August 29, 2022

Read time: 5min

How storytelling with market research gives your teams an edge

Market Logic Team

If you use market research storytelling to deliver insights to your stakeholders, you’re not just delivering data. You’re delivering meaning. In fact, you’re delivering market insights at their best—compelling, contextualized knowledge about the market and customer your stakeholders can act on.

Simply put, storytelling helps your insights stick. Stakeholders will better recall and understand the significance of your insights enough to put them into action, increasing your organization’s overall market intelligence.

Low market intelligence in your organization adversely impacts decision quality and the effectiveness of your insights team.

Luckily, as an insights professional, you can leverage market research storytelling for business to communicate and anchor your hard-earned market insights in the minds of your stakeholders.

And that means two things for you as an insights professional:

  1. Your organization makes more impactful, quality decisions because they can remember and apply your insights.
  2. You have a bigger impact on your organization, and your insights team can claim more wins and gain greater support across the business.

Why is storytelling important?

Our brains are wired for stories. When we listen to narratives, our brains quickly and easily make sense of, understand, and remember information better than if it’s presented to us as a list of facts.

Why? Because stories employ emotion, novelty, and imagery. And that makes us feel and relate to a story in a way that a list of facts simply can’t do.

In fact, studies show our brain waves synchronize with the storyteller as we listen to their story. And it’s not just the language processing parts of our brains that start firing—our whole brain becomes engaged. Our brain mirrors the activity in the storyteller’s brain as if we’re actually there experiencing the events and emotions of the story.

And that’s powerful.

Because when we feel a story, we tend to understand and remember the information better—it leaves a lasting impression.

How does market research storytelling affect your stakeholders?

In 2022, one of the main challenges for insights teams has been to curate facts into compelling narratives, so organizations’ marketing and business units can make better, faster decisions.

Market research storytelling is a way ofsharing complex data with stakeholders in a people-friendly way. And perhaps most importantly, market research storytelling helps your stakeholders see your customer.

And that’s crucial. Because your stakeholders are busy decision makers. They’re time starved. Regular opportunities to hear directly from the customer experience can become infrequent, and that means your stakeholders can end up isolated from the customer and making decisions in a vacuum.

But when you use storytelling frameworks to present your insights, you bring the customer to life for decision makers, so they can make customer-centric decisions that make an impact.

How do you weave storytelling into your market insights?

If the science tells us that vivid, emotional storytelling makes information stick, does that mean you have to craft a fantastic story around your insights?

Not exactly.

As an insights professional, fact is paramount, so the challenge for you is to convey the cold, hard (sometimes dry and complicated) facts of your insights using storytelling techniques that grab and hold stakeholders’ attention and anchor those insights in their memories so they’re usable.

Catherine Cote from Harvard Business School says, “Data storytelling is the ability to effectively communicate insights from a dataset using narratives and visualization.”

From a literary perspective, “narrative structure” or “storytelling frameworks” usually include a series of elements—setting, characters, plot, conflict, climax, and resolution.

But what does that look like from a business perspective?

Business storytelling specialist Shawn Callahan argues there are five ways to spot a business story:

  1. They start with a time marker or a place maker. This may sound like, “On Saturday…” or “In southern California…” or “In 2018…”
  2. They include a sequence of events that imply causality. In other words, “Event A happened, then event B happened, and as a result, event C happened.”)
  3. They have people in them—i.e., your characters. You’ll hear people’s names mentioned in a story. And if there’s a dialogue happening, then there’s a good chance you’re hearing a story, Callahan says.
  4. Stories always have something unanticipated happen. Callahan says “a story is a promise to the listener that they will learn something new … something that is at least a little unexpected.”
  5. A business story has a business point. Callahan says this is the key to what makes a business story a business story—it has a “business point.” From a market insights perspective, your business point could be something like, “Gen Z cares about inclusivity and sustainability, so we recommend changes to this product to reflect those values.”
Is there any way you can use the above five elements to craft a more compelling story about your insights?

In case you’re looking for a little more inspiration for your market research storytelling, here are three ways you can use research storytelling to make your insights more memorable:

  1. Make the research process the story. If it’s interesting and it helps your stakeholders appreciate your findings, highlight the sequence of events that brought you to your conclusion: Why did you ask your question? How did you find your answers? Were there any tensions or conflicts along the way?
  2. Use anecdotes and vivid examples to ground statistics and make them more exciting and relatable.
  3. Use the voice of the customer—literally, video and quotes from your customer—so your stakeholders can see and hear the characters in your story.

To recap: Stakeholders remember stories, not data

When you’re presenting research to your stakeholders, don’t jump straight into listing the facts.

Facts and statistics are important, but when you list them without an attention-grabbing context, that’s a surefire way for your stakeholders overlook the important message you’re trying to convey about the market.

Use narratives to develop a compelling story about your market positioning, use cases, buyer personas and more. Soon, as your marketing and business colleagues start to use more of your findings, your insights become more influential.

Ultimately, when empower your stakeholders with memorable stories, you improve your organization’s market intelligence and allow faster, better business decisions to be made.

Market Logic is the only insights platform that provides collaborative workspaces for storytelling. Our innovative Knowledge Zones allow your insights teams to build beautifully structured content pieces that optimized for readability and shareable directly to your marketing and business colleagues.

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