Them People O’er There, They Don’t Think Like Us

[Note this is another blast from the past – Oct 2011 to be exact – that is being requested hence resurrected. Enjoy!]

Long, long ago, NextStage's tagline was "Learn How the World Thinks…Now!". We were quite happy with that as a tag line because it exemplifies the basis of what NextStage did then and does now, make human thought marketably actionable. I'll admit we were taken aback when prospects heard our pitch — it hasn't changed much — and responded, "Why would I want to know what my customers think?" A response we heard almost as much was "Why should I care what my customers think?"

Well, it turns out what we offered then we still offer now, then it was free, now it's for pay (just letting you know ahead of time, although we believe it's pretty inexpensive) — You can learn how the world (or select parts of it) thinks now for only US$39.99/run. [Now you have to purchase either an individual membership (still relatively cheap) or a corporate seat (not quite as cheap but when you’re a corporation, a thousand here a thousand there, you probably never notice)]

Ten years ago nobody was interested [that would have been 2001]. Now they are [meaning 2011, when this post originally came out, and definitely now in 2016]. Perhaps there's more interest in learning how the world — or at least different regions of it — think now. Or at least how the world was thinking in the last twenty-four hours (because that’s how often the tool updates).

In any case, you can go to the NextStage SampleMatch World Report and see how people are thinking globally. NextStage's SampleMatch Tool uses data collected by NextStage OnSite and similar “visitor tracking” tools to determine how people are thinking, how they'll behave and what motivates them. [As I update this, we’ve got four of the seven continents covered. Nobody’s sending data from Antarctica, Africa and South America. We’re working on Africa and South America. Antarctica, you’re on your own].

Nice, huh?

One fascinating thing we've discovered so far is that the majority of people around the world use what we call a V14 Personality Style (you can learn more about these designations in these posts) [Here in 2016 about a quarter of the planet is using K22, a change primarily due to the proliferation of mobile devices]. That V14 hasn't changed in the time we've been beta-ing the tool (about three months). What does change fairly regularly are the secondary, tertiary and less used Personality Styles. The secondary and tertiary change at least once a week, and the Personality Styles representing lesser populations shift little.

It is an oddity.

You can also get an idea of how many individual locations NextStage's SampleMatch Tool is analyzing on NextStage SampleMatch's About page [You have to be a NextStage Member to access the tool now]. Right now, for example, we're providing results for Albania through Ho Chi Minh City, Lam Dong, Viet Nam.

NextStage SampleMatch's function is to provide marketing and creative people actionable design data by region. Imagine yourself sitting in a mall watching people walking past and making highly accurate decisions about how each person shops, decides what to buy, what kinds of things trigger their interest, etc., and you get an idea of how NextStage's SampleMatch works.

And before I forget, the information can also be provided by zip/postal code, gender, age and industry, if desired.

So go take a look and let us know what you think.


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Fred Thompson; Is He Changing His Tune? And How Does He Compare with Governor Mitt Romney? Before and After NextStage Analysis of Campaign Messaging Styles

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

Frequent reader and correspondent WindKiller posed a question on the Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage entry and I responded on that post and in a phone conversation that I’d get back to him on how much is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae (it’s now our PersonaScope and is included with Membership).

I wanted to do that by tying it to a before and after analysis of Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site. It’s always fascinating to see how somebody changes their messaging after an announcement.

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The casual observer won’t notice much different between the site as it was on 1 Sept 07 (on the right) and how it appeared on both 5 Sept 07 and 6 Sept 07. That’s a good thing because in politics, it’s the positive and familiar that wins votes.

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This is the 5 Sept 07 homepage. There’s the naturally occuring changes in content that you’d expect on any high traffic site. Both the 1 Sept 07 and the 5 Sept 07 homepages are designed for the V8 Rich Personae.

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This is Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site on 6 Sept 07. The changes are more obvious to the casual observer and again, you’d expect them to be after a major announcement. What is interesting to me is that the site is now using a V7 Rich Personae. This was the personae used by Governor Mitt Romney. It was Senator Thompson’s use of the V8 Rich Personae and its “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.” versus Governor Romney’s V7 message’s “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” that I thought would separate Senator Thompson from the pack.

