Speed dating announcement in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The article in The New York Times about online dating reminded me of all the things I have problems with when “suits” insist on the irreproachable validity of copy and concept testing.
The article, by Jena Wortham, begins by saying that “Online dating services have long promised to help people find a mate by using statistical science to predict personal chemistry.” So right away I leapt to, hey, that’s what they claim to be able to accomplish when they test concepts and commercials. As in, “Research companies have long promised to help clients find the answer by using statistical science to predict personal needs and wants.”
The analogy gets even richer as they quote Susan Etlinger. “There’s only so much you can do with data. There’s always the unknown that has to do with pheromones and human nature.” Yes indeed! And though I don’t know much about pheromones, I agree with Pablo Picasso's similar observation: "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
To be, reluctantly, fair, research can provide guidance, and perhaps help avoid complete creative catastrophe. But do you believe that “personality tests and data can accurately predict whether two people will be compatible”?
Or, more important for this post, do you believe that testing and data can accurately predict whether your marketing will be effective?
So, like online dating, which has evolved (regressed?) to several sites now bringing people together at parties and bars, a good thing for you to do, when possible, is to actually meet and talk with your target audience, live and in person.
And use data, research and numbers as a guide, not an answer.
Get the idea?