Whole lotta ROSI

What’s the ROI of storytelling?  That’s a good question… (which is actually a good phrase to use when you need to buy time for formulating a satisfactory response too).

A better answer might be: “When storytelling gets the message across more effectively, its incremental cost is close to zero, but its ROI may be massive.” Unfortunately, there’s no single metric or a formula that will give you an exact number for the money you can save or gain by telling stories.

Of course you could try to calculate how much dollars or euros your business is wasting by preparing, delivering and listening to poor Powerpoint presentations – which may add up to a mere $250 million per day worldwide, as (conservatively) calculated by Dave Paradi. But isn’t there more than that?

Measuring your ROSI (guess what the abbreviation stands for) using metrics similar to pay-per-clicks, page impressions, search ranks, social-media-shares, or any other content marketing KPI won’t give you a complete picture either.

Here’s the bottom line. The positive effects of storytelling can’t and shouldn’t be measured at all. Neither by how many people came listening to your talk. Nor by how many questions you got a the end. Nor by how many purchase orders you received immediately afterward.

Because storytelling is all about:

  • Adding relevance and meaning to your brand, your company and their products.
  • Getting your audience engaged beyond the rational and making them connect emotionally and/or ethically.
  • Building awareness, impact and intimacy with your customers.
  • Initiating interaction to better address their individual needs (and to discover unidentified ones.)
  • Enabling a great customer experience.
  • Inspiring your listeners to take action or to drive change.
  • Making them want to come back for more and/or stay in touch.

And if, through your storytelling investments, you manage to achieve (even a few of) the goals above, you may still find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


More reading:

What you say and what you show

In technology and business we often use many words and complex sentences to make (fundamentally) simple statements. Many times, a well thought visual can be much more effective to present and convey information in a clear and compelling way. And furthermore, using pictures in your presentation is also the ideal remedy to prevent you from reading your slides out loud.

Below are a few examples of how an image can help you present your message simple and sweet, and make what you show complementary to what you say.

What you say:

“Do you want a small investment and a high return? You can get started in this business with a limited amount of money. You’ll gain back a multiple of your investment and start profiting in no time.”

What you show:

What you say:

“Service providers are migrating from distinct networks for voice, data and video services to a single broadband infrastructure based upon the Internet Protocol. Moving to an all-IP network is key to agile and cost-effective service creation, deployment and operations.”

What you show:

What you say:

“One of our goals is to transform the company. From a heavy and hierarchical organization to a lighter and flatter one. From a control driven culture to a self-regulating community adhering to a common code of conduct.”

What you show:

It’s maybe an old wisdom, but still so true: a picture tells more than a thousand words!