Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Off to the mountains - covering #QSummit14 in Feb!

I'm excited to announce that I'll be live blogging and tweeting from the Qualtrics Summit, February 18-20, 2014 in Salt Lake City! 

Not only am I excited to hear from such esteemed speakers as Fred Reichheld, Susan Topel, Bruce Temkin and Lenny Murphy (and many more) but I'm also excited to talk to other Qualtrics users, share best practices, and of course see the lovely mountains out there in Salt Lake (I have a serious thing for mountains). 

Keep up to date on Twitter as we lead up to the event via #QSummit14. During the event, I know that twitter stream will be hopping, and I'll be posting daily recaps here on my blog and over at the Qualtrics blog

Want to join me in Salt Lake in February? Early bird pricing is still in effect until New Year's Eve, so head over to the Qualtrics Summit page to sign up and to review the full list of speakers and the agenda. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Digital Sabbatical (don't worry, just a week!)

It's time for my annual Digital Sabbatical week. 

Time to log off, shut down, and try to break myself of the 6am-checking-email habit! 

I take a Digital Sabbatical every year (I'm capitalizing it in the hopes it becomes an official week someday ;) to recharge. To be clear, I'm NOT taking a Digital Sabbatical because I'm "sick of the internet" or "am far too connected all the time." In fact, I love social media, I love being connected all the time, and thank the universe pretty much daily that I'm living in this time of history where we're on the digital frontier. 

So, why log off for a week? Why now?

1) It's a vacation week or partial week for those of us in the United States due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday. My husband's from the birthplace of Thanksgiving (Plymouth, MA) so you're right if you're thinking that Thanksgiving is a BIG DEAL in our family.

2) December is a busy busy social month, and I can't wait to be connecting with friends and family across town and across the globe to celebrate, and social media makes that even more fun, so December is definitely a time I want to be online.

3) A week is about how long I need to recharge my social batteries and prep for some great social media and blogging stuff I'm planning for the new year! 

What does a Digital Sabbatical mean to me?  

  • No blogging
  • No Facebook
  • No Twitter
  • No email

What will I be doing instead?
  • Catching up on my reading! I love to read (and am a wicked fast reader) and I've got a backlog to catch up on. From some advanced readers copies via LibraryThing Early Reviewers to Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian...and lots and lots of novels.
  • Enjoying the outside more! Time to head out and see more of the sights before the snow really starts flying
  • Yes, I will be Christmas shopping
  • Spending time with family
  • Thinking up my "big ideas" and goals for what I want to accomplish in 2014
See you back online the week after next! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Maine Ideas Worth Spreading - A Recap of TEDxDirigo 2013

"TED talks"

Just hearing that conjures up big names (think Sheryl Sandberg extolling women to lean in or Bill Gates releasing mosquitoes into the crowd), and big ideas (robots, exoskeletons, big data, vulnerability). 

Many of us have heard of TED talks, and it's likely that we're some of the millions that have watched TED talks - especially those that have gone viral on social media. The statistics are staggering. As of 11/13/13, TED talks have been watched one billion times worldwide

I've been a superfan of TED ever since the conference talks started to be released online back in 2006, and harbor a not-so-secret desire to attend the annual Long Beach conference. 

Here's a little background: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an annual conference in Long Beach, California, curated by Chris Anderson. Just like TED's mission of "ideas worth spreading" the TED brand has spread as well to encompass additional conferences including TEDGlobal, TED.com, TEDWomen, TEDMED, the TED Prize, TED Fellows, and the independently organized TEDx events. 

The TEDx events are "designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level" and follow the same structure of talks up to 18 minutes on a variety of topics, presented in engaging and innovative ways. 

We're incredibly lucky in Maine that we have a TEDx event in our own backyard! TEDxDirigo started up in 2010 to "celebrate innovation and creativity in Maine and to be a catalyst for positive change." 

I was thrilled this year to be invited to attend the fourth iteration of TEDxDirigo on November 3rd in Brunswick.   


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm no longer a "TED virgin" (yes, that phrase actually does exist). 

This year's TED event was held at the Cabot Mill in Brunswick in a space that was part art gallery, part restaurant (Frontier - yum!). The program went from approximately 9 to 5 and was staggered in three groups of around 6 speakers.  Yes, that's a lot of speakers and a lot of topics...and it was a lot to take in on a Sunday! If you attend a TED conference, be prepared to say "my brain is completely full" by the end of it. 