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Before I forget, the other modification to Senator Thompson’s site is a new “prepage” before you get to what most would consider the real homepage. This is something we saw often during the 2004 campaigns. From a consumer perspective it’s not something I would encourage. This page, encountered before all others, essentially asks the visitor to buy the product before learning if the product is a good match for what ails them. The assumption on Senator Thompson’s staff may be that he’s so well known at this point that anybody coming to the site is coming to join. I’m not so sure. This page, by the way, is designed for a K7 Rich Personae, ie, it has a good, strong, emotional appeal. Just what you’d want if you thought people already knew about you and you wanted them to act in your behalf.

This gets us to what else is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae. NextStage’s Rich Personae also reveal most prominent messages, strongest messages, messages in the order they appear to the non-conscious mind, … It’s pretty…um…rich.

Also, as you begin to get deeper and deeper into the Rich Personae system, you’ll learn that the strongest message on, for example, a young female V7 is different from a mature, male V7.

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Here, Senator Thompson’s strongest message is “Compare me to others and you will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this country. You can count on it.” Governor Mitt Romney’s strongest message is very similar with two significant edits; “[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. Are you with me, yes or no?” Perhaps Senator Thompson sees Governor Romney as having the audience he wants, hence the deep messaging is the same. The substantive difference between the two sites is that Governor Romney, if he were talking to you, would be saying his message twice as loud as Senator Thompson.

Back in the day when Senator Thompson’s site was designed for a V8 Rich Personae, its message was similar except for the missing introductory call to comparison;”[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. You can count on it.

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Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

(yes, I’m still exploring that SEO/SEM thing)

I’ve been thinking for a while that NextStage should do an analysis of Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s campaign site. What’s been stopping me is that he’s not officially announced he’s running for President and he doesn’t actually have an official campaign site that I know of (remember, I’m remarkably out of the loop on politics). The reason I decided to run an analysis is because I’d heard he was going to make his official announcement sometime this coming week.

I went to VoteSmart.org because they list official campaign sites and found I’mWithFred listed as his official site, so I was off and at it.

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Here is Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s official campaign site homepage as it appears today, 1 Sept 07. We analyzed it using NextStage’s TargetTrack (it’s now included in our Membership package) tool, as we do with all such things.

What got me right off the bat is that this homepage uses a V8 Rich Persona. This got my attention because way back in Feb ’07 we analyzed Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign website and found it had a V7 Rich Persona. One of the most obvious differences between the two is that Governor Romney’s messaging was originally designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with a knowledgeable person who needs to point out the negative aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.” Senator Thompson’s messaging is designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with an authority figure (real or imagined) who needs to point out the positive aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.

This difference is telling in how these two campaigns perceive who their candidate is and what that candidate’s strengths are on a personal (hence “Persona” level).

First, I do note that Governor Romney has changed his messaging style since Feb ’07. With that in mind, Governor Romney originally wanted people to perceive him as someone who could show them the error of their ways and set them on the right path. Senator Thompson is using a very different psychological strategy to gain voters; he wants people to see him as an an experienced person who can help them achieve more.

In more obvious terms it would be phrased this way; Governor Romney was saying to voters, “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” while Senator Thompson’s message is “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.”

We’ll be watching to see if Senator Thompson’s messaging changes once he officially starts his campaign.

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Relevancy, or “Oh, gosh. Joseph’s been at it again”

I’ve been working with a fellow researcher for about the past three months perfecting a Relevancy metric. I’ve been thinking about a Relevancy metric for a while, it just took three months of study to finalize a math I’m comfortable with.

Relevancy, Joseph? What do you mean by relevancy?

Ah, good question that. I’m sure what I mean by it isn’t what others mean by it. I mean, why should I start now?

Relevancy as a NextStage metric will measure “How relevant/important is this info to the visitor right now?”

And one may rightly ask “How is relevancy relevant?”

Ah…well now…

To answer that one has to know that one of the things NextStage’s ET can do is determine a visitor’s internal time-sense. How I think, conceptualize and work with time is different from yours, yours is different from the person sitting next to you, so on and so forth. There are cultural similarities, to be sure, and part of how people conceptualize time is based on neurophysiology.

Beyond that, though, it’s an individual kind of thing. So relevancy as a measure of “What’s important right now?” is…umm…important because it tells you when someone will act upon the information presented to them. Are they going to buy a car within the next 24 hours or within the next 24 days? Are they planning a trip or taking one now? Are they researching some medical information because their toe is falling off or because they saw something on the news and couldn’t believe what they saw?

IE, how important is the information on the site to the visitor now? When will it be important to them? When will they most likely act upon the information?

How relevant is it to them?

Relevant Blog Posts

I won’t get into the neuromathematics of Relevancy (you wouldn’t want me to. Trust me) and will offer that it’s obvious my differing blogs serve different audiences who have different needs. For example, how relevant to readers were my last two blog posts here on BizMediaScience?

My usual readership have rich personae of V16, V17, V18, O2, K1, K5 and K7. Don’t worry what these designations mean, I love you all. Let’s just offer that my usual readership reads my BizMediaScience blog posts more for the personality of my writing rather than the actual information provided (and I thank you for it).

But I’ve gathered a following on Twitter now and Twitterers have some very different {C,B/e,M} matrices (V9, V16, V19, A6, A7, O3, G1, T5, T8 and T9 and yes, I love you, too).

So, if nothing else, I now know what Twitterers (at least those following me) value and think is important, and when and how it is important to them. And that it’s about twice as relevant to those folks as it is to my usual readership. Specifically, the Twitter based audience is looking for a) an edge, b) an advantage and c) learning. The slight increase on Canoeing with Stephane (Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 2)) is due to their study of a direct application. The T-based rich personae, I suspect, are either a) possible competitors, b) people concerned/disturbed by ET or c) people not sure they understand it because those T-based rich personae are demonstrating anxiety elements.

No need to be anxious or competitive. We’re willing to work with everyone. And I enjoy teaching.

Anyway, matching the visitor’s concept of relevancy to the information presented means one can know how long visitors will wait for something and when they believe they’ll be able to make use of it.

Pretty relevant if you’re doing information design…or branding…or marketing…or product planning…or strategizing…or thinking about entering new markets…or planning a product launch…don’t you think?

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Canoeing with Stephane (Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 2))

The iMedia Brand Summit has kept me a little busy, and I do keep my promises.

One of the folks I asked about Sentiment Analysis prior to writing Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) was Stephane Hamel. I asked Stephane for a site I could analyze without my knowing anything about their strategy, demographics and such. Stephane suggested canoe.ca since it’s a well known Canadian site that receives lots of traffic and has lots of diversified content.

Canoe French homepage

The Canoe.ca site has an English and a French version so we analyzed the homepages of both versions to demonstrate the differences in cultural cuing. This image is the Canoe French homepage. Below is the English homepage. The information I’m sharing comes out of our tools, specifically the one I described in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1).

Canoe English homepage

This image is the Canoe English homepage. I’ll share at this point that the tool I’m using reads whatever digital information you give it exactly like a human of the intended culture would read it, provide it material in French and it thinks in French, provide it material in Gaelic and it thinks in Gaelic (we get a lot of calls for that, you betcha. The first language our technology understood was Gaelic because if you can do Gaelic you can do anything. Now we’re teaching it Etruscan because you never know when you might want to sell sandals to a dead gladiator). What makes the tool different from the standard human is its ability to report on what will or would happen in the reader’s mind at the non-conscious and conscious levels. Most people don’t have that kind of training, our technology (Evolution Technology or “ET”) does.

Age Appeal

Both homepages are designed for (not necessarily intended for. We’re not talking about who the desired audience is, we’re talking about who this material is going to work best with) relatively tight demographics. The French homepage will appeal to about 71% of the 25-34yo native French speakers who see it, the English homepage will appeal to about 60% of the 35-44yo native English speakers who see it.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
When I originally presented this analysis to Stephane for comment I thought that a possible reason for the different age appeal targeting was that the canoe.ca site was a Quebec specific site, hence English might be a second language — meaning learned via education or life experience — for Canoe visitors (ET will interpret higher levels of education and life experience as “more mature” hence add a few years to its age appeal estimates).

Stephane explained that canoe.ca was created in Toronto then moved into Quebec, and that the English site is still done in Toronto and the French site in Quebec.

In any case, what’s most interesting is the relative spikyness of the Appeal charts. This material — regardless of the intended audience or its origins– is designed to best appeal to a limited age demographic.

<Stephaneism>
Stephane noted:

Another thing… your classifications aren’t equal… why 15-19 (5 years), 35-44 (10 years), 55-59 (5 years)… Does each of the graph age ranges have the same “population size”?
The age groupings are based on neurology more than much else. The five year groups occur when the brain starts to change, the ten year groups are when the brain is relatively stable neurologically.
Usually, I think each segment should be the same range (number of years). If population is different sizes for different ranges it usually mean the number of classes should be reviewed. Am I wrong?

Excellent catch. The age breakdowns are based more on the most recent and most well documented neurology studies than anything else. As such, they can fluctuate from time to time. ET’s basis for understanding and decision making is neuroscientific, not marketing demographics per se. Originally we tailored the age breakdowns to match the US Census bureau’s breakdown and do our best to match those the best we can.

That offered, if you can define the age breakdowns of greatest interest to you (maybe 15-24, 25-39, 40-54, 55-74, … work best for you) we can tell ET and have the results appropriate to your needs.

</Stephaneism>

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Clarity/Understandability

Readers of Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) or Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds will remember that there are three “age” levels designers really need to be concerned with; Appeal, Clarity and Actionability. The brain-mind system doesn’t “think” in terms of a chronologic age, it “thinks” using one subsystem to determine “Is this going to be important?” (that’s Appeal), another subsystem to determine “Do I understand why this is important?” (that’s Clarity, Cognition, Understandability, call it what you will, god knows we have) and yet another subsystem to determine “Shall I do something about this?” (that’s Actionability).

The chart above shows that both English and French homepages will be best understood by a broad demographic, yes (the curve doesn’t spike), as well as a large population (its position on the chart).

<ET Tool Training Alert>
There is a possible problem when the Appeal and Clarity charts are taken together. The ideal is that Clarity peak at an age demographic just shy of the Appeal peak. This is necessary because humans, once you’ve got their attention, want to quickly determine if something is important or not. This desire to quickly understand something’s importance means less neural activity is required and ET reads that as a slight drop in neurologic age requirements.

However, the Clarity here is above the Appeal of both English and French audiences, meaning both audiences will need to work (as in “think about”) what’s on each page in order to understand its importance to them. If these pages truly are designed for the Appeal spikes, then they will not be easily understood by those age groups, hence Actionability (click through, conversion, whatever) will be lower than it could be.

On the other hand, if the target audience is 35-59yo, this Clarity is fine. Now the problem is that the age group will not find the homepages appealing enough to devote time or energy to them (except possibly some percentage of native English speakers), meaning “your conversions/clickthroughs/… would be higher with a judicious redesign”.
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Actionability (conversions, clickthroughs, …)

Both sites are designed to be actionable by 35-44yo. This is great for the French site (and assuming it is correctly designed for its intended audience) and not so good for the English site. Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort and ET reports this as an increase in neurologic activity, hence a shift to a more mature age group.

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The good news for the French site is that the Actionability spike is pretty much as the same height as the Appeal spike and it’s in the correct demographic. This means every native French speaker who comes to the French homepage will act on it.

Unfortunately, the Clarity value is way off from where it should be. Native French speaking visitors may find the site appealing and be able to act upon it but they will not understand what it is they should do, hence numbers could be higher with some redesigns.

The English Actionability is acceptable and is also quite the spike. It almost matches the Appeal spike, but the page also suffers from the Clarity issue.

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Gender

Both sites favor a male audience design wise and in roughly equal measure.

Rich Personae, {C,B/e,M} Matrix

Often this is where real cultural design differences make themselves known. The English site is designed for an A9 Rich Persona (I’ve written about Rich Persona on this blog and in iMediaConnection), the French site for a V16 Rich Persona.

