Adam Jolley, EVP Business Development at EMI Online Research Solutions and Market Research Influencer.
EMI Research Solutions is a leading provider of online sample for surveys.
Adam has a long tenure at EMI and has one of the earliest market research podcasts with 37 episodes starting in Jan 15, 2018, the Intellicast Podcast.
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Over the last decade the market research industry has been disrupted. Our largest agencies are struggling to keep up as their customers turn to newer, faster and cheaper data sources. Now we are on the edge of yet another major
market shift. Now is the time for us to reassert ourselves as the rudder of the brands we love. Thank you for tuning in to the Happy Market Research Podcast where we are charting the path for the future of market researchers and businesses. Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. Today my guest is Adam Jolley, EVP business development at EMI Online Research Solutions and market research influencer. EMI Research Solutions is a leading provider of online sample for surveys. Adam has a long tenure at EMI and has one of the earliest market research podcasts with 37 episodes starting in January 15, 2018 –the Intellicast podcast. And he was also instrumental in me deciding to start the Happy Market Research Podcast. Adam, thanks very much for joining me today.
I am super excited. Thanks for having me. This is one of those things where you listen to the podcast and you think: “I will never be on somebody else’s, I will never be on yours.” So it is a little bit thrilling for me. I love it!
That is so funny. This is cross-over week for me. I was on Siemens earlier.
Ha! Oh, that is good! That is great!
So funny! Anyway… Hey, man! First off, a big shout-out to your podcast! Thank you so much for…
…what you are doing there. It is a great source of information, and it honestly just keeps my brain occupied during part of my commute so anyway, thanks for that!
That is great to hear because I think, and you probably think the same thing about yours, is that you do not really know what the expectations are and where you are going to go. From when I was first starting that out, figuring out why we were doing it and who we would do it for and listen, things evolved. And that is great to hear! That is the goal! That is why I listen to podcasts! On your commute. You are by yourself and you might as well just listen to something that at least instead of the same three songs over and over again.
Oh, yeah, totally! Right? My guilty pleasures are… we have about an acre, and we do some farming there. Well, we have one acre that we farm but we live in two acres. So I have been doing tractor work on the weekends. So that is what I do, headphones on, and I also have about thirty minute commute each way so it is a great opportunity to listen. Sometimes I get so involved in the podcast, I would sit outside of my house waiting for the episode before going in, which is insane!
Same thing! The driveway time is a good time!
The driveway time! Yeah! That is the thing! Who knew? Maybe that is the KPI to see if you have a good podcast or not –what is your driveway time?
Right! That’s good!
All right. So from 2003 to 2007, you were getting your Bachelor’s in Marketing at Northern Kentucky University. You were also working as a Fundraising Recruitment Manager at Sports Service Cincinnati Reds. So how in the world did you wind up in Market Research?
How did I…? The biggest thing is that I had a professor that really guided me. One thing that I leave out there, and I purposely leave out there, or change or edit or anything, is that I actually started college in 2000. My college story is probably my parents’ biggest nightmare. To me, it is the greatest story because I was in my undergrad forever! I was figuring out life. That is how I can put it. I started out in college and majored in everything. I switched majors all the time, I was just floating through worlds for a while. I really wanted to be a geologist. I was really into rocks and density checks. I was super into it! And then I transferred from Eastern Kentucky to Northern Kentucky University. And I started over. Obviously, since I was just bouncing from major to major, I did not have anything that came up and started over. And I really made a connection with a professor that was in marketing here. And one thing: Northern Kentucky is probably 20 minutes away from Cincinnati. And Cincinnati has that PAG cover so a lot of people in recruiting they go to Northern Kentucky and start hearing some things. So in town we have Directions, a huge Nielsen office, Market Vision, Burke, a ton of primary custom market research companies. And you would have a little system where they would try to place students. My professor at that time became a mentor to me. He would ask me: “Why have you been in college for so long?” “What do you want to do with your life?” That type of thing. I was working… When you are 20 years old, it sounds really cool to say that you are working at baseball team. So there was a contentment in where I was in life. But there was definitely a ceiling in place also. And so he would say: “Don’t you expect more?” “Don’t you want to do more?” Look at research. Look at what you are doing in research. That caught on to me because I was pretty good at math, pretty good at statistics, pretty good in those type