Emotional Decision Making? This is How We Do It.

So reader, how are you feeling? Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about how emotions affect decision making. We have talked about the neuroscience of what the loss of emotions can do to your brain, and how emotions affect your decisions, even economically. Today, we want to dip into something a little bit more practical. We want to explain how we use these ideas when we make videos for a clients in order to draw viewers in with emotions and then present them with the data they need in order to make a decision. And we genuinely hope that all this talk about emotions is giving you the feels. It is for sure giving us the feels.

1) Columbus School for Girls and Appealing to Parents:

In our aforementioned blog post about emotional decision making, we talked about Charlotte Falk and her decision to attend the Columbus School for Girls. (If you want to read more about that story, click here.) The reason why we focused on Charlotte’s story in that particular blog post is that it is a very good example of how the emotional argument can often outweigh the statistical argument.

Sure, CSG has all of the numbers to support the success of their graduates (SAT scores, college enrollment statistics, etc.). But when we began thinking about what a mother and father would want to see in terms of their daughter’s future, we realized that they would want to see how happy, thriving, and engaged their child could be if she were enrolled at Columbus School for Girls. We realized that appealing to the emotions of the prospective students and parents was the most important thing, because most parents just want to be sure that their child is happy.

2) Melinda’s Story and What it Means to Help

A few months ago we talked about Melinda’s story when we broke down the science behind storytelling and focused on emotions. When Mercy Health approached us to do a series of videos for them, they asked us to help them with internal employee engagement. The Purpose of Melinda’s story was to highlight how much of a difference Mercy Health employees make when they do their jobs. From a practical standpoint, it would have been easy to make a video outlining the statistical advantages of working for Mercy Health. To show the benefits provided by the company, the number of people that the hospital helps on a yearly basis, etc. Instead, we made a video outlining Melinda’s experience of working in hospice care and standing by people’s bedsides as they pass on from this world. Why did we do this? Because it is one thing to give a presentation about why an employee’s job matters. It’s a completely different thing to show that job mattering in real time. With Melinda’s story, that’s what we tried to do.

3) Ethiopia and the Dreamy Candle Company

If you only knew the most basic information  about Eleventh Candle Company- that they are a company that sells candles to help support women in Ethiopia- what kind of video would you like to see explaining their mission? Amber Runyon, the founder of the company, has all of the statistics relating to how the sale of candles benefits the people of Ethiopia and how they are reaching out to make a difference.. Instead of showing all of that, we decide to make a video in the streets of Ethiopia, following Amber through a normal day. By allowing the viewer to actually see the people they are helping, it plays to the emotional argument that the story Amber is important and worth supporting.

Every video we make, whether it’s following a man with his large format camera into the woods for a day, or telling the story of a man with Multiple Myeloma, we want to find the emotion in the story first and then show the statistical, rational part second. If you choose to partner with us at Rooted Content on your next video marketing campaign, we can guarantee that we will work with you to find the heart of your story. Because most of the time we act with our hearts, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Influencers Week: What Do a Scientist, an Economist, and Your Emotions Have in Common?

Living without emotions.

When you go through your day to day life, you probably don’t consider how you feel in every single moment. But what if you were not able to process emotions? For the last twenty-five years, a neuroscientist and professor at the University of Southern California named Antonio Damasio has been studying the human brain, consciousness, and the effect emotions play in human decision making. Damasio wrote a book called Descartes Error which set out to prove that Descartes, so famously known for saying “I think, therefore I am”, was wrong. Damasio postulated that we feel therefore we are.


Your brain is wired a certain way.

Damasio has spent the majority of his career studying people who had sustained injuries to the part of the brain that regulates emotions. As you would expect these people's’ lives fell apart, but not for the reason you would think.  Damasio found that they couldn’t plan for their futures, make decisions at work, or even make the simplest of choices like what to eat or what to wear that day.  They were no longer able to sense how they felt, and they were paralyzed in their daily lives by not being able to make decisions.  

Similarly, Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize this year for Economics, has been quoted as saying that Economics assumes that people are super-rational and almost clinical in their decision making. Thaler has found in his extensive research that people hardly ever make rational decisions as to how they spend their money. Most of the time, they make purchases based on their gut feelings and instincts. When he accepted the Nobel Prize and was asked how he would spend the award money, he said jokingly, “as irrationally as possible.”

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What does that have to do with a videography company?

Last week, we began the journey of dissecting the effect emotions have on the decision making process. Today we will spotlight our favorite authorities on the topic. At Rooted Content we realize that there are many ways to use video marketing to a myriad of different ends. We choose to make videos with purpose because we believe that tapping into people’s emotions is the most effective way to elicit a response. Or, more simply put: you can have the most impressive product in the world, but no one will buy it if they don’t like you.

In his book Blink, popular theorist and journalist Malcolm Gladwell talks about how most people spend too much time trying to sort through the facts, when they should just trust their intuition. Intuition, he says, can sometimes be more correct than all the rational thought. Damasio has a similar opinion in his aforementioned book, Descartes Error. He talks about the concept of Somatic Marker Hypothesis. In simple terms, the Somatic Marker Hypothesis means that we associate certain situations with certain emotions, which lead us to conclusions faster via intuition than by assessing them through all of our other senses.