The A9 Rich Persona has the following attributes when it encounters web based information:

  • These people focus on the negative, they make decisions based on what might go wrong
  • They are motivated to take action when things are phrased in the negative
  • They often need to confirm their beliefs with visual information
  • They’re motivated by avoiding trouble and are strongly influenced by the possibilities of difficulties down the road

The V16 attributes are:

  • These people need to have information presented to them in pictures, charts or graphs
  • They finalize their decisions by using internal dialog
  • They need information framed in a positive manner before they can accept it
  • They have no sense of time or process

So we immediately see that the French homepage is designed for happier people than the English page.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
The fact that the two sites target completely different personality types can be a plus or a minus based on how much of the Canoe visitor populations match these psychological profiles. What is most important is that what is essentially the same design will target very different psychologies based on the native language of the visitor.

Which personality profile is better? Couldn’t tell you without knowing more about the goals for the site.

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10 Must Messages

10%20must%20messages%200906081039-small.jpg

The basis for communication and relationship are what NextStage calls “The 10 Must Messages”, meaning unless your site is communicating this messages well your site won’t work at all.

<Aside>
Interestingly enough, during the iMedia Brand Summit Master’s Class I taught earlier this week I asked all the attendees what the basic function of a website was. There were lots of answers and none of them were the most important one; to establish a relationship between the visitor and the brand. Regardless of intent, a relationship is being established and the success of that relationship is going to be based on how well the site communicates these messages to the visitors.
</Aside>

What we see here is something I mentioned in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1), that Canadian based companies tend to shout “We’re a Leader”. The fact that the two lines have roughly the same shape is to be expected (my guess is the same design group handled both homepages or a single template was used for both). Again we see some cultural based differences in the strength of the messaging.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
Take each line separately and the values are fair, there’s not a lot of shouting. What is a problem for both sites is the “This Is Important” message’s relative weakness. It is so low compared to most other messages on either site that visitors will feel no sense of urgency, no impulse to act, and in any case nowhere near as strong as it could be. The ideal would be for the “This Is Important” message and the “This Is Important To You” message to be high with the latter just enough higher to have visitors non-consciously recognize the difference.

I tend to liken the difference between these two messages to hearing the newscaster tell you about some news story then call in their talking-head to explain specifically why this news story is important to the viewer. Another way of thinking about their difference is the recognition that something may be important but not relevant to the individual versus important and relevant.

In any case, you can’t convince people that something is both important and relevant unless you first convince them that it’s important, period.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Suggestions

That brings us to the last thing ET will report on, what to do to change the design for the target audience. I don’t know who the target is so any suggestions would be irrelevant, me thinks.

<Stephaneism>
After reading this analysis, Stephane commented:

I think what’s also interesting is ET gives you the data and the charts, but you still have to know that “Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort”. The next stage of ET (no pun intended!) could involve bringing this “higher intelligence” (your intelligence!) to a rule engine that would gradually integrate this additional knowledge.
Let me take an example… web analytics tools today collect, analyze and provide the data, but they don’t provide any insight. Yet, some rules are readily applicable if we see high traffic from a specific campaign but a lower conversion rate than average: incoming traffic is less qualified, the campaign might need to be realigned. This intelligence could be integrated directly into the tool to raise “alarms” when things like this happen. The system would need to be trained and the architecture should allow to include new rules easily.

This is an excellent thought and yes, we’ve got it covered. People who’ve heard or seen my presentations know that one of ET’s differentiators is its ability to make suggestions. The tool that produces these reports — the one that doesn’t need a tag on a client’s site to generate actionable results — provides suggestions that incorporate “my intelligence” and additional knowledge (the system borrows heavily from knowledge management systems I worked on several years back) into its analysis. If I understand the rules system you’re describing, it’s already in there.

Anyway, we’re currently in the process of looking for alpha clients to help us integrate those rule engines into the product that does these analyses. [[(Already done and in NextStage OnSite, NextStage Experience Optimizer, NextStage Immediate Sentiment and NextStage Veritas Gauge)]]

</Stephaneism>

And there you go, Stephane. Hope it’s useful.


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