Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No Excuses!

Complacency. Inertia. Same-old, same-old. 

These are perils that we all face, whether we are client-side researchers or research suppliers. 

Unless you work with a wide variety of clients on a regular basis, there's a danger of becoming stale...and if you let that happen, you're  doing a disservice to yourself (and your career!), your company, and your clients.  

I think I've heard every excuse in the book for why someone may not want to pursue training or continuous learning:  

"I can't travel"
"Our training budget was just slashed" 
"I don't like face-to-face events because I'm an introvert and don't know anyone"
"I do very specialized research, outside training just doesn't apply"
"There's nothing out there for me"
"I'm too junior-level..." 

Come on folks! No more excuses - it's time for some tough love. No matter your budget, age, type of research, there ARE training opportunities out there. Let's review some of the wealth of resources that are out there:


There are a number of fantastic market research blogs. Add them to your reader and peruse on your own time. If you don't already have this blog in your reader, I suggest you add it. Then, take a look at Next Gen Market Research blogroll for more.  

How about some lunchtime learning? You can often catch a market research webinar over your lunch hour. Because you're not working over your lunch hour...right? If you're interested in specific technology, suppliers often have webinars that provide an overview. Or, if you're more interested in market research practices and theory, there are options for you too. And they always have the attendees on mute, so don't worry...no-one will hear you munching on the potato chips. I'm a fan of the webinars that Revelation and Communispace produce. 

Have nothing to do on your commute, other than listen to NPR? Consider downloading market research podcasts to your MP3 player and listen to them while driving, riding the train, etc. Research Access has some great ones to start with, then search iTunes and Google for more.

Training via social media? Yes! Follow the #mrx hashtag on Twitter and the members of the market research community will link to articles of interest that will keep you reading for days! 

Face-to-Face Events
I have a particular love for face-to-face events. Partially because my company produces face-to-face events, so much of my research focuses on how successful that medium is.  But also becasue I feel I get the most out of my training budget when I attend conferences.

When thinking about events to attend, consider what will give you the most bang for the buck.  For my company, TMRE is the best bang for the market research buck as it provides us the widest variety of session options (138 of them!), the most people for networking (1,200+) and topics that are relevant to me and my work (mobile, generational research, big data, and more).  

I know that face-to-face events are tough for some of the more introverted among us. The prospect of networking can be daunting, especially if it's your first time at a particular. Here's my suggestion - avail yourself of the mentor program so you can receive some guidance as to how to navigate the event, and with your mentor you've made your first networking contact! 

There are also some great print resources - what books and magazines would you recommend? Add your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Immerse Yourself

We’ve all been through the drill:
  • Draft the survey
  • Field the study
  • Gather data
  • Write the report
  • Present the data

The client leaves the meeting with the report/data sheets/PowerPoint slides…and we hope the findings inspire them to take action.

More than anything, as researchers we want the work we’re doing to be actionable! But it’s up to us to help tell the story, to help our clients interpret the data, and really make our end customers come alive through the data. To that end, an alternative to the scenario I outlined above has been on my mind recently: immersion experiences.

I’m not speaking of immersion in terms of doing the doing the (ethnographic, qualitative) research but about presenting the research to clients.

So, how to use an immersion experience to present data in such a way that really engages the client, helps them digest the data well, and inspire them to want to take action on it?

One example that has influenced me was a session I attended last year at TMRE by Heiko Schäfer, Vice President of Consumer & Market Insights at Henkel Consumer Goods (now Senior Director, Global Customer Insights & Analytics at Walmart).

In his presentation, Bringing the Consumer, Shopper and Customer to Life, Schäfer provided a fascinating case study of an immersion session he produced. The immersion experience was set in the company cafeteria (a place that his internal clients couldn’t avoid!), and contained a set of interactive (and insightful) games. From the feedback he received and documented, the immersion session looked like it was a great success in getting his clients to really react to customer data, feedback, and experiences.

During that TMRE last year session, Schäfer shared something that really resonated with me as it pertains to creating immersion experiences: “We’ve become journalists, storytellers, videographers, entertainers…it’s important to bring in the voice of the customer every day.”

