Which Message Matters?

Tuesday, May 9 2017 Jeff Marshall EVP, Customer Solutions Categories:

Using narrative analytics to uncover the most powerful stories in new or changing markets


In the enterprise world, there’s little as exciting as a new market. The possibilities for growth, higher influence, and diversified customers are irresistible. The flip side, of course, is that the company making this bold new foray is operating with complete unknowns. For marketing strategy, that means potentially pouring a lot of money into campaigns that don’t resonate with the new set of buyers.


Marketing a product into a new field is somewhat like the corporate equivalent of attending The Antiques Roadshow: there could be hundreds of assets, but only a few drive million-dollar payouts. Companies need as much information as possible to determine which messages will strike the right chord. This is where Narrative Analytics come into play.


Several years ago, a major Silicon Valley tech company approached us with a request. It was ready to enter the hot new cloud market, and the marketing team had created a multi-pronged strategy to establish the new line of products. They wanted to use Narrative Analytics to know how each of those messages was likely to be received. The intention was to lead with one specific angle and then weave supporting messages around it. The focal argument: hybrid cloud is the way of the future.


We undertook a six-month study into the space. In that time, we analyzed a quarter million Narrative rich data points and generated a comprehensive portrait of the space. We did find excitement and enthusiasm around the concept of hybrid cloud, but we also found something much bigger: a narrative that we called “security insecurity.”


Businesses wanted to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing, but they were nervous–very nervous–about compromising the sanctity of their data. This concern was a major impediment for IT decision makers choosing whether or not to switch to cloud, and which solutions to use. It just so happened that the company in question had a secondary campaign focused on its product’s security. According to the data, the solution was clear: shift the marketing focus to address the security concern. Narrative Analytics helped our customer avoid a near miss, one potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.


The marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Even in established industries, priorities might shift or new developments might open an entirely new system of beliefs amongst buyers. In emerging fields, there is even less certainty. With Narrative Analytics, businesses can anticipate reception before they invest fully in a message, seizing upon opportunities that might have otherwise been missed and avoiding faux pas (like, for example, using a mock protest to sell soft drinks.)