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Finding Common Ground Strategies

Finding Common Ground Strategies

By Dee Allsop, PhD.

Americans are hungry for more moderate voices and common-sense solutions built around our shared human priorities and common ground. The vast majority of American voices in a recent survey (75%) say we should “stop letting the people on the extreme ends of the issues dominate the discussion … and put more faith and emphasis on more moderate voices on each side of the issues to find common ground.”

It may be a reason President Elect Biden’s first address to the nation resonated so strongly…

“…let’s give each other a chance…To see each other again. To listen to each other again… And I believe that this is part of the mandate from the American people. They want us to cooperate.”

President Elect Joe Biden

As people—as humans—isn’t that what we all want? To be seen and to be heard. To be talking and working “with” rather than talked “around” or “against”. To be a part of the crafting of solutions rather than solutions being dictated to us. 

These new times require new research tools to guide branding and communication strategies that reflect this new public will. Tools that uncover not what divides us but the shared values that bring us together. 

At Heart+Mind Strategies we believe in people and the power of choice. Through our values framework we are finding ways to bridge our divides. And through unique proprietary tools like Triadic IlluminationTM we are employing innovative research methods that find the inspirational and motivational common ground.

Traditional research techniques can prove unproductive on sensitive issues where truth and insight fall victim to ideologies, social dynamics, political correctness and safe stereotypes. Triadic Illumination™ eliminates the unproductive social dynamics through the more personal experience of an intimate small group, online or in person 

Utilizing techniques and activities more often used in relationship therapy and counseling, Triadic Illumination™ creates an atmosphere of collaborative problem solving for some of life’s most challenging issues. We structure the discussion in a way that allows us to see and listen to each other as humans and to understand how we choose, react to, and defend differing points of view or stories and where we are able to agree or recognize merit and truth in each other’s views—which is the foundation of the common ground narrative and strategies we can create. 

We invite you to join us in pursuing the possibilities that lay ahead for you with these powerful tools made for these times.


About the Author

Dee Allsop is co-CEO and Managing Partner at Heart+Mind Strategies. Over his 40-year career, Dee has provided market positioning and communications strategies for some of the world’s largest companies and organizations. His broad expertise includes advertising strategy development, crisis communications, values-based marketing, ingredient branding, new product launches, brand line extensions, issues marketing, political campaigns, employee research, customer satisfaction, tracking studies, concept testing, brand essence research, brand critical standards, event marketing, sponsorship, logo and naming strategies, and corporate reputation.

Dee has received two David Ogilvy awards from the Advertising Research Foundation, recognizing his work in developing communications strategy.  In 2000, he was honored as “Pollster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants.

From 1986 to 1988, Dee directed the public opinion research program for the White House, including a regular program of tracking surveys, supplemented by event-driven brushfire studies.

Dee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and holds both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Political Science from The Ohio State University, where he was active in teaching, writing, and survey research. 

Changes and Choices: What is the Value and Importance of Associations During Uncertain Times?

By Mike Dabadie

Americans are continuing to experience high levels of stress and uncertainty despite positive news on the efficacy of a possible COVID vaccine. This stress extends beyond our homes and local communities where we live, to organizations where we work, including employees at private businesses, public service employees, and associations who fulfill a unique need of representing the value and importance of industries, members, and their own employees. 

Given today’s uncertainty, rapid changes, and growing consumer choices does it suggest the importance and value of associations has declined? The answer is no. In fact, the importance and value of associations has increased. But that is in the short-term and it is unclear how value is defined post-COVID. 

In a recent study among 1,000 members of associations and 400 employees who work for associations, key insights indicate opportunity areas for associations: 

  •  Just half said that the value of their association membership has increased since COVID-19, while the other half feel that the value has remained constant or declined.
  • 85% of members cited virtual meetings/conferences as a top driver of membership value, 65% said continuing education, and 33% put a high value on training, certifications, and credentialing. But many of these typical revenue-generating areas have been put on hold and organizational income has taken a hit.
  • While big, splashy annual events are great, what many members really want are more frequent and more intimate virtual gatherings. They want more opportunities to grow on a more ongoing basis. But how is this possible when the virtual model has not yet shown to fill the financial shortfalls caused by COVID?
  • Members are hungry for any help that will lead to increased revenue for their businesses or to new job opportunities for themselves, especially when organizations have downsized.

Member needs are changing, and Associations must adapt to the new choices they want to make to survive through the pandemic.  Now is the time for organizations to plan for emerging from the crisis; to understand how to lead through uncertainty and strengthen your association’s human connections with members and employees for the long haul.  

Engaging consumers, members, employees, and other stakeholders to understand their motivations, their choices, and decisions when they are at the crossroads of choosing what to do is our area of expertise and where we can play an impactful role.

Our value is to help you and your organization identify where to go next, anticipate consumer/member needs, prioritize your policies and programs, and realize a new return on experience.  Insights and strategic foresight provide you with an ability to sense, shape, and adapt to change. All of us want to navigate through uncertainty and our services give you the ability to do so while anticipating possible futures while still operating in the present.

Humans are at the center of your organization and they are at the center of our work. Every day, people are at the crossroads of making thousands of choices.  By bringing in observations, creativity, and planning in these uncertain times, Heart+Mind Strategies delivers certainty by elevating the importance of your organization’s value to members and employees.

Contact us at Heart+Mind to help you connect with your audience in this time of rapid, massive change.


About the Author

Mike Dabadie is co-CEO and Managing Partner at Heart+Mind Strategies. Mike has spent the past three decades using the disciplines of market research, brand strategy, reputation management, communications, and marketing to help clients meet their objectives.

Mike’s team leads all work with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and R&R Partners, securing a David Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation in recognition for Las Vegas’ successful brand positioning through the “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaigns. Along with R&R Partners, he is the co-creator of the Las Vegas IQ, a proprietary tool that optimizes the brand experience of Las Vegas as a destination.

An emerging trend is the use of online communities as a research platform and co-creation as a methodology. Mike leads Heart+Mind Strategies’ work in these fast-growing areas, launching the first and only online community of U.S. social science trend spotters.

Extracting Insights in a Shifting Online Reality

By Maury Giles

The 2020 pandemic has accelerated technology adoption and innovation in almost every facet of our personal and professional lives. While not every new tech experience lives up to its promise, this dynamic has opened meaningful new ways for people to interact. 

Importantly for our industry, the widespread shift online also opens new ways for us to connect with the human experience.

This trend led us to explore ways to use our Illumination Lab (iLab) tool and the Zoom platform to create a novel primary research experience online. The method enables deep exploration with a large group of consumers – 20 to 50 at a time – in a single session, immediately followed by smaller moderated breakout sessions probing more deeply on their earlier responses.

It is like doing 4-6 in person groups in a single night, but getting detailed responses from EVERY respondent. And it feels similar to doing a quant segmentation followed by a qualitative deep dive, all with many of they cherished dynamics of a 1:1 in-depth interview. And, again, all in one night!

This online, large scale segmented qual is a powerful insights tool that COVID dynamics have enabled. Nearly everyone now knows how to use Zoom with relative ease. The practice of toggling between multiple apps on your device is commonplace, even for older participants. As a result, the sessions are fun, interactive, and compelling for our clients.

This approach is perfect for testing concepts, messaging, white space, or innovation territories. It has also proven effective for issue, policy, or positioning exploration. You get to profile people through “survey” work, then immediately probe them for deeper understanding. 

The iLab lets you gauge individual reactions to stimuli, ideas, and/or themes via typewritten responses. Language matters. And it is captured realtime from each participant on the fly. 

The Zoom breakout sessions allow you to create custom segments based on how people respond to the iLab survey, rating, and/or open-ended probing questions from the first hour. The tool makes it easy, then, to facilitate smaller group discussions so you can close any gaps ion learning or clarify their documented answers from the first hour.

Ultimately, the technique takes advantage of a cultural trend driven by the pandemic. It yields actionable insights from emergent consumer segments. And it will arm you with human understanding to empower more effective decision-making.

Contact us at Heart+Mind to help you connect with your audience in this time of rapid, massive change.


About the Author

Maury Giles is the Chief Growth Officer at Heart+Mind Strategies. A story-teller at heart, Maury is a three-time David Ogilvy Award winner for his work at Wirthlin Worldwide, Omnicom’s GSD&M, and PURSUIT.

Post-Election Advocacy and Policy

By Andrew Cober

Business leaders, association heads and, yes, opinion researchers, were again confronted in 2020 with the stark reality that single quantitative metrics of attitudes and intended behaviors were insufficient for reliably understanding an issue or population. While the autopsy on 2020 Presidential polling will continue for some time, what is clear, even before pundits and pollsters render their verdict, is a need for more robust understanding of human decision making that serves to champion the human through the power of choice and action.

That robust understanding necessarily emanates from a deeper understanding of stakeholder audiences across the spectrum of your issue.  It’s this type of engagement across the issue ecosystem that Heart+Mind Strategies deployed in 2020 to help move the needle in tangible and meaningful ways on a pervasive issue that has become only more pronounced in the unsettled times of COVID-19—Chronic Fraud Victimization.  Researchers and advocates have sought tirelessly to understand the dynamics of victimization, helping victims and potential targets feel more informed, equipping them to confidently navigate the fraud landscape, and empowering them to stay one step ahead of scammers.  However, additional effort and new thinking was needed on how to best support the victims and families of chronic, repeat frauds and scams. By better understanding the drivers of chronic victimization.

