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On the ROI of Storytelling in HR and Talent Management

Still believe you don't need to worry about having marketable content in your HR, recruiting and talent management shops?  That stale content on your careers site is fine?  The lame job descriptions?  The PDF of something you did 6 years ago?

Are you sure you don't need dynamic content to make your company look like it has a pulse?  If that's you, I present the following excerpt from the Build Network related to the ROI of storytelling: Kidsstorytelling

"Glenn and Walker bought cheap throwaway objects from thrift stores and garage sales, always for pocket change or a couple of dollars at most.  Then a writer would create a fictional backstory about the object, in any voice or style. The once unremarkable object (now transformed into a "significant object" by virtue of the fictional backstory and info associated with it), then would be listed for sale on eBay.  The winning bidder would receive the object and a printout of the story.

The difference in the original purchase price would be recorded as the value added by attaching a story to the object.

100 cheap items were bought at the thrift stores for a total of $128.74.  Then were then offered with a story as described above for sale on eBay,  The items sold for a total of $3,612.51.  That's an ROI of 2,801% on storytelling.

Examples:  A pair of plastic shark and seal pens cost $1.99 to buy.  It's resale price, after Susanna Daniel added a story, was $35 (1,659%).  A yo-yo with the Amoco logo on it cost 25 cents.  It's resale price, after Mark Sarvas added a story, was $41 - an increase of 16,300%."

Imagine what you could do by tellling the story of your company better.  Money and ROI is everywhere if you take the time to do it right.  Productivity.  People wanting to work for you instead of you begging them with higher offers.  Maybe even a little retention.

Lots of possibilities for great ROI on story-telling at your company, but only if you take the time to do it right.

What content do you have on your site that tells the story in an approachable, authentic and transparent way?


Michael Weber

While I agree with the intended message the unintended message is that there's significant ROI in lying about your product or service.

Jose Blanco

All of us wants to know what happend behind the scenes


The ROI on story-telling should focus on non-fiction though...fiction may do more harm than good.

Career Choice

Indeed, ROI and productivity needs enough time to set things to the right. Thank you for this insightful post.


Can I get a little bit of perspective please?

The excerpt is a study/experiment. No one is telling you that someone should lie. Take the real stories and data you have at your company and actually care enough not to have your content suck. No one told you to lie - we're using the experiment cited to show you the power of telling a story.

C'mon folks...


Mike Sockol

I've been in the communications business for about 20 years with ten years focused on internal communications.

Story telling is critical when you want to take a piece of information and make it relevant to your audience. For example, if you want a standard announcement to resonate with employees, try to inject an employee into the "story" that the reader can better relate to the information.

By the way, here's a link to an article I recently wrote about story telling that appeared on


This is a great insight into the power of stories in business. I talked with someone today who pointed out that the Portfolio page on my website acted as a story for him and helped him see my company in more detail. I actually had not thought of it as a "story" page before but it makes perfect sense and was part of my desire to re-design my website a couple of months back (even if I didn't quite realize or put into words that this was the reason why). Thank you for the valuable insight.

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