Data-Driven or Fact-Driven Decision Making?

Today we are living in a very polarized society. How we got to this point is of our own doing.

Not everyone, but almost all of us, have succumbed to being lazy at some time, leading to our creation of this situation.

Making choices requires us to distinguish between fact & fiction. What is true and what is false?

Faculty & Student Research Conference

When it comes to communication professionals even, we can succumb to mistakes due to limited understanding of information presented to us. We can be concentrating too much or not Enough on Outliers. Factors such as erroneous processes and incorrect data can also lead to outliers. You can expect to come across a variety of outliers when collecting data.

Unfortunately, we are more aware of the term Gaslighting, which describes a person presenting a false narrative to another group or person, which leads them to doubt their perceptions and become misled, disoriented, or distressed.

High-stakes decisions — which can range from starting a business to consummating a joint venture to hiring or firing someone — have something in common: they involve high levels of uncertainty. Due to this anxiety, we look to others for help. This can come at a high cost. In other words, our natural extinct can get us into a lot of trouble.

Faculty & Student Research Conference

Anxiety impairs our ability to accurately judge the quality of the advice we receive.

Now add to this the “Imposter Syndrome,” and we have the making of a significant catastrophe.

If you are following my narrative up to this point, this can make you even more anxious. This can lead to Self-Gaslighting. Your feelings matter and are there for a reason. After facing a conflict, you will most likely do two things: dismiss your emotions, and convince yourself you overreacted. When you feel vulnerable, this reaction intensifies.

All this for the communications professionals creating projects to help their brands grow turn to things like Google Analytics. They are going to use the numbers to help drive their decisions.

What is strange to me is how many communications college graduates have forgotten that nonverbal communication is the most powerful way to communicate because it is the type of communication we use the most daily. How do I know that? Because the weakest part of Google Analytics is its ability to track visuals and how impactful they are in communications.

A great deal of research has been done using eye-tracking technology to see how people react to websites, newspapers, and television. Those research projects consistently show how visuals that do more than just window dressing communicate more quickly and effectively than words alone.

However, we do not have that capability with many of the data points we gather today in things like Google Analytics.

The good thing with Google Analytics is it helped researchers get around those focus group questions that often were not the right question being asked.

I watched over and over-focus groups through the years where they asked readers if they liked photos. The strange part was why they would like pictures of disasters like war or a fire that took people’s lives in their community. Seldom did they ask what they learned from those photos or graphic visuals.

The Atlanta Science Festival

You can create better questions and get more information with Focus Groups than Google Analytics. It can help you fill in some of the missing data.

I think those brands that have the resources should commission research where they run tests using eye-tracking technology to help them understand their audiences even better.

Many articles have shown how Facebook has been used to manipulate the audience. Groups and even government campaigns did some of this to mislead people. Some of this has been done by Facebook itself.

One of the most widely reported ways that Social Media companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram work to manipulate their audience is to track their users’ movements on their platforms and then use analytics to drive what they see.

The goal for them was to keep you using the platform longer, which then they would use to promote to advertisers to show they had their audience. They could not only do this but also help anyone or company target their “Tribe.”

Researchers David and Tami Wood take a five-minute tourist stop at the Aux Pics De Sindou (Needles Rock) in Sindou and discuss with the official Tiemoka Ouattara, also Senara. Tiemoka is the president of the Burkina Faso Association of Senoufa as well.


It would help if you took control of your decisions. Do not let anxiety have you give up your responsibility to understand something.

When we let fear control our decisions, we are more likely to be led by misinterpreted data or not getting enough data.

Don’t forget that nonverbal communication is the most powerful way to communicate because it is the type of communication we use the most daily. Words are first recognized as visual. We must spend years learning to read to interpret those visuals, but we need no training to understand a photograph.

Cancellation Policy

Any timeframe that cannot easily be rebooked is what can quickly have you upside down in cash flow. Weddings are an excellent example of why a cancellation policy is essential. In short, you should book your wedding photographer after you book your venue to be on the safe side (ideally 12 months before the wedding).

When a wedding is canceled even six months out, there is a good chance in many markets you have already had to turn down many brides and may not book another wedding this close to the date.

Brit Ney & Wes Quesada Wedding at Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 58)]

Most wedding businesses [caterers, venues, florists, & photographers] will require full payment more than two weeks before weddings. Believe it or not, many weddings never happen at the last minute or even through the honeymoon.

Clearing checks take approximately two to five business days or longer for more significant amounts. This is why most have a two weeks policy of getting paid early.

Side Note – Knowing that you will turn down other work highlights why you want to be sure your prices are such that if someone books your lowest price, you will still be profitable. Don’t price yourself that if all the clients book your lowest prices, you cannot survive.

Use Some Common Sense

I don’t always enforce my cancellation policy for some reason. Here are just a few things I consider:

  • Regular Client – If this client gives me a lot of work, I will often not enforce my cancellation policy. HOWEVER, if this becomes habitual, I implement it to keep them from abusing me and hurting my business.
  • Can be rescheduled – If rescheduling works, I would potentially not enforce the cancellation policy.
  • Compassion – If the customer has a legitimate family emergency, you may want to work with them instead of creating more problems.
  • Salvage the Relationship – “We typically charge a $____ cancellation fee, but we value your business so that we can waive it this time. Would you like to reschedule?” It’s a good faith gesture that could lead to future appointments—being flexible with a new client and one that could turn into a more significant client.
  • Applying Cancellation Fees to Future Jobs – This could help build a long-term relationship even though things started rocky.

When a client books you for a timeframe, you will be turning away any work from others that need you during this same time.

The type of work they are booking you for should factor into the policy you adopt for your contracts.

Don’t respond right away!!!!

Give yourself time to think and do some research. If you must respond in some way because they called you, say that you were busy with something else when they called and need a moment. Tell them you will call back later.

My Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations & Postponements: Client is responsible for payment of all expenses incurred up to the time Photographer receives actual notification, plus 50 percent of Photographer’s fee. If notice is given less than two business days prior to the shoot date, Client will pay 100 percent of the fee. Unless otherwise agreed, Client will pay 100 percent of the fee for Weather Delays on location or 50 percent of the fee if postponement occurs prior to departure. Client will be charged 100% of fee and expenses for any reshoots required by the client. For reshoots required by an act of God or fault of third party client will pay all additional expenses.

A client booked me for a few days, and they called to cancel. They were hoping I would wave my cancelation fee but said if not, how about just coming for one of the days.

To make this simple for illustration, you have a 2-day project they cancel a week ahead of the event. With the contract, they owe you 50%. If they ask you to cut your time in half, you will charge them the total rate for the entire day and 50% for the day you didn’t shoot.

Phone A Friend

The conversation is a powerful coping tool. Phone-a-Friend is a lifeline in the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Game. For the same reason, contestants call a friend for help for the game is why you should bounce off your ideas and have someone who will give you an honest response on how it makes them feel is not just a good idea, but I highly recommend.

Avoid writing your response and instead, call if possible. When it comes to texting vs. calling, new research finds that calling wins if your goal is to connect with someone in a meaningful way. Because text messaging cannot accurately convey tone, emotion, facial expressions, gestures, body language, eye contact, oral speech, or face-to-face conversation, messages will likely be misinterpreted or misunderstood. The real meaning of your message gets lost through the medium.


Always have a written contract with your jobs. Without the contract, you cannot have an enforceable cancellation policy.

Be sure your cancellation policy is reasonable for the type of work. Best to be confident in your industry that this is what many others are doing.

Be flexible if necessary and firm if required.