Marketers: Here’s How to Uncover Hidden Narratives in Your Research Reports

You know that scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves first stares at the computer code with a confused look on his face (even more confused than he usually appears)? It’s the same look you’d get if you showed a stranger the raw data/findings from your latest research project. If you plan on leveraging your research for content marketing purposes — which all the great brands do —then you must be able to turn that data into digestible, compelling stories.

Note the emphasis on stories, as in plural. It’s relatively easy to craft a story on the high-level findings. But if this is the only story you tell, you’re missing an opportunity to further engage potential readers, as well as potential customers. So in this post, I’d like to offer some tips on how to extract interesting angles that might not be apparent at first glance.

Here’s what’s worked for me.

Marketers: Here’s How to Uncover Hidden Narratives in Your Research Reports

Look closely to pull out sub-stories in your research which can fuel additional chapters in your content story.

Tip 1: Look For Something to Debunk

Everyone starts a research project with at least some assumptions on what the data will show. Every time the results comes back, some of those assumptions are completely shattered. Your readers share these preconceived notions, and if your research can compel them to think differently about a particular topic, then you’ve found a narrative worth pursuing.


Let’s say you’ve conducted a study on the challenges faced by IT admins when it comes cyber security. You began the project assuming foreign hackers would be their biggest worry. However, your research actually shows that internal employees are considered to be the biggest threat. With that, you’ve just found a great myth to debunk, with hard data to back it up. This story can be pitched to journalists, and teased in numerous blog posts, whitepapers, and byline articles.

Tip 2: Connect to Current Trends

When it comes to content marketing, context is everything. You can summarize and share the most interesting research findings, but if your audience cannot relate to them, it’ll be hard for your content to stand out. One way to make your research findings more palatable to your audience is to connect them to current trends or news stories.


Imagine that your company – an advertising agency – has just concluded a study which explored the preferences of consumers in the 18 to 25 age demographic. Regardless of what the data showed, it could easily be connected to the macro trend of this group forgoing home ownership, having a tough time landing a full-time job, struggling with student load debt, etc. This is a trend your audience will be aware of, and one that can be used to frame and contextualize the story to make it more compelling.

Tip 3: Explore the Outliers

Data-minded people tend to dismiss outliers, and for good reason. But in the hands of a creative marketer, those data points—assuming they are not caused by error—can become a treasure cove of unique and fun storylines.


A sales enablement company has finished a study on the communication preferences of large vendors. Of the 1,000 survey completes, a whopping majority of respondents listed email and phone as the preferred method of communication. However, a small percentage respondents listed fax and snail-mail. However unusual, these findings could be woven into a series of posts on the pace of change when it comes to business communication, with that interesting outlier as the content hook. Something along the lines of “Did you know that 8% of industry respondents still prefer fax?”

When it comes to uncovering hidden narrative in your content marketing data reports, think in terms of multiple chapter or multiple books, not just 1 story.


The web is over-saturated with branded content, most of which offers very little insight and even less value. By publishing content derived from proprietary research, you instantly set your brand apart, rise above the noise, and establish a much higher level of credibility.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re sold on the concept of research-as-marketing. How effective you’ll make this tactic will depend on how well you’re able to extract compelling storylines from your findings. I hope this article has sparked a few new ideas.

What tips do you have for generating content topics from research? Please share your thoughts in the comment section, or fax them to us at 555…just kidding.

About the Author

Michael Brown is the CEO and Founder of, a content creation platform where the world’s best writers pitch your brand unique content ideas. To learn more, go to

Interested in conducting a market research study to fuel your content marketing and strategy? Contact Drive Research here.

Market Research Analysis