COMMCON: The Art of Storytelling and Science of Analytics


How many times have you said or heard, “I can’t do that; I’m just not creative?” The truth is that everyone is creative in their own way. Whether trying to find the fastest route to work, creating a lesson plan for 30 six-year old’s or how you dress every day, there is creativity in everything we do. 

When it comes to marketing and communicating to your audiences in an engaging way, learning to be a great storyteller is crucial. And you don’t have to be a “creative” to do it. So how do people like me, labeled as a “creative,” produce compelling and meaningful stories for our clients? We use data and science!

Before I dive into the formula for making a good story, you need to understand why data is necessary – it is the foundation that drives the story. In marketing, campaigns need to be grounded in relevant insights and data to connect with people and get them to take action. When developing the story, data is the inspiration and the guiding star. When writing stories, creatives use a simple formula just like scientists, novelists and Disney screenwriters.

Great stories or narratives include the same major components – characters, a problem, a story arch or conflict and a resolution. Here’s how I leverage this formula to create winning campaigns.

Define your characters. Characters are made up of two parts. In the marketing world, the first part of the character is the brand and/or company selling the product or service. It’s essential to identify what problem they are trying to solve. The second part is the target audience of that marketing campaign. Who are the people most likely to use the product or service? Who is most likely to take action?

Set up the problemThe most convincing problems are defined by research and data. Consider what statistics or data you can gather to understand and set the tone for the campaign. For example, in the banking industry 90% of Americans1 have a banking account, but don’t have much of a relationship with their bank. And further research shows that money has a dramatic and emotional impact on a person’s life. It’s the number one cause of divorce and stress – more than terrorism, health or employment.So, there is your problem: Money has an emotional and personal impact on our lives, but we don’t have relationships with the companies that we trust our money to.

Nail the story arch/conflictWhat or who is the key obstacle stopping the target audience of the campaign from reaching their goal? First, think of the villain in a movie. It could be a competitor, industry landscape, company’s perception or even human behavior and biases. For the banking example, human behavior is the key obstacle because we are innately irrational when it comes to decision-making, especially when it comes to money.

End with a Strong Resolution. How is your product/service going to help the target audience? This is the key driver in marketing – you need to give them a reason to care and want your product or service. This is where the creative assets come to life through different tactics and reach your audience. The more personal and relatable the marketing, the better the results. Key Bank took all their data and created the “what’s your dollar sign” campaign. They used highly personalized and relevant content that spoke to the audience on an individual level which allowed Key Bank to breach the sensitive topic of finances.  Check out the online tool that helped people understand their financial personality.

Developing a great story is not rocket science if you follow these key components and listen to the story the data is telling you.

To dive deeper into the art of storytelling and the science of analytics, join me on Friday, December 10 at noon PST for an interactive event. You’ll see firsthand how brands like Key Bank use this formula to create winning campaigns and participate in a fun workshop!

1What’s your dollar sign? How Key Bank got personal with content. A case study. 2020

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