The theme was "Generate" and everything from the speakers' themes to the application process was along the lines of: "What do you generate and bring into the world/to life?"

Reminders of the Generate theme were abundant

Some of my favorite talks included: 

  • Alicia Eggert who creates amazing kinetic art that makes you ponder the existence of time, your place in the world, and makes you ponder how she engineers her artwork.
  • Yona Belfort, a product designer and founder of Vital Innovation, who asked us to think hard about the value of everyday items and shed interesting light on the differences between hoarders and minimalists.
  • John Coleman, the founder of The VIA Agency, who shared his vision for a more positive world...and steps as to how we can all get there.
  • Voot Yin, a geneticist at Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, whose talk on organ regeneration had attendees exclaiming aloud "how cool" and "imagine the implications." The video that accompanied his talk needs to be seen to be believed! (see below for Livestream link)
  • Rafael Grossmann, a medical doctor whose specific interests lie at the intersection of technology and healthcare.  He's was among the first Google Glass Explorers, and the first doctor to ever use Google Glass during live surgery.  Yes, Dr. Grossmann was wearing Glass during his talk, and yes, his talk was amazingly cool and had us all buzzing about the future of medicine. 
There were many more fantastic speakers, artists, and even aerial dancers!

But I want to focus on my very favorite talk of the day came from Mohammed Nur, a high school student (!), a Seeds of Peace ambassador (officially called Seeds) and a NAACP King Fellow. Mohammed's talk about being made to feel "different" and "foreign" in the state where he was born, how to generating change, and how to generate peace had everyone on their feet. Someone give this kid a national stage...and soon.

In between the talks were networking breaks and a delicious (vegetarian!) lunch, and with an attendee roster of community leaders, influencers and change-makers, the networking opportunities were fantastic! 

My contribution to the "I generate..." chalk wall

I left the event energized, exhausted, and inspired...and yes, with a new custom TEDxDirigo SeaBag in tow. 

My badge, and the very cool custom SeaBag created for TEDxDirigo 

I definitely hope to get an invite next year, and yes, my aspirations include speaking at TED as well as attending some of the other TED conferences around the country. Good stuff, brain expanding stuff, inspiring stuff!

Interested? All talks from TEDxDirigo: Generate were live streamed and the archived stream can be found here

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Day in the Life...

I would venture a guess that most of you are at least peripherally familiar with “Day in the Life of a Customer” (DITLOC) studies.  If your customers are looking for a deep-dive into their customers' lives, looking for new product opportunities, better knowledge about how their products or services are being used, or simply wanting to learn more about their customer base, a DITLOC study could be the way to go. 

However, what I've found interesting lately is when I mention “day in the life” studies in my conversations with other researchers, what comes up more often than DITLOC studies with customers is the desire to hear more about the day in the life (and/or the productivity and workflow tips) of a researcher

Why? If you’re a corporate researcher like I am, it’s always fascinating to get out of your bubble and hear how other corporate researchers are faring within their companies. Are there better ways to do things? Ways to gain efficiencies? Inspiration to be had? 

One of benefits of attending TMRE is to meet your peers. In my case that's client-side researchers in small-to-medium size organizations. It's a chance to commiserate and accomplish the above - to do some brain picking as to each other's processes in the hopes we can find some efficiencies to bring back to our offices and teams. 

Sessions at #TMRE13 that focused on the stories, processes, and triumphs of corporate researchers such as Marisa Paruch of Wolverine Worldwide and Susan Topel of Centene were fantastic for corporate researchers like me - to give us a "day in the life" per se.  

Outside of attending TMRE there are some but not many resources that cover this for researchers.  There are a few videos out there that cover this such as this overview of Steve Murphy's day as Managing Director at Ipsos, and this oldie but goodie about the day in the life of a Research Analyst. Are there some great researcher day-in-the-life resources that I’m missing? 

Outside of research, there are great ongoing profile series such as Inc.'s The Way I Work and Lifehacker's This Is How I Work.  

Is this a topic that resonates with you? Are you interested in how different researchers work? What questions would you want to know, and who would you like to hear from?  

If so, let me know in the comments below if this is a feature you'd be interested in reading, I’m happy to do some interviewing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

75 Slides

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event blog

A resounding theme we heard again and again at #TMRE13 this year was "no more 75-slide decks."  In many of the sessions we also heard "there needs to be a tailored approach depending on your audience." 

