The good folks over at The Narrative Designers Network posted a link to a great article, where they were trying to observe the quantifiable benefits of story.  In their research they came across the Significant Objects project, where a little piece of story, a 'narrative context', is given to normal objects.

The stories created are purely fictitious, but the value 80 or so objects sold rose by over an incredible 2000%!

How did this happen?  Well, Hugh Macleod over at Gaping Void often talks about social objects, and that something in and of itself has little intrinsic value to people until people become involved and invested.

For example, an ordinary pen might have a street value of around $1, but how much would you pay for a pen that was used by, say, your favourite author (the most excellent Iain Banks, in my case)?  The pen in question becomes so much more than a mere writing tool and becomes an interesting conversational piece, a source of pride, a desirable object (at least in some circles) and so on.  Now the pen has become a social object.  Hugh argues that good marketing must involve taking whatever it is you've got, and turning it into a social object.

So stories can do more than simply describe - they have the ability to turn something into a powerful social object - and that, in turn, adds worth and value.

A 2000% return on investment - amazing!