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The Science of Storytelling


I attended a great event put on by MITX last week, The Science of Marketing: Using Data & Analytics for Winning. My biggest take-away was that the science means nothing without the art– nothing new in that statement, but I did learn more about why.

In this case, the art is storytelling. The storytelling begins internally. It punctuates the need and creates a sense of urgency to commit and take the action required to become a data-driven company. The storytelling around the data continues to shape internal business decisions and follows it outside the company to help create relevant marketing campaigns to grow your business.

The transformation to become a data-driven business is a tremendous undertaking, and according to the panel of experts from Panera, VisualIQ, T.Rowe Price, Mullen, iKnowtion, and Google, to name a few, this process takes years and comes with lots of stumbling blocks along the way.

The biggest obstacle is company culture. Change is really hard for most people, so when you attempt to change the thinking, processes, and habits of an entire organization, it takes strong executive alignment. As the anecdotes continued from the panel, it became clear that the only way to evolve to a data-driven business is to have respected, motivated executive sponsorship.

Business leaders are well aware of the potential competitive advantages of embracing big data and analytics, but many are still paralyzed by where to start and how to execute. How do you convince your well-seasoned executive team it’s time to make the jump and commit to becoming a data-driven business? Tell a story. Use relevant, focused, industry benchmarks, and existing internal data to make a case that supports the effort to improve a top business priority for the company.

The next obstacle the panel addressed concerns next steps: once the company commits to being a data-driven business, hires an analytics consulting firm or internal data scientists to do their black box magic, what happens? Often times, the management team does not like or believe the results delivered. As the analytics messenger, how do you convince them otherwise? Step back, focus on the most relevant and actionable data and…tell a story.

By Jeff Winsper

Jeff is the President of Black Ink and offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.

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