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Unveiling the Illusion of Knowledge: Audience Understanding May Be More Impactful Than You Think!

You might think you already understand your audience. Try writing your understanding down clearly to find out!

At Audience Strategies, we aim to enhance your brand’s connection with your audience. We've always believed that data, insights, research, and analytics play a crucial role in understanding and engaging audiences strategically, an approach that bears fruits when adopted sincerely. However, early in our careers, we noticed an interesting paradox - a cognitive blind spot, almost. We frequently observed that stakeholders felt underwhelmed upon receiving research results or analytics that we felt to be exciting new knowledge. Almost like they felt already knew the insights being presented. They felt like they already understood their audience inside out, an understanding that we suspected was not as deep as they presumed. To address this predicament, we tried a novel approach: asking stakeholders to predict results before we shared them. The outcome was remarkable! Their perceived audience understanding went away and the research results were seen as more novel and valueable! Recently, we discovered the scientific explanation behind our observation and approach's success. A tweet by Ethan Mollick, a noted academic and entrepreneur, clarified our insight. He wrote, “Non-experts often think they know best, but if you first ask them to privately write down how something works… they realize they don’t really get it & become more willing to listen to experts.” He was referring to the 'Illusion of Explanatory Depth,' a cognitive bias that makes individuals believe they understand complex phenomena with far greater precision and depth than they actually do. The remedy for this illusion? Try to explain how something works to yourself. The attempt itself reveals the gaps in understanding, shattering the illusion and paving the way for authentic learning. This is precisely why we, at Audience Strategies, strongly advocate an evidence-based deep dive into understanding your audience. We have seen many brands with confidence about their knowledge of their audience who struggle to describe them accurately and consistently. Our one-on-one conversations with stakeholders often reveal that every stakeholder uses very different language to describe the same audience, further emphasizing the need for a unified, insight-based understanding of the audience. By embracing this understanding, brands can better appreciate the power of audience insights. After all, data and insights aren't just numbers and statistics; they're like a magic wand that can bring about substantial changes in both the economics and the culture of an organization. When wielded right, they help in building authentic, impactful, and sustainable connections with your audience. We hope this perspective helps. We share it since our approach isn't about merely providing you with services; it's about embarking on a journey together, discovering, learning, and growing as we unravel the essence of your audience and build a robust strategy for your brand.

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