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Tell a Story, Don’t List Benefits – How the Science of Storytelling Will Transform Your Business



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If you’d like to learn how to tell amazing stories so you can influence people to act, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of, Joel Brown.

In 2009, a man bought 200 objects on Ebay for $129 and sold them for $8000. How did he achieve an increase of 6202 percent? He did it by adding a story. He commissioned 200 writers to tell a story about each object. This experiment proved: the power of storytelling is real. 

How can anyone justify wearing a pair of sneakers that costs at least four times the manufacturing price? The purchase is not rationalized by some extra rubber or innovative material, nor by a special fit or an extraordinary energy boost. We all know the truth: a sneaker is a sneaker. But by wearing a 100 Dollar sneaker you become part of a story.

At an auction, someone bought a Nike sneaker for $475,500, and it was not because of some rational benefits. It was because the buyer became part of a mythical sneaker history, where the shoes were made by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, who used his wife’s waffle iron to create a new kind of running shoe. It’s like owning the Mona Lisa. 

Why doesn’t GoPro advertise the cool technical features of its camera on the front page? They could have said, GoPro has an unshakable HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization and built-in mounting. Instead, they say, GoPro helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others—to celebrate them together. Of course, they list the benefits. But first, they tell a story. 

Many start-ups and entrepreneurs make a fatal mistake. They start with listing the benefits. The result? In a world where everybody is competing for attention—a limited resource to give—their business drowns in the noise. If you want people’s attention, you need to start with a story. Not just any story, but a compelling narrative with three ingredients.

The neurochemical “angel’s cocktail” you need for a good story

Paul Zak did an experiment where he showed people two types of short videos:

  • a sad story about a father and son that had an intriguing start, a climax and a compelling ending
  • a person walking about aimlessly during the video

The brains of the ones who watched the first video produced two neurochemicals: Cortisol and Oxytocin. Those people also took desired action—they made donations. The second video didn’t engage the audience’s brains in any way. 

In a related experiment, people infused with oxytocin turned out to be 80% more generous than others when splitting money. David JP Phillips adds another hormone and calls it the “angel’s cocktail”—the mixture of the three chemicals you need for a compelling story

“Good stories surprise us. They make us think and feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that a PowerPoint crammed with bar graphs never can.” – Joe Lazauskas & Shane Snow

Dopamine—the attention hormone 

“We discovered that, in order to motivate a desire to help others, a story must first sustain attention—a scarce resource in the brain—by developing tension during the narrative.” – Paul Zak 

The release of dopamine motivates us, helps us focus and sustains memory. If you want to stand out from the noise that has become abundant in this world—and will increase in the future—you need this hormone. 

In storytelling, dopamine is produced by creating tension and using a cliffhanger. Here’s an example: “You better not tell nobody but God” is the first sentence in Alice Walker’s masterpiece “The Color Purple”. It raises tension and questions you need answered. This way, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. We’re instantly paying attention. 

Oxytocin—the bonding hormone 

Empathy is the key to a story that inspires action. In a brand story, the hero is always the customer. Never make your brand or product the hero. This is a fatal mistake that has cost many businesses and products their existence. 

To make the customer the hero, you need to understand him. What is his or her desire? What keeps him awake at night? What are her greatest problems and fears? If you know the answers, you can create a story that evokes empathy—that shows that you understand the customer and releases Oxytocin to build trust and form a bond. 

 “I’m obsessed with giving the audience something they don’t see coming.” – Jordan Peele

Endorphin—the happiness hormone 

There is one ingredient added to the angel’s cocktail. One that explains why we love the Late Night Show, sitcoms and plain entertainment. Research firm PwC anticipates revenue from media and entertainment will reach an estimated $2.2 trillion by 2021. 

Why do we spend so much money on being entertained and not informed? Because of endorphins that are released in our brain when humor comes into play. When your story makes the audience laugh, they feel more relaxed and creative. You need this desperately to combat the stress and anxiety of everyday life. 

Start with an image 

Stories are the pathway to engaging our right brain and triggering imagination. Start your story by creating a powerful image that both grabs the customer’s attention and will be remembered for a long time. 

Find an image that triggers the angel’s cocktail by adding tension, empathy and entertainment. Let’s go back to Nike’s campaign: Equality isn’t a game. But achieving it will be our greatest victory.

It raises tension by asking: How can we achieve equality? And will we? It triggers empathy by creating a common cause that matters to the customers: equality. And it provides entertainment by the comparison between sports (‘game’) and a political cause. 

Never underestimate the power of storytelling. A compelling story can increase the value of a product by over 6000 percent. If you want to stand out from the noise, use the science of storytelling. 

But remember, the story has to be authentic. Storytelling in marketing is not about manipulation because sooner or later, your audience will discover a fake, and it will ruin your company. The power of storytelling means using a privilege and telling a brand story that provides your customers with a value they wouldn’t have found without it. 

