As Election Day approached, the opponents of California's Proposition 8 were exulting. polls showed the ballot initiative was heading for a significant defeat. The champagne was put on ice for the celebration as gay marriage would not be allowed in the nations largest and most liberal state. The morning after it was confirmed. Prop. 8 had passed. The opponents were aghast. How could that have happened?
Very simply, the polls were wrong. In fact, according to studies over the past 15 years, polls are the worst form of understanding popular opinion, either for political of commercial purposes. The studies show that human beings generally don't know what they really want or think at any given moment, Yet organizations continue to rely on them to make decisions on marketing. So if accepted market research doesn’t work, how can a company or organization make those decisions?
It's not that difficult, actually. First you build their trust, and then you ask if you can hang around them for a while, watch what they do and then make a few suggestions regarding how they might make what they do easier. This is the essence of social media. And it works. But it takes work and getting out of your comfort zone regarding controlling the market conversation.
How do you build trust? According to Brian Solis in What’s the Future of Business it’s in the shared experience between you and your audience. “What the hell does that mean?” I hear you scream. Simple: Open yourself to your audience. Tell a story that reveals something of your values and purpose, just as I opened with a story about and important issue of our day. That established a common ground for discussion and establishes a relationship. Then see how and if they respond. If you do it right, you’ll see results because you and your customer will arrive at success at the same time/
It is that simple. It is also very hard to do.
The problem for most organizations is that no one has been trained to tell stories. Most people are trained in other disciplines. Some might have an innate ability to communicate, but likely it hasn't been fostered... and there are other things to do. Moreover, most people don't really know what story will engage your audience.
That’s why I think journalists may yet have a career in front of them. It’s just not going to be where they thought they were going to be. It’s going to be in businesses either as freelancers or journalistic ombudsmen that work inside of companies. Those are the people that study how to create informative, engaging content. It’s not going to be the VP of engineering drafting a press release or a sales executive cranking out yet another brochure or a marketer hammering on a power point presentation.
Have you got a story to tell? At Footwasher Media, that’s all we do. Let us help. Contact us today.