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The story of data: use it to win

Dan Sands

April 08, 2019

Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a voice,” Stephen Few, technology innovator.

You have one story. You tell it to kids differently to how you tell it to your colleagues. And you tell it differently to your family too. Why is that? It’s simple; data. It’s because you’ve used the oldest advice given to a story teller; know your audience.
“Data is the new oil,” Clive Humby, data science innovator.
And in the same way, B2B buyers have the same expectations as kids, colleagues and family: they want to be engaged by a story that resonates with them told by a business who understands them. More than ever, those expectations are growing and becoming more and more demanding. Amongst all the noise and the clutter we all expect someone to tell a story directly to us that adds value throughout the entire purchasing journey; raising our desire, engaging our curiosity, earning both influence and preference.

Know your audience
It’s not just a case of passing understanding and general awareness of your target audience that you  need. You have to really know them. Data is key. You need to utilise data in all forms to better understand your customers and prospects. By working the data you can assess, discover and identify their needs, add value, earn trust and, to meet the key objective, close business.
“Data, I think, is one of the most powerful mechanisms for telling stories. I take a huge pile of data and I try to get it to tell stories,” Steven Levitt, Co-author of Freakonomics.
Historically, B2B marketers have been able to hang on to traditional, gut fuelled ways of marketing because, they argued, they already knew what they needed to know about their customers, and their customers didn’t expect any more. That position is being fast eroded from both sides, B2B customers see highly relevant, personalised experiences in every other aspect of their lives, at the same time data is available to support much more relevant and even valuable  engagements with prospects and customers. Engagement and trust built up in the buying journey is one of the last advantages a business can hope to utilise. So why, in a world where so many other potential advantages are diminished by the buyers access to information, are so many B2B brands generally behind consumer brands when it comes to generating value and building stories from data?

The data difference
We help our customers to access and utilise firmographic, behavioural and social data to understand what their customers are researching, showing interest in and indicating preference for; they discover what customer needs they can fulfill. Combining the potent and compelling strengths of data with crafted content they’re able to achieve significant engagement.
“Data are just summaries of thousands of stories – tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful,” Chip & Dan Heath, authors of “Made to stick”.
By optimising a clear customer-focused data strategy, they can be a lot more precise in engaging with the right prospects. They can also be confident that they’re proactively engaging with resonant content at the right time, with the right message, in the right story. The outcome of this focused targeting is that they drive greater engagement with a broader set of stakeholders and beat their competitors. All because they demonstrated a much better grasp of their customers needs.

How do you win with data?
Our client’s success was a result of good preparation. They understood what they wanted to get out of data analysis.
“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a voice,” Stephen Few, technology innovator.
Before looking at the data you need to:

  1. lay out your biggest challenges and objectives
  2. identify what questions need answering
  3. decide what changes need to be made
  4. establish how you measure the business impact of the data project (tangible and real values)
  5. agree a form of delivery for the data (dashboard, spreadsheets etc)
  6. define the actions to be taken as a result of the data work

With just a few clear objectives, brands can see if they hold the data they need, if they can generate it or if they need to acquire it. This ‘business needs’-based approach helps to focus objectives and avoid the pitfalls of running a data project that only generates more questions.

Turn your data into meaningful engagement
We deliver data-based insights at an account level to enable data driven engagement for our customers. Whether we’re working on Account Based Marketing or Deal Based Marketing, technology and data as well as human and crafted storytelling is at the centre of what we do. If you would like to explore how data and insight could transform your business, contact us now.

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