Why you should focus on your story, not your data

“Storytelling without data is fluff. Data without storytelling is forgettable. Data with storytelling is epic.”

That digestible soundbite comes from Paul Petrone, Editor in Chief of the LinkedIn Learning blog.

In an interview with LinkedIn content marketing writer Alexandra Rynne, he says marketers should strive to tell authentic real-life stories rather than merely using data to back up a pre-conceived point of view.

“Data is great because it legitimises what you say, so it’s real news instead of #FakeNews. But, to bring that data to the next level, you need to combine it with a story. The marketing we’ve personally tested that combines both data and storytelling has been by far the most effective,” says Petrone.

A good way to use data in B2B campaigns is to humanise it by using real-world examples that bring the data to life.

Petrone shares the example of a content marketing series about the importance of getting referrals when hiring. The marketers had loads of data to back up their view, but rather than offer up a , they told real-world stories.

“They had all this data on why referrals were great. However, rather than hit people with all that data, they told stories of eight companies that had strong referral programs and how that helped transform those companies. They interviewed recruiters, who spoke authentically about how referrals not only make their lives easier but also foster more of a community by turning all employees into quasi-recruiters.

“To me, it was a great example of combining both data and storytelling to create brilliant marketing.”

However, it appears that #FakeNews works, sometimes.

Petrone tells how he was not allowed to watch the movie The Terminator because he was too young.

“I shared a room with my brother and, each night, he would tell me stories about The Terminator – most of which weren’t actually in the movie. He just made them up himself.

I loved it. All I wanted at that time was to get a Terminator action figure, so I could play with it and recreate my own stories.

“My brother marketed The Terminator better to me than any piece of data ever could. Today, I still remember those stories – and The Terminator remains one of my favourite movies.”

The takeaway: Ditch the focus on pure data strategies and invest in a great storyteller if you want to create memorable a brand.

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