In a brilliant new HBO documentary, the US behavioural economist Dan Ariely muses on the leadership qualities most likely to inspire others to follow. “It isn’t about data,” he notes. “People don’t get too motivated by data and facts.”
The magic ingredient, it turns out, is storytelling. “Stories have emotions that data doesn’t,” explains Ariely. “And emotions get people to do all kinds of things.”
Marketing leaders will prick up their ears. First, because marketing departments tend to be big, diffuse and populated by individuals with strongly-held, divergent opinions, so any insight from the behavioural sciences on how to get everyone pointing in the same direction is welcome.
And second, because storytelling is already a marketing ‘thing’: it has become fashionable in our commercial domain to lionise its power of persuasion over the rational and factual. For us, it fits.