“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”
– Abraham Lincoln
This quote is why art matters.
This quote is why journalism matters.
This quote is why sales and marketing and branding all matter.
Conversations spawn from these driving forces and the results leave sentiments. If I talked to Donald Trump about border security, I’m going to walk away having different sentiments about the border than if I talked to Nancy Pelosi. This is an obvious example magnified around a very hot topic. Tone it back to sentiments about a new product release. One Early Adopter and long-time user of a product, let’s say Salesforce.com, may be more open to a latest product on their AppExchange versus a recent buyer (Late Majority) of Salesforce.com who is just starting to migrate their data from their former on-prem solution. If you get those two users around a lunch table, odds are good the Late Majority user will leave with positive sentiments about the new product on the AppExchange and the power of the Salesforce platform in general.
Sentiment is difficult to measure: did the Early Adopter move the needle from 5 out of 10 to 7 out of 10 from that meeting? Who knows but what’s most important is we understand what drives these sentiments, because rightfully according to Lincoln, it’s a powerful concept.
I started thinking who do I know that has a strong public sentiment? To reframe the term a bit, let’s call it “voice.” A powerful voice is authoritative, deeply fact-based, opinionated, and truthful. Those tend to influence sentiment. The best example I can think of is the No Laying Up team. About 5 or 6 years ago a group of four guys started a blog. Big deal. Many people started a blog back in 2013. Today, they have hundreds of thousands of followers through their social media accounts and it’s turned into a full time job for them. They’ve developed relationships and produced superior content proving they’ve captured the public sentiment of a niche crowd: the hardcore golfer. Over the holidays, I caught up with one of the guys who founded the blog and I was amazed at his voice. His knowledge and stories and opinions kept me entertained for hours and I left with the public sentiment of No Laying Up being the golf commentary truth.
There are many great voices in niche communities and beyond out there. I’m sure you can think of several regarding areas of interest. Another non-niche area is how Ellen Degeneres has developed a voice (and programming) to make people smile, dance, and laugh — although who knows how much longer.
History proves voice comes and goes through numerous factors. For example, Winston Churchill was not always as popular as internet memes make him out to be.
Voice builds communities. Voice educates. Voice entertains. Voice is a powerful driver.
While thinking about goals for 2019, one area of improvement for the year — however fluffy and immeasurable it may sound — is ironing out my voice.
Writing is the best way to accomplish this goal.
I aggregated most of the writing I did in 2018 here. My infatuation with Winston Churchill grows as I continue to read this book on him. By the time of his death at 90 years old, he had published 6.1 million words in 37 books and that is not counting his speeches (he gave approximately 2500 of them), letters, and memos. Amazing!
Look for more writing in 2019 here and beyond!