The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.

Mary Catherine Bateson

One of my favorite business quotes in recent years comes from Jonah Berger in his book…

Contagious: Why Things Catch On  (Simon & Schuster, 2013):
“ People don’t think in terms of information.   They think in terms of narratives.   But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”   Encapsulated within those words is much of the reason “story-telling” has become such a big part of the marketing research and analytics function in recent years.

With the incredible amount of readily available data that is coming at us from so many different directions, it would be easy to get bogged down; to get so lost in the numbers that you can’t see the forest for the trees.   It isn’t just the sheer volume, but also the specificity of the data… it can be mind numbing at times! Not only are there trees, but there are Pine trees and Oak trees.   And not just Pines, but Loblolly, Virginia and Eastern White… all variations of the Pine! OK, you get the idea.   I’ll stop the metaphor before it gets too far out of hand, (although, my nephew the Forestry Researcher would probably like it to continue!)

This data deluge results in a critical need for those who can wade through all of this data, assimilate it and put together a cogent story that leads to smart, informed and difference-making business decisions.   In the telling of the story, the information truly does, “come along for the ride” as Berger states.   The story still must have supporting evidence – the underlying data – for it to be not only believable, but to be accepted as “truth” and thus acted upon.   A story for story’s sake does nothing to advance a client’s business.   It needs to speak to their problem at hand and help guide them to solutions – actions to take to improve whatever situation in which they find themselves.

Fortunately, within the halls of Marketing Workshop, we are blessed with people who understand this.   We continue to learn, hone our skills and perfect our story-telling.   This is all part of the “I” in ResearchWISE

– Imagination.   To think beyond the data. To ask questions like, “What would have to be true for…”   These are the things that bring life to the onslaught of data.   I guess you could say it’s the ability to take the 0’s and 1’s and turn them into your ABC’s.   And the best part? It’s fun! At least those of us that do it think it to be so.   And for that, we know our clients are grateful.


~ Bud Sanders