Why You Should Make this Year Data-driven

A data-driven approach is the best one to keep the sail of businesses afloat. Here's how businesses can target their focus-audience and tell alluring stories by using data

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In today's world, it would be fair to say that brands are expected to not just sell products and services but also play the role of psychoanalysts, trying to understand the psyche of their consumers and engage with them in a way a good friend does over a cuppa. This is where every business, no matter the niche or size, needs a brand story. An authentic brand story is fundamental for any business to really connect on a deeper level. Big conglomerates like Apple, Nestle, Facebook and others all have their own unique brand stories, which connect audiences globally.

A brand story is essentially a solution to a problem and your business is the avenue through which this solution will be presented to your target market. But how do you present your brand story in a way that really impacts and converts to sales? If you rehash the same information twice too much, consumers can be plagued by confusion and indecision which can hurt your business in the long run. For optimum engagement, the trick is to present data through compelling case studies.

Gathering data and mining key information from that data has never been easier with today's technological platforms and resources, especially with a large portion of them being free. However, data can still be gathered through one of the oldest means of empirical research. Create a simple survey and circulate to your customers and ask them to circulate to their friends, and then leverage off that material to create valuable content and stories for your target market.

Stories cannot be contorted into a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has different interests, needs, passions, hobbies, etc.

Here are four ways to start telling compelling stories with data:

Amplify your brand story

A brand story is essentially a solution to a market concern; finding a gap in the market and turning it into something productive and meaningful. A good way of finding a solution is by asking what are the biggest challenges faced by your consumers? Are they frustrated mums who do not have access to affordable ethical brands in the market? Are they frustrated single dads who need a community to share their concerns about being primary caregivers to their children? Whatever the concern is, once you have identified your brand story and your product or service is helping your audience fill a void, you can start gathering data and presenting case studies that tie back to your brand story.

Create relevance for your audience

Shareholders, investors or executives are no longer interested in pretty graphs and pie charts showing profits and losses. They want to understand the reason for the profits and how to minimize losses. The presentation to these stakeholders should itself be impactful and story-driven. Start with the basics when you are considering what kinds of data will help with your story-telling. Renowned gender intelligence expert, Rebecca Brideson, in her inaugural book, Blind Spots, talks about the kinds of data that can be collected to take a deep dive into your consumer market. "The four common ways of segmenting a market are behavioral, geographic, psychographic and demographic." Use data that is relevant to your audience and then draw from it to craft engaging stories. For instance, if you are a natural botanical dyer using organic plants and flowers to dye the clothing you make and sell, you could collect data to show how much water usage is involved and how the dye water is discarded to help nourish the surrounding land. Life feeds on life. This data could be used to craft a compelling story about how your business is committed to helping the environment and the people who buy your products, especially those that may have skin allergies.

Simplify the meaning

Chief digital officer of Coca-Cola, Samantha Mitchell, surprised many of the delegates who attended the Women in Technology conference at Gold Coast, Australia, in October 2018, when she shared how Coca-Cola had collected stockpiles of consumer data over the years and they are sitting un-mined because no resources have been allocated to simplify them. Mitchell indicated the possibility of partnering with fintech startups to uncover what all those data could bring to the company.

Don't provide complex sets of data to your consumers to chew on. Potential customers losing interest in what you are offering can be the worst move for your business. Present data in a way that excites and engages. Numbers can have an incredibly boring effect on people unless it is transformed into something thoughtful, meaningful and human.

Leverage the power and reach of social media

Many businesses have a Facebook account but the power of Instagram and its reach still remain relatively untapped and unexplored by many businesses. Instagram is no longer just a photo sharing app, although that was the foundation of the platform at one point. Together with Insta-worthy images, many businesses successfully use the platform to share endearing narratives about their brand. Each post allows a maximum of 2,200 written characters for captions, so you have plenty of productive space to narrate a story creatively. However, that does not mean that you have to write a thesis. Use the space meaningfully and ask whether what you wrote is something that you would engage with personally if another business wrote it.

Data-driven solutions help consumers glean how much impact their purchases are making and also establish a means for potential investors to understand how these metrics are used to measure social good. The sky is the limit when it comes to social media marketing. Many brands use short video clips to create a compelling story using the data they have.

You could create a documentary-style video on how your business creates impact, you could create a video about what your customers are saying about your brand, or you could structure a narrative about your manufacturing process and how it stays true to consumer transparency.