Course Growth

5 storytelling templates for marketing online courses

Storytelling templates have always played a pivotal role in selling products. Our world may have progressed a lot in the last four...

Written by Sara Illahi Panhwer · 4 min read >
storytelling templates for marketing guide

Storytelling templates have always played a pivotal role in selling products. Our world may have progressed a lot in the last four to five centuries but a human’s primitive love for stories is never-ending and something that doesn’t seem to be changing ever. They are hard-wired in our DNA.

Stories sell. No brand has prospered without stories. From Amazon to Apple, it is the story that matters. So, how come course marketing succeeds without a story? Fun fact: it doesn’t.

What are storytelling templates?

In the recent years, marketers have come up with multiple templates which, when tweaked, can easily apply to your your product i.e. your online course. It can make for a great engaging experience for prospects and engage them.

Such templates, thus, act as a guiding force and structure for what kind of angles one can pursue when telling a story. Below are some widely used templates:

1. The transformation template

This is one of the most commonly used storytelling templates around. The good thing about it is that it works and consequently sells. If you are selling a course, you must give the audience a before and after.

transformation template storytelling
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This can be an inspirational, rags to riches story. Imagine Slumdog Millionaire, someone who had poverty, society, luck – everything going against him and then winning a hefty sum in a game show because he was learning along with it.

For course marketers like yourself, an example of this template can be: Rosa earned only $100/month stitching clothes, but after buying your course, she learnt embroidery and expert stitching. Now she earns $1000/month.

Or perhaps, if you’re a fitness consultant, it can be about how some years ago you weighed 120kgs, at risk for diabetes, coronary heart disease, what-not. Then you turned your life around and are half the weight.

Put up pictures to support it, express your pain and anguish then, and how you feel so much better now. Offer to your audience how you can help them with the same pain – if they pay for your course.

💡 Also read: How to determine course market fit for your digital course

2. The fictional template

The fictional or hypothetical story, yet again, is a widely used storytelling template. It’s not fiction in the lying sense, but something you’ve put together to illustrate a point.

storytelling template fictional story

If crafted wisely, creatively and without too much exaggeration (to the point it doesn’t sound true at all), the fictional story SHOWS RESULTS!

Here you take your prospects to a different world altogether and illustrate using hypothetical scenarios. The benefit of this template is that you get to play with your words and you have full creative freedom.

You don’t rely on real stories or people, rather paint a picture according to the pain points of your audience and help them imagine the possibilities.

Start with the what ifs, and build something up from there. 🔮

3. The conflict template

The second half of the conflict story may sound a lot like the transformation template, but the beginning here is different. It starts with a great situation but goes horribly bad, raising curiosity and suspense.

storytelling template conflict story

It is more like a thriller where before the interval, a protagonist’s life in your story is a bed of roses and all fun and games. After the interval, however, the tables turn and everything is super messed up because a conflict arises.

Then, to resolve the conflict and to make sure that your character has a happy ending, your character tries to steer through the conflict. Here you can subtly sell your course/product as a silver bullet to persuade the readers.

For instance, Jack worked as a stockbroker. Then the stock market crash happened. He was left out on the road, poor and homeless, with only a few dollars to spare. He experienced some of the most difficult times of his life, endured many hardships.

But…

He rose up to it. He knew he had it in himself to get up, get his act together, and he started a small makeshift shop. That shop is now worth millions of dollars.

Try it out.

👀 Read: How these creators have made over $100,000 by launching online courses

4. The testimonial template

Testimonial stories are widely used, especially on social media and websites. Online shops make it a point to have their customers write them a testimonial about their shopping experience. When new online visitors see it, it establishes trust.

testimonial storytelling template

It is because of this that marketers don’t just depend on their copywriting skills to tell a good story, but that of their customers. If there are any skeptics, they usually settle down once they’ve been through a couple of testimonials praising a product/service.

It works like a mini-interview, mostly text-based but nowadays several enterprising individuals have come up with apps that make video testimonials so much easy to post. Moreover, course discovery and review websites are popping up to give learners a chance to study and weight their options before choosing.

A testimonial about your course by a highly satisfied student could look something like this:

“Professor Gilmore’s course was nothing short of amazing. I remember joining the first live class, shy and nervous, and I have blossomed into a confident woman in the past two months. His course is comprehensive, and above all, he knows how to teach anyone who struggles with spoken English. Big thumbs up”

You could use all of it, part of it, or even write about how ABC student said so and so about your course. All of this should be done keeping a prospect in mind, like their pain points, their expectations, their questions – will they be answered through your testimonial story?

Make sure they are.

5. The metaphor template

We all love metaphors because they describe us in a better way. And when used in a conversation, metaphors can change that regular, dull conversation into an exciting anecdote. That’s why people, especially, ad professionals love using this among other storytelling templates.

storytelling templates metaphor stories

For instance, if you name your content headline “life is not a bed of roses” you are familiarizing your readers of the matter at hand. Prospects will immediately know that the story going forth is going to talk about some difficult stuff and set their expectations.

Go on to talk about a difficult journey, and use that opportunity to tie in your online course. Not only does it become a compelling story for prospects but also can be a major contributing factor to course sales getting amped up.

That’s all I’ve got to share with you folks today. If you’ve been struggling with creating stories to engage your audience, you should definitely give one of these storytelling templates a try.


There’s always more to read on Airschool:

Written by Sara Illahi Panhwer
Constantly striving to help course creators become a monumental part of the billion dollar ed-tech industry. Profile

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