learning, memory, goal choice, motivational priorities, categorization, and conceptual frameworks. So in effect, storytelling through filmed presentations is a powerful tool, a means for sharing experiences and knowledge. It’s one of the elemental ways we learn through relevancy. Story content with relevant images to a brand gets 94% more views than content without, according to a 2011 study from the content platform Skyword (For further reading also see “Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Empirical and Conceptual Questions,” by Thomas Metzinger) In short, evolutionary psychology is focused on how evolution has shaped the mind and behavior.

It must be also noted within evolutionary psychology there is considerable difference of opinion about whether certain behaviors, such as music or religion, are adaptive or not, and to what degree they are hard-wired. There still exists the brain-stem subconscious mind which continues to serve us by rationalizing. Each of us is instinctively motivated and alert to our own primal needs. It is always ready to manipulate our conscious thought in whatever way enables us to best serve the common good, in a way that also provides for us and promotes our own status.

How can You Better Match the Story with the Viewers Beliefs? Neuromarketing is where science and Story meet.

When crafting your compelling story, you may suppose that your prospective viewer purchases your product for its features, its functions or its price, but the consumer’s brain tells them something entirely different. When crafting your relevant story, the neuroscience demonstrates to us that the mind develops preferences on the basis of the relationship with the product’s brand, not on the basis of the promotional message. The brain cannot make the distinction between the messages of your marketing and the rest of the messages. Each experience related to your brand becomes part of our perception about the brand. It determines the pro or con of relevant attitude regarding the brand. This explains why people buy “jeans” not for the way they look with them, but for the way this particular pair of jeans matches their life and why they are relevant. Consequently, people will buy your products for the way the merchandise defines them, and their brain has exactly this vision about your products. Following a sequential order of relevancy, the product will not be taken into account in the same measure as the company trade-mark, logo or the brand, as these contain the elements the individual identifies with.2

Defining Transmedia Marketing Based on the Four Principles of Your Organizational Story

With a focus on relationship building, thought leadership, and enabling platforms, Transmedia Storytelling is a relevant and balanced ecosystem for a target group. Transmedia Storytelling aligns your media and sales strategies to maximize the revenue priorities of your business. By defining what you stand for as an organization, you set the basis for conversation in your company. More importantly, your team understands that priorities and investments have the singular focus of positively impacting the success of your company as a whole.

According to Dr. A.K. Pradeep’s book, The Buying Brain, as much as 95% of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind.5 Consequently, the world’s largest and most sophisticated companies are applying the latest advances in neuroscience to design, create and produce filmed presentations of stories about their brands, products, and integrating them into their marketing campaigns. They are designed to appeal directly and powerfully to our brains. The Buying Brain offers an in-depth exploration of how cutting-edge neuroscience is having an impact on how we make, buy, sell, and enjoy everything. It also probes deeper questions on how this new knowledge can enhance and make your stories relevant to your customers’ lives.3

Regardless of your company’s business model or products and services offered, the universal path to a relevant story begins and ends with one common denominator: a pipeline of compelling marketing content that reinforces your brand’s story. Keeping this in mind, to what extent is your organization focused on contributing to the pipeline?

Strategic relevance is a direct result of building a foundation of compelling marketing content and your dedication to converting it properly through the Transmedia Storytelling techniques. The path to strategic story relevance is straightforward:

  • Define a marketing ecosystem that contains content related to demand.
  • Build your pipeline with content that is relevant to business performance and creative branding elements.
  • Implement your story with baseline goals, keeping the end result in mind.
  • Analyze how it affected your business.

David Aaker, in his book Brand Relevance Making Competitors Irrelevant, discusses two ways to compete. The first is to making a brand preferred over other brands in an established category or subcategory. The second is to win the story brand relevance competition by creating new relevant categories or subcategories for which competitors are irrelevant. “These two routes to winning are very different in terms of strategy and ability to deal with market dynamics.”4

Avenue A’s recently published “Digital Outlook Report” had this to say about the subject:
“Narrative is the experience. As the Global Web becomes the preferred destination for brand exploration, digital experiences must become richer, deeper, and more able to tell compelling stories. If your brand experience depends entirely on pages and clicks, it’s time to wonder, ‘What is my story?'”

People Don’t Say What They Think or do What They Say.

