Every Study Has a Story to Tell
Numbers, data, and statistics can be used to tell powerful and compelling stories. Marketing research makes its strongest impact when the art of storytelling comes together with the science of research to help managers and clients grasp what matters and why.
Turning data into stories means moving beyond the numeric data and facts to gain a deep understand of what it means and why. The volume and complexity of a data set may be daunting, but ultimately it is tied to specific issues you care about, to questions you need to have answered, and to problems that are puzzling you.
- Turning data into stories tells you what to do.
- Turning data into stories helps you integrate seemingly conflicting data.
- Turning data into stories helps you avoid mistakes.
- Turning data into stories gets your research heard and understood.
- Turning data into stories helps you communicate research to multiple audiences.
Clients wish there were an easy way to turn all those vendor-supplied charts and tables brimming with data into something their management will listen to and get excited about.
The problem, in our view, is that too many in our industry write reports about research, when the most useful reports are not about research at all. Research is the means to an end; it is simply a way of getting information to answer questions. So the goal in writing a research report should be to have readers “see through” the research and the data to the people, places, issues and business questions they care about. In short, good research should turn data into a story.
Seven steps to Turning Data into Stories:
- Review the questions that need to be answered
- Assess how the data are calculated
- Lay out simple data points
- Organize the data thematically
- Put the data into statements as bullet points
- Summarize the statements in headlines
- Revise and strengthen the words
Ultimately, the key to turning data into stories is to keep research data in the background while keeping the issues that the data point to in the foreground.
Do not write about the data, and do not write about the research itself. Write about what the data prove, because that is the story that your internal clients and managers really care about.