I know, I know, not earth-shattering insights, but apparently the industry needs to hear this as I saw lots of heads nodding and sheepish looks when those 75-slide deck reports were mentioned. 

As an aside - we're obviously all crazysmart if a 75-slide report is the easy way out!

But back to the topic. It's hard not to want to be everything to everyone, and deliver all the data and insights that someone may ever need. But if you aren't considering your audience and delivering insights in a format that works for them you're going to lose them...and you both lose out: they don't 'get' your insights and you lose your audience.

We heard several different alternatives to the 75-slide deck at #TMRE13 including: 

-A 'Top 5 Insights' mobile-optimized infographic (mentioned by Sarah Ryan of TNS and Ramona Harvey of eBay

-Workshops workshops workshops (mentioned by Kate Pomeroy of Pernod Ricard USA and Dorothy White and Leigh O'Donnell of Mars Petcare

-Inviting the client to take part in the research, and their takeaway is their experience, not a slide deck (mentioned by several speakers

As mentioned above, know your audience (apparently we need reminding of this!) and determine what resonates with the right- or left-brain thinking of your audience. The manner and method that you present your findings to your CFO and his team will (hopefully!) be different than how you would present your findings to your magazine's editorial team. 

While we’re on the topic of data delivery and reporting, I want to reference a research report that recently came out from Confirmit.   

Confirmit recently released the results of their 9th Annual MR Software Survey in which they noted the findings as ‘one step forward, two steps back’.  Backwards in terms of survey length not conforming quickly enough to mobile and companies’ waning commitment to panel quality.  Forward in terms of new data collection methods.  

However, what caught my eye in the findings was the following:

“The survey also found another backwards step for MR agencies. They seem reluctant to move away from Microsoft PowerPoint during the reporting phase, in spite of the clear benefits of using digital dashboards, interactive analysis and online static reports. Indeed, there has been a surge in the use of Excel as researchers strive to provide clients with reports that can be manipulated.”

However, in keeping with the 'know your audience' theme above, do clients want reports that can be manipulated? Is it really a 'backward step' to be using PowerPoint? To me it's less the tool (I've seen good and bad PowerPoints, as have we all) and it's more delivering what will resonate most with the audience. If the audience finds comfort and familiarity with slides to better ingest insights, then go with that. If your audience is hungry for data they can manipulate themselves, then go with the reports that Confirmit mentions above. 

So, are you keying in to the data delivery needs of your customers, and how are you meeting those needs? Is what you’re providing enough, not enough, or too much/data overload? Make sure you’re asking those questions often and really listening.  

From my perspective, I’m always open to integrating new data delivery methods if they meet my clients’ needs better than what I’m currently using. I’m also completely fine with PowerPoint as long as it’s used well to tell a story.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Week at TMRE...

This week I had the great fortune to be an "official blogger/tweeter" for IIRUSA at The Market Research Event 2013. 

As always, the conference impressed with the number of researchers (both client-side and agency) coming together to learn what's new in the industry, discuss current challenges, and network with peers.  

I recapped each day of the conference in a blog post for the TMRE13 blog and I've reposted them here as well. Happy reading!

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 Recap

Day 3 Recap

Twitter stream for the event

Eventifier for the event

Live from #TMRE13: Day 3 Recap – Malcolm Gladwell, Insights into Action, and Becoming a Research Force to be Reckoned With

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

We made it folks! The third and final day of #TMRE13 was a great one, and by this time most of you are on planes, trains or in cars heading back home. Consider this your travel reading.

The day kicked off with a truly Nashville-style surprise – a musical introduction by Tim McNary, lead singer of the band McNary. Our first keynote session was an esteemed panel comprised of Timothy de Waal Malefyt from the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University, Kathleen Vohs from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and Catherine Havasi of the MIT Media Lab, and moderated by Katy Mogal of Jawbone. The discussion focused on integrated thinking and the intersection of behavior economics, data science and anthropology. The discussion covered a lot of ground but a key takeaway was how important context is in ethnography, and how context, creativity, confusion contradiction, and conflict (5Cs) lead to ethnographic insights.

Next up was a man who really didn't need much introduction, judging by the market research fanbase on Twitter. Malcolm Gladwell, renowned author of BlinkThe Tipping PointOutliers, and most recently David and Goliath focused on “the inverted U curve” and how all too often we’re focused on one part of the curve but not the other, if we even know the curve exists. We need to take a step back and sometimes do some meta-analysis to see the bigger picture. 

