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Mind Readings: The Power of Forecasts

  • The power of forecasts lies in their ability to stimulate action, not in their accuracy.
  • Most people don’t care if a forecast is right or not.
  • Forecasts don’t need to be data-driven to be effective.
  • Horoscopes are a good example of a forecast that is not accurate, but still persuades people to take action.
  • The goal of a forecast should be to get people to make a decision, not necessarily to be right.
Mind Readings: The Power of Forecasts

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In today’s episode, let’s talk about the power of forecasts.

We use forecasts all the time.

We use them for things like weather, right? We use them in business, forecasts and projections, market research, what’s likely to happen predictive analytics.

And here’s the thing that occurred to me the other day, as I was thinking about forecasts and how people use them.

They don’t need to be right.

In fact, most people don’t care if a forecast is right or not.

When you think about how we use forecasts, the way people use them is as a way to stimulate action to stimulate change to get people to make a decision to do something, right.

When you’re trying to figure out what to wear for the day, you look at the weather forecast, and you make a decision, right? I’m gonna wear a shirt with a hood on it, or I’m gonna carry an umbrella or not.

Does it matter weather forecast is right.

The end of the day? Are you like a forecast was completely wrong.

I’m so angry, I’m not going to listen to that information provided because they clearly can’t forecast anything.

Probably not, you probably just listen to the forecast news.

Okay, so they kind of hosed it yesterday.

And that got me thinking about how we use forecasts in other parts of our lives, and how accurate they need to be.

Now, I’m gonna put a disclaimer that in the work that I do, I try to make my forecasts as data driven and accurate as possible.

Because I tend to believe in accuracy and math.

But I don’t know that you necessarily need that.

To get someone to pay attention to a forecast and to get them to take action on it.

Let me read you a forecast.

That I think is pretty far from reality.

Here goes that whistle you keep hearing why it’s the wellness wagon Libra and it’s making another pass right by you if you let it go by more times you care to count.

Don’t beat yourself up for the past five months.

dreamily unfocused, Neptune has been in retrograde in Pisces in your sixth house of healthy living.

No wonder you struggled to stick to those self care routines that email are vital to your well being.

Neptune is famous for dangling temptations and creating appealing distractions, the kind that delicious in the moment but pull you away from more salubrious habits.

But starting this Saturday, you can turn all that around as Neptune pivots back into direct motion.

And we acquaint you with the gym, yoga studio and Whole Foods.

Okay.

This is a horoscope.

Inherently it’s incorrect.

I am that astrological sign inherently is incorrect.

The self care routines that I’ve been practicing for several years now.

Still doing them.

I still run between five and 10 kilometers a week that hasn’t changed still do all the other stuff that I’ve been doing.

So already that part is really off base.

And the very belief that astronomical bodies such as distant planets would have any measurable impact on your life other than the moon is pretty much zero.

Right? Neptune Neptune in retrograde? Do people really know how far away Neptune is? Like it is? It is billions of miles away from Earth.

Right? Your your dog has more gravitational impact on you than Neptune does.

Right? It’s just so far.

And yet people ascribe enormous significance to these forecasts millions of people when you look at the search term for horoscope in your SEO tool of choice, millions of searches every month for people looking for their horoscope even though it’s pretty clearly scientific scientifically on the sound.

But it’s a forecast.

It is a forecast.

Is it right? Probably not.

Or if it is it’s purely luck.

That’s correct.

And yet, does it persuade people to take action? The answer is yes.

Yes, it does persuade millions of people to take action someone reading this might be like, Yeah, I’m gonna go back to the gym.

My horoscope tells me it’s time.

You know, the outcome.

We’re always after decisions.

We want people to make decisions.

We want people to take action in any kind of data or analytics or insights or artificial intelligence.

At the end of the day.

We want people to take action and weather the forecast is one that is built with Strong margins of error and cross validation.

And every scientific and statistical tool known to try and make it as accurate as possible, or somebody winging it with a horoscope is the net result is still action.

The net result is still action.

And so one of the things we have to keep in mind as data driven marketers is, we don’t always have to be exactly right, we should strive to be right, we should strive to be as correct as possible.

But at the end of the day, the forecast isn’t the value, the decision that somebody takes the direction that they go, that’s the value.

So if your forecasts are not as accurate as you would like them to be, try not to beat yourself up too much about it.

Instead, focus on whether people are taking action with your forecasts or not.

Because if they are, then the forecasts are doing their job.

And you can should continue to work on making your forecasts more accurately.

But again, don’t beat yourself up over them.

People will make decisions based on a planet billions of miles away with no basis in science whatsoever, and treat that like fact.

So your forecast that you’re putting together with your marketing data, your business data, your finance, data, whatever, that has some grounding in reality is inherently going to be better.

But if no one makes a decision with your forecast and they do make a decision with their horoscope, then I think that’s a good indicator that we need to work on making our forecasts tell a better story, so that we can get people to make a decision.

As for my horoscope? I guess we’ll see how the week turns out.

Thanks for tuning in.

Talk to you soon.

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