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Welcome to the era of data storytelling

24Aug Posted by Jonathan Jordan

In a complex and rapidly changing digital world, it has become increasingly challenging for businesses to connect with their stakeholders and establish meaningful relationships.

The task becomes greater still if you’re a specialist, business to business (B2B) organisation. How can you appeal to broader business? How can you influence your target audience, such as the c-suite, to act or behave in a certain way? How can you influence their perceptions?

The answer lies in ‘data storytelling.’ Many organisations that operate in the B2B space fall into complacency, thinking that (as a leader) in their particular field, their expert insight is enough. Finding the right data to bolster their story can seem like an unnecessary, time consuming effort.

When communicating to stakeholders either internally or externally, data must accompany a powerful story to do at least one of the following:

  1. 1. Raise the profile of your own industry in a broader business context

There are many ‘unsung’ industries out there that are vital to the success of business as a whole. Industries such as logistics, power management and insurance immediately come to mind, although there are countless others. Industries must be bolder in raising their own profile within the broader corporate ecosystem. What issues do they tackle? What disasters do they prevent? What value do they create and what would be the consequence of them not being there? If organisations can create powerful, data driven stories that convey this, c-suite senior audiences are much more likely to sit up and take note.

  1. 2. Challenge the general assumptions of the business media and use evidence to support your narrative

In a world that is overloaded with information, it’s vital sometimes to say or reveal something a little different. Particularly when engaging with the media, if you can demonstrate something that is contrary to expectations, you will have a much greater chance of obtaining coverage. When developing a story, consider whether this view point has been expressed before, and whether it goes against what has already been said on the matter.

In this case, having the right data is even more important, as controversial or new insights are often met with scepticism.

  1. 3. Move away entirely from the ‘industry silo’ and address a business or societal concern

While this is the opposite approach to point one, sometimes it’s important to move away entirely from the industry you operate and be ‘outward-looking’. For instance, if you’re an insurer, move away from ‘insurance’ and focus on ‘resilience’ or ‘bouncing back from disaster’. Equally, if you’re an electrical/power supply company, move downstream from ‘electricity’ and focus on how manufacturers can stay cost effective and competitive by cutting on costs and addressing broader environmental issues.

Thought leadership today requires compelling messages, coupled with revealing insights and robust data.  Only by building a narrative that uses insights to address the emotional, and data to support the rational, can you encourage audiences to engage with your story and make the right decisions.


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