Technically speaking, story telling marketing has stood as a major part of content strategies since the early 2010s. However, the concept of selling through storytelling is much older – potentially as old as language itself. After all, in a drastically reductionistic sense, marketing simply intends to persuade individuals to buy products. And in a much more archaic form, humans have used storytelling to “sell” ideas for thousands of years.
Major historical events, both good and terrible, have hinged on story telling marketing, as it were. Ancient Greek poetic epics like The Illiad heavily informed the culture and virtues for hundreds of years. The early spread of Christianity across the known world largely owed to stories of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And more recently, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, because illusory stories of WMDs caused alarm among government officials. Of course, these examples present wildly different scenarios, but that illustrates the point even further. Story telling marketing sells everything from ideas to regimes, and even modern products.
Ultimately, all aspects of life are story, because life itself is story. And from the earliest cave paintings to the most recent, cutting-edge video games, humans have craved stories. So, it only makes sense for story telling marketing to be such an integral part of modern business.
In short, narrative is far more engrossing than simple, dry details about a product. It invites potential buyers to experience an emotional connection rather than mere utility. And while this might be somewhat manipulative in certain cases, having a connection with a product or company often leads to a more fulfilling experience overall.
But don’t just take our word for it. Jump in and see firsthand.
A Short Story Example
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re an avid hiker. You’ve been preparing for a major trek for months – the Appalachian trail. You know all the safety tips for dealing with bears. You have support lined up back home, so people can send you money and supplies if needed. In fact, you even know how to properly dispose of waste while you’re on the months-long journey.
The day you set out at Springer Mountain, Georgia, the air is crisp. And although it’s partly cloudy, the sun occasionally peeks out from behind the mountainous, blue-white formations. The first few days, everything goes exactly as you’ve hoped. The weather is nice, the small group you’re traveling with gets along well, and the sights are beautiful.
However, on the morning of the fifth day, you wake to a loud clap of thunder. The light mist eventually turns to a drizzle and, finally, a downpour. Your group hikes as far as possible, hoping for better weather. But the next day, the rain still hasn’t let up. Still, you’re thankful for the tent you invested in. The quality polyester material has done its job and kept you dry through the night.
However, another hiker isn’t so fortunate. Their inferior tent from a different company failed to hold the deluge at bay. They woke to a layer of water flooding their supplies. Their shoes are drenched, their clothing not much better. With little option, they hike through the day. But by the end, they’re miserable, with multiple blisters on the bottoms of their feet.
Eventually, after several days, the rain subsides, and they manage to dry their belongings. But only after a painful experience that could have been avoided with better preparation. For all members of the group, the lesson is clear. Buy a better tent.
Story Telling Marketing Demands Attention
All right, so the story is obviously made up, and it lacks a bit of detail. But it’s something that could actually happen. This is the sort of story telling marketing that grabs peoples attention. Because instead, we could simply have listed all the different details about two tents. One is made of material A, the other material B. One has two openings, the other has three, and so on. But that’s boring. It doesn’t captivate attention the way a narrative can. Storytelling forces people to put themselves into a situation in a way mere facts don’t always.
And moreover, the facts can show through the story itself rather than simply being stated. For example, the high-quality fiber used for the tent could mean it repels water. The sturdy design of the superior product helped keep it from collapsing in high winds. Again, the options for storytelling are limitless. And that’s why it’s such a vital aspect of current content marketing campaigns.
When potential buyers become invested in the outcome of a narrative, they’re more likely to remember the details. They can imagine the benefits of the product and even foresee uses in their own lives. And that’s the point where story telling marketing starts being successful. Whenever a person moves on from the presented story and begins imagining the product within their own story. Because this helps cement the idea that the thing itself is useful to them, that it could truly make a difference. So, getting into the perceptive space of the buyer and demonstrating a need for the product converts more often.
VTR Learning’s Story
So, if creating a brand or product story is so important, what’s VTR Learning’s? Initially, in 2008, we worked primarily with universities around the U.S. to offer a premiere, online MBA program. One of the first of its kind, our courses taught business skills by simulating real business experiences. And this sort of story telling experience helped better cement learners’ understanding of vital concepts.
However, as time went on, we began to see the need for alternative continuing education opportunities within the professional sphere. Most learning activities com across as cut-and-dry, informative yet dull. So, we adapted our existing course material to suit the needs of business professionals in different industries. Now, we directly serve members of SHRM, HRCI, NASBA/AICPA, and the American Payroll Association. And because of our various partnerships, we feature multiple types of courses to fit different learning styles.
In a sense, story telling marketing is in everything we do, because our product itself is so heavily reliant on narrative. So, if you’re looking for continuing education credit or just want to see what we’re all about, check out our shop.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated March 12, 2023