Data is essential to and inextricably involved in marketing. It informs every step of the marketing journey, from the development of strategy to the execution of creative, from media spending to social geotargeting. It’s quite impossible to overstate the importance of data.
So please forgive my bluntness, because there’s no gentle way to drop this bomb: Data is boring. Data is a yawnfest. Data is a saw cutting through a log that’s hovering above the head of a sleeping bulldog in a Warner Brother’s cartoon.
No child has ever said, “Mommy, will you read me some data?”
No grandparent has ever said, “Let me tell you some data from when I was your age.”
And no friend has ever said, “You won’t believe the data I have about that wedding I went to Saturday night.”
People want stories, not data.
All that data you collect is like ore you can mine for information. With careful analysis, it can reveal all kinds of gems in the form of truths about your audience’s likes, dislikes, interests, media consumption, spending habits, you name it.
Just be careful how you use those insights in your marketing efforts. Simply telling your audience what you know about them will not capture their interest or earn you a share of their time and attention. In fact, it might make them think you’re more than a little creepy.
But you can use boring, lifeless data to craft relevant stories. It tells you what people are doing or searching or reading, and you can use that knowledge to give your audience a story they can relate to. Show them how you’ve solved problems for others who are in their shoes. Demonstrate the relevance of your product or service in ways that make them believe you understand them, not in ways that make them wonder if you’re spying on them.
Stories will earn you more of the reactions you’re hoping for, like clicks, contacts, inquiries, requests, and forwards. Because people like stories. Stories engage us, educate us, and entertain us. They’re imaginative, creative, inspiring, and thought provoking. I could go on, but you get the point.
Boring old data, on the other hand, pretty much just sits there and accumulates. But it does have one redeeming quality: potential. Turning that potential into stories — which, in turn, become results — is entirely up to you.
John Beaupré, senior copywriter, has been writing advertising and marketing copy for more than 20 years and he’s still not done.