What marketers can learn from videoke sessions

On my own,
Pretending he's beside me.
All alone,
I walk with him 'til morning.

Without him,
I feel his arms around me.
And when I lose my way, I close my eyes,
and he has found me.

This is an excerpt from the song "On My Own" from the musical Les Miserables. I sang it at videoke parties with all my bravado, giving everything I had in my diaphragm. The musical was one of my favorites, and my ambitious self thought I could reach the high notes of this piece. (I still do.)

The song soon took on a new meaning when I lost my boyfriend in 2012. The lyrics fit; the emotions were perfect. It became my go-to videoke song.

Videoke and storytelling

The Asian community is well-known for our videoke sessions. Filipinos have the reputation of having bands in every corner of the world, specializing in covers spectators can sing along to. You will also see K-drama characters belting it out in karaoke bars all the time. Cambodians also love their beer gardens for Friday night get-togethers. 

But what is videoke but modern-day storytelling?

Four hundred thousand years ago, when humans learned to fully control fire, our ancestors would gather around the campfire telling stories about the stars. Hunters coming from long adventures will share places they went to, the creatures they saw, which part of the land had food, and which jungles to avoid. Children will listen and learn. The elders will reminisce and dream of days past. All will be enthralled. 

Stories developed our ability to understand one another and cooperate. This, in turn, led to a culture being established. 

Now, imagine what happens in videoke sessions. Don’t we sing songs that have meaning and affect us? Don’t we choose music that reminds us of the past and makes us dream of a future? Singing is a form of storytelling. And the videoke machine is our campfire.

Music, campfires, and marketing

What can marketers learn from this? Well, for one, music connects us; it brings us together and gives us joy. Marketers can use music to create a "campfire" around their brand. We can use the stories from songs to associate our values and purpose. 

Since 2006, two the University of Central Florida professors – the husband and wife team of neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya and world-renowned violinist Ayako Yonetani – have been teaching one of the most popular courses at The Burnett Honors College. It is called “Music and the Brain.” 

In one of their studies, Yonetani says that “Music may increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus.” The hippocampus is the part of the brain that produces and retrieves memories. She noted that music allows for “the production of new neurons and improving memory.” 

Attaching music to your message makes it easier to remember.

Remember this jingle?

I'd like to teach the world to sing
in perfect harmony.
I'd like to buy the world a Coke,
and keep it company.

The accompanying video showed people of different colors, ages, cultures coming together for a Coke. 

According to Bill Backer, who created the ad, the audience understood that Coca-Cola “could be a little social catalyst that can bring people together, talk things over, and sometimes communications get better if you’re just sitting over a bottle of Coke and looking people in the eye.”

Here’s an idea. During a webinar or a live show, play music. Ask participants to turn on their videos and clap their hands while chanting a mantra or a slogan. The music then becomes a shared experience, even if it’s virtual. 

Think of it as the Superbowl. The Halftime Concert rivals the game itself. It breaks up the tension, provides entertainment, creates camaraderie, and keeps the audience engaged all throughout the event. 

Additionally, like stories around the campfire, music evokes emotion. 

To extend the Coke analogies, think of Coca-Cola's annual Christmas commercials. Like great Christmas stories, it evokes all positive emotions and the thrill of anticipating this big holiday. 

Why not try creating content around a holiday or moment that lets your audience share their favorite songs and talk about why that piece is special to them? This can be another example of a virtual videoke and storytelling session with your community. 

Research conducted by The Nielsen Company in 2016 confirmed the idea that music does help brands connect with their audience on an emotional level. From a sample of 600 TV commercials, they found that advertising with music has:

  • 4% more creative power
  • 5% more empathy power
  • 3% more emotive power
  • 15% more information power

...versus ads without music.

Another reason to use music in your digital marketing is to create rapport. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, rapport is that unconscious empathetic relationship with another person. It results in the feeling of comfort and liking another human being. Rapport also, over time, results in trust and deeper relationships.

Matching and mirroring are two techniques used to gain rapport. This entails emulating your audience’s physiology, tonality and words. You test this through the practice of “leading and pacing” – you lead, they will follow.

You can apply this concept in your digital strategies.

Before a call, presentation or webinar, make sure you study your audience. Do some research on their profiles, find out the words they use, their demographics. Then use this knowledge to your advantage. 

Before you start your session, try playing music meant to attract that age group and demographic. Find songs with lyrics similar to the words they use, the values they show, and the things that they like. I would play '80s and '90s music to a group of older business owners. In productivity sessions, I would sometimes play music videos on motivation. This way, the audience is primed even before you start the presentation. Rapport comes from the simple principle that if someone thinks that you are like them, they will like you.

Music and stories affect our lives in so many ways. They help console, connect, lift up spirits, share a message, heal. Marketers and business owners should learn how to harness the power these two have together. With them, you can create brand advocates, bring your message to a broader market, and influence their customers’ buying behavior. - Rappler.com

Valerie Fischer is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner. She has over 20 years of experience in advertising and marketing, and co-founded an e-commerce site for locally made products. She was a chief marketing officer in a real estate company in 2019 but, along with millions of Filipinos last year, she was let go during the pandemic. And, as her story goes, this unfortunate incident actually saved her. It led her to her purpose.

She now helps online business owners and entrepreneurs grow their revenue with Brain Science Selling.