Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beware of Assumptions – They Cost A Fortune!

You’ll know where to focus next based on the results of benchmarking your community’s image with internal stakeholders or residents.  But never, ever skip this step.  Typically, if you have a CVB or destination marketing organization in place, as the community’s marketing agency, it may be in the best position to field and understand the research.

If you make assumptions about community self-image rather than scientifically benchmarking it, because you, your governing board or boosters and politicians don’t think there is a problem at home, you’ll set yourself up to waste a lot of time, effort and resources.consistency-precision-300x256

Just as you’ll also waste those resources and a lot of time if you happen to have internal stakeholders who are either down on their community or believe the negativity is due to low self image or self esteem about your community.

You’ll need to be able to rule that in or out before launching strategies to address it.  These hopefully well-meaning people are often looking for a “parade” to lead and can’t be bothered with gathering information first.

If we hadn’t been able to document, for instance, from the beginning that Durham had high levels of self image and community pride among residents, we would have been misled by segments of the community and more than a few people from nearby communities who preached (some still do) that Durham’s problem was a poor self image and self esteem.  That’s why you see well meaning but mis0-guided t-shirts from time to time with the slogan, “Durham Love Yourself.”

We were fortunate because Durham scientifically scored high marks right from the beginning for community pride and community image among residents so DCVB could move to measurement of the community’s image among external audiences, working out in concentric circles to surrounding counties, then the state as a whole, then across the nation with result broken down regionally.

And “bingo,” the public opinion surveys helped us identify and zero in on the largest source of negativity about Durham, external audiences in communities surrounding Durham, e.g. 50 mile radius.

Secondary research also helped us uncover why some people mistakenly assumed Durham had an internal self image or self esteem problem.  At the time, half of the people working in Durham were non-residents.  The figure is now 3 in 5.  So people who walked like a Durhamite, talked like a Durhamite….were in fact, non-residents working here and coming to work each day contaminated with negative word of mouth at home.

So, whatever you do, don’t make assumptions about what residents think of your community….nail that down first.

Always start by gathering scientific information – it will cost a little up front but it will save tons in wasted time, effort and resources.

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