Data is not the story. Nor is it marketing

Modern marketing is ever-more difficult to distinguish from data. But it is crucial that we put forth continued effort to separate them in order to best invest our resources. 

Here is my take on it.

Marketing is the story. Multiple stories, actually!

– The story about why and how you (the brand, product, team, individual, etc.) are different.

– The story about situations (buyers, clients, events, etc.) where your differences are particularly advantageous.

– The story about you values and how you life them every decision, every day.

– The story that other people tell their friends and neighbors about you.


Story is future-facing by nature. Its entire intent is to create a new reaction within humanity, regardless of how subtle it might be. Sometimes, it is based on a foundation of past experiences, but it is not at all necessary.

Yet, data is inextricably linked to your stories!

Data is a snapshot of history – albeit extremely recent history – about how people interact with stories across multiple mediums. It is not the story itself.

It can indicate how well stories are spreading… Where it is growing… Who is sharing… What aspects are resonating… What aspects need refining… Opportunities for new stories… How stories impact decision-making.

Because we have so much data easily available at minimal cost, it is easy to focus more attention on it rather than story. Doing this often leads to gamification of story – constantly testing new aspects of story to find the combination that mathematically should resonate with audiences. 

This approach often falls short of statistical expectations. It always winds up diluting the power and authenticity of your actual story over time. 

Get clarity on your foundational stories first. 

Connect with individuals and small groups. 

Let them help you share your stories with others.


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