Good realtors know how to help potential home buyers see a house as more than a house, but a home…their home. That’s why ‘staging’ has become a buzzword among home sellers and their agents. They recognize the importance of helping potential buyers to see an ordinary house as the place they will call home. The goal is to position the right furniture and decor so interested buyers can see themselves calling the house their home. While there may be a few buyers who can look at an empty house and see potential, and maybe a few houses that need no staging in order for potential buyers to see their value; most houses can benefit from well-placed furniture and artwork to help viewers to make that creative leap from seeing a house to seeing a home.
Data is not that different from houses. Unfortunately, not everyone working in data recognizes the similarities. This is the fatal error that can result in failure to adequately convey a message and ultimately, poor decision-making.
There is a growing interest in and demand for data in all aspects of society. The marketing field wants it, legislators want it, consumers and residents want it. We want to live in neighborhoods with the right crime data (low), the right health care data (accessible and high quality), the right recreational data (variety and affordable), and the right cost of living data (within our means). Whether we recognize and admit it, we all use data routinely.
So how can ‘staging’ be translated to data? Like the staging of houses, people need to be able to envision how data fits into their lives. They need to make that leap from numbers (or the physical structure of a house) to ‘seeing’ themselves in the data. Even if the data is not directly ‘about’ an individual, it may be very relevant to their lives. For example, a person does not need to engage in shoplifting to understand how shoplifting may affect the cost of items and the security measures in retail stores that will impact their lives.
In my last blog post, Distracted Nation: Keep Your Eyes on the Kids, I shared alarming data regarding poverty among school-age children. I suspect there is not a person living in the US that is not impacted to some extent by poverty. But they may not have recognized just how close it is to their lives based on the data itself. I’m thinking of a neighbor, Lana. She works as a supervisor at a local Wal-Mart. In addition to her full-time job, she works part-time at a restaurant. Lana has a Bachelor’s degree in human services. She used to work at a facility for persons with developmental disabilities–a job she loved. But they could only offer her part-time employment with no benefits. Lana has three kids. She needed benefits and more work hours to support her family. Her husband left a few years ago, with a younger co-worker that had caught his eye. He doesn’t pay child support. Lana qualifies for reduced-price school lunches and food stamps, also known as SNAP. She is among the nearly 50% of recipients of governmental assistance that are working…the working poor.
Lana is a parent, a neighbor, a friend, a niece, an aunt, and a sister. She is part of someone’s extended family. Whether they know it or not, Lana is one of the millions of American’s directly impacted by poverty. She may be the person taking your order at a restaurant. She may be the person coordinating employee schedules at a local retail store, ensuring adequate staffing for holiday shopping. Lana lives in that data about poverty in America. Who is your Lana? We all know or at least see and interact with someone like Lana.
Call it staging, call it story-telling, call it anecdotal…but whatever you call it, this is part of the data we all need to understand.