“You may think you’re getting better, but you’re getting older,” one of my college journalism professors wrote on my paper he was grading years ago. It was a cruel twist on a classic campaign for hair color (Living Color’s "You're not getting older, you're getting better.")
He achieved his goal of snapping me out of complacency. After that I vowed to write more clearly, concisely and vividly. His cutting comment (but probably accurate) also inspired me to pay even more attention to world events and popular culture and find links between them and the business world.
During this historic 2008 political campaign, I was reminded how far politics and the business world have advanced in terms of using comprehensive research. Testing messages with key audiences is a given, especially in politics. (It should be non-negotiable in business, too.) This really is a case of better, not just older.
Can you imagine LBJ and Goldwater using their 1964 campaign slogans today?
Barry Goldwater campaigned for president with “In your heart you know he’s right.”
President Lyndon Johnson retorted with “In your gut, you know he’s a nut.”
Where was the data?
These days politicians, business people, and consumers are much savvier about the value of data. Plus it’s so much easier to collect data these days. Even LEAN communicators who need to work quickly with limited resources can easily use plug- and-play online surveys and old-fashioned hard copy feedback forms.
Some corporate communicators still resist measurement. They need to recognize what an invaluable tool it is for them and their leaders. Research is the best way to tell whether you’re breaking through the clutter and reaching your audiences. And then whether your audiences understand what you’re telling them and even more importantly, whether they care and are willing to act.
Furthermore, if you’ve designed your research right, it can do double duty and provide your leaders with useful insights to help them make business decisions. Or at least validate whether they’re on the right path with support in the trenches.
The heart and gut matter, but in data we trust. How do you trust data these days?