Gladwell also focused on the “won’t” vs. the “can’t” – there are often not enough incentives for people to say “I have enough” and he posited that perhaps capping spending for healthcare or capping R&D budgets could actually solve problems. He also highlighted that there’s also not typically a dearth of information, often “we don’t need more information, we need more action.”  There's an entire other post here on the blog regarding his talk, so I'll move on, but I want to give you a sense of some of the other talks.  But to give you a sense of the popularity of Gladwell's talk, the #TMRE13 hashtag reached 144,392 impressions in 14 minutes of his talk – wow!

The day was just beginning! Soon after Gladwell’s talk I attended “Upping Your Seat at the Table” given by Aaron Fetters of Kellogg's. Fetters feels that the “seat at the table” is waiting for us, and that businesses generally have a desire for insights to play a bigger role. In order to snag that seat we need to expand our sources of knowledge and view of where insights come from (social, CRM systems, loyalty programs, etc.), build and foster the right skills on your team, and create services and solutions that really fuel brand growth. He advocates putting research and analytics in the same working group (something we've done as well that has been very successful). 

The key soundbite from the session was that we as researchers need to “learn to walk from the computer room to the board room” – essentially speak both languages, from stats to storytelling in order to communicate to both teams and drive from insights to action.

Next up, Dorothy White and Leigh O’Donnell of Mars Petcare shared some concrete examples of how to evangelize and amplify insights throughout the organization. Their framework included to-do’s for every step of the project, from performing executive interviews and aligning objectives, methodology and logistics before project kickoff, to testing for surprises and prepping for action during the project, to polishing the message and “workshop ‘til you drop” after the results are in.

Finally, the last session I attended was one of the best of the conference, given by Kate Pomeroy of Pernod Ricard USA focusing on “Converting Insights into Action.” It was a rollicking presentation that covered everything from salt licks to bottle service, from body shots to Portlandia all wrapped up into an insightful presentation with some actionable takeaways on how to craft compelling insights, look for the tension, challenge beliefs and behaviors, visually bringing research to life, and becoming a cultural force to be reckoned with (create a workshop culture and a strong research ‘brand’). Pomeroy said: “The worst thing you can say to me is that I’m ‘the research person’ and the best compliment would be ‘you create value.’”

I hope you all enjoyed your time at #TMRE13 and came away with some actionable insights, lots of business cards, and some new friends! It’s been my honor to tweet and blog the conference for you, and I hope to see you all back next year at #TMRE14 in Boca Raton.  I’d love to stay connected with you - you can always find me on Twitter and at my blog.  Safe travels back home! 

Live from #TMRE13: Day 2 Recap – Looking to the Future, Selling the Right Way, FOMO, and Engagementification!

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

Wow, what a day at #TMRE13! The day was bookended by some fabulous keynote speakers, and mid-day we had no less than NINE tracks of sessions to choose from.  From Strategic Planning to Disruptive Technologies & New Methodologies, there was definitely something for everyone offered today.

Kicking off the morning was Jeffrey Cole, Director of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future who shared results from a study that has been in process for 10+ years, yielding some fascinating insights  and well as sharing his thoughts on the future.  

We learned that FOMO (fear of missing out) is actually a thing. Discussing social networks (including Friendster “which was the coolest social network for about 12 minutes “) Cole feels that Facebook will continue to grow, especially in developing countries, but will survive as “the phone book to the planet” while folks decamp to smaller networks to socialize. Finally, Cole’s advice to brands? “Your learning curve must be steeper than your action curve!”

Next up was Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human, who right off debunked the myth that we don’t need sales folks.  1 in 9 American workers in 2000 were in sales.  Now? The same, 1 in 9.  However, as Pink shared, our gut reaction when we think “sales” is “a guy in a suit selling a car.”  In fact, when asking research participants to share what came to mind when they thought of sales, the below is what emerged: 

The world of sales has changed – we’ve moved from ‘buyer beware’ to ‘seller beware', so the old mantra of “Always BClosing” no longer holds water. Pink suggests an alternate: Attunement, Bouyancy and Clarity. 

