A fatherless young man is bored with his life. An eccentric old man is really a powerful warrior. The arch villain is really the young man’s father. Rebels destroy a weapon.
With apologies to purists, these are facts in the Star Wars saga. But the facts do not add up to the saga, or even a single installment. Nor would they even if I listed every indisputable fact at play.
Why not? Because facts alone are not stories. Facts by themselves, stripped of context, color, and depth, cannot create the human connection and impact that turn passive viewers into a captivated audience.
Proof points are vital for reaching today’s IT decision makers and being heard above the din of marketing messages—on average 5,000 per day, according to some estimates. But you need something more. For your facts to be fully effective, your proof-point marketing needs three things:
- Robust methodology
Essential #1: Great Proof Points Deserve Great Stories
Facts work well as building blocks, but story is the mortar that holds them together. Story provides a context for the facts and transforms them from abstract bits to concrete, relatable information. For example, compare the following statements:
- Provision virtual machines 50 percent faster.
- Now, the work that used to take Andre all day is finished before lunchtime.
The first bullet is a lone proof point; the second adds story. You can see how much more impactful the fact is when surrounded by the context and color that story brings.
Essential #2: Relevance keeps readers reading
Numbers by themselves are abstract because they are removed from any context that would make them meaningful. You need to help your viewers see themselves in the numbers by making those numbers relevant and concrete through story. Studies show that readers remember longer and react more quickly to concrete words—those that produce a recognizable image—than to abstract words, and the same applies to your proof points:
- Abstract fact:1x performance improvement
- Concrete and relevant: Carla’s IT team now runs end-of-quarter (EOQ) reports in less than half the time.
Essential #3: Robust Methodology for Skeptical Readers
While story is essential, facts are a crucial part of the foundation. Your audience is a skeptical bunch, so your proof points must stand up to critical scrutiny. You will want to work with a vendor that understands this and follows a well-established protocol to produce facts. For example, facts should be well documented and repeatable. Your potential customers should be able to repeat the same tests and get close to the same results. When your proof points are based on comparisons between platforms or devices, those platforms or devices should be comparable; cage matches between version 1.0 and 4.0 are easily rejected as biased.
With story, relevance, and robust methodology, your proof points can become the powerful megaphones that they should be. These elements give context to facts, make them relatable, and bolster their credibility in the eyes of your potential customers. To see these three elements in action, check out some of our published proof-point research.
 SJ Insights. “New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures.” September 2014. https://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/.
 For a representative study, see “Context availability and the recall of abstract and concrete words.” Memory and Cognition, January 1992. Available https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225847240_Context_availability_and_the_recall_of_abstract_and_concrete_words