Author: Alasdair Munn
I seldom write here about one of the aspects of my job that I like the best. Power Profiling. Power Profiling is about creating personas and understanding customers and audiences. It involves knowing how to communicate to them. Appreciating how they learn, how they are influenced. Knowing their decision-making processes, their values, norms, desires. Appreciating their aspirations and dreams.
Getting to the stage where you can truly think for your customer or audience takes time, effort, intuition, process, open-mindedness and receptivity.
The expression “before we truly understand a person we must walk a mile in their shoes”, is well known. The part that fewer people have heard, or live by is “Before we can walk in a persons shoes, we must first take off our own”
We all know we should “understand our audiences”. We talk about it all the time. Sometimes we even take notice and make an effort. How many of us go beyond demographics and snap opinion polls? Much of our efforts reflect the way we see our customers in relation to how we see our products, services or offerings.
We all have our preconceived ideas. The ways we are brought up reinforce attitudes, values and prejudices. Having filters that screen, delete, distort and generalize information and messages are part of what makes us human. Interpreting the world in relation to who we are, our life experiences and the shared values, norms and beliefs of the society we live in are effective defences against overload. However they also reinforce our paradigms and mindsets, creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
We are not going to get rid of our filters, nor should we. However recognising these filters, accepting that they are there and learning to deal with them lead to a greater understanding of alternative points of view.
Power Profiling is not about the organization; it is about their audiences. Some of what might be discussed during the process will relate directly to an organizations produces, services, or processes, but ultimately if we are to understand someone, we need to approach it from who they are and from their world view. Organizations are competing, not only with their competitors, but also with life in general. Understanding how an organization can fit into their audiences life in a manner that makes sense to them, adds value and gains buy in is key.
In many ways this is what we try to do with social media. Like with organizations, egos and filters can get in the way.