The Power of Storytelling at The Quirks Event

Sophie spoke at The Quirks Event with Premier Foods about our work to reposition Mr. Kipling and here she shares her thoughts on the inaugural conference and the key themes that transpired.

The Power of Storytelling at The Quirks Event

“A fantastic insight badly communicated sinks without a trace.
A mediocre insight well communicated catches like wildfire”

This idea, beautifully articulated by Lucy Davison from the agency ‘Keen as Mustard’ at last week’s Quirks conference, really struck a chord with me. It also summed up a key theme that emerged again and again in discussions throughout the two days of this brilliant conference, during its London debut.

In a world where insight teams are still fighting to get their voices heard, and to show the fundamental value of everything ‘insight’ represents, telling stories in a compelling, powerful and human way is absolutely vital.

A good insight doesn’t speak for itself.

Insight has the potential to inspire game-changing innovation. It can reinforce the human needs and desires that are the critical foundation of any successful product or service. However, if no one’s listening, it’s going nowhere – a good insight doesn’t speak for itself.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a great piece of work - packed with insights and ideas that a business is perfectly positioned to address - ending up gathering dust on a shelf.

Here are three ways to make people sit up and listen:

1. Explore a world beyond PowerPoint

As an avid podcast fan, I couldn’t miss the presentation by Casey Bernard at Nimble Modern Radio on how podcasts can offer an interesting, memorable and personal way to communicate insights. Through the medium of voice, you can convey insight and information direct from the mouths of the people who matter, from consumers to industry experts, with a one-minute exec summary to a longer deep dive.

There are so many ways that we experience storytelling in our day-to-day lives, outside of the office. Casey’s presentation gave me lots of food for thought about how we can tap into already established behaviours, such as the way we listen to podcasts to feed our curiosity and to shift us, on occasion, away from the incumbent ruler - the PowerPoint.

2. Tell the type of stories people want to hear

Lucy from Keen as Mustard was presenting alongside Begoña Fafian from Coca Cola. Together, they’d conducted ‘The Great Internal Communication Experiment’, exploring how to get more people to open emails from the insight team, and really engage with what they have to say. They ascertained that the most engaged group of stakeholders, wanting to soak up all the insight available, would be content with a rich and detailed deck. However, the next tier of stakeholders – the 400 individuals across 15 departments of Coca Cola who need just a dash of information to spark ideas and entice them to find out more – were completely put off by hefty attachments. They learned that highly visual emails, with short, sharp and to-the-point snapshots, told from the personal perspective of the colleagues who had done the exploration, were much more compelling.

3. Find human stories in the everyday

The third lesson was one that I myself shared, alongside Catherine Haigh from Premier Foods, at our presentation on ‘Mr. Kipling: A recipe for advertising success’. During the course of our work together, repositioning the Mr. Kipling brand, we’d turned to Instagram, to find some real human stories that could steer our evolving hypotheses in between phases of consumer research. A search of #mrkipling on Instagram showed us what people are proactively sharing about the brand completely unprompted.

The Power of Storytelling at The Quirks Event

Exploring the stories that people are telling with their captions, we could see that ‘a little thing that brings more enjoyment to the everyday’, our proposed positioning for Mr. Kipling, was spot on. This not only reinforced our hypothesis, but it also gave us powerful ammunition to bring the story to life for senior stakeholders across the business.

Following The Quirks Event, I was more inspired than ever to do justice to the incredible power of insight. Let’s tell the stories that put people and their needs at the heart of every organisation, tapping into why it all matters, and unlocking a future for our businesses that’s truly human-led.