Thursday, November 15, 2012

TMRE Day 3: Storytelling, Creating a Research Brand, and Beer

TMRE graciously allowed me to be one of the "official" bloggers/tweeters from TMRE 2012 in Boca Raton this week! The daily recaps posted here are also over at the TMRE blog

Well folks, we've made it to the end of another TMRE! I hope you all had a great time and took away some great learnings from the conference, I know I did. Two key themes I noticed today in the keynotes and breakout sessions: storytelling and actionable take-aways.

Without further ado, here’s the recap from the third and final day of TMRE:

One of the key themes of the conference, storytelling, was showcased to full effect by the first keynote speaker, Jonah Sachs, author of Winning the Story Wars and Co-Founder and Creative Director at Free Range Studios. Sachs feels we’re headed into a “digitoral” era - oral tradition by way of digital communication and connection. In this new era of storytelling, it will be important for brands to be able to easily and clearly describe what values the brand is aligned with…not just the features your product has...and market research can clearly help in that discovery process.

Keeping with the theme of storytelling, the first session I attended was PepsiCo’s Sara Bergson presenting “The Art of Storytelling: Getting Traction and Action.” Bergson highlighted the issue that pretty much every TMRE attendee has: how do you get your ideas across in the current business climate of short attention spans, constant interruptions, and increased complexity?

Bergson shared some great, actionable ideas about reporting the data by way of storytelling; stories can simplify complexity. Utilizing the traditional story structure (set the scene ->begin the journey->encounter obstacle->deliver resolution) Bergson creates a 1-page storyline and ghost decks (5 minute presentation, 10 minute, 30 minute and so on) at the beginning of a project which helps to create structure for the research delivery. She also brought up a theme I heard throughout the day – branding your research projects with a name, a logo, a template. This is inspiring to the research team and helps brand the department internally.

Key takeaway: “You can make ‘big thump decks’ and ‘little thump decks,’ but can you get your ideas across in one page?”

Next up was a session co-presented by Katy Mogul of Logitech and Jason Kramer of VitalFindings: “Bringing Research to Life Through Collaborative, Engaging, And Inspiring Work Sessions.” As you can tell from the title, this session focused on utilizing workshops to really bring the research to life for your internal clients: marketing, engineering/R&D, senior executives, and so on.  Kramer highlighted that workshops can unlock that highest level of learning: read, analyze, SYNTHESIZE. The session focused on using workshops during different phases of the project lifecycle: before research begins, between research phases, and after research is complete. Mogul then shared several case studies of how Logitech used workshops for product ideation and engaging R&D.

Key takeaway: Workshops can be utilized throughout the research process to engage your internal clients and go ‘beyond the PowerPoint.’

Genius moves by the presenters? Bringing the persona boards and staging them throughout the room, and providing a laminated deck of workshop cards with instructions as to how to run each type of workshop they discussed.

Finally, it was time to listen in on Florence Guesnet of Heineken’s presentation on “The Toughness of Soft Skills.” If the title is a bit vague, here’s the gist – the presentation was about building and branding the market research department within a large organization (240 total brands!).  Guesnet’s challenge was “applying marketing to the market research function, something we [researchers] are amazingly lousy at.”

She created a research brand within the company by clearly defining their key foci (foresight, intelligence, excellence, impactful talent), their selling line: “We Know, We Share, We Inspire,” and by building awareness throughout the company with impactful imagery, creative reporting, and relevant take-aways. Throughout the presentation, Guesnet brought the focus back to the internal customer, and highlighting that it’s “not good enough to be right,” you also have to address System 1 and System 2, and be able to deliver “what’s in it for them [senior management].”

Key takeaway: Treat the market research function as a brand and don’t be modest about it. Keep the relevance of research at the forefront, and pay major attention to execution (video, print, etc.).

Best quote of the day: "A consumer insight is to marketing what yeast is to beer!"

Day 3 finished up with a great keynote by Robert Kozinets, Professor of Marketing at York University and author of Netnography. For more information on the day’s final keynote ,other sessions that I didn't cover, and overall event chatter, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #TMRE on Twitter.

