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STorytelling and emotional intelligence

A recent study at Harvard revealed that 95% percent of purchasing decisions are subconscious. Think about that for a minute. Ninety-five percent of the time we go into a store to buy that special something, the decision has nothing to do with the product itself, but on something much deeper, emotions that we are not even aware of. It doesn’t seem logical, but it’s true. If our purchasing decisions are based on subconscious emotions, and we are connecting with our customers through emotionally-driven stories, then all of us should be hitting it out of the park every single month! Well, at least 95% of the time, right? If you’re not reaching these numbers then it’s time to learn more about the impact of emotionally-based stories and win your audience over every single time.

What is Persuasive Storytelling?

Persuasive storytelling is the most powerful and relevant concept in marketing today. Stories hack the brain through emotionally-driven content and trigger the release of the hormone, oxytocin. Consumers are 76% more likely to buy if oxytocin has been released into the body to initiate the happy, chemical feelings that are responsible for motivating cooperative behavior. Think 76% is good? Include emotional intelligence into the formula and guess what you have…a pipeline that is foolproof.

What is emotional intelligence?

We define emotional intelligence as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions, as well as, recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. In practical terms, this means that emotions can drive our behavior and impact our audience both positively and negatively. That being said, emotional intelligence is important in business, specifically sales, because 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious and emotionally-based. If you have created an environment where people feel good when they interact with you, consciously, their subconscious minds will also be influenced by their experience. Consequently, every time they engage with you or with your product, they will retrieve memories of their previous experiences. Positive experience with the same product or person will form an experiential story in the mind of the customer which will further reinforce their trust in you and your product. Hang on, it gets better!


There are five characteristics of emotional intelligence that can produce a foundation of loyal brand followers. They are:

1. Self-awareness
2. Empathy
3. Social skills
4. Motivation
5. Self-regulation

Often, loyalty influences the emotional attachment to a person, idea, and even a brand. According to a recent study, nostalgia plays a powerful role in consumers’ dedication to a brand from the very beginning. And nostalgia, often subconscious, is activated through persuasive and effectual storytelling. We’ve all experienced the sensation of feeling something very powerful and personal, without the ability to pinpoint exactly what it is and where it came from. However, according to the folks at Harvard, it doesn’t matter if we identify the feeling or not, because the emotion itself is what makes the decision. Now it’s getting interesting!


The diamond industry knows a lot about emotional intelligence. One page from their playbook will last forever. We are all familiar with the slogan, “diamonds are forever,” but we know that’s not always the case. Once upon time, diamonds were no more special than any other stone until they were found in abundance in a mine in South Africa. The investors involved in the mining realized they had a product that the world had no real need for…until they told you that you did. The mining company wanted to make good on their investment, so they told you that diamonds are the most precious stone in the world, and portrayed it as a symbol of status, power, and love. I think it worked!

How did they do it, though? They took a chance with your emotions, and the result was a huge payout. In 1940, only 10% of engagement rings in the United States had diamonds and they were cheap and low quality. Through emotionally-driven, storytelling content, the mining companies were able to make the word, “diamond” synonymous for romance, while equating size with love. Whoa! How many times have you looked at a giant engagement ring and instantly thought, “what a lucky girl, she must be loved a whole lot!” Or, on the flip side, ever know anyone who seemed embarrassed of their ring size and made excuses for why the diamond was so small? I think we all know that person. They nailed this! Today, approximately 80% of rings have a diamond in the U.S. They triggered the right emotions in the audience by understanding the emotional value an engagement ring holds in a romantic relationship. They successfully convinced the diamond-buying world that a diamond means forever, and we believed it. But, here’s the million-dollar point: if they can do it, so can you.

Stories Make Money
I saved the best for last. It’s time for you to go out and think like a diamond-mining company. You didn’t think I was just going to leave you hanging, did you? Here’s the real treasure: try this at home! Now that you know that there is no greater impact on your audience than the repetition of emotionally-based stories, I suggest that you take out your marketing plan and then throw it in the trash. Oh no she didn’t! Yes, she did! Marketing is no longer about the products you sell, but the stories you tell. Now, go find one prospect who you haven’t been able to close the deal with and come at them like a diamond miner. Use my 3-step formula, storyform, to tell an emotionally-driven story, and then give a big ole high 5 to your new spot in the 95% club!
1. Personal and relevant
2. Always tell a story (vs. a narrative)
3. Make your audience the hero


Goodluck, storytellers!