Two Magic Words that Get the Attention of Executive Readers

Market Research
March 13, 2017

Our guest blogger today is Kathryn Korostoff of Research Rockstar. Research Rockstar is an organization committed to teaching research techniques and best practices through accessible, effective market research classes. Our professional training team has curated a set of our favorite classes just for Alchemer users. Today, Kathryn covers a quick, easy way to help executives better understand and act on your research data. Enjoy.

If you write quantitative market research reports intended for executive audiences, you know that one of the biggest challenges is grabbing–and keeping–the attention of busy speed-readers. I am sure you have tried different ways of presenting your findings to maximize your audience’s comprehension and their resulting urgency to act. But have you ever thought about harnessing the very real power of magic words?

In this context, when I talk about magic words, I’m not talking about hocus-pocus. Instead, magic words are those that pop up and grab an executive reader’s attention. These words do their job by amplifying the connection between your quantitative data and emphasizing how it can be used it to your reader’s business benefit.

I promised two magic words, so here they are: “opportunity” and “challenge.” These simple, magical words work wonders.

Consider these examples:

Highlight the Opportunity

This is the original sentence, unmagical sentence.

Survey participants responded positively to several of the tested offers, but “a 50% off helmet coupon” was the strongest predictor of membership renewal rates.

While the correlation between test offers and membership renewal should be compelling, the data isn’t presented well.

Now, try this sentence:

Acme Bikes has an opportunity to increase membership renewal rates by as much as 20% by bundling it with a 50% off helmet coupon.

Much better, right? By framing the results as an opportunity, your readers will take notice.

Identifying the Challenge

The second magic word is challenge. Let’s start with the unmagic sentence:

The perception that the Acme Membership program is “not as fun as hoped” is negatively impacting renewal rates; of the eight renewal deterrents tested, it was cited the most (and nearly universally).

And now, the magic version:

The top challenge that is depressing renewal rates is the nearly universal perception that the Acme Membership program is “not as fun as hoped.”

What do you think of the before and after versions? The before versions are not bad; they are likely accurate to our hypothetical data, and they are clear. But the after versions have the magic; these versions are easier for the busy executive reader to read, understand, and quickly make the decision to act. They also better lead readers to the necessary plans of action (or shall I say, “opportunities for action that address challenges?”).

By writing key statements with the words “opportunity” and “challenge”, you force yourself to frame your information in terms of business opportunity, rather than a dryer, data analyst style. Writing with business in mind is how you will grab your executive readers.

Kathryn Korostoff leads a team of 10 instructors at Research Rockstar, the market research training company. Follow/contact her at @ResearchRocks or



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