The Latest Trend in Charitable Giving? Eons-old Human Values.

The Latest Trend in Charitable Giving? Eons-old Human Values.

While many people might think Americans are giving less, that’s actually not true.  We’re still motivated by good, old-fashioned values that continue to motivate us to help those in need.

Our Quiet Trendsetters study points up some of the top reasons people make charitable donations.

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FREE WEBINAR:  What’s Missing from Customer Decision Journey Work?

WATCH FREE WEBINAR HERE: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XvyqjvomcneCJiYNBAYo3PuRaQ6zJjdh/view

In the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of interest in the Customer Journey.  Why? Digital and social media have dramatically changed the path to decision-making, the size and diversity of influences and channels, and the experience customers expect. At the same time, AI and machine learning improvements promise marketers personalization tools like never before possible.

The problem? Old, linear models are still at play to inform cutting edge solutions being deployed today. Messaging, channel/touchpoint planning, and CX delivery today must ALL be about the right experience, in the right place, at the right time. But this requires understanding how human systems operate and interact with the resources around them when a customer, consumer, voter, employee, stakeholder, or partner makes a decision.

Our approach is to leverage systems thinking when unpacking the decision-making journey.  

  1. We know the path is shaped and behaviors influenced by the brand and life systems in which people make their decisions.
  2. We identify the rational and emotional drivers of the decision at each stage of the process to showcase what is most relevant at different points in the journey.
  3. This involves mapping the discrete behaviors, interactions, and feedback loops that revolve around the needs, wants, and realities of your most important audience – mapping the system.
  4. Our Journey Map allows you to capture a holistic view of decision dynamics while also providing the detailed view you will need.

When you understand how these systems work, you uncover the role(s) you need to play in context of everything else.   Our outputs make the findings actionable to guide comms planning, inform CX design, inspire product/service innovation, and/or better train AI tools to optimize the human experience.

Bottom line: clear imperatives for brand success.

In this webinar you’ll learn key  principles to make your next Customer Decision Journey study a home run.  Sharpen your knowledge of:

  • How many Customer Decision Journey studies fall short
  • The lessons we can learn from Systems thinking to improve these studies
  • How mapping in this way better informs an array of strategic planning needs

Heart+Mind Strategies’ Brand, Systems+Journey team leader, Maury Giles, will use riveting case studies to show you a different way of thinking about the decision Journey.  Mr. Giles is a serial entrepreneur and innovation expert who’s known as a high energy, entertaining speaker.    He’ll inspire you and lead you to a new way of thinking about the Customer Decision Journey.

Carol Gstalder quoted in 10/18/18 Forbes Article on Sustainability

Our colleague, Carol Gstalder, quoted in 10/18/18 Forbes piece on “How Clean Manufacturing is a Win-Win Proposition”

“Consumer brands that haven’t embraced sustainability are at risk on many fronts,” warned Carol Gstalder . . .“Social responsibility is a critical part of proactive reputation management. And companies with strong reputations outperform others when it comes to attracting top talent, investors, community partners and, importantly, consumers.”

For the full article:


What It Takes to Be a Strategist in Today’s Research Industry

The Strategist Imperative

–By Mark Wirthlin, published in Survey Magazine

Marketing research is an incredible business. Those of us who labor over precise surveys and detailed analytics provide the solid factsthat propel the decisions of corporations, politicians, nonprofits and all kinds of human organizations around the globe.

The research industry also has what might be the smartest collection of thinkers in the world. Our unusual mix of social scientists and math- ematicians can provide a balance between the heart and the head that’s often sorely missing in other disciplines. We have a lot to con- tribute to the health and well-being of humanity in these turbulent times.

…Click here for full article where Mark shares the “Four Cs” that undergird the strategist’s ability to bring insights to life and drive action in the C-suite:


What’s Missing From Most Customer Journey Work?

–By Maury Giles, published in Quirk’s Magazine

We are seeing an explosion of interest in the Customer Journey.  Why? Digital and social media have dramatically changed the path to decision-making.  Old models assumed a compelling message, when repeated, would build awareness, interest, desire and finally action.  Voila! In aisle, the voting booth, the boardroom, they’d choose your brand. It’s not so simple any more. The most compelling message can fall short as a swirl of influencers, channels, and options stand between your customer and the decision you need them to make.

But the old linear models remain.  We hear clients talk about getting customers ‘into’ or ‘through the funnel’ as though decisions still follow a straight line.  How do you resonate within today’s journey dynamics?

