Published on February 25, 2014
Who Needs Linguists? @verbid 31st January 2014
An exercise for the audience 31st January 2014 What happened here?
Case Study: Declining Performance 31st January 2014 Language Keeps Changing… • A client had based their marketing on the word “performance” for many years • But recently, they’d experienced a significant decline in marketing effectiveness • They asked us to look into it. • What did we find? • What you say isn’t always what they hear • “Performance” means different things to different audiences • “Performance Management” is making people uncomfortable
Who needs linguists? 31st January 2014 Why are linguists important? • Linguists understand language. • Linguistics is a window into what people think. • Language changes reality.
Language in the Commercial World 31st January 2014
Language in the Commercial World 31st January 2014 Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.
Language in the Commercial World 31st January 2014
Why is language important now? 31st January 2014 9 out of 10 brand touch-points are dominated by language • Brands in New media are in a conversation with consumers – whether they want it or not. • A lot of Brands are suffering from reduced friction – leading to “brand promiscuity”. If we don’t like something, it’s easier to find better options and switch. • Audiences have new forums to discuss what Brands say and how they say it.
And it’s not just a flash in the pan 31st January 2014 Language will always be important in branding • For the next 10 years, it’ll be the most important thing. • Marketers are realizing that language is the easiest and cheapest part of their operation to change. • New technology will help them pinpoint where they need to make improvements.
How we butcher your science for money 31st January 2014 Language In… • Text Analytics – Can process huge amounts of free-text feedback that big brands get every day. • Linguistics – Necessary to interrogate the data processed by Text Analytics. • Creative Writing – The emotional key to explaining issues to the right people.
Brand Language: Research and Creation 31st January 2014 … Language Out • Creative writing – To give messages that address the right issues and clarify the brand’s narrative • Verbal Identity – A flexible set of strategic guidelines that sets out message structure and the brand’s tone of voice. • Writing workshops – To teach in-house writers how to use these components in their own copy.
The value of text analytics 31st January 2014 Text Analytics: What it Does and Doesn’t Do • Processes info consistently and logically • Reliably groups that information into themes of discussion • Does not explain why these themes are important – only that they are important • Cannot pinpoint emerging trends without an extra layer of interpretation
The Linguistic Interpretation 31st January 2014 Microsoft Word Doesn’t Write Novels • Text analytics gives us the what, linguistic savvy gives us the “why”. • The “why” is usually hidden in the specific way that themes in text are phrased. • Just as language can change reality, the way people speak shows us how they view reality. • This can be reflected in their choice of vocabulary, phrasing, and even in syntax.
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014 How language can improve the retail experience • A major retail client asked us to look at feedback from 100,000 customers. We were able to give them numbers to back up their beliefs. • They already knew that the major driver of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction was staff/customer interaction. • The text data showed that about 98% of people were very happy with the staff. • But what about the other 2000 people...
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014 The problem with managers is… • When people say “The manager was useless”, they’re not talking about incompetence – they’re talking about function. • Managers are the gods of the store – and there’s nothing worse than an unreliable god. • “Manager” also means football manager – and those should be fired as soon as they mess up.
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014 “The girl was rude.”
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014 But is it really about rude girls? • “Rude” is bad. What about girl? • Why is this an acceptable term to refer to anyone over the age of 16 – or any age in a professional context? • Insight: The problem isn’t that the staff are being rude – it’s that the customer’s assumptions of the staff is different from what they’re getting… But where did they get those assumptions?
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014
Case Study: Customer Satisfaction in Retail 31st January 2014 Don’t retrain them – Reframe their relationships • Retrain your staff in customer interaction… • Which takes six weeks for each person… • And costs more than it could possibly be worth? • Retitle your staff in line with their experience and responsibility. • Let customers know through your messaging just how motivated and knowledgeable the “girls” are.
And if it worked for this lot… 31st January 2014 Not Pictured: Geniuses
In Conclusion 31st January 2014 So who needs linguists? • Consultancies need linguists for a deeper understanding of what customers are saying. • Writers need linguists – to brief them fully and competently. • Brands need linguists to help design their identity and create their “voice”. • Everyone needs linguists to create the stories which allow them to understand the world.
Thanks ! @verbid 31st January 2014
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