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Not for profit communications, youth marketing

Trust your gut – even after you’ve gorged on data

Feeling like you’ve OD’d on data? Lost track of your own radar to discern the gold from the dirt?

As primarily a ‘right brain’ creative type working in communications I’ve come to accept the wisdom that good data can bring to authentic decision-making and story-telling.

I like a good chart or a pie graph that shows whether we’re hitting the mark with our communications.

But I reckon as communicators we need to trust our instincts more once we’ve reviewed the available evidence.

We need to get out of the left-brain and operate more from our right, where we are really more at home and where we have honed our finest crafts.

Even when everyone around you might be banging on about ‘the data’ and staring at graphs as if they’re the final coming.

Throw in a question about how the data makes people feel.

Probably uncomfortable, irritated, frustrated or even dismissive.

Which they may not even be able to articulate but will possibly reveal through their behaviour with a curt response, or no response (a response in itself!).

But stick with it.

Try bringing the language of feelings back into the boardroom.

For example the data might be telling you it makes good business sense to cut costs by cutting staff.

If however people could get to the heart of how that made them feel – and more importantly how those who would be impacted might feel – maybe a more creative solution could be found.

Maybe even from the very staff in the firing line.

How good might such an outcome make everyone feel? How good might that ultimately be for your business?

Jane Caro, well known copyrighter and Gruen Transfer panellist, has seen too many researchers lost in data and absolutely unable to connect with the most important person in all communications – the receiver.

She told a group of ‘youth marketers and communicators’ at a Sydney forum on Marketing and Communicating with Today’s Youth:

‘We have to stop thinking so much and feel more.”

‘All purchasing decisions are made emotionally not rationally. From the guts.’

It was so refreshing to hear a presentation without any data or PowerPoint to back her up – just a passionate and authentic speaker with one clever exercise in her tool kit.

She got her audience to list as many life experiences as we could from the big to the banal then a list of feelings we might feel in response.

At the end everyone admitted to feeling most if not all of the pages and pages of possible feelings.

Jane says there’s almost always a 100% response to this exercise.

‘What we all have in common is the emotional response to our life experiences,’ she said.

‘If you get the emotion right in your communications everyone will connect.’

So, what do you think about the need to trust our instincts and feelings more as communicators?

Or I should say – what do you feel?

About Di from the Y

Dianne McDonald is Executive Manager of Communications with YMCA Australia, and a parent of two primary school aged children, one with additional needs (Asperger Syndrome). She has a strong interest in sharing life's learnings with others.


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