Did you recently fund a customer survey? Or hire a firm to do primary research related to trending issues in your industry? Chances are, you’re looking at a plethora of data compiled into Excel spreadsheets, or summarized in charts, graphs, tables, and scores of PowerPoint slides. Yes, the data’s there—but it’s difficult to decipher and use toward any end goal.
Here are three tips for turning data into compelling marketing collateral:
- Highlight key findings. This is the most difficult and strategic part of the process. Don’t assume that all readers will come to the same conclusions after reviewing the data. Instead, lead the reader to the conclusions you want to highlight. Ideally, you identify three to four key insights—any more than that might get lost in the report. You can structure more-detailed inferences under each key finding, but organize the findings so that the reader can easily determine key takeaways in each area. List the findings in the most intuitive order. To get the most out of your data, make sure your findings are MECE—mutually exclusive (they don’t overlap) and collectively exhaustive (they cover the whole data set).
- Add credibility with statistics. Map the data to each key finding to lend credibility to your report. Make sure to properly reference and footnote the survey—readers will want to know the basics about the survey or data: Who was surveyed and how, when, and where the survey was conducted. You can use more than one chart or graph to support each finding. Make sure each chart headline tells a story. Instead of “Frequency of Marketing Spend Review” try “High-Performing Marketing Organizations Review Spend Monthly.”
- Design matters. Make the report look fabulous. Skip the Excel charts that a middle-school child could make with a chart wizard. Instead, using brand-appropriate colors and other stylistic elements, design an interesting layout that makes the content shine. It’s important to sweat the details. Consider a horizontal versus vertical orientation. Remove superfluous items from charts—excess grid lines and labels can detract from the main point. And choose the right style of chart or graph for the data—Say it With Charts does a great job of showing how this is done. (Of course, you could outsource the job to experts like the Content Bureau and take away all the pain in one fell swoop.)
The ultimate goal is to communicate your information quickly and clearly. That requires the ability to distill data, research, and survey results down into key findings, support those findings with data, and then present the findings in a beautiful layout. Contact us to learn more about the unique nature of content distillation.