You may not know it but my first degree is in Chemistry with Business Studies. We had two days of labs every week for the first couple of years; I still have the notebooks somewhere. While Chemistry was never my thing (how I ended up doing it at university is still a mystery!) I did enjoy getting my hands dirty in the laboratory.
Now my academic focus has shifted to psychology and psychotherapy I still enjoy experimentation. Devising a methodology to test a hypothesis then evolving the hypothesis based on the outcome is always interesting.
This week, this approach has come right to the fore in my communication work. There is rarely, if ever, one definitive and commonly accepted correct path to the desired outcome. Instead effective communication is packed with judgement calls and best estimates. They may be based on years of experience and expertise but they are still only assessments.
But as with experiments, the key to success is learning from the results of the experience and adjusting the hypothesis accordingly.
This has been coming to the front of my mind repeatedly in the past couple of weeks. Experimenting seems to have become the order of the day.
In particular, I am working with two clients with the aim of reaching two different very precise audience groups. With both I have gone through the process of defining the audience groups and identifying the issues and challenges they face. We’ve looked at what makes my clients stand apart from and above the competition and articulated where this overlaps with the interests and preferences of the targets, the messaging sweet spot.
Then we began to consider where we can find the targets. There is no point in shouting out our messages to the equivalent of all sorts of different empty rooms. We need to go where the people we want a conversation with already gather, where they are ready and willing to hear what we have to say.
This leads us straight to a whole series of questions. What do they read or watch? Which websites do they visit? Which social media platforms do they gather on? Who do they listen to? What are they members of? And this is where the experimenting is about to begin.
We’ve done a lot of desk research and I’ve worked through my media databases. We asked contacts and potential influencers and now we’ve started to experiment. I’ve secured speaking opportunities, attended exhibitions and identified people who might make unexpected partners. Each time we’ve learnt a little more and adjusted our hypothesis and, step by step, are getting closer and closer to forming the relationships we need to get the right business outcome and all while we enjoy the process.
Where can you bring a little experimentation into your world?