In addressing this critical challenge, Heart+Mind Strategies teamed with AARP and The FINRA Foundation to bring together internal association experts, financial and fraud thought leaders with new, holistic, and human-centric perspectives on the dynamics of chronic fraud. We coupled their insights with in-depth research among those victimized by chronic fraud and their families.  Through online collaboration workshops and detailed one-on-one interviews to explore the journey through chronic fraud victimization, we then developed a behavior model that served to highlight opportunities for intervention that can serve to disrupt chronic fraud behaviors at key touchpoints.  Further, these interventions served to provide clear direction on both tactical and communication approaches for aligned associations and allies to actively engage in disrupting the channels that scammers use repeatedly to deploy their tactics.

These insights and directed actions simply would not have emerged through standard “polling” of key targets.  It required a broad methodology approach of “getting close” to relevant stakeholders, understanding the drivers that shape their perceptions and building a collaborative solution-oriented platform to disrupt the status quo.

Rumors of polling’s demise are likely exaggerated.  But the need to deploy a more robust lens to understanding stakeholder attitudes has never been more pronounced.


About the Author

Andrew Cober is a Senior Vice President and Partner at Heart+Mind Strategies. Andrew has leveraged 30 years experience in implementing quantitative methodologies, advanced analytics and qualitative moderation skills to develop customer satisfaction, brand positioning and strategic communications initiatives for clients at the local, state, national and international levels.

He has worked collaboratively to implement strategic communications research for industry and professional associations such as AARP, Society for Human Resource Management, and The US Travel Association among others. His corporate clients include Marriott International, ComEd, Western Digital as well as government clients such as NHTSA and Freddie Mac.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he was awarded the honor of outstanding graduating senior in Sociology.

Understanding Consumer Values to Create Relevant Communications

By Erin Norman

Persuade by Reason, Motivate through emotion.  This has been a key guiding principle of Heart+Mind Strategies message development since our founding in 2008. Reason and emotion are both critical components of resonating with a target audience. But identifying the right emotional appeal, and connecting it to a rational argument, can be tricky to get right. 

 Heart+Mind puts a key focus on studying human values, or the emotional criteria we use to determine the importance and purpose of our decisions. Values form in our early years and are stable, the enduring yardsticks by which people measure the worth and importance of things in their lives. Every individual holds a number of personal values, such as security, love, enjoyment, peace of mind, self-esteem, and others, that guide the decisions and choices they make.  

  • The personal value that guides one decision may be different from the value that guides a different decision or choice.  
  • The personal value that drives a decision for one person is often different from the personal value that drives the decision for another person regarding the same product, issue, candidate, etc.  
  • The personal value that drives a decision may also be a result of a positive outcome/benefit a person seeks or a consequence/ risk they hope to avoid. 

We help our clients identify the personal values driving their brand or issue to inform effective values-based communication strategies.  Understanding values can show us:

  • What is central to an individual’s decision-making process;
  • What has the most influence in a person’s life; and, most importantly;
  • Underlying motivations to actions and choices.

We used these techniques to unlock an audience we called The Vital Center for a non-profit think tank. The client wanted to understand what motivated this essential group which had bounced from Obama to Trump, and in some cases back again to Biden in 2020. Communications to the group had traditionally rested on the theory that political ideals motivated these shifts, though the specifics shifted over time. 

However, what we found by using our Values approach was that the Vital Center wasn’t motivated by political ideology at all or even by specific policies approaches. Instead, they seek practical solutions that deliver results to support their values of security, safety and long-term peace of mind. As they see one political party fail to deliver on policy that fulfills these emotional needs, they switch. 

 In this case, studying the specific policies of interest would have only provided half of the intel about why people prefer the options they do. By incorporating a values-based approach, our client now understands what underlying needs policy must address. 

Values endure. Even when most things in life shift or change, values remain solid anchors you can count on. Understanding these values is critical to unpacking and changing human behavior.


About the Author

Erin Norman is a Senior Solutions Consultant at Heart+Mind Strategies focusing on policy issues, advocacy and non-profit marketing. She has experience directing political and ballot initiative polling at the local, state and federal level. Her expertise includes values-based communications, crisis communications, message testing, micro-targeting and predictive analytics.

Erin holds a Master’s in Public Policy from The College of William and Mary, with a focus on econometrics and quantitative methods, and a B.S. in Business Administration from Boston University.