What do you think about storytelling? Is it something you’re good at & have seen the benefits? Share your stories with us below!

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Success Advice

15 Essential Habits to a Stronger, Healthier, and Happier You

The journey towards transformation is not about perfection but about progress



building positive habits

What habits can truly transform your life? That’s what you’re here to uncover. In our no-nonsense guide, we’ll introduce you to 15 habits to change your life, each with the power to improve your day-to-day existence.  (more…)

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Success Advice

19 Common Characteristics All Visionary Leaders Have



visionary leadership qualities

When you look at business leaders like Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Sir Richard Branson, and philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, David Bohm,  C. S. Peirce and inventors like Nikola Tesla, Paolo Soleri, Harvey W. Bailey, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Wright brothers and political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Aung San Suu Kyi, it becomes very clear that they are all connected through one leadership—visionary leadership. (more…)

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Success Advice

Wealth Lessons Everyone Should Hear for Every Stage of Your Life

Do you have the courage to rewrite your story?



what i would tell my younger self

Do you see what I see? Likely not, as we each see ourselves through the lens of our own story. (more…)

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Success Advice

How to Choose the Best Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers



how to choose the best affiliate programs for your blog

Picking the right affiliate programs for your blog is really important. It can make a big difference in how much money you can make and how much your readers get out of your blog. With so many choices out there, deciding which ones to go with can be tricky. 

This guide is here to make it easier for you. It will give you clear steps and helpful tips to choose affiliate programs that fit well with what your blog is about, what your readers like, and what you stand for. 

For more articles on this theme, please head over to this blog

Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Before you start picking affiliate programs, it’s important to really understand what affiliate marketing is and how it works. 

Basically, affiliate marketing is when you promote a product or service on your blog, and then you get paid a little bit every time someone buys something or does something because you recommended it. 

It’s great for both the person selling the product and the blogger, because the seller gets more sales with low risk, and the blogger can make money from their blog.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

1. Assess Your Niche and Audience

The key to doing well in affiliate marketing starts with really knowing what your blog is about and who reads it. Consider the following:

  • Your blog’s content: What topics do you cover? Ensure the products or services you promote are relevant.
  • Your audience’s interests and needs: What solutions are they seeking? Choose affiliate programs that offer products or services that solve their problems or enhance their lives.

2. Research Potential Affiliate Programs

Once you know what your blog is about and what your readers want, start looking for affiliate programs. Choose ones that are well-known for good products, great customer service, and helpful support for affiliates. Resources to find these programs include:

  • Affiliate networks like ShareASale, Commission Junction, and ClickBank.
  • Direct searches for “[Your Niche] affiliate programs” in search engines.
  • Recommendations from other bloggers in your niche.

3. Evaluate the Commission Structure

The commission structure is a critical factor to consider. Look for programs that offer competitive rates that make your efforts worthwhile. Consider:

  • The percentage of commission per sale.
  • Whether the program offers a flat rate per action (e.g., per sign-up).
  • The cookie duration, which affects how long after a click you can earn commissions on sales.

4. Consider the Program’s Reputation and Sureness

Join affiliate programs with a solid reputation for quality and sureness. This not only ensures that you’re promoting good products but also that you’ll be paid on time. You can:

  • Read reviews from other affiliates.
  • Check the program’s history and background.
  • Look for any complaints or issues reported online.

5. Analyze the Support and Resources Offered

A good affiliate program gives you things like ads to use, training on their products, and helpful managers. Having access to these resources can really help you do a better job at promoting their products.

6. Understand the Terms and Conditions

Before signing up, thoroughly review the program’s terms and conditions. Pay close attention to:

  • Payment thresholds and methods.
  • Any restrictions on how you can promote their products.
  • The program’s policy on affiliate marketing on social media platforms.

7. Test the Product or Service

If possible, test the product or service before promoting it. This firsthand experience allows you to offer genuine charge and build trust with your audience.

8. Look for Recurring Commission Opportunities

Some affiliate programs pay you again and again for subscriptions or services that charge fees regularly. These can provide a more stable income compared to one-time sales commissions.

Implementing Your Choice

After choosing the best affiliate programs, the next step is to smoothly include your affiliate marketing in your content plan. This includes:

  • Creating valuable content that naturally incorporates affiliate links.
  • Disclosing your affiliate affairs transparently to maintain trust with your audience.
  • Tracking your results to understand what works best for your audience and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

Picking the best affiliate programs for your blog involves careful planning, research, and making sure they match what your audience likes and needs. 

If you follow these steps, you can create an affiliate marketing plan that makes money, fits well with your content, and connects with your readers. 

The real key to doing well with affiliate marketing isn’t just about the products you talk about, but also how much your audience trusts and values your advice. 

With enough time, patience, and hard work, your blog can grow into a successful space that earns a good amount of affiliate money and helps your readers choose the right products.

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