December 4, 2018

What’s the Value and ROI of Brand Storytelling?

Note: This blog post is an excerpt from my new book, Marketing Spark, a guide for entrepreneurs looking to embrace the power of story-driven marketing. Featuring worksheets, templates, framework, tools, and step-by-step tactical instructions, it’s a workbook to make marketing and storytelling happen.
What is the value of a compelling story?
What’s the ROI of messaging that effectively describes what a product does, its value, and why it matters to target audiences? Sometimes, the answers are challenging to quantify. while good stories are compelling, how do you know if they deliver value?


In some cases, storytelling works when people recognize a product’s value and how works for them. In a fast-moving world, quickly and clearly communicating is crucial. Companies with bad stories struggle because consumers have no patience for ambiguity.
From experience, the ROI of storytelling is like the MasterCard “Priceless” advertising campaign. Sometimes, you can’t assign a value to good stories but they deliver in significant ways.
Good stories and compelling value propositions super-charge a company’s sales and marketing. It is everything from a better Website and engaging one-pagers to attractive presentations and entertaining videos.
“Storytelling is one of those things that is not an ROI generator,” says Sujan Patel, a marketer and serial entrepreneur. “You can produce content and tell no story, and maybe it drives ROI. You can produce content and tell a story and it may not drive ROI. It’s a fuzzy layer because it’s not exact or transparent but it is a key to growth.”
while the benefits of storytelling are often not obvious or immediate, there is significant long-term value. It comes down to having faith and trusting storytelling to deliver RoI.
In some cases, the ROI of storytelling is apparent. A few years ago, two researchers, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, created to test the value of storytelling. Walker and Glenn purchased knick-knacks for about $1.50 each, created stories about them, and then sold them on eBay. A $128.74 investment generated $3,612.51 in sales powered by stories.
Another good example of storytelling is Que Pasa organic tortilla chips. On the back of each bag is a story about how Que Pasa’s founders, Joe & Maria, decided to make their own organic tortilla chips. It is a story of how two people found entrepreneurial success. It is a story that helps Que Pasa charge higher prices than other tortilla chips.
Calculating the ROI of storytelling is a mixed bag. Sometimes, it is easy to quantify. Sometimes, the value is soft or anecdotal and a fervent belief in building better connections with target audiences. As a storyteller, stories deliver ROI in different ways. It is what makes them so compelling and necessary.
For many entrepreneurs, the value of brand storytelling is elusive. They realize that storytelling matters but ascertaining the ROI is an impediment to creating and telling stories that resonate.
In some respects, storytelling requires a leap of faith. The decision to tell stories is a willingness and desire to better connect with customers. It’s not necessarily about selling but getting people to understand the experiences and benefits delivered by your product. From there, anything can happen, including sales.

Need to jump-start your marketing? Let’s talk about how we can work together. My services include messaging, brand positioning, marketing strategies, and content development. I also offer a CMO-for-Hire service to oversee, operate, and build your marketing department.

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