Jumping into sessions, we learned a new mashup word from Randall Janisch of Ford Motor Company – Engagementification - in his talk “Keep it Simple: Simple Innovations in Research Methodology that Go a Long Way.” Janisch focused on innovations from simple ones like making survey questions more visually appealing to more complex or creative methodologies like Ford’s LiveDrive – live, mobile broadcasting (audio/video) so only the moderator goes on the drive along, and the clients follow along in real time online, and can interact with the moderator with questions/prompts. Ford has found this helpful as it removes the reliance on post-drive recall.

The NGMR Award winners (more on that below) were interviewed in a panel discussion led by Kristin Luck of Decipher and Tom Anderson of Odin Text, Anderson Analytics. Key takeaways from the winners included “reverse mentoring – hire folks younger than you as there’s a lot to be learned from them” and “to market yourself in market research you need to be a thought leader – don’t be afraid to take a stand!” 

The keynotes that rounded out the day were from Jeremy Sack, Director of the Pragmatic Brain Science Institute, LRW, and futurist Jared Weiner, VP at Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.  Jeremy Sack shared his research on stereotyping and how brand stereotyping creates reality.  In order to improve brand stereotypes, “the change effort must feel authentic, the interaction must feel cooperative.” Jared Weiner then took us on a tour of the near future, where gameification will “underpin everything” and where time is simultaneous not sequential, and taught us we should use ‘alien eyes’ to look at things objectively and remove “educated incapacity.” 

Finally, befitting an industry gathering, there were two sets of awards given out today, the EXPLOR awards and the NGMR Disruptive Innovation Awards.  Congrats to the CDC and Mktg Incorporated who snagged the top EXPLOR award prize! Congrats also go out to BrainJuicerInsites Consulting, and Bob Lederer (of Research Business Daily Report fame) for winning the NGMR Disruptive Innovation Awards!

Tomorrow promises to be another busy day of learning and networking...and Malcolm Gladwell! See you all bright and early!   

Live from #TMRE13: Day 1 Recap: Ensuring Your Seat at the Table, Evangelizing Research, and Thumb Wrestling!

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event blog-

Hi folks! Each day of #TMRE13 I'll recap key insights from several of the sessions I attended. Follow the blog for daily recaps and don't forget to follow the #TMRE13 Twitter stream for up-to-the-minute updates.

It was a whirlwind first day of #TMRE! Sessions kicked off right at 8:30am (good morning!) and ended with a rockstar keynote by Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken (I recently wrote about her here).  

As many of you know, I'm on the client side and I was pleased that several key client-side themes came up in multiple sessions today:

**We're all looking for "a seat at the table," to prove to our customers (either internal or external, depending on your research gig) that we researchers exist to provide strategic, actionable insights and to help guide strategic insights. As Susan Topel of Centene highlighted in her session "It's Just Not That Hard - Using Consumer Insight for Competitive Advantage" we are not in the job to be order-takers and if you're not being invited to sit at the table, show up anyway!

**As client-side researchers, to be successful you'll need to budget part of your time to evangelizing the research and insights function. If you do your job well, you'll have internal clients asking "what voice of the customer research has been done for this [product launch]" before decisions are made, as has happened to Melanie Wing of Equifax, mentioned in her "The Magical Intersection: How Combining Customer Insights  Competitive Intelligence and Customer Analytics Creates Optimal Business Results" session.

**When you're under the gun for quick turnaround on a project, remember that in addition to going out and getting insights from new data, there may be opportunities to mine your own data to help quantify or bolster those insights. Sarah Ryan of TNS and Ramona Harvey of eBay shared this in an excellent case study of a 3 week + 30k project that yielded insights looking at both existing and new data. 

**Find the right tools and implement some solid process structure in order to be nimble with your research, as there's not always a lot of time to outsource to a research partner. In his session "Lessons Learned from Improving Strategic Market Intelligence Function," Adam Kowalik of Ernst & Young Poland introduced us to the FAROUT framework: future oriented, accurate, resource efficient, objective, usable, and timely. 

Other highlights from today didn't just focus on client-side research. We heard a lot about "reporting" vs. "storytelling" and how to get from one to the next, both in practice, and in perception by your clients. You don't want to become known as the department that just sends out unwieldy reports. For example, in the eBay presentation mentioned above, Sarah and Ramona shared that one of their deliverables for a key project (there were multiple deliverables) was a mobile-optimized infographic sent to their marketing teams that highlighted 5 key insights from the project.  We talk a lot about user expereince in the market research community, and several speakers reminded us to think about your client's user experience with your deliverables.