COVID-19: The Great Unveiler and Amplifier of Human Needs

By Katie Plocheck Hunt

Over the last seven months, we have seen a shortage of many things, but discussion around the impact of COVID-19, both on our current day-to-day lives and on the changes the virus is projected to have long-term, has not been one of them. And while we have a seemingly good handle on what those changes are today—a mass exodus out of the workplace and into our homes, the increasingly rapid digitization of our lives, and the decrease of social and institutional trust, for starters—how can we know which of these shifts will actually last and which are mere fleeting moments at a very specific arch of human history? We find ourselves, after all, in an intense age of precarity. And just as there is no shortage of discussion, there is likewise no shortage of change. The virus has been a great accelerator of underlying realities and trends that were already playing out, to a large extent. It has also laid bare existing human needs that were likely lying dormant, carrying on unmet, or at best, being fulfilled but not yet reaching their full potential. 

At Heart+Mind, we look at the impact of forces like the coronavirus through a three-pronged lens that places the human at the center of the experience. It is the human, we believe, and his or her decisions, that have lasting value in a marketplace full of choices. We understand how cultural forces and the marketplace act upon and affect human values, which give importance to the needs that brands, organizations, and products can address. In turn, we understand how the human experience drives the trajectory of these shifts. 

The coronavirus is, by many measures, in a league of its own. Not often does a singular force spin such a voracious web of far-reaching repercussions. From the collective to the individual; from the lofty plane of global political imagination to the daily task of creating a grocery list; the virus’s reach is agile, incisive, and indiscriminate.

But is it the virus itself that holds such acute power? As we sought to answer the question of which shifts might last and which will not, it was apparent that it is not about the singular—or even the collective—strength of a force that matters first and foremost, but the number and importance of the human needs it plays upon and activates. At first glance, it appears that those shifts having the most impact are those in which the coronavirus “joined”; to summarize the words of editorialist David Brooks, the virus hit like a hurricane in the middle of an earthquake—an intensifier of the ongoing upheaval of life as we know it. Indeed, we see great impact around rapid gentrification and a widening disparity between the rich and the poor, around social unrest amplifying movements like Black Lives Matter and an ever-growing populus mentality, and around an increased shift of brands—and the technologies they leverage—adapting to higher levels of digital demand. 

But, there is no less power behind newer, and more singular shifts occurring. Working and nesting from home (many with children in tow), a clamoring for basic resources on a mass scale, and a propulsion of new ways to self-entertain and find connectedness, are each direct outcomes of the virus’s brunt and have borne equal weight upon the human reality. 

At the center of all of these trends and shifts are core human needs and values giving the virus and its accompanying forces velocity. In short, those shifts that matter most and that have the greatest “sticking” power are those that play upon and awaken the highest number of needs—needs that will last far beyond the life of the virus. While it may appear that the most “sticky” of shifts are those that the virus intensified, it is just as likely, if not more, that those emergent and more singular forces are as much here to stay.

Working from home, for example, has been a direct result of the necessity of a short-term, albeit critical, need for safety. But this (new to some) trend has subsequently exposed people to needs they might not have previously been aware of, or at the least, able to address. People around the world are seeing increased amounts of time freed up from the daily commute—time gained to spend with family, to cultivate a new hobby or multi-task. Needs not only for safety but for efficiency, quality time, connectedness, and more have created a reality in which working from home is likely here to stay. Companies and tech platforms have had to follow suit, adapting to these new needs, and helping pave the path to meet them. 

Another key shift has been the ways in which people are addressing the need to belong. From virtual classes to online wine/cooking groups, to family Zoom sessions and drive-by birthday parties, we are witnessing workarounds for heightened isolation. But, we have also seen needs for comfort and freedom crack open, as many enjoy the lack of attachment to a social schedule, increased solitude and alone time.

What does all of this mean for understanding the lifeline of trends and behaviors? It means we need to step back from the phenomenon itself and more deeply understand the human needs and values fueling them. If we truly examine the events and behaviors as the tangible manifestations of human needs and values in action, we can not only better understand them, but be more prepared as brands and services to help address and fulfill them. And perhaps even more importantly, we can extend beyond just addressing them, and begin to listen to and learn from their presence, creating a reality that not only anticipates the next set of needs, but also helps to cultivate them. 


About the Author

Katie Plocheck Hunt is a Senior Strategy Director at Heart+Mind Strategies, where she works to deploy thoughtful marketing, branding and organizational thinking around clients’ challenges. Her portfolio includes clients like the Gates Foundation, Google, Boeing, and Johnson & Johnson.

In addition to her work experience, Katie holds a Master’s degree in Sociocultural Anthropology from Brandeis University where she focused on identity theory and honed her ability to not only see complex narratives at play, but to understand how those “stories” can be applied to client business. Today, she is passionate about focusing on human needs in the business landscape, and weaving together all the dynamic systems at play in our world to help clients.