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.


BP’s lack of communication

June 3, 2010

During a crisis it’s more  important than ever to be open with what exactly how you take charge over the situation. In all the communication you have to show:

1) that you are in charge: you have analyzed the situation and know what is really going on,

2) feelings: that you care for those who are affected and

3) actions: that you are doing everything you can to solve the situation and the suffering, list the plan, all the activities and the results over and over again.

Well, BP has failed in so many ways. Not being able to show that they have control (1); what really happened and who is and will be responsible, how much oil that is really pouring out every minute and how to solve the situation.

They say they care (2), but they also say that the oil spill wont have any long-term impact on the environment, that they take care of the families of the victims but at the same time having lawyers trying to minimize the payments.

And over and over we get reports via media that they cannot see any major amount of people trying to stop the oil from reaching the shores (3) and outrage from the local people when trying to get some real help and very seldom any comments from BP at all.

Too little, too late is what we think – even if BP probably have done a lot that they haven’t had any credit for. BP has no trustworthiness anymore and this can cost them their future.

Now it’s the time to step up, get out in the local community and meet the people who are so upset. Try to work it out together with them – the objective is to get the local community spokespersons to say that they actually think BP is doing all they can do. In that process they can start to re-build their credibility again.