Here’s a Story: Why Storytelling is Vital to Content Marketing

Outdoor retailer REI recently released a new online video, Trail Angel, as part of their ongoing Every Trail Connects series. Marketers know that as video consumption continues to grow among consumers, especially on mobile devices, telling stories through video is one of the best ways to connect with those consumers.

Using video for storytelling is very different from showcasing your products in a video. It’s also different from customer testimonial videos. Real storytelling is about emotion. And REI gets it.

The below example is where content marketing crashes headlong into storytelling.

REI has created this video, or piece of content, and hosted it on their website. They also posted it on YouTube for others to discover it and share it or embed it easily. And they didn’t just assume people would stumble upon it like a shiny object just off the trail. They sent an email about it. That’s right, an email to their customer list announcing that they made a video. And of course, they shared a trailer for it on their social channels. They want to make sure people see the video.

This initiative shows that REI cares about the same things that their customers do. These trails are important to people’s lives. And after watching the video, you will discover how important.

The Appalachian Trail winds its way up the East Coast from Georgia to Maine. Along the way it intersects with many peoples' lives. The story of this trail is told through one of those people.

Are they using the video to sell outdoor equipment? Of course they are. But this is not a logo-packed video. It is not an overt product placement video. Sure, there are people enjoying the outdoors wearing things that they might have purchased at REI, but that’s not the point. And those connections are never made obvious, even though you can scroll down from the video and buy outdoor gear.

They are building an emotional connection with their viewers and bonding over their shared values. The environment is important. Getting outside is important. And people are important. This kind of connection will beat a 20% off sale every time. This is how you build loyalty. This is how you build advocacy. And these are the true goals of content marketing.

This post originally appeared on the Modern Marketing Blog.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen