Storytelling Island

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: April 16, 2021

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“Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.” Chris Anderson, former Editor of Wired

ROI and Social Media and Content. (Feel free to adjust those into any order you prefer!) Big topic nowadays. How to measure. What to measure. What to present. How to present. There is a bottomless pit of information/opinions online that covers everything from location-based beacon marketing to the latest in demographic-specific social platforms.

At the end of the day, storytelling (selling something to someone else – after all, that’s why you’re on the internet and social media, right?) has taken on a life of its own. Anthony Bourdain transformed how we think of food and restaurants by telling stories instead of just reviewing the latest gastro pub or rendering a recipe with the requisite food porn attached. At the same time, he demonstrated that great storytelling is more effective than crappy storytelling.

On the far side of SEO and social media analytics, and just to the right of the Twilight Zone, sits a small island that might hold some of the answers you’ve been looking for regarding ROI. You see, on Storytelling Island, we cut out all of the noise, all the opinions, all the analytics and present three simple business goals you should be measuring when it comes to telling your own unique story – regardless of your business.

Business conversions. This might be the simplest and best metric for you to calculate. Let’s first look at the math, then look at how storytelling impacts this business goal measurement.

Math – total sales divided by total number of leads. Example: 20 sales based on 2,000 leads. You have a 1% conversion rate.

Importance – You should already be tracking your lead generation statistics and how they are being generated (website, social, referrals, advertising, etc.). Lead generation numbers tell you if your marketing practices overall (ads, website, mailers, social, event marketing, etc.) are effective, and specifically which ones you think are producing the best ROI. Getting people in the door is obviously the first step.

What your conversion rate can measure is how effective your storytelling is when it comes to closing sales – whether or not the customer is inclined to purchase from you. The better your storytelling is – which incorporates informative content and some fun, and engenders trust – the better chance you have of closing a sale and converting a prospect into a paying customer. You can measure this in varying ways – it could be retail sales conversion rates, or new clients for your pool-cleaning service, or new clients for your law firm. Close more sales by being a more effective storyteller – someone people are inclined to do business with.

Brand awareness. We all know that brand recall is improved with impactful storytelling, a consistent and ubiquitous logo and tagline, by traditional mass marketing, by celebrity or advocacy endorsements, by partnering with other brands that have high brand awareness – repetition and consistency are keys to improving brand awareness and brand recall.

Measuring brand awareness is not as difficult as some people portray. Here are two big measuring sticks – you can easily do a search and bone up on these (and others) if you don’t fully understand their methodologies:

Website traffic. Especially the direct channel in Google Analytics that tracks the number of people who type in your URL into their address bar or clicked a link in an untracked email or offline document. Track this over time to see how your brand awareness grows. Additionally, you can track searches for your brand name using Google Adwords and Google Trends.

Social listening. There are social listening tools, like Brandwatch, that allow you to listen into online conversations about your brand across social media platforms. You can filter your searches in case you have some generic words in your brand’s name, like The Tool Shed.

Customer experience. Hello, reputation management! At the end of the day, what your customers think about you (from what your brand promise initially was to the experience of being one of your actual customers) and what they say about doing business with you speaks volumes. Creative storytellers weave this narrative into future stories – it becomes part of your long-range narrative arc. You tell stories that make people want to become part of your tribe, by reflecting on current tribe members and what they have to say about you.

Being truthful, informative and fun to read correlates EXACTLY to the perception you leave paying customers with. If you fulfill your promise – the one you embed into your narrative – to the customer, they will reward you with a nice review. These are not only measurable, but will give you terrific input as to what resonates and to whom it resonates with. For future stories. From Storytelling Island.

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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