Our strategy is to leverage a systems approach.   We know the path is shaped and behaviors influenced by the brand and life systemsin which people make decisions.We unpack these systems to identify the rational and emotional needs they have at key points along the journey. This involves assessing the discrete phases, behaviors, and drivers of the journey in addition to the ecosystem of influences shaping how decisions are made. The resulting Journey Map captures a visual and holistic view of these dynamics to provide a common framework for your planning teams. It also allows us to isolate the role the brand must play to deliver the right solution in the right way at the right moment. Our bottom line: we architect clear imperatives for brand success.


Click here to view the full webinar.

The Prism of Human Decision Making and Liquid Expectations

–By Brian Elkins, published in Quirk’s Magazine

It seems every category is undergoing some form of transformation. It is difficult to distinguish the signal in the noise and impossible to chase every trend. However, within the range of shifts underway, we believe there are universal forces that have implications for every market researcher and brand strategy practitioner. No such force will be as far reaching nor critical to sustained market success as the paradigm of ‘liquid expectations’.

What do we mean by liquid expectations? Consumer experiences and expectations are no longer rooted to legacy, insular category or brand assumptions. Consumers increasingly expect best practices from one interaction to be swiftly adopted across traditionally different contexts.

Take for examples the impact of frictionless consumption: the seamlessness and ease of the Uber experience creates a desire for similarly frictionless experience within the department store. The tailored “next best action” experience of Amazon changes consumer expectations of their cable TV platform and innovations in hospitality drive expectations for health care delivery.

Why is this so important? People are more interconnected than ever—not only with each other, but with the contexts and systems in which they live. People give, take, exchange, and build connections at a rapid pace. The result is increased expectations about how we connect, why we connect, and ultimately what we choose to connect with. Businesses that factor liquid expectations into their market research and strategy development will win big.

Ultimately, we believe the full spectrum of customer experience and brand resonance is best examined through the prism of human decision making and liquid expectation. Therefore, we cross-pollinate research, strategy and category expertise at every turn to bridge insight to activation.


Understanding the Emotions Surrounding Aging – AARP Consumer Aging Confidence Study

There are about 70 million baby boomers and as they retire, they’re changing the way our culture thinks about age and retirement. Never content with the cultural status quo, baby boomers are already challenging the very idea of retirement. They expect to live longer, be more active and continue to go, see, do.

AARP is already ahead of this trend with the publication of the national bestseller, Disrupt Aging, by its CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. They wanted to go further by launching their #DisruptAging initiative. We were asked to help this effort by understanding emotions surrounding the concept of aging and chose Heart+Mind Strategies through a survey exploring attitudes Americans have about age and aging.

The creative study design unearthed a surprising gap between the perceptions of aging among younger adults vs. those 60+. Seemingly paradoxically, the older Americans are, the younger they feel. General levels of satisfaction with life were significantly higher among the 60+ cohort than the younger. Importantly, negative misperceptions held by younger Americans were not borne out by the experiences of older Americans.

These kinds of counter-intuitive findings illustrate the “insights spark” that Heart+Mind Strategies seeks in every study we do. They help support and drive effective decision-making right up to the C-Suite.

This fascinating report is available on AARP’s website here.

For Eye-Popping, Mind Blowing (Rigorous) Insights…

The tsunami of data that’s swamped marketers in the past decade has driven a sharp hunger for “insights.” Senior marketers need to make critical decisions for brands struggling to thrive in a densely competitive environment. There’s no room for reams of data; their advisors must distill the numbers into shrewd, concise bits of wisdom they can act on.

Companies providing marketing advice are scurrying to reshape their deliverables to focus on these bits of wisdom. However, “insights” can be as light and fluffy as popcorn – – the first ideas that jump to the top when a little heat is applied to kernels of data. Just because they taste yummy and are easily digestible doesn’t make them good for you.

To uncover insights that are not only logical and digestible but that will truly solve a business problem requires rigor in three critical components:

  1. Client knowledge: there’s just no substitute for client knowledge when it comes to producing insights that result in informed, correct business decisions. It’s not just a matter of creating a study to meet a set of rfp objectives – – any reasonable researcher can do that – – great research is created with the client’s broader business context in mind. Even if it’s project #1 for a brand-new client, smart desk research and deep curiosity about broader business strategy sets the context for more rigorous insights.
  1. Research smarts: A good carpenter knows what tool works best for the job at hand. Pick the wrong tool and you risk botching the job. Research is similar. Even the biggest research toolbox doesn’t guarantee that the tools are used right. It takes driving skill to maneuver a Lamborghini, the USAF doesn’t put newbies at the controls of an F-22 fighter jet, you don’t run rapids on the Salmon River without a seasoned guide. Enough analogies, but you get it. These days it’s tempting to bolster the bottom line by pushing critical research decisions down to (less expensive) junior researchers but it’s a risky proposition. Companies that are serious about providing great insights to clients ensure that seasoned experts weigh in on them.
  1. Interpretive framework: Truly eye-popping, mind-blowing insights are more likely when results are placed in a proven, rigorous framework. Here’s an example of what I mean:
    • Knowing that moms want easy-to-open snacks for their kids’ lunch is helpful.
    • But understanding that when moms give kids easy-to-open snacks:
      • they feel like they’re ensuring their kids’ nutrition,
      • so they are being a responsible parent,
      • thereby fulfilling their personal value of “good mothering”

That’s eye-popping insight. The marketing team has not only a strong product benefit, but a deep understanding of moms’ motivations to work with in creating and executing strategy.

That second bullet shows what happens when you take a simple consumer choice and benefit and place it into a “values” framework.   The product benefit is linked to the deep, enduring values that truly motivate that mom. Maybe you would have stumbled on that insight without an interpretive framework (and a method designed to unearth such findings) but the framework dramatically increases the likelihood of not just good but brilliant insights.

Taken together, these three components: 1) deep client knowledge, 2) research smarts and 3) rigorous framework spell the difference between popcorn and insights that sizzle.

Growing Client Love

Several years ago, a client sent this email: “I would say ‘I love you guys’ but it would sound unprofessional.”

Not very long or complicated, just a few words, but the most meaningful words you could hear from a client. They’re meaningful because they represent a deep, trusting relationship.  While this type of relationship usually grows with care and nurturing over time, the bedrock foundation comes when these disciplines are applied right from the get-go:

Keeping promises – from the very initial interactions with a client, delivering on promises is what starts to cement the relationship. We’ve all heard many sad stories about ‘bait and switch’ tactics that happen so often in research and consulting. The polished, senior team goes in for the pitch, makes compelling promises and then disappears. They’re nowhere to be seen for critical decisions on project design, execution and delivery.

While we have wonderful, capable junior staffers who are smart and speedy learners, we also know they need senior support and leadership to deliver on our promises. Everyone here understands that our goal is to overdeliver and we revel in not just keeping, but in exceeding our promises.

Having empathy with our clients – whether a client is the leader of a company, a marketing director or a researcher, they are always under pressures that surround research-based decisions. Regardless of their position, their reputation rests to some extent on how smart our work is and on how well we communicate it. One of the things we look for when we bring new people into our organization is strong empathy. A side benefit – – it makes this company a really nice place to work, but more importantly it means everybody is good at walking in clients’ shoes.

Taking on our client’s challenges as our own challenges– regardless of how large or small a project is, we know it takes place within a larger context. Often the biggest challenge is not solving the issue expressed in the rfp, but getting buy-in from other people who need to act on the findings. To bridge the gap that so often occurs between research insights and action, we’ve created a “Strategist” role. Strategists are people with hands-on consulting experience, whose focus is less on research results and more on helping clients apply insights. They typically have broader business backgrounds that give them a wider perspective when answering the question: “How does this client put these findings to work in their organization?”

One thing you might have noticed is that building this kind of relationship is a little bit like being in a successful marriage. While the proposal/wedding/honeymoon phase is exciting, it’s the long-term work that continues to keep the flame alive. We love our clients and we work hard to keep that love strong!

Trends You Need to Know: At the Intersection of Human Understanding and Market Dynamics

From ‘frictionless consumption’ to the ‘ethics economy’ a whole host of trends are shaping and responding to the way people make decisions.  Brian Elkins, Group Strategy Director in our Brand, Strategy + Journey Team will be presenting a 1 hour webinar on this hot topic.

In this webinar, you will learn how to incorporate consumer empathy, cultural forces and brand strategy to win hearts and minds and create lasting value for your business and customers.

  • Learn about important connections not just between people, ideas, products and organizations . . . but between whole contexts and systems that support those connections.
  • Learn how these interconnections and the surrounding trends are built into client engagements to create stronger bridges between research insights and business results.

Heart+Mind Strategies’ Brian Elkins, has split his career as both a marketer and insights professional, and is passionate about creating stronger connections between human-centered insights and market outcomes. Brian will use actual case studies to demonstrate how understanding trends within the context of these interconnections can make for stronger research, insights and business results.

To watch a recording of the webinar, follow this link:

Heart+Mind Strategies Webinar