It’s been my pleasure to provide blog updates and tweets throughout the conference – thanks to TMRE for the opportunity. Please don’t hesitate to connect up on Twitter and LinkedIn. Safe travels everyone!

TMRE Day 2: Superextenders+CrossFit+System 1 Thinking=Full Brain

TMRE graciously allowed me to be one of the "official" bloggers/tweeters from TMRE 2012 in Boca Raton this week! The daily recaps posted here are also over at the TMRE blog

Based on the positive feedback regarding the rundown-of-sessions blog format, I kept the same format for today-enjoy the recap:

Nothing like starting off Day 2 of TMRE with a Nobel Prize winner!

The first keynote of the day was Daniel Kahneman, Professor Emeritus at Princeton, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow.  Kahneman outlined System 1 and System 2 thinking, why confidence in our intuition may not be accurate, and why we shouldn't take others’ confidence at face value, but rather examine whether they have the experience and skill to back up that confidence.  The #TMRE Twitter stream came alive with applications Kahneman’s observations have to market research – including questions as to how can we tailor research to invoke System 1 or 2 responses?

The second keynote of the morning was Ron Williams, co-author of The Value Path. Williams focused on embedding innovation in everyday business, rather than focusing on changing the business model. Williams asked a key question: “How can you and your clients continue to innovate (sustain value creation over time) if you can't predict what the customer of tomorrow will value, in an ever expanding choice space?”

Williams shared highlights of companies who do well in ever-changing marketplaces (“Superextenders”) and those who struggle (“Ultrafades”) with case studies that included GAP, Blockbuster, Amazon and Nokia. What do Superextenders do well? Among other things, look for new dimensions of value rather than focusing on new product features, and they don’t fall into the “commodity trap” where everyone has the same value narrative. This leads to companies aggressively inventing around incremental features and functions.

Heading into sessions this morning, one that caught my eye was “Shattering the Proverbial Glass Ceiling,” a panel discussion led by Kristin Luck of Decipher, with panelists Karen Morgan of Morgan Search, Kelley Peters of Post Foods, and Melva Benoit of Fox Broadcasting.  Luck introduced the session by quoting some statistics from a recent study from Women in Research, such as the fact that only 16% of firms on the Honomichl list are led by women. A heartening finding from the study? Neither females nor males feel they are being discriminated against in the industry. What advice did the panel have for women looking to get ahead in the industry? Identify a mentor who can be a champion for you, find a niche within the industry (i.e. kids + television for Benoit), and hone your negotiation skills whether you’re asking for a better title or an increase in salary.  

Data visualization continues to be a hot topic, and it was standing room only in the “Data Visualization and Deployment Techniques that Bring Research to Life” session co-presented by Rajit Chakravarty of BP and Lisa Gudding of GfK.  Gudding spoke about data visualization living at the intersection of art, science, and communication, and provided some salient examples of easy, inexpensive ways to work more data visualization into your reports and deliverables. The session wrapped up with an eye-catching segmentation case study by Chakravarty of BP that included logos, customized visualization templates, a branded web portal, and workshops with their marketing executives to immerse them in the segments.  BP employed creative visualizations from comic book style storyboards to dashboard-like overviews of the segments.

Stepping way outside my comfort zone, I decided to head to the “Lessons Learned from Reebok/CrossFit Facebook Fans” session.  I don’t do CrossFit (but aspire to!) and we don’t do Facebook research, but I certainly took away some interesting nuggets of insight.  The premise:  Reebok was interested in researching fans of their Reebok CrossFit Facebook page and their overall Reebok Facebook Page. Why? Reebok strives to be the brand for fitness and wants to be authentic and supporting of the CrossFit community, without crossing the line into over-commercialization. Working with iModerate (COO Jen Drolet co-presented), fans of both pages were interviewed and the findings are helping Reebok to enhance their relationship with CrossFit, drive cross-over traffic to the corporate page, and strengthen their engagement with their fans.

Two fantastic keynotes rounded out the day – Robert J. Atencio of Pfizer and Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future  - and kept everyone’s rapt attention until the cocktail hour began.  For more information on the day’s final keynotes ,other sessions that I didn’t cover, and overall event chatter, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #TMRE on Twitter.

