Greg Osenga, managing director, CRM and analytics practice, hawkeye Agency,
Jul 23, 2012
I recently had to talk about marketing analytics and how things are changing. I started with a large rock with cave painting images on it. Why? Because to me, it’s still about story telling and cave paintings reflect some of our earliest story telling. We tell stories to entertain and persuade people. We market to persuade people, to change behavior. We use analytics to determine the effectiveness of our story telling.
Today though, our stories are more complex. It’s not just one dimensional, one channel – not just charcoal on rock. Today we have a multitude of delivery channels in which to tell our story using numerous tactics and to deliver it differently to different people across multiple touch points. We are still telling our marketing and brand stories, just in richer, deeper and more compelling ways.
The role of analytics is to determine if we are telling our stories better and to suggest ways to make it even more effective. So, just as story telling has become more complex, so have our analytics. We need to consider the effectiveness and relationships across more mediums and more tactics that we use to tell our story.
That is why a critical capability of today’s data analyst is to be a great storyteller. It’s easy to regurgitate facts, but it takes something all together special to translate analytics into a story. Two key things for the analytical storyteller are simplification and visualization.
Simplification. It takes guts to simplify. It’s hard to simplify. As an analyst, you don’t turn that “corner“ until you can get to the point and answer the “so what?” question for your audience. Things I often ask to help craft better analytical story…
· What are the numbers telling you? Yes, I have the analysis in front of me, but before I look at it, what is all of this telling you? Just talk to me – no charts, no tables…
· What would you do as a result of your analysis if this were your company? What would you change or do differently? If you don’t know what to change, then why did you do the analysis in the first place?
· Write one paragraph about what you would do differently without using any numbers.
· “No school on Thursday”…Check out this great short example of simplification and a compelling head line….No School on Thursday!
Visualization. Critical to the storytelling analyst is visualization. Simplification leads to great, visual story telling. Visual stories are more memorable. Put all your tables in the appendix; tell your story richly using pictures and visually compelling charts and infographics. For a wonderful example of visualization and simplification, check out this video… 200 Countries and 200 Years.
Marketing analysts and statisticians are broadly available, but the truly remarkable ones tell a story, they simplify, they tell you what and why it matters to you and they do it in a visually compelling way. The value is in the story!
This post originally appeared in the "Thoughts" blog from hawkeye