polls & surveys on presidentiable preference : losing out on the formula to win (part 1)

we are publishing here an email we received from a reader, carlo arvisu who is a marketing and advertising practitioner.

——-

election polls is the rage these days – it is the stuff of newspaper headlines and tv newscasts. presidentiables are asked about them and predictably those in the lead are thankful for the results while those at the bottom or not improving are all against it casting doubt on the results by attacking the research agency, those who commissioned the poll and the methodology.

the irony of it all is that most of the major candidates and even the laggards actually subscribe to the election polls we read in the papers. the election polls conducted by SWS and Pulse Asia are syndicated polls. they run this on their own but they make available to the candidates its results on a subscription basis. not only can candidates subscribe to it, anyone else who has the money can subscribe to them.

the rate of subscription vary on the kind of service a presidentiable wants. the rates differ on how  the presidentiables want the results presented to them or what results they want to have.

the biggest clients of research agencies are mass consumer marketing companies like uni-lever, jollibee and procter & gamble, although they use other research agencies like TNS and AC Nielsen. SWS and Pulse Asia do these types of research but very seldom, their specialization is polls on political and national issues.

the problem with surveys and research both for mass consumer marketing companies  and presidential campaigns is how to answer  two  questi0ns, the last one being   –  what do we do, what steps do we take as a reaction to the research results.

research and polls give a snapshot or a profile of the consumer mind and voters mind at a certain point in time. the consumer and voter mind is a living thing, it is dynamic and can change in whatever direction in no time depending on the stimulus or what the voter or consumer experience.

change in the consumer mind may not happen often and not as quickly but change in the voter mind can happen very often and very quickly.  current events is the stimulus for this change and current can mean something yesterday, today or in a few hours time.

with readily available , evolving news reported and brought to the consciousness of voters, change in the voter mind can occur in a beat. we not only have tv, radio and print now,  there is the internet, the social websites, blogs and even cellphone text.  all of the above can influence the voter mind in an instant. 

we saw the power of instant communication  during EDSA DOS where  hundreds of thousands of people exchanged cell phone text  to express their disgust on the developments regarding the unopened brown envelope during estrada’s hearings at congress. from disgust, the text content turned into people asking others to converge at EDSA and that led to the eventual ouster of estrada.

having the data gives the political campaign a picture of the current state of mind of the voter. with a picture in front of you, you can now plot your actions to change that picture. 

the problem is very few know how to do it properly. that problem is not limited to political campaigns but it is also true to mass consumer marketing companies.

knowing what to do or not knowing what to do is actually the second of two questions. the first question is this – what is the meaning of the poll results? and the twin question which is more important – what are the insights that we can draw from these results?

research and poll agencies will give the subscriber results, basically statements or answers to the questions asked of the respondents with corresponding numbers or ratings.  these are in essence the statistically analyzed raw data. the poll and research agency will not give them the meanings and more importantly the insights from the data.

the data will need interpretation and that is supposed to be done by the client. and there lie the other problem.  even mass consumer marketing companies are not very good at this, in fact many of these companies do not even have competencies to do this. we do not think political campaigns have these as well.

insights is a very elusive thing for many. in fact the marketing and advertising managers we have encountered do not really know what insights are. many of them think research data and results are already insights. when they are really just raw data that they will need to draw insights from.

the political campaign now has the data from the polls, what will they do with it now? this is next in part 2.

~~  a mindscape landmark ~~
 carlo arvisu

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