We Remember Stories

We Remember Stories

Years ago, I learned a tough, but important, life lesson about what sticks with us.

I was working at a tech company with a CEO who was a harsh critic and difficult to appease, but who was also wickedly smart and usually spot-on with his analysis of a situation.  Our team was launching a new product, and we were putting the finishing touches on a board presentation for it. The CEO was present for our dry run, which we did in front of a small internal audience. I thought the presentation was great; we shared exhaustive market trend data, results from our focus groups, and some business case analysis we’d spent hundreds of hours putting together.

The next day, I was given the ominous task of going to the CEO for feedback. Before I could even say a word, he called in one of the observers who had seen the presentation the day before. He gave her a pen and asked her to write a one-sentence story of what she heard in our pitch.  She struggled for a minute but finally jotted down something generic and rather uninspiring. He thanked her and motioned her to the door.

When she left, he handed me the paper and said, “Isaac, is this the story you want your audience to remember?”

I glanced at the rather boring description of our presentation and said, “No, that’s not at all what we were trying to say.”

He advised me to rip the whole thing up and start over, leaving me with a piece of advice that has stayed with me through the years: the story your audience remembers the next day is the only thing that really matters.

The insights industry can learn a lot from my old boss. So much of what we focus on in our day-to-day research is about the process, the workflow, and the steps we take to collect data and customer feedback.

At 20|20, we’re re-focusing on what we believe the fundamental goal of research is really all about: giving our clients the right customer stories that help inform great business decisions. Whether it’s a simple ad and concept test or a not-so-simple customer journey, we remember stories. And memorable stories help us make smarter decisions.

To inspire ourselves and our clients, we’ve put together a short video that helps reinforce why we believe stories are such a critical part of defining the success of our research.

So here’s to great stories!  I hope we can uncover and tell them together.