June 17, 2020

Read time: 6min

Five storytelling steps to drive actions through insights

Market Logic Team

At our ESOMAR storytelling webinar, Forrester Analyst Cinny Little shared a fascinating glimpse into the “Five-Step Playbook For Data Storytelling That Drives Actions,” which provides a repeatable framework to turn data into actionable insights.

According to Cinny, customers want what they want, where, when, and how they want it. Businesses need to keep up with – and even anticipate – what customers need.

The rapid changes of the past few months have amplified that. In this context, understanding data is key: it can tell us what progress we’re making, what we should be doing, and what customers expect.

But data only has value if it can drive actions that matter… and unfortunately, only 48% of decision makers use data to make their decisions (Forrester, 2019). That means a majority rely on their gut instinct, creating a huge disconnect between data and business actions and outcomes.

The goal of storytelling is to get people closer to the information they want – and provide recommendations for action. To highlight part of the problem, Cinny quoted data strategy consultant Brent Dykes:

“Many analysts and insights pros assume that the data we provide speaks for itself. It doesn’t. We bring data, facts, and measurements to our stakeholders, but what’s missing is the bridge from data to the emotional engagement that actually drives decisions. We drive that emotion through storytelling.”

Driving emotion through storytelling doesn’t just happen overnight, says Cinny – it takes practice. Insights experts can learn to build bridges between data and action using her repeatable storytelling framework:

  1. Define the business purpose.
    What are the action(s) you are working to drive? This step may need to be cyclical and requires a bird’s eye view of the business’s purpose.
  2. Analyze the audience’s frame of mind.
    Every audience member is always thinking “what’s in this for me?” and “why do I need to care?” With audiences now working from home, addressing those questions has become more important than ever.
  3. Structure and craft your story into three parts.
    First, set up your story. What problem are you solving? What is the insight and recommendation? Second, convince the audience. What are the insights you have about the problem, and why should they agree with your point of view? Third, agree on next steps. What needs to be done now, and by whom?
  4. Rehearse your story with colleagues.
    Colleagues can help you stick to your main messages and eliminate extraneous information.
  5. Prepare a “speed through” version of your full data story.
    Whittling your story down to a one-minute elevator pitch can bring out the best of what you’re trying to say, and will go over well with top executives who are pressed for time.

With the majority of teams now working remotely and face-to-face conversations few and far between, it’s more important than ever to deliver actionable stories that people will actually engage with.

Market Logic provides insights organizations with a digital platform for storytelling, with a clear line of sight to the business’s search behavior so they can anticipate the kinds of decisions stakeholders wants to make.

On top of this, the software is configured to suit the content and business needs of different target groups, so you’re always playing to a specific audience.

Visual templates provide easy-to-use design templates to structure your story in clearly defined chapters. Digital collaboration tools make it easy to draft story iterations and rehearse key points with colleagues. Search engine marketing for insights managers gives you the opportunity to describe and promote your story with a short and snappy elevator pitch.

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