The most recent presidential election in the United States proved that predicting – or as my guest today calls it, ‘probability calculation’ – is a dangerous way of reading an audience. It essentially amounts to throwing darts at a board, he says.
If companies want to create products and services that best meet the needs of their ideal customers, they need to have solid research to support their business objectives – otherwise they might wind up guessing at the wrong outcomes.
On today’s episode, I talk to Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for Edison Research, the organization behind exit polling for national elections in the U.S. For more than two decades, Tom has conducted political polling for some of the most contentious elections in U.S. history, as well as market research for some of the top companies across the nation. What he’s learned about the role of research in business decisions may surprise you.
“You need the input,” Tom says. “There’s no such thing as a perfect study. There’s no perfect piece of input. But it’s a lot better to fly with instruments you can correct, than to fly with no instruments at all.”
Tom and I talk about President Trump’s surprising victory, the need for diverse points of view in boardrooms across corporate America, and what to do to really have your finger on the pulse of your audience. I know you’re going to love this discussion, and you’re going to learn a ton on this edition of Grow My Revenue!
Listen to this episode and discover:
· How you can gather and distill insights about your audiences.
· The misconceptions people had about the most recent U.S. presidential election.
· Why President Donald Trump is what pollsters call a ‘black swan’.
· How bias plays a role in different types of polling.
· How to get the right type of qualitative and quantitative information to · really have a finger on the pulse of your audience.
· And so much more!
As a polling expert and survey researcher, Tom Webster is the man companies go to when they want a snapshot of what’s happening with their clients today, and the data trends that have happened over time. There’s a big difference, he says, between forecasting outcomes and predicting them.
“Once you start getting into the business of, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen in the future,’ you get into a very different business,” Tom says.
That’s why he’s not a fan of ‘probability calculators’, and why he says business owners and executives should never make decisions in a vacuum. Today you’ll learn:
· What ‘bias’ is in polling, and why it exists in every survey conducted.
· How a ‘social desirability’ bias among voters played a part in Trump’s surprising victory.
· Why it’s dangerous to surround yourself only with people who think and act like you.
· What the difference between qualitative and quantitative research is and why you need both.
· Why companies need solid data to ensure they’re meeting the needs of their customers.
When you listen, you’ll hear how pollsters in the most recent presidential election didn’t get it wrong. Rather, it was the interpretation of the data that lead to all the confusion. On this edition of Grow My Revenue, you’ll also hear how consumer behavior has radically changed over the years with advances in technology, yet the reasons why customers buy remain the same.
Also on today’s show, Tom and I talk about how content marketers need to take on the role of trusted advisor, rather than the more traditional salesman. Tune in for all of that and more on today’s Grow My Revenue with Tom Webster.
For full show notes and other resources, please visit: http://www.ianaltman.com/podcast/tom-webster/