Did you know that because of our brain structure humans are story junkies? Our brain reacts differently when presented with a story than when it’s offered facts. Stories that we read, hear and watch affect us naturally. Because of our brain’s neural coupling, stories activate parts of our brain that help us to integrate stories into our own experiences. Since women’s brains have more interconnectivity than men’s brains, this process happens more frequently. When a woman hears a story, she’ll search for relevance to her life experiences. If she doesn’t find any, she’ll forget the story!
Share Emotional Stories — Our brain also releases dopamine when presented with an emotional story . . . this helps us to remember the story longer and with greater accuracy than when faced with a non-emotional story. When women hear or read an emotional story, we’re more likely to tell other women. It’s because women have more emotional outposts in our brain than men . . . 36, compared to 4. And, our emotional outposts are located closer to the area of the brain that is responsible for speech.
Because of genetic memory, women evolved to be storytellers. Our ancient female ancestors were responsible for raising children in the tribe until they were old enough to have kids of their own. To keep children safe, women shared warnings and instructions within a story . . . which resulted in children following the warning, remembering it and passing it along. This was a big “Aha!” moment for women. Women also enjoy telling and hearing stories because it’s a way for us to interact while reducing the possibility of having a conversation that might lead to conflict. Because of hereditary influences, women enjoy interaction and collaboration, but attempt to avoid conflict. Since our past female relatives had to raise children, they needed to collaborate with other women in the tribe. Today, this collaborative nature continues to motivate women’s behaviors. So, what do these social science insights mean to your brand? To engage women, you must be a creative storyteller.
3 Behavioral Tips to Engage Women
1. Women are people-powered. Women consider people to be the most important and interesting aspects of life. This is because a woman’s highest personal value is establishing and nurturing relationships. And, let’s face it, how can we establish and nurture relationships with your brand if you don’t provide us with the opportunity to interact with people? What is your brand doing on social media to engage in conversations with women?
2. Women are driven by empathy. The operative emotion with women is empathy. We want to belong and be understood. We relate to stories that have people and situations we recognize. When we hear idealized scenarios, we don’t identify with them. We’re looking for the “that’s me!” moments. But, be careful! Although we don’t want to hear stories about the “perfect” woman, we also don’t appreciate continually hearing stories about the “harried” woman. Keep it real.
3. Women need women. Behaviorists refer to this as the “girlfriend factor.” Having girlfriends keeps us healthy, happy and sane. When faced with a stressful situation, we don’t exhibit the same “fight or flight” behavior as men. We’ll huddle with girlfriends . . . which biologically decreases our stress level. How is your brand helping us to bond with women?
Your Brand Needs Women — We control $7 trillion in U.S. spending. But, we need your brand to respect us by sharing stories that are relevant. Show us you respect us by embracing female-specific behavior and share content that we want to hear!
Fran Lytle is a behaviorist, brand strategist, author & co-founder of Brand Champs. Fran develops brand strategy, emotional brand storytelling, content marketing & social media programs that engage people by applying psychology & human and gender-specific behavior. She specializes in developing & implementing marketing-to-women programs. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org connect with Fran on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.