Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, gives an overview of humanity from the early beginnings. The Cognitive Revolution is the turning point for humanity where we transformed into the humans we are today.
The key to the Cognitive Revolution is the development of imagined worlds and the ability to believe in fiction that consequently allow people to cooperate and adapt flexibly in large numbers. The language developed allowed humans to communicate their immediate reality through explaining what was immediately around them, but also imagined worlds.
What can we learn from this history book, which touches upon anthropology and sociology, that could help businesses engage with their customers?
Stories and storytelling: Everybody believing in the same fiction is powerful. Telling a succinct and consistent story will help customers understand and engage with the business. Values of the company that are consistently shown, where people can believe in these stories, that resonate with them, enable customers to create and build their imagined worlds of the business. For businesses, showing and behaving consistently with their values and brand image, reinforce the imagined worlds of the business to customers. This ‘collective consciousness’ as sociologists call it, shows how effective branding and marketing can engage customers and change customer behaviour.
Information: This may sound obvious as we need information and in this digital age we have an abundance of it, however our ancestors needed information to learn and develop their survival skills. For businesses, communicating well and having information available to customers is key. Businesses keep striving to have the right information, at the right time, in the right place, delivered in the right way to their customers for strong impact, to engage with their customers.
Reviews and Testimonials: Human language developed to find out information about other people through gossip to help people trust in strangers, as we inherently did not trust strangers. Trust in strangers is a tricky topic and not something that will be dived into here, but this demonstrates the importance of customer testimonials and reviews as it is common knowledge that these significantly impact on buyer behaviour. If a review or testimonial is poor, it is less likely that the potential buyer will continue to purchase the product or service.
The idea of having anthropology in business to understand and help businesses engage with customers better isn’t a new one. But, how do you think knowledge of our ancestors can help us better understand ourselves and engage with customers today?