From campfires to glowing screens, humankind has always been searching for the next big story to tell using the day’s best technology. Though it is millennia later, these principles are still the key to successful digital marketing and brand growth. 

In the beginning, stories were mostly about survival, lessons we needed to pass down from generation to generation. Elders shared tales with the youth, teaching them which berries to eat, what to do when confronted by a tiger, or how to build a shelter. 

People needed to trust the stories they heard, and they needed others to trust them when they told a story. The exchange of information established reciprocity, the foundation of relationships. Individuals would receive stories from their closest friends, family members, and the rest of the tribe and then share them with others. Their survival depended on it. 

Stories are the glue that binds civilizations together. And over the hundreds of thousands of years since the first campfires, our method for telling stories has changed based on the day’s preferred communication technology.

Here’s a quick timeline of communication technology throughout history:

  • 300,000 years ago, humans invented language and share stories around the campfire.
  • 40,000 years ago, the oldest known cave paintings were created.
  • 4000 BC, the oldest known writings are created.
  • 472 BC, the Greeks put on the first play called “The Persians.”
  • 1454 AD, the Gutenberg Bible is the first mechanically printed book.
  • 1905, the first movie theater, the Nickelodeon, opens in Pittsburgh.
  • In the 1990s, the Internet as we know it today takes shape.
  • In the 2000s, the rise of social media and smartphones transforms communication.
  • Today, automated campaigns and full digital marketing platforms are available to advisors.

Marketing is simply another form of storytelling.

Perhaps that’s why word of mouth is still one of the most trusted forms of marketing. A Nielson study found that 92% of consumers trusted friends and family members’ recommendations over any other marketing form.

Digital marketing is not as intimidating as many believe. When you recognize that the best marketing methods are all about storytelling, then the channels you use to communicate that story become less important.

When done right, digital marketing is simply digital storytelling. Digital storytelling spreads. It’s approachable. It’s magnetic. It’s powerful. Best of all, digital storytelling is easy.

Here’s the catch: No one will tell your story if they don’t know what it is or if you aren’t using the communication channels your audience is using. You don’t make cave paintings if you are trying to sell annuities.

The preferred communication channels of the past are not the same as the preferred channels of today. Similarly, the communication channels of today won’t be the same as the communication channels of tomorrow.

The one thing that will remain constant, no matter the channel, is the art of storytelling.

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This article is Part 1 of The Modern Advisor’s Guide to Content Marketing series. 

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