Here are some sobering statistics for you. Most marketing activities today fail, including 95% of new products, 98% of mail offers and 98% of direct emails. In addition, 20% of ad campaigns have no brand impact, and another 20% have a negative impact. The reality is this, as much as 95% of an individual’s decision-making is subconscious. For that reason, by considering how that subconscious part of the brain processes information, you can optimize your efforts to influence the viewer of your story content to respond in a desired relevant way thus improving your probability of success.5

What Can We All Learn from Neuromarketing in a Transmedia world?

The combination of neuro and marketing implies the merging of two fields of study (neuroscience and marketing). The term Neuromarketing cannot be attributed to a particular individual as it started appear around 2002. If neuroscience is considered to be in its infancy, neuro-marketing is clearly at an embryonic stage. You as a marketer have the opportunity to awaken to the possibilities offered by unveiling the brain circuits involved in seeking, choosing, and creating compelling relevant filmed presentations with uncannily accurate Transmedia stories. Relevancy goes far deeper than facts, figures or features. Connecting the brand to a story forges a personal connection and loyalty. Relevant stories create meaning for the audience. It’s those stories that create a real connection to your viewer. We don’t like consciously feeling like we are being marketed to. This is why we skip commercials and roll our eyes at obvious sales pitches. But when the story and the brand are linked organically, they fit right together, and their cohesion is no longer jarring to us. Now that’s Transmedia marketing at its best!

A Final Prospective
“Something is happening in the power and practice of story; in the midst of overwhelming noise and distraction, the voice of story is calling us to remember our true selves,”
Christina Baldwin, The Storycatcher.


Concluding Thoughts to Help You Navigate This White Paper Series

By understanding the relevant parts of your story as it lives in the hearts and minds of your viewers, you then can identify niche content areas that your brand can own in the marketplace you serve.

In light of video’s increasing prevalence on social networks, this series of White Papers are created for you, to provide insight to the new world of Transmedia marketing strategies, including best practices, ideas and case studies, and real-world specifications.

Transmedia Storytelling is an increasingly accepted way to achieve management goals through the power of narrative as thought leaders.

The Power of Narrative

Do stories really have a role to play in the business world?

Many executives operate with a particular mind-set. Analysis is what drives business thinking. It cuts through the fog of myth, gossip, and speculation to get to the hard facts. It goes wherever the observations and premises and conclusions take it. Its strength lies in its objectivity, and its impersonal nature, however stated, Facts tell, butStories sell.

Yet this strength of fact is also a weakness. Analysis might excite the mind, but it hardly offers a route to the heart. And that’s where one must go if we are to motivate people not only to take action but to do so with energy and enthusiasm. At a time when corporate communication often requires disruptive change, leadership involves inspiring people to act in unfamiliar, and often unaccustomed, ways. Mind-numbing cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even the most logical arguments usually won’t do the trick.

But effective Transmedia Storytelling often does. In fact, in certain situations nothing else works. Although good business arguments are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a marketing narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence. Transmedia Storytelling can translate desiccated and abstract numbers into compelling pictures of a leader’s goals.

“Story outcomes” are the basis of what behaviorists define as a sequence of a decision making order. We first perceive, based on incoming observational thoughts that are then turned into beliefs which provide an outcome of attitudes. Put another way, Thoughts = Perceptions = (goes into) Beliefs = (turns into) Attitudes.

In conclusion, The Power of Narrative is as old as civilization. It not only has a process of implementing sequential, chronological information, but it also has the most important element of synthesizing information far different then facts alone. Combining the use of digital technology with communication you now have the ability to create a platform of Transmedia marketing in a whole new way.

Handbook of Emotions, 2nd Edition M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones, Editors.
NY: Guilford. Leda Cosmides and John Tooby


3How Brain Science Turns Browsers into Buyers, which included presentations by: Roger Dooley (@rogerdooley), author of Brainfluence Derek Halpern (@derekhalpern), blogger at Social Triggers

Brian Clark (@copyblogger), CEO at Copyblogger Dr. A.K. Pradeep (@akpradeep), author of The Buying Brain

4Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Stories.” Boundless Communications. Boundless, 22 Jun. 2016. Retrieved 26 Jun. 2016 from



Pop Ciprian-Marcel Babes-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca Faculty of Economics and Business Administration 58-60 T. Mihali st., Cluj-Napoca 0264/418652, int 5885


Joe Arco




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