At the end of the day, Jane McGonigal had us play an epic game of massive multiplayer thumb wrestling to invoke positive "gamer emotions" - thousands of researchers holding hands (well, thumb wrestling) at the end of a busy day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hip, Hot, Happening, and New

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!  

It order for us to not become stagnant in our jobs and careers, or career, it’s incumbent upon us to continue to seek out the new things happening in our industry. There are lots of ways to do that, from reading industry publications, attending regional association events, watching webinars, reading blogs, being active on social media, and yes national conferences like TMRE.

No matter what sector of the industry we’re in, from qualitative face-to-face interviewing to ‘big data’ analysis, it’s always helpful to hear what other folks are doing.  Not to say that for example if you’re a small qualitative shop hat you’re going to jump into the deep end of neuromarketing immediately. But you never know: 

What your clients may ask (and it’s good to be informed)
What inspiration you might glean from other companies’ projects
What new product or service you might learn about that would serve your company well

I know I know, we only have so many hours in the day and there can be absolute information overload. 

So figure out what works for you to stay on top of the ‘hot trends’ in the industry.  

Maybe it’s booking some time for yourself each Friday over lunch to watch a recorded webinar. 

Perhaps you hold on to your industry publications and those become airplane reading. 

It could be setting up a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to check the #mrx Twitter feed.  

And, of course, it could be spending a few ‘concentrated learning’ days at an industry conference such as #TMRE13As luck would have it, the savvy #TMRE13 team has created an entire track called “Disruptive Technologies & New Methodologies” so there’s some concentrated learning right there!

Whatever your method, it’s good for you, your job, and your career to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

On The Move

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!  

Ok, folks, mobile’s here.  No more “mobile is coming, let’s start thinking about it.” 

I’m still seeing some news and blog tidbits out there that talk about mobile like it’s still a hazy vision on the horizon. Nope, it’s here and we need to focus on how we can embrace mobile for research.  

Similar to MROCs, mobile is becoming less of a “thing” to be discussed as a new and emerging technology and it’s becoming just another, albeit unique, platform by which we can gather data.  

Using mobile as a platform can be addressed in multiple ways, from making sure your surveys are mobile-ready to jumping in whole hog to things like mobile ethnography.  

Let’s start with the simple.

You've all been to conferences and most of us will see each other at #TMRE13. I've observed that most of us bring some sort of mobile device to the conference, most commonly a smart phone or tablet.  I work in the events (tradeshows and conferences) industry so I also have the chance to observe this at our own events, and we’re seeing more of this across the board. Paper notebooks are dwindling and electronic note-taking is surging. 

For our own events, some of the easy “quick-fix” changes we've made to address mobile platforms for research are: 

Ensured our survey platform could render well on mobile

Subtly shifted the way we designed surveys so they weren't a beast to answer on a mobile device (hello side-by-side matrices – I’m talking to you)

Analyze on a regular basis on what platform(s) respondents are taking our event surveys 

Now, what we’re doing is pretty standard/table stakes, but we do have an eye to how else to use mobile, and the Dunkin Donuts case that David Forbes recently highlighted here on the TMRE blog is a great one, gathering “in the moment” feedback that in that situation was critical to the insight.

Companies like Revelation are a great example of fully embracing mobile, running mobile communities via their Revelation | Next platform to really dig into mobile ethnography projects.  

In the run up to #TMRE13, I also want to highlight how we can all learn more about mobile while we’re on site in Nashville.  We’re in luck, there’s an entire Mobile and Social Insights track for the Monday Day One Intensives! 

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

'Tis the season

It's that time, fall travel season is upon us! 

This fall I'll be covering the following conferences:

  • Blog post and potentially live tweeting (and taking it all in!) at TedxDirigo - Brunswick - November 3

Stay tuned for updates and insights from these events!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Get ready to ROC! (MROC, that is)

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!  

I have a confession to make…

I have a favorite. Favorite research method, that is…

Market Research Online Communities (MROCs)!

You see, I spent some of my formative market research years at one of the industry leaders in MROCs and I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of online communities to gather deep insight and perform some really interesting longitudinal studies. 

Are there things communities are not good for? Sure! For example, they’re not the place for large quant studies (obviously), and they’re not the place for a final go/no go on a product launch (where you’ll want big numbers to back you up). But they are fantastic for research like longitudinal studies as they allow for iteration, for getting to the language and emotions around a product or service, and many other uses. Not only having that researcher-to-respondent interaction, but being able to have a view into the member-to-member interaction in a community can be research gold.

One of my favorite uses of a MROC is digging deep into a topic that is difficult to discuss in a traditional researcher to respondent format.  What’s a difficult topic? Death, disease, bullying, family issues, and products that deal with those markets (think hospice care, etc.).  Sometimes a quant survey can’t get you what you need and a community can give you rich insight through hearing how members talk to each other and discuss these difficult issues, and through creative formats in the community software such as photo galleries.  I won’t name names, but a former client who worked in an industry dealing with some of those difficult issues was able to really get to the language and emotions around those topics  which led them to more nuanced and polished marketing and advertising.   

When I started in MROCs, it was the Wild West out there with only a few players in the marketplace… 

Now other powerful and productive players are in the space (YpulseC+R Research, and 360 Market Reach to name a few). Some offer short-term communities for a single project, others have communities that have been up and running for 3+ years. It's also no longer such a hurdle to convince clients that utilizing a community for research can yield some great insights

MROCs definitely have a presence at #TMRE13 this year, from presentations that focus on utilizing communities such as “Exploring Brand Affinity Across Hispanic & Gen Pop Generations: Stretching Online Panels and Communities” to talks where the research came out of a community such as “A Fresh Perspective on the Aging Consumer.” Sponsors and exhibitors in the community space will also be there.  

Have you used MROCs for your research? 

How do you feel MROCs are changing from the early days?  

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Let Me Tell You A Story

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!   

At the company where I work, a large part of our business is B2B tradeshows.  At the end of each tradeshow (and after the results of our post-show evaluations come in), our market research team collaborates with our marketing data team to produce a presentation/report. Yes, currently it really is a presentation-slash-report…that’s part of this story.

There is so much data that comes out of both departments after an event...and of course teams that manage the events have key questions about the performance of their product.  Over time, our presentation/reports have grown, and grown, and grown…and grown. 

So, now, in the scant hour that we have for our presentation meeting, we are subjecting our audience to a LOT of data.  That takes a lot of stamina to listen to and digest.  A presentation that has come out of a great collaboration between teams has essentially become one big cumbersome report.   

And you know what? Along the way we lost the story.

In research, we all work in data-rich environments.  There is so much to analyze and so much to share...it takes a lot of skill to hone that down into something more palatable AND focus on the story you're actually trying to tell.  Because if you focus on the story, the data will help you tell it without a “data dump” taking over the talk entirely. As the brilliant Cole Nussbaumer says:  “Any data you show has to be part of a story.” 

Are we all natural storytellers? No. If you're not a natural storyteller (many of us aren't) it's a skill like any other that needs to be nurtured.  Where to start?

Check out a video encore of Jonah Sachs’ TMRE 2012 talk on ‘Winning the Story Wars’ that we shared on the blog recently.

Watch one of the Jedi masters of storytelling, Nancy Duarte, speak on ‘The Secret Structure of Great Talks.’

Immerse yourself at #TMRE13 in the many sessions that have a storytelling aspect to them, including: 

-A pre-conference storytelling workshop on Sunday 10/20 hosted by Emmy-nominated country music songwriters

-Conducting The Symphony Of Brand Development: Immerse Your Audience In The Story presented by E&J Gallo Winery

-Using Brand Data (Media Mix Analysis, Brand  Tracking Studies, Etc.) To Tell Your Brand Story presented by StubHub

-Principles of Visual Storytelling presented by Vital Findings

So, back to my story. 

What are we doing about the presentation/report?  We're talking to our customers to learn what makes the most sense for them, we're investigating what should go into actual reports versus the presentation (should it be a “slideument”?) , we're also prepping some fun exercises like an immersion room full of the slides that our key constituents can walk around with sticky notes and comment on.

But at the top of our list? Honing the storytelling skills of our teams to ensure that the story doesn't get lost in a sea of data. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's a Generational Thing

I have often joked with my team and on Twitter about “being a millennial at heart” although (full disclosure here) I’m squarely in the Gen X age range.  

