Prior to The Scientific Revolution and subsequent Enlightenment, most “Truth” derived from a higher power, custom, or superstition. The world was flat. Doctors didn’t need to wash their hands, and cats did the devil’s work. The Scientific Method dispelled those notions. We have benefited as a society from the progress that science and reason have enabled. Science and reason, however, do not have a monopoly on “Truth.” Appeals to emotion often feel like truth, and it turns out that we, as humans, are pretty bad at telling the difference between objective truth and emotionally derived “truth.”
Six months later, the result of the 2020 Presidential Election is crystal clear. Joe Biden won by over seven million votes. Why Americans voted as they did is something sociologists and political scientists will be analyzing for years to come. Trump’s demeanor and policy positions may have contributed to his loss, but his pugnaciousness and far-Right agenda attracted more voters, many of them multicultural, in 2020 than in 2016. While Trump’s support was increasing, 2020 threw the world a COVID-19 sized curveball. Had the pandemic not occurred, it’s likely Donald Trump would still be President.
The American economy depends on jobs created by small businesses, which account for 64% of new jobs created every year. Some of the best-run U.S. small businesses are those participating in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program. The annual review required to maintain eligibility in the program can seem onerous to some, but it ensures participating firms are adequately capitalized and operating in a stable manner. An annual business plan review is beneficial to all companies, but for 8(a) firms, the mandate prompts them to align their efforts with changes in the market to ensure they have a plan to respond.
March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the official declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The first case of coronavirus was reported in the U.S. in January 2020. Two months later, the infection rate was accelerating, prompting former President Trump to declare novel coronavirus a national emergency, unlocking billions of dollars in federal funding to mitigate the spread. What ensued was unprecedented. Worldwide quarantines shuttered businesses, churches, and schools, bringing life as we knew it to a screeching halt. Sports arenas were silent. Streets were vacant, and grocery store shelves bare.
The shift in American attitudes toward social justice and inclusivity following George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests has prompted some companies to consider creating targeted messaging for multicultural consumers. Consumers are paying more attention than ever to how companies navigate social and racial justice issues and reward brands that align with their values. Getting it right, though, can be a daunting task, even for experienced brand managers. The fear of offending consumers is often enough to prevent marketers from even attempting to create multicultural messaging. If done correctly, however, the benefits of targeted multicultural messaging outweigh the risks.
A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with an SBA Business Opportunity Specialist who was lamenting the absence of SBA 8(a) program applicants. At the time, she was seeing three to five businesses graduate the Small Business Set-Aside program for every new one applying. I did the math and realized most of the graduating 8(a)s enrolled during the Great Recession. By 2018 things were going well enough in the economy that perhaps small businesses felt that pursuing government work was not worth their time and energy. Due to COVID-19, however, the economy is once again unsteady.
As someone who has worked in market research for the past 20 years, it’s disheartening to see entrepreneurs and brand managers struggle with marketing campaigns due to knowledge gaps that could have been avoided with a simple market research study. Properly conducted custom market research is the common denominator in successful marketing campaigns. But, to some, conducting research is intimidating. To others, it’s too expensive, too complicated, or takes too long. Truth be told, market research today is none of those things. Coding and data tabulations done by hand are a thing of the past. Improvements in cost, timing, and ease-of-use have made primary research accessible to everyone.
Nothing helps bolster an argument more than citing a research study that proves your point with statistics. A quick Google search can pull up numerous results of supporting data to prove just about anything. Even flat earthers can “prove” their theories with “research” they find online. The explosion of DIY survey tools has made it possible for anyone with a keyboard to create a “poll” and disseminate the results. The challenge is data integrity, which is often sorely lacking here. To help cut through the clutter of bad research and avoid destroying your credibility by citing it, here are some guidelines to follow when making your assessments.
Marketing managers have difficult jobs. They are expected to be psychologists, storytellers, salespeople, and fortune tellers. Engineers and product developers don’t understand why their fantastic products aren’t selling and blame marketing for not communicating how terrific they are. Unfortunately, having the best product or solution is often not enough because consumers typically don’t make purchase decisions rationally. They do so emotionally.
ThinkNow recently conducted a nationally representative survey of 200 Black men and 100 police officers. We asked them for their assessment of the current policing crisis and suggestions for possible solutions. It was important for us to limit our focus to only Black men and police officers because Black men are most affected by racial bias in policing and police officers are in a position to shed light on contributing factors. The full report is enlightening and can be used by politicians, activists, and law enforcement to enact change. The most compelling findings, however, are the responses given by Black men to a simple question: “What do you wish people in America understood about being a Black man?”