Content vs Storytelling. What's better?

July 2018

Pick a number between 1-10, because I’m sure that during these single digit years your parents used to read to you before bed.  Now some of us had that one story that we wanted to hear over and over again and others wanted to be inspired by something new. Bedtime stories were a great way to share morals, inspire children’s imagination and teach valuable lessons.


So let’s set the scene here then. You’re 8 years old, you’re in your favourite pj’s tucked up in bed, your mum or dad picks up a book and sits on the side of your bed. You’re feeling excited and anticipating where tonight’s adventure is going to take you. They open the book onto the first page, take a breath and to your astonishment this is what follows….


In this book we’re going to cover how magic beans were the significant contributor to the growth of Jack and his families wealth.

The data from Fig 1.0 suggests that Jack’s cow was underperforming and required the following outcome; 

1)  Investment from capital that they didn’t have, 

2)  Merger and Acquisition or

3)  Sale

At the beginning of Q3 a competitive tender process expedited the sale of the bovine asset for 3 magic beans. Despite gross income increasing by 100%, team morale was low

Senior Management and Procurement held several meetings where it was decided to dissolve the magic bean department due to targets not being met resulting in poor ROI.

During this process it became apparent that the magic beans had in fact grown into a beanstalk demonstrating a clear lack of alignment between departments. It was decided that a company away day would be held in 6 months time to identify what processes could be put in place in the future.

With any rapid growth comes with it a plethora of uncertainty. Our consultancy partner identified a significant correlation between beanstalk growth and increased risk of angry-giants. (Fig 2.0.)

On a recent business trip Jack made his way up the beanstalk overcoming adversity and returning with 5 golden coins. Despite the volatility of the situation Jack puts the recent success down to his alignment of business objectives. (Net profits will be published on the intranet page after expenses incurred have been processed) 




So, unless your parents were avid business management consultants I think it’s fair to say that this scenario probably wouldn’t have happened. Why? Because as a child it’s not inspiring, it’s not motivating, it doesn’t spark creativity, it lacks engagement, there is no emotional journey and it focuses too heavily on the outcome.

So at what point during our lives did we decide that stories weren’t the best communication tool to inspire people?


To inspire our children we read them bedtime stories not bedtime content, so why then in business do we tell people content instead of sharing stories?


I’d like to share with you an example that demonstrates the significance of storytelling.


In 2009 a journalist called Rob Walker wanted to see if storytelling was the most powerful tool of all and so he bought 200 items on ebay. 

Rob asked 200 authors to write a story for each item before he then relisted the items back on ebay. 

In total Rob spent $129 on all of the items. 

One specific item was a china horses head that was bought for 99¢ when adding the story it was relisted and sold for $62.95. 

That’s an increase of 6,395% for the exact same item.


In total the $129 that were spent on the 200 items were relisted and sold for $3,613.


And so what’s the moral of this story?

The next time you want to inspire people or gain their buy in, the best way to do it is through storytelling.