Psychology Today Article – Personal Values Powerfully Shape our Perceptions

Psychology Today Article – Personal Values Powerfully Shape our Perceptions

As we are entering the 2020 election cycle, Psychology Today article  (4/24/19) highlights the importance of our own personal values in shaping what we choose to pay attention to and how we interpret “facts:”


The author, Morgan Marietta, Ph.D. states:  “Our values not only shape what we see as better or worse, they shape what we see at all. This is because our values frame the core questions we repeatedly ask about the world. Those who care about oppression look for oppressors; those who care about security look for threats to it. In other words, we do not end up with the same answers because we do not begin with the same questions. A specific value is not merely a hope for what we would like to exist but also a method for how we decide on its existence.”

These findings apply not only to politics but to product, service and issue marketing as well.  Heart+Mind Strategies’ core approaches are rooted in uncovering and harnessing the deep and powerful values that motivate your customers, members or stakeholders.  We agree with this author that “The stronger the value commitment, the stronger the effect.”  Only a disciplined, clear approach, like the one our teams have used for several decades, can successfully uncover the values that motivate your important audiences.

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:


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.

Our New CXO Role: Designed to Grow Client Love

“Chief Experience Officer” (CXO) is a relatively new title in the corporate world.  As companies have wrestled with ways to be sure customers have a consistent positive experience, no matter what part of the firm they touch, the CXO role has emerged as the answer.

Beth ForbesBeth Forbes, a founding partner of Heart+Mind Strategies, is taking on the new CXO role at Heart+Mind.  Previously, Beth wore many hats, overseeing operations, finance, staff management and quality.   This broad background, along with her experience providing strategic counsel to clients, gives her a particularly appropriate set of skills for designing an end-to-end experience with the goal of delighting clients.   The unique twist in her new role is Beth is also focused on delighting employees and steadfastly believes employee delight is tightly linked to delighted clients.

“We’re a company that has a deep history in understanding human emotions.   And we’ve always functioned like a big family.  When it comes to delivering great work to a client, we can’t set that history aside and say we’re just going to use our heads and forget our hearts.  We have to ensure that associates working with our clients love what they do, care deeply about the client and believe that the client’s problem is their own, until it’s solved.”

To deliver that kind of deep commitment to clients requires a lot of support for each and every associate.

“First of all, we are a company of people who have a passion for understanding human motivation and apply that passion to solving client problems.  All of our clients need to persuade, motivate and move stakeholders to action.  We have a great research toolbox, but it’s the craftsmen wielding the tools who make the difference.  So, as a company we want to find likeminded people who share that passion and give them the support and tools to help them ply their craft as skillfully as possible.  It’s my job to make that happen.”

“Second, our staff is growing quickly.  Heck, we’ve grown by 40% in 2017!  Some folks are just starting out, others are in the later years of their career. However, all want to know their pathway in the company because we’re all better at meeting the needs of our clients if we feel like our own path is clear.  In my new role, I’ll be working closely with all our associates to help them define a clear path that capitalizes on their own strengths, interests, ambitions and abilities.

“Finally, it’s important that good people be recognized and rewarded for outstanding work and the kind of innovation our clients want, need and value.  As we’ve expanded our team in the past couple of years, we’ve brought on folks who bring exciting expertise from outside our world – –  from management consulting, ad agencies, PR firms. They bring deep knowledge of different industries.  We want to be sure that everyone in the company can benefit from each other’s diverse and sometimes divergent experience.  I will be working to be sure everyone at Heart+Mind Strategies and at our clients benefits from the collective expertise.  And that innovative ideas, whether home grown or from new colleagues, are recognized and rewarded.

Most importantly, though, Beth will be keeping an eye on all client interactions, measuring how close we come to our ultimate goal:  to “grow client love.”

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!