Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Why data beats preference-based opinion every time in content marketing


January 24, 2017


I don’t mind having and giving my opinion at all. In fact, I do that quite frequently. But opinion without fact or something to back it up is useless most of the time. What makes one opinion right over another? It’s really the facts behind it. Now, of course, there can be different versions of the same story (aka perception), but many things are backed by data, including in healthcare, productivity and also digital marketing.

This hit home when I was talking with somebody about their digital marketing efforts and made a recommendation. We kept talking about it and at one point they said:

“But you don’t like if we do that.”

I responded: “It’s not that I don’t like it, but I know that it doesn’t work.”

For example, there are all kinds of things that I don’t like, but I know that work. For example:

  • Some especially annoying ad tactics
  • Popups
  • (Floating) social media share buttons on the left

And the list goes on and on.

It can be a balancing act, too. Doing something that is against our own likes but that works.

But really, it comes down to how we know something shouldn’t be an option. Personal preference is okay for things in my personal life. I prefer to sit on this side of the couch over that side, but that’s different. Obviously. In digital marketing, we are trying to accomplish a goal, so that’s why it’s important to review results, learn and adjust.

An example you might be familiar with:

We have to change a graphic/website/whatever because the boss doesn’t like it. 

And why doesn’t the boss like it?

Who knows. He didn’t tell us. He doesn’t have to. He’s the boss. What year is this? Ha.

Not liking something is really not a reason to not produce something for a specific audience.

Our own personal preference might not even be our actual audience’s preference.

So when somebody says, “It needs to change because I don’t like it.”

Gently ask, “Can you tell me more?”

First impressions can be very helpful, and personal preferences aren’t going away – because, well, they are our preferences.  But we should remember that personal likes or dislikes of something might not reflect what will work best for a specific audience.

Certainly, some audience-centric decisions are educated guesses. Even when we have data they can be. But at the very least, when we put the audience first and verbally discuss what might be best for the audience, we are trying to be audience-centric versus organization-centric.

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Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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