You depend on your feelings more than you think.

If a situation gives you a feeling similar to a past experience, you may expect a similar outcome to that previous situation. For example if you see a photo of a kitten, and you had a cat as a child that you loved and made you feel safe, that photo will also bring feelings of love and safety. The trick is, as Damasio points out, the better we are at knowing our emotional responses, the more in-depth our intuition becomes.

In addition to this, Thaler points out that human beings are not robots. We do not assess our surroundings with cold, rational detail. Quite the opposite, we assess our surroundings by how they make us feel. So, you may have bought that rain jacket because you needed it, but did you get the cheapest one, or the one that best suited the color of your eyes? We should note here, out of fairness, that Thaler does make a solid point that making only irrational and emotional financial decisions can be economically detrimental.

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We want our videos to convey emotions to their viewers.

This reflects Rooted Content’s philosophy as a company. When you are appealing to your audience, you do not want to solely give them your rational argument and then say, “choose the logical choice.” You want to hold their attention and grab their emotions by using what we now know about how the human brain works and how we naturally make decisions.  It is important to remember that in order to win your audience over you have to give them a reason to care, and once you have their attention and heart you can help them rationalize their emotional decisions with your arguments on why you’re the best.   

When Damasio began his research he began with patients who literally couldn’t make decisions because they had no emotional base to draw from. At Rooted we make every decision before, during, and after being on set with your intended viewer’s emotional response in mind. When communicating your company’s goals we want to show the viewer places to connect with your brand’s specific voice and story. By offering points of connection you invite the viewer into your story. Once you have their undivided attention you can then present them the facts and data necessary to show them that there isn’t a better brand or company for them to use than you.

We pride ourselves on producing top of the line content for our clients. Call or click today to connect with us about the ways we can help you start telling your story.



Three Ways Emotions Affect Decision Making

In our data driven society, it often feels like people equate numbers with success. Likes, clicks, followers- all of these are indicators of how well we’re doing, or how much people like us. While it is true as the old saying goes, “the numbers don’t lie,” over the next two weeks we want to look at how and why people choose to click, like, or follow something in the first place. That choice is contingent on the emotional connection you feel with whatever you are seeing on screen. Once that in-road is made, the logical, rational part of the story can be told second.

One of our favorite examples of this was a shoot we did with the Columbus School for Girls. CSG is a private, all girls school in Columbus, Ohio that focuses on changing the face of female-only education. They were aware that there is a stigma that comes with female-only education, but were determined not to live into those stereotypes. CSG has mountains of data regarding the success rates of their students, the viability of their teaching plans, and the credentials of their staff. But instead of making a video for them that focused on the qualifications of their programs, we instead made a video about Charlotte Falk and her family’s experience at the school. Why? Because an emotional connection with the Falk family allows the viewer to experience what a good school CSG is on a deeper level. Here’s how:

  1. Tell your viewer why they should care. The first shot of the video focuses on Charlotte, sitting in a brightly lit classroom, telling her personal story. Immediately the viewer is invited into her world, and her struggle, of being a teenage girl who felt misfitted at her previous school. Charlotte is an extremely relatable narrator, as she openly explains the lack of confidence she felt before attending CSG. It is easy to identify with Charlotte, whether you are a student, parent, or casual onlooker, because everyone has had times in their life when they have lacked self confidence or felt misfitted. As Charlotte’s parents, Nancy and Steve Falk, are introduced, you are invited deeper into their family as a whole’s experience. Establishing these three characters in the first seconds of the video gives different perspectives and viewpoints for the viewer to choose from. And no matter which the viewer identifies with the most, this is a family that they can care about, not just watch on-screen.

  2. Show your viewer what they should feel. It would have been easy to have simply interviewed Charlotte’s parents without ever showing any shots of the school. It would have been easy to have them list off the statistics of the successful students at CSG. At one point in the story, Steve Falk begins to talk about college acceptance rates among CSG grads, but the audio and visual cuts from that statement to girls going to class in the hallways. While college acceptance rates are extremely important, they are not the focus of the video. The students are. We wanted to show the interior and exterior of the school so that the viewer could get a clear feeling of what a day is like for the students there. By having much of the audio in voice-over, and showing the girls everyday school life, the audience is made to feel connected to what goes on in the school. They are not lost in a long list of statistics and data, they are allowed to see how great the school is. After feeling connected to the stories of the students that go there, data can be presented that backs up those stories.

  3. Give your viewer a reason to come back. Throughout the video, we hear Charlotte and her parents give reason after reason why they love CSG. You can tell from their stories, especially the anecdote about Charlotte’s little sister scoring her first goal on the basketball team, that the reasons why they love the school are varied. The most important reason is that Charlotte is engaged and involved in school for the first time since middle school. The feeling of safety and support that the viewer feels when the Falk family talks about CSG is contagious. It’s a feeling that your viewer wants to live in. By creating that feeling of safety, solidarity, and acceptance through words and images, the viewer wants to hear this story told over and over again.


