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”?
The Four Principles of Transmedia Storytelling— Authenticity, Sensory, Relevancy & Archetype
PART TWO: The Power of Visual Transmedia Storytelling through Sensory Memory
What is it? Sensory memory is the shortest-term element of memory. It is the ability to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimuli have ended.
There is a growing call to return to our roots— we want the feel of handmade, we want the details of the precious moments of our lives. We want what’s real—or at least, what feels real. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.1
“We’re fatigued by how digital life has become,” says Pam Grossman, author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, “Our culture has become driven by information overload, but our senses still yearn to be stimulated. What happens to meaning in an age of digital excess?”
In 1968, Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed a model of human memory which proposed two distinct memory stores: short-term memory and long-term memory. Later a third memory store (actually the first in sequence) was added: sensory memory. 2
According to the Atkins-Shiffrin theory, memory involves three distinct but related processes: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Together, these processes provide the avenue for environmental evidence to be received by the senses and either put to use, stored for later use or ignored altogether.
Many people associate memory processes exclusively with the brain, and for the most part, they are right. But what is responsible for getting the information from the senses to the brain? That’s where sensory memory becomes so important.
Our senses are directly linked to our central nervous system, which is comprised of our spinal cord and brain. The process of getting information from our senses to our brain happens very quickly. In fact, it happens so quickly that we are not always consciously aware of everything that is being picked up by our senses. So let’s do a little fun test. Look at this frypan and the sizzling egg, look closely please; can you taste the yolk of this egg? OK Look at this crowded image of iconic New York; can you hear the traffic of Times Square? Now slip down to the next photo; Can you smell the fragrance of these roses?
Transmedia Storytelling through Sensory Memory is a provocation. In other words you have created a stimulus and that stimulus has been hardwired in our brains since we started to walk upright. So how does this all apply to your brand, your products, and your service?
Sensory memory allows environmental information to be retained, sometimes for as little as a fraction of a second, as it makes its way into our consciousness. Our sensory systems are constantly receiving and processing an incredible amount of information at any given moment.
You, Right Now?
Stop and think for a moment about what you are doing right now. Your eyes are taking in the visual information of the light in the room, the letters and words that comprise this White Paper and all the things that are going on in your peripheral vision simultaneously. Even if you’re in a relatively quiet room, if you stop and really listen you will hear that there are quite a few noises and sounds occurring all around you.
A Moment in Time
We just happen to be living through one of the most exciting eras of human understanding, and nothing reminds us more of this than a powerful pictorial sensory stimuli, amalgamated with the other components of a compelling story. This is an age of globalization and uprising, of a communication revolution and new ideals in marketing. It’s pretty remarkable how quick and efficient your sensory systems are when you think about it. Sensory memory allows your brain to make quick reactions and judgments without having to wait on the data to be processed by conscious thoughts. Quite often the information taken in through the senses does end up being consciously processed and used in short-term memory or stored in long-term memory. Thanks to sensory memory, your brain can rapidly sense and perceive a host of environmental information while your brain decides what is useful and what is not.
Sensory memory lasts about 1 to 2 seconds and is the immediate perception of stimuli in your story. The viewer can either dismiss that perception, transfer it to short-term memory (30 seconds), or long-term memory (forever). Sensory memory is often divided into iconic (visual input) and echoic (sound) memory. It is not often discussed in terms of somatic (feeling) sensations however the immediate perception may be considered sensory memory. Sensory memory does not always refer to memory involving the senses. In its place, it refers specifically to memory of sensory input for the first second or two. Anything longer is either short-term or long-term memory.
Why this is Important to You
The difference between a great story and a forgettable one is an instant gut reaction—you know it when you see it and when you hear it. Know your audience and trust them to open their minds. When it comes to Transmedia Marketing, viewers need to feel a connection with your brand through kinesthetic or emotional relevance, but your brand needs to maintain its beneficial appeal. So how can you choose a story that highlights your brand while tapping into human values? To connect with audiences, choose a story that captures a moment in time and make relevant connections with how we live our lives today. The best stories are immediate, timeless, flowing, and sensory.
Kinesthetic or Emotional Relevance as Part of your Brand Story
Two decades of research have verified for example that many students who do not perform well in school are tactile or kinesthetic learners (Dunn, 1990c); their strongest perceptual strengths are neither auditory nor visual. However, as they grow older, some young adults begin to combine tactile and visual preferences; Look at this list below that has become main stream in our language as an expression of sensory memory based on kinesthetic and emotional relevance: Do you use these expressions and do viewers of your filmed presentation do so as well?
“That feels right to me”
“I can’t get a grip on this”
“Stay in touch”
“Get in touch with”
“That doesn’t sit right with me”
“I have good feelings about this”
“My gut is telling me”
“I follow your drift”
This is the ability to retain impressions of sensory information after the original kinesthetic stimuli have ended. Sensory memory then acts as a kind of buffer for other stimuli received through the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are retained very briefly, but very accurately.
Experiments by George Sperling in the early 1960s involving the flashing of a grid of letters for a very short period of time (50 milliseconds) suggest that the upper limit of sensory memory (as distinct from short-term memory) is approximately 12 items, although participants often reported that they seemed to “see” more than they could actually report.
Auditory Learning, Visual learning and Kinetic learning to Leverage Sensory Memory for your Filmed Presentation
Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles (VAK). The VAK learning style uses the three main sensory receivers: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (movement) to determine the dominant learning style. It is sometimes known as VAKT (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, & Tactile).
The sensory memory for visual stimuli is sometimes known as the iconic memory, the memory for aural stimuli is known as the echoic memory, and that for touch as the haptic memory. Smell may actually be even more closely linked to memory than the other senses, possibly because the olfactory bulb and olfactory cortex (where smell sensations are processed) are physically very close – separated by just 2 or 3 synapses – to the hippocampus and amygdala (which are involved in memory processes). Thus, smells may be more quickly and more strongly associated with memories and their associated emotions than the other senses, and memories of a smell may persist for longer, even without constant re-consolidation.
Neuromarketing researchers caution that these learning styles are not destiny, and they are not set in stone. They are just preferences. In fact, most people favor two or more of the sensory styles, depending on the video presented. Additionally, information presented in a film in one style can serve to reinforce the same information presented in a different one—such as when the text and visual graphics are used to complement each other to make the same point.
Understanding the ways you and your viewer prefer to take in and remember information can help with learning and retaining information in your filmed story, particularly when you’re dealing with something that is difficult for your viewer to understand. Alternatively, when you have the opportunity to work with content that uses all of the learning styles, you and your Transmedia Story are on the road to success!
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.