Generational research has been a special interest of mine for a long time, inspired initially by managing a market research online community (MROC for the uninitiated) of Millennials. Hearing what was trendy and cool for the Millennials I studied was a fascinating experience that has sparked a career-long interest in generational research. Millennials are the first true “digital natives” and their generation is larger than the Baby Boomers and three times the size of Gen X. Their marketing buying power is huge and will just keep growing

There’s been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere recently as to whether researching Millennials (just like any other demographic cut) is a worthwhile endeavor as ‘they’re all so different.’ Well, that’s the case for most of the demographic cuts we could do, isn't it? Not all the folks from the Midwest are nice (but most of us are!) and not all Boston drivers are aggressive (hah!).  

So yes, we need to be aware of generational stereotypes such as the below and not let them cloud our judgment or research analysis.
We've all likely heard that Millennials are supposedly the “me” generation and have high expectations of employers. But a recent study by Success Factors concluded that it was actually those in Generation X (those born between 1962 and 1979 for purposes of that survey) who are “the most demanding age group” in the workplace.
What about the stereotype that Boomers shy away from technology? Not so fast.  Even back 2009, more than 60% of Boomers were avid consumers of social media (via Forrester), up from 40% the year before.
So is looking at our data by generation important? From where I sit in the tradeshow and exhibition industry, it’s absolutely important. Why? Because different generations interact with tradeshows and events differently. In order for us to appropriately meet our customers’ needs we need to be aware of those differences and address them.

The exhibition industry is lucky to have CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. CEIR frequently publishes studies that are of great interest to us and help inform how we run our business.  Not surprisingly, a number of their reports in the past few years have focused on how different generations interact with tradeshows.  For instance Generational Differences in Face-to-Face Interaction Preferences and Activities finds that while all professionals attend events to look for new products, gain insights on industry trends, etc., one of the key reasons younger attendees attend is to gain inspiration and motivation for their jobs.  Although that’s just the tip of the iceberg of findings, having research like this allows us to better cater to the different generations at our events. 

Along this theme, I’m very excited that #TMRE13 is offering an entire track on “Youth and Millennials” during their Monday Day One Intensives with sessions such as” Creating Participant Television: Developing a Media Model Designed to Activate Millennials” and “Where are the new pioneers? A Global Survey of Millennial-led Innovation.”  

Millennials will soon run the world (and some of them already do) – so better understanding this generational group from a research perspective is important to the health of our products and services! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Game On!

“It’s like adding a game layer on top of reality…”

And that’s when my staff looked at me sideways.

Yes, I have to admit that it’s not every day in our business we talk about “gamification” in the office, but we strive to have our collective ears to the ground for what’s coming next in research, and the topic did come up and caused a lively discussion.

It’s hard to ignore the topic of gaming nowadays, from hearing about hardcore gamers playing 16-hour stints to the prevalence of smartphone and tablet apps that turn even grocery shopping into a game. 

How have games encroached on everyday life?

-You can check into a sub shop, check out the challenges for that location on SCVNGR, and unlock badges and real-world rewards.  (Interested in more game theory? Check out founder Seth Priebatsch’s TED talk about "Building the game layer on top of the world.”)

-Ready to get in shape, but want social support with aspects of a game? There’s Fitocracy, whose founders Brian Wang and Richard Talens “understood how addictive it could be trying to get to that next level, beating that next boss, and completing that next quest” and decided to apply that to fitness and weight loss.

-Are you an avid cyclist who wants to challenge one of over a million other riders to a virtual race? There’s Strava for you, which according to Outside Magazine is “changing the way we ride” and has spawned a verb: to Strava. 

One of the leading speakers on gamification is Jane McGonigal, the Kickoff Keynote speaker at The Market Research Event 2013.  McGonigal is a game designer, the author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, and a noted TED speaker whose talks have garnered millions (and millions) of views.

I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to hear McGonigal in person at #TMRE13, and the fact that she is keynoting underlines something I (and my team) have been discussing…If the world is going the way of games, research simply must keep up, right?

I'm no expert on research through gaming (for that I humbly direct you to Betty Adamou and her Research Through Gaming team), but I’m intrigued as to how often this topic continues to bubble up in research industry discussions about the future of research. 

As a client-side researcher firmly rooted in reality (without a game layer currently!), I'm interested to learn more at TMRE this year both from Jane McGonigal and from other presenters as to how others may be using game thinking and game mechanics in research.  I always expect to hear about the hot new topics in research in the hallways and exhibit floor of TMRE, and I fully expect this year will be no different. I'll be curious to hear how others are currently exploring this topic, and who has put this into practice already.

Speaking of games, it’s time I get back to Candy Crush Saga, level 147 has me flummoxed!