Next week, we’ll continue to talk about this concept of emotional decision making and how it works towards our process in video creation. By telling your viewer why they should care, showing them what they should feel, and giving your viewer a reason to come back, you can lay an emotional framework that is more influential than all the data in the world.


At Rooted Content, we believe in telling real stories with purpose to help your brand succeed through video marketing tools. Call or click today to find out how we can start helping you find the emotional storyline in your business today.

Mat and His Camera

A fun (and potentially obvious) fact about our team at Rooted Content is that we love gear. You can’t run a video studio like ours and not be totally enamored with equipment and the way it works. Almost two years ago we were able to get our hands on 1DX Mark ii.

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This camera was brand new to the market and had some pretty cool special features, like the ability to shoot in 4K, while still being portable and fairly straightforward to use. Around that same time, we had befriended Mat Marrash, who worked at Midwest Photo Exchange, the local camera store. Mat had been shooting large format photography for years and had even helped spark an interest in the discipline in our team. The day after we received our beautiful new Canon camera, Mat happened to have the day off. We asked him if we could follow him out into the Hocking Hills south of Columbus, Ohio to take some video of him shooting large format photos and see what the new 1DX Mark ii could do. He happily agreed.

Character: Mat Marrash

Mat and his camera are the sole focus of this video. When building his character arc, we wanted the viewer to feel Mat’s excitement for a photography form that is truly a discipline but also to discover his inner conflict with practicing a hobby that can cost so much time and money. We chose to never show Mat speaking directly into the camera and placed his interview in voice over throughout the entirety of the film. We wanted to put the viewer inside Mat’s head using his voice. The calm, deliberate, and truthful tonality of his words makes the viewer feel as if they are watching a journal entry. It communicates Mat’s passion for what he is doing and why he will take the time to lug a very large and heavy camera out into the woods day after day to get the perfect photograph. The effect on the viewer is calming, beautiful, and inspiring.

Taking the viewer into Mat's internal monologue.

Location: The Hocking Hills and Dark Room

Mat is primarily a landscape photographer, which means most of his time is spent outdoors trying to find the perfect shot. By following him through the woods, the intentionality and devotion he feels for his work is deepened for the viewer. It’s not a simple thing for him to get out to a certain location and set up his gear. By adding in the long shots of him walking across the bridge and out into the forest, the viewer is made to feel how much effort it takes for him to get the photographs that he wants and is introduced to the story and the environment. The first three shots all have Mat walking from left to right in the screen which in western culture is how we envision time progressing, left to right. This all adds to the gravity of his work and the viewer’s experience.

Steve setting up the Canon xD1-mark ii on location

Emotion: Passion and Perseverance

As the viewer watches this film, they are meant to feel Mat’s enthusiasm for what he does and also his perseverance to go to great lengths to follow that passion. By shooting most of the film in slow motion (thanks to the Canon 1DX Mark ii), we are able to show how slow and deliberate his movements are. When it comes to the scene of him pulling inserting the film holder and pulling the dark slide out of the camera, the anticipation has built to its peak. This single shot lasts almost 20 seconds! This builds tension and mimics the anticipation Mat feels in the darkroom, waiting for his negatives to develop. Similar to the process of large format photography, the shot is long and deliberate. What is it about that upside down image that drives him to revisit places again and again just to get that perfect shot?

Mat pulling the dark slide out of his camera

Purpose: Build a Brand, Tell a Story, Try Out Something New

The capital ‘P’ Purpose of this video is a few different things. It is first, and possibly foremost, to try out our brand new camera and see how it works out on a long day of shooting. Secondly, it was to share a creative project. At the time that we shot this video, we had known Mat for over four years. He had expressed his love of large format photography to us, and we wanted to share it further with a wider audience.

Steve shooting on the Canon again.

The lowercase ‘p’ purpose of this video is manifold. When we began the process of shooting, we were focused on certain keywords: process, slow, tedious, perseverance, and vision. By combining the elements of character, location, and emotion, we sought to communicate these words to the viewer. We were also able to utilize certain features on the camera that were very useful to communicate those keywords. As mentioned before, most of the video is in slow-motion, adding to to the tedious deliberateness of Mat’s work.

Mat in the dark room

Most of the shots are long, averaging almost five and a half seconds each. This also communicates to the viewer just how important every detail of Mat’s shot is. We used a motion controlled slider and a tripod in order to communicate deliberation and stability. Also, every shot leading up to the dark room is pushed in on Mat and his actions, inviting the reader deeper into Mat’s mind and the story. The final shot of the dark room door pulls out to give the viewer a sense of closure and also continuation. That the end of the story we see is not the end of the story all together.

This is also not the end of our story. At Rooted Content, we strive to make meaningful stories, whether they be for creative projects or large scale ad campaigns. Contact us today to learn how we can help you tell a better story.