Spine of an old poetry book

Putting Polling Into Poetry

Does marketing research lend itself to poetry? The thought wasn’t top of mind for us. Often, when we’re providing language guidance on positioning assignments, we begin our commentary by pointing out that we’re primarily researchers, not communicators, just to make sure there’s no confusion between providing the essence of an idea and its final articulation.

So we were particularly tickled with the approach taken by one of our favorite colleagues and clients. Introducing the results of our research to a board of directors not especially attuned to opinion research, our friend reached back in time with the following reference:

Spine of an old poetry book
Writing in 1786, the Scots poet, Robert Burns, would never have conceived of the great interest in the early 21st century for surveys, polls and focus groups to assess public opinion. Still, ever the acute observer of human nature, Burns waxed lyrical about the insights to be gleaned, and pitfalls to be avoided, from knowing one’s own image and reputation:

And would some Power the small gift give us

To see ourselves as others see us!

It would from many a blunder free us,

And foolish notion

–“To a Louse. On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” 43-46

What a clever way to encapsulate the value of measuring the views of the organization’s external audiences! We’re still researchers, and not communicators, but this warms us to our task.