Get to know your audience

October 19, 2010

I have done so many polls (by mail, telephone and web), focus groups and face-to-face interviews during the years. It is still fascinating how much more you understand your audience when doing so. How does their situation look like and where do your products or services match their needs? Listen and adjust!

One person who really has done a LOT of listening is Dr. Frank I. Luntz, author of the book “What Americans really want… Really”. During a decade of face-to-face interviews with more than 25,000 Americans and telephone polls with one million more, Luntz disassembles the preconceived notions Americans have about one another and tell us what they wants… really.

It’s about what words to use in order to get impact, what habits they have and what products they like – and how different we all think we are compared to an average person… We all like to be special, right? Dr. Luntz goes through all different aspects of life, from family life and religion to politics and working habits. He concludes it all in nine “public needs” based on what Americans really need right now.

One of the public needs (#4)  is about rebuilding the mutual commitment between employer and employee. Apparently too many Americans are unhappy about their current jobs. They need more satisfaction, more fulfillment and more excitement from their jobs. Dr. Luntz suggest a “Employer-Employee Bill of Rights” that is signed by both parties and that includes the following three commitments:

  1. A commitment to speak and a commitment to listen. It has to be regularly scheduled two-way “listening sessions”, “town-halls” or “open forums”; time has to be reserved for everyone to speak, respond and learn.
  2. A commitment to provide genuine work-life choices.
  3. A commitment to predictability about working hours and expectations of the job.

Wise words indeed, but I am happy to say that we have already come a long way with these issues in Sweden – maybe too long even? We communicate before, during and after decisions/actions in person and by a variety of channels, we meet about carrier talk and work-life choices every 6 months. And still we are not satisfied… Well, at least I think that the Swedish leadership and communications style could be helpful in American business. And we can bring a lot back to Europe, especially the action focused mentality.

American or not American – you should all try to read this book in order to get to know a bit more about the people living here. I promise you there will be at least something that you can bring back to improve your business.