Stay tuned for news and notes from the final day of TMRE tomorrow!

TMRE Day 1: Hurdles, Accomplishments, and a Great First Day

TMRE graciously allowed me to be one of the "official" bloggers/tweeters from TMRE 2012 in Boca Raton this week! The daily recaps posted here are also over at the TMRE blog

Hello from Boca! TMRE started off bright and early this morning with a day of Summit sessions across such tracks as Business to Business, Ad & Media Research, Global Research and Insights, and more.

Because of my role at Diversified Business Communications (as a B2B research manager) it made natural sense that I attend all of the sessions in the Business to Business track today. I certainly learned some new things, validated some assumptions and also commiserated with other B2B researchers as we have some special and unique issues and hurdles to deal with.

In our first session of the day, John Dahl, Global Customer Insights Department Manager for 3M highlighted those hurdles in a case study specific to B2B value proposition research: "Fewer, bigger customers, smaller sample sizes, hard to find respondents." Yep, definitely some hurdles we contend with.  IN addition, B2B researchers may be struggling to contend with and move beyond "a poor market research tradition [in B2B] (smaller budgets, greater skepticism)."

How to overcome some of these hurdles? Find a champion - this was a theme that ran throughout the B2B sessions.  Eddie Accomando of Anthroconsulting, and the Global Semiconductor Research Program Manager for Texas Instruments highlighted: "You need a champion. Your [researcher's] courage to fight for quality must be paired with someone who has influence in the organization." In addition to finding an executive champion for research, it's also important to BE the internal champion for the research.  As Courtney Hallendy, Strategic Research Manager for Toyota Financial Services said: "Being an internal champion for the research is critical, to create a research brand both internally and externally."

It was refreshing today to hear that more B2B researchers are utilizing "newer" methodologies such as online communities and message boards.  Yes, B2C-ers, you've been using these for years, but B2B can sometimes lag behind in adoption.  Presentations in the B2B track today included online communities, message boards, customer panels, and more...and the case studies certainly highlighted some great successes:
  • -Using customer panels to conduct research, Texas Instruments is "saving 75% and producing better data."
  • -Based on a real need for the Voice of the Customer (in their case, dealership management and employees), Toyota created an online community that is providing great data and feedback already (it launched recently) and is providing much-needed nationwide data.
And what holds true for B2C holds true for B2B - if you have any sort of community or panel platform, remember to be transparent to the community as to who you are, and feed back to your community how the data is being used.  Those are key drivers for participation.

As we prepare for day two, I'll leave you with two final items:
  • -Kudos to Andrew Vranesic, Global Product Marketing Manager for GE Healthcare, who managed to work the word heteroskedasticity into his presentation. That is something you don't hear every day, or at just any conference!
  • -Some words of wisdom from Eddie Accomando, which are applicable to researchers in all industries: "Be responsible, but flexible. Do what you can, suffer what you must. Your provider is always going to want to stick to the rules, and your client is always going to want to bend the rules."
That's it for Day 1! Stay tuned for tomorrow's updates from TMRE in Boca Raton.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Your Life, By The Numbers

As we get closer to TMRE I've been thinking more and more about data.

-The data that we are gathering and analyzing during our research projects

-The data that flows through the estimated 75 million servers worldwide each day

-And what's most interesting to me lately - the data that we are all capturing every day about our daily lives. What we eat, how fast we run, what medicines we take, how many times we post to Twitter, and so on.

Life tracking, as it's now called, was called out in 2010 by Gary Wolf of WIRED in an article for the New York Times entitled The Data-Driven life. In his article, Wolf highlighted that what was once the playground of the "ultrageek" was becoming increasingly mainstream as social and mobile grew:

“People got used to sharing,” says David Lammers-Meis, who leads the design work on the fitness-tracking products at Garmin. “The more they want to share, the more they want to have something to share.” Personal data are ideally suited to a social life of sharing. You might not always have something to say, but you always have a number to report.

This is how the odd habits of the ultrageek who tracks everything have come to seem almost normal.

