5 ways to turn statistics into stories

In 2018, estate agencies (including online) are all fighting for the same chip in an over saturated market.

Remember to make it real, that context is king, it's all in the details, find the nugget, and good data does not have an asterisk.

You could stop reading now, they’re the five ways. But if you’ve got 4 more minutes to learn, we’ll go into a bit more detail.

Big data means we (and you, hallowed Homesearch user) have the ability to track almost everything. With all this information at hand, I’m reminded of Einstein’s old adage, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

So many stats, so few stories.

Turning data into stories and insights is one of my favorite parts of working here at Homesearch. I pretty much only told stories about my past experiences when I was selling, I pretty much only tell stories when I’m coaching now and with Homesearch at my fingertips, I can find a story for almost any market in the UK.

I recently gave a talk on this topic for one of my clients. I’ve delivered this talk as a workshop, as a half-day training, and as a straight presentation - and I’ve been lucky to always have had good feedback. So this week I’ve reworked it as a column for you guys (you’re welcome... I hope).

Here are five rules for turning data into insights and stories:

  1. Make it real.

    Back when I was selling houses in Australia, I’d struggle to explain just how well an open home had gone for one of my sellers, who was a developer based in Sydney. We’d had over 140 people through in just under 30 minutes. It was huge. To help my sellers understand the scale of just how many people popped through, I compared it to some numbers they were familiar with:

    • It was four and a half full school classes
    • There were more people in that open home that we’d met in the last month.
    • A good real estate campaign needs roughly 80 people through the door to know you’ll get a great offer. We’d nearly doubled that in a half an hour!

    Give your audience something concrete and familiar to think about when you’re explaining new or abstract concepts. If you’re talking about the population of your area, relate it back to how many Titanics worth of people that would be (1 Titanic = 2,223 people but it’s maximum capactiy was 3,547 - thank you google)

  2. Context is king.

    In property (especially here at Homesearch HQ), we deal with huge numbers every day. To turn data into stories, you not only have to make them real – you also need to give your data context.

    For example, “We have 24,000 people living in our postcode” is a stat. A big stat, but a stat just the same. “24,000 people, up from 19,000 last year, with 70 of the new people being owner occupiers” is a story that shows your market is on the move.

    Give your audience enough context to understand why they should care about the data you’re sharing.

  3. It’s all in the details.

    Think about your favorite authors. When you read their books, you probably feel like you’re part of the world they’ve created. You probably feel like you “know” their characters. Marketers (and good agents) are storytellers, too. And good storytelling is all about the details.

    So, if you’re doing a case study about a sale or let that you’re super proud of, don’t just tell me that a client used your agency and sold or let it in a week. Instead, tell me about the marketing you used, and how you picked that strategy, how the data worked in your and your clients favour. Tell me where you were when you the great offer came in. How you handled it. Tell me what sparked the buyers interest in the first place (chances are someone else might think along the same lines, no?). Tell me what the client said – the actual words they used – when they saw the results. And tell me what you learned from the experience.

  4. Find the nugget.

    Every good journalist knows you need a strong lede – one anecdote that encapsulates the entire story you’re trying to tell. If you’re telling your story on a letter of a flyer, it might be the chance you get!

    “Only the dog wasn’t happy” is one of the best lines I’ve ever seen. A young family, moving to something bigger to cater for their two children (and the dog!), had put their beloved dog into a kennel while they sold - they didn’t want her to damage the new carpet for the new buyers.

    The power of a great lede in your story is the emotional connection and engagement it fosters. If I told you how much they got for that sale (I can’t even remember, but I remember the dog)– the traditional measure of “engagement” – you’d probably be impressed…then promptly forget it. But I bet you’ll remember the dog tomorrow.

  5. No asterisks.

    Strong data equals strong stories. Your insights should be sourced, easily found, and replicable. Good data does not have an asterisk explaining that the stat was a one-day high, an all-time record or coming from a sample size of seven. So look for the big, brag-worthy numbers, but make sure they’re representative and honest.

    Forward-thinking agents are recognising the need to transform data into strategic insights and are making those insights more accessible, understandable, and relevant for their markets.

    How do you turn statistics into stories?