Stories are remembered, numbers are not. If you want to be successful, you have to sell your products and ideas through storytelling, according to Eva Reitenbach.

Stories have existed since we humans breathed. Without them, our everyday life would not exist, there would be no learning from the past, or dreams and hopes on which to build the future. Their form has only gotten so much more diverse, and now we’re seeing long and short stories everywhere—as on-demand series, as podcasts for your ears, as stories on social media.

In recent years I have dedicated my time to brands and companies and have always been amazed at how often business is done without a story. As a communications agency, we are asked the same question over and over again: How can we stand out? How do we become relevant to the people out there? How do they still remember us when they are bombarded with colorful images from all sides? how can we grow

There are many answers to this, but the art of telling a good story is essential to being successful. Because a company may actually have a better product or service than the competition, but ultimately the decision making is much more emotional than logical. The common thread that fascinates us can go far: attracting new customers, accompanying buyers, generating sales. This can strengthen brands and companies immensely and helps through crises. Some of the world’s most empathetic brands, like Disney and Apple, are also some of the most successful and profitable.

Eva Reitbach is the managing director at oddity for the team specializing in consumer marketing and retail. Customers include OTTO, bonprix, The Walt Disney Company, ROLF BENZ and Pierre Fabre. In co-creation with them, the oddity team of 60 develops brands, digital solutions, campaigns and liquid content.

So my counter-question is: What story do you have to tell in a credible way? Four thoughts to find the common thread:

Stories are always reflections, they only work if the recipient is fully prepared to receive. As we listen, our brainwaves begin to match those of the narrator. Our mirror neurons cause us to unconsciously feel the emotions of the protagonists and maybe even imitate the behavior. Our left and right brain hemispheres start communicating with each other. In short: we feel connected.

So if you don’t know how the other person ticks, stories fade away without effect. That’s why data is so important for companies, because it helps to understand where to create a narrative bridge. And they help to see how audiences react to stories and continually adapt them, as an Arab history artist did centuries ago.

Digitization has found a good partner in rapid technologization. And even if New Tech is currently experiencing an economic setback, the success of this combination is still unchecked. However, every new offer, every app, every service is far too often thought of from the basis of technology and not from those who are supposed to use it: us humans. These offers disappear just as quickly if they are rigid and brittle in their usability, if they feel like they are only there to annoy us because nothing is intuitively understandable or really helpful. But when they feel soft and comfortable, like AirBnB, the travel booking platform, or Ada, the health advice app, we hardly even realize we’re typing into a device and, especially when they carry a good story behind them like Headspace – then they can at least become life companions.

When we hear a lengthy presentation full of numbers and bullet points, only certain areas of our brain activate to grasp the meaning. When we hear stories, everyone is. Pictorial descriptions like “his velvety voice” speak to our sensory cortex, when someone “kicks the wall bravely”, the motor cortex kicks in, etc. If you look at our thinking cell on an MRI, it lights up like a Christmas tree on the eve of Christmas when you listen. Because different aspects of the story correspond to different areas. Whether the memory performance is really 22 times higher when you pack a fact into a story, as is sometimes claimed, may be an open question – but it definitely improves the emotions triggered. The great Vera F. Birkenbihl has impressively demonstrated this to us again and again. And don’t we all want that: to be remembered?

I’ve talked a lot about companies, but of course the same applies to women who want to grow up themselves. We live in a culture where self-expression is becoming more and more normal. Just swipe your way through Instagram for five minutes: people presenting their ideas and marketing themselves. A good story is the more elegant way, because it not only speaks from the sender, but also builds a bridge to the audience. What do you achieve through me? What connects you to me? That’s why my advice to female entrepreneurs is to also spend a little time on your own story.

In short: Storytelling with heart is deeply human and profitable at the same time.

The Mission Female business network, founded by Frederike Probert, is actively committed to more female power in business, society, media, culture, sports and politics. It unites successful women across all industries with the aim of making further professional progress together.