Some other immersion experience ideas I’ve been hearing about and kicking around include:
  • An ‘immersion room’ at corporate headquarters with the walls lined with customer data, stories, and feedback presented in a visually impactful way. After an initial introduction and mini-presentation, clients can walk through at their leisure…especially when they need inspiration!
  • An engaging video presentation that brings customer data to life via visuals and storytelling.
  • An experience designed in a virtual reality space that allows clients to “walk through” a customer daily routine, pain points about a product, or experience at an event, for example.

What else, what am I missing? What other creative and interesting ways of immersing clients in the data can you think of? I’d love to hear your stories.

Inspired to learn more? (I am!) Here are a few of the sessions I’m considering attending at TMRE this year that focus on immersing clients in the research findings:
  1. The Art of Storytelling: Getting Traction and Action, given by Sara Bergson of PepsiCo
  2. Bringing Research to Life through Collaborative, Engaging and Inspiring Work Sessions, given by Maisha Cobb of Logitech and Jason Kramer of Vital Findings
  3. Using Data and Insights for Storytelling by Jeremy Murrell of Brown-Forman
For more on these sessions, download the TMRE brochure.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to win my business (a memo from your client)

I'm excited to share that I'll be guest blogging for The Market Research Event! In the run up to the event November 12-14 in Boca Raton, FL, you'll see some cross-posting on some (but not all!) posts. Below is my inaugural post for the TMRE blog

Hello! I'm your client. 

In fact, I'm a client of several of you who are  reading this blog. 

And I've received phone calls, touch bases, sales pitches, and reach outs from many of you. 

I'm one of many client-side researchers active in social media, blogging, and attending market research conferences. I'm privileged to be one of the official bloggers for The Market Research Event this year (thanks IIR!), the event that has more client-side participants than any other market research event. 

Consider my blog entries the voice of your client, and feel to ask questions - let's make this interactive!  

So for my inaugural TMRE blog post, let's discuss some basic tactics for how you suppliers out there can win my business, and the business of my client-side peers...or at least get a foot in the door.

1) Do Your Research

This is simple, but it bears repeating!

Yes folks, we're in the research business, so you would think it would go without saying that you should read up on a client before you pick up the phone. In our industry more than most that should be an ingrained trait. 

But for at least 50% of the sales calls I receive, it's clear that the caller doesn't know the industries our company serves (hint: the info is on the website) and don't know that I work in B2B (hint: also on the website). So much information is on company websites, LinkedIn, and other social media that not doing your research isn't an excuse. 

It's disheartening to get 5-10 minutes into a call only to hear a supplier say - "Oh, I didn't realize...sorry, we can't help you." 

Don't get me wrong, it's not that we (the clients) don't want sales calls - we do! We want to hear what you can offer, but let's jump right into how you can best help us - and we can do that if you've done your research.
2) Be a team member, not just a product

Since many of us work in small research departments within a wider organization, we're often stretched for resources. When pitching to us, focus on how you and your organization can become part of our team, not just another piece of technology for us to manage. 

Invest in customer care training, from your front line tech support to your account executives, it's that important! Customer care, and being focused on the customer experience, can be the tipping point during a sale, especially if your technology is not unique in the marketplace. More than once that has been the deciding factor to go with one vendor versus another, and I'm not alone!

(For some great customer experience stories and excellent coaching, see Annette Gleneicki's CX Journey blog.) 

3)  Social Media: We're out there, and we're watching you

I wholeheartedly suggest that you do become active on social media if you are not already. 

You may query whether client-side researchers are on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., and the answer is a resounding "yes!" 

Some suppliers/agencies have felt there is a lack of social media presence among client-side researchers, but what you need to understand is that we are on social media primarily to monitor the chatter in our specific industries, which is often necessary to do our jobs. But don't discount the fact that we are out there, and likely we are watching YOU. Just as we ask for you to do your research when pitching to us, we do our research in looking at your presence on social media to help us determine whether we would like to enter into a business relationship with you. So, if you want to win our business, ensure that your social media presence is solid. 

In closing, as a client-side researcher I want you suppliers and agencies to remember, we DO want to work with you and we want that relationship to be successful. 

I look forward to hearing from many of you via the blog, and look forward to seeing most of you at The Market Research Event in November!