The Value of Personal Experience with the First “P”

May 26

I had my first screening mammogram today.   I was nervous about it, as most women are.  But, it turned out to be a piece of cake.  Really!  Afterwards, I found myself reflecting on the experience from a professional angle, and specifically on how interesting it was to have had a mammogram after working for years on breast cancer screening promotion programs.  Aaah! So this is what it’s like!

We put high value on audience research to understand the perceptions, the barriers, and the motivators as they relate to the desired attitude or behavior.   And rightly so.  But, how valuable is it to have the planning team members be part of the target audience or have some experience with the intended behavior/product?   At minimum, it’s an extra data point in your audience research.  But I am convinced that it’s much more valuable than that.  It provides that difficult to describe –and therefore hard to glean from research – familiarity or relationship one develops as a result of interacting with the product.  

Of course, as with all other biases, we have to make sure that this personal experience doesn’t skew research findings or replace the need for research.  But we can use it to develop research questions, insights, and thoughtful creative.

I’ll close by saying that it’s not always possible to engage in the behavior you are trying to affect, e.g., if you never smoked, you can’t quit.  But, as social marketers, we can and should take steps to try to get close to the “product” if we can.  For some time, my National Kidney Disease Education Program client has been encouraging me to visit a dialysis center to get a feel for what’s it like to be on dialysis.   After this experience, I am ready to schedule the visit.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 at 1:24 pm and is filed under Best Practices, Public Health, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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