It’s no surprise that one encounters many veteran journalists in the marketing world: clear and compelling storytelling is invaluable to a brand. But storytelling isn’t the only journalistic skill that augments a marketer’s toolkit. According to Rick Kupchella, a longtime investigative reporter turned brand communicator, marketing leaders can supercharge their efforts with “journalistic research.”

Journalistic research yields a whole new level and depth of audience intelligence than conventional market research. It’s not about focus groups, or surveying users, or in any way asking people to answer questions about their behavior. It’s an investigation: but instead of studying what audiences say, it’s studying what audiences do. In which social and digital spaces do they seek out information, and when do they go there? With this kind of intel, companies can engage with their key audiences more reliably and efficaciously than ever before.

Instead of accepting the facts delivered to them by their clients, agencies should be examining each of them carefully. They should dive deep into data, segmenting it and analyzing it. Sometimes, this will challenge a company’s tried-and-true marketing efforts.

Some of the better-known services out there that provide this sort of intel are Sprinklr, Brandwatch, and Affinio. They can show you where audiences cluster and precisely what types of content they’re most likely to share. This can help form a channel strategy as well as the messaging to deploy.

“Journalistic research is not likely to send a brand in a whole new direction,” Kupchella wrote in Forbes. “It’s more likely to increase understanding. It’s about learning what else is true. It informs the audience approach in a more multidimensional way.”

Why This Matters

For a company to break through and earn attention, it must be sure it knows not just who its key audiences are but where they are—and meet them there. Based on their experiences in the retail and commercial worlds, customers are quickly learning to expect this from brands, and health care is no exception.

“We are starting with the audience over all else,” wrote Kupchella. “And we’ve seen this approach lead to a stronger business strategy itself. It measurably changes hearts and minds and drives conversion.”

About the Author:

Ben helps spark innovative healthcare thinking as Associate Director of Innovation. Previously on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, he brings experience in engaging, rigorous storytelling to the healthcare world. Ben’s goals are to move brands to rethink their roles, own their evolving narratives, and maintain vital and vigorous consumer relationships.