So yeah, there are "ultrageeks" like Tim Ferriss and Nicholas Felton who track their lives on a very deep, granular level. But us 'regular folks' are starting to pursue life tracking, whether we're aware of it or not. 

-Perhaps you're trying to lose weight so you're logging your meals with WeightWatchers or SparkPeople apps. 

-Perhaps you're trying to PR your next half marathon, so you're using your Garmin Forerunner to  calculate your time, distance and pace, and wirelessly send your data to your computer.

-You might even be using RescueTime to track how productive (or not) you're being at work so you can modify your habits appropriately. 

-If you're heavily into social media, you may even be using apps like Memento to take your social updates and put them into daily diary format. 

If you're doing any of the above, you're well on your way to life tracking.  There are an abundance of apps for your i-devices that allow you to track pretty much everything about your life. 

So, why do I find this so fascinating? Two reasons:

1) The more mainstream life tracking becomes, potentially the more willing research participants might be to share life tracking information.

2) Big data. The more folks get into life tracking, the more data is available about the research participants we may want to study.

I look forward to discussing market research, big ideas, big data, and even life tracking at TMRE - I'll see you there!

Monday, November 5, 2012

You're Hired!

So, we're hiring. I don't tell you that because I'm sharing a job posting here (that's here), I tell you that because building a strong market research department that is

focused on doing solid research 
an innovation leader

has been top of mind recently.

To that end, I'm quite excited to attend the "The Next Generation Researcher: Skillsets, Interests & Backgrounds To Look For and Nurture" interactive discussion hosted by Intel at TMRE...which is just three weeks away!

What goes through my mind when hiring is likely similar to what goes through yours. Questions like:
  • What's the makeup of a department that will drive the business forward? 
  • What skills must a candidate come to the table with, and for what skills are we willing to offer training?
  • What industry experience do the candidates have that is transferable to the industries in which we work?
  • Are we going to ask this resource to hit the ground running, or are we going to give them a longer lead time to get up to speed?

I'm on the client/corporate side, so do you think my criteria for hiring are different from hiring managers on the supplier side?  John Hilland of Mindwave Research has a great interview with Cameron Cramer, owner of Marketing Intelligence Professionals that addresses that question.

It's worth a read as he posits that supplier-side research hiring managers are more risk averse and want more immediate contributions from new hires, versus client-side hiring managers who are more inclined to hire someone who can "grow into" the position. Do I agree with Cramer? No, I don't. In these times where we're all doing more with less, being able to hit the ground running is imperative.

That said, we all should be considering what training programs are in place when considering what skills can be trained versus what skills a candidate needs to bring to the table.

A recent study by Best Practices, LLC highlighted that "70% of surveyed market research executives acknowledge that "soft" intrapersonal skills such as negotiation  and "listening" are critical competencies for market research professionals - yet most organizations do not have training programs nor systems to monitor and develop these skills in their market research staff."

While I (think I) have all the answers for hiring for my department, I'm excited to learn from my peers at TMRE regarding what skill sets, interests and backgrounds they are looking for in their new hires. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fright Night, Market Research Style

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!

I could go on and on about the trending costumes for the year, and data crunching about candy brands. But instead, in the "spirit" of Halloween...I'd like to draw your attention to the scary side of market research.

1) Check out Annie Pettit's "The 6 Worst Market Research Mistakes for some ghoulish examples. Annie is always excellent at pointing best practices, as well as the bad and ugly of research, such as the terrifyingly mis-representative 3D pie chart she shares - yikes.  

2) I think Christian and I were having some similar thoughts this week, as we both were thinking about the fabulous (and mysterious) MR Heretic whose blog has been quiet for a while, but who has kept the industry on our toes with such pointed blogs as "You killed market research when you defended the status quo" as Christian mentioned as well as "Participant is Not Engagement" and "Submariners in Space." Along those same lines, we do have the emergence of Angry MR Client on Twitter.

3) While we're on the "scary theme, don't forget scream-inducying pink glittery infographics and SMQs (Scary Matrix Questions - I love that these actually have an acronym).

In the spirit of the season, I can't end this post without sharing some data.  For your ghoulish viewing pleasure, I give you a Halloween by-the-numbers infographic!