Quality content has done to traditional marketing what video did to the radio star. While marketing will always be a thing, the style of “traditional” approach to marketing prominent in the last century is no longer a viable, sustainable model. Businesses that want to thrive and survive need to forget about selling and start focusing on storytelling. Here’s why.

One-Size Fits All Fits No One

Victoria’s Secret one-size-fits-all underwear were once given away as freebies. While these underwear technically—yes, “fit all”, one size did not comfortably fit any.

The same is true of Americans and the products marketed to them. Brands in the past century cared most about selling their products and outselling the competitors. The brands with the biggest budgets earned the most impressions, which created the perception of quality and popularity. Given lack of options, people purchased what was made available and what the companies told them they should buy through large-scale advertising programs.

Selling with Brand Recognition, Not Loyalty

The sole goal of said programs was to get the audience to buy with little emphasis on establishing a relationship with said audience. Brands used slogans and tag lines to embed themselves into an audience’s memory. Wal-Mart is “the low-price place.” Who doesn’t think McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it”?

But the love isn’t really there—it’s more like familiarity, which is why when businesses of the ‘80s and ‘90s suffered, the solution was re-branding and throwing more into advertising, indicating an underlying assumption that people weren’t buying because they forgot about the brand.

Traditional—and Mostly Defunct—Modes of Reaching Audiences

To reach the audience, brands turned to:

  • Radio

  • Print

  • Television commercials

  • Billboards (although Alexander Shunnarah would disagree)

While these tactics once worked to raise awareness, most of today’s audiences ignore them. What’s more, today’s audience knows paid ads are indicative of a big budget, not good product or service quality.

The Internet Killed Traditional Marketing

In the early 2000s, the prevalence of the Internet perpetuated a seismic shift that rendered marketing channels and styles that dominated in the past impotent. The Internet granted access to products and services—of great quality, no less—that were further down the tail but that were more suited to the individual buyer. Because of the Internet, as Chris Anderson notes in The Long Tail, audiences didn’t need to be told what to buy; rather, their purchasing decisions guided brands on what to sell.

The Rise of the Conscientious Consumer

In addition to the Internet giving audiences access to a wider array of products and services, people also became increasingly conscientiousness about environment. The humanity behind the brand, the brand’s overall contribution to society, how it treated employees, and other culturally sensitive factors became variables when deciding who got the business.

Why Content Storytelling Works

Thus, the audiences of today and tomorrow look for quality not only in product or service but also in the brand behind it. They aren’t wowed by bottom-dollar prices or glossy mainstream ads.

To entice the current and future audience, brands should strive to form authentic one-on-one relationships with the individuals, the people behind the personas, for whom they know they can provide exactly what that audience member wants. Brands do this through content storytelling, a form of transparent marketing that focuses on providing solutions and solving problems for a specific audience.

This builds brand loyalty in a way that traditional marketing never could because the brand becomes a reliable resource—like a friend vs. someone or something just trying to make a sale. Businesses hoping to thrive should look to reach audiences using lower-cost channels like blogs, podcasts, e-mail and social media that enable them to share their story and to build meaningful, lasting audience relationships.


If you want to market smarter, not harder, try content storytelling. This marathon-style of marketing outpaces the sprinting method of the traditional marketing across the board. Click here to contact us at The Storyteller Agency to learn more about how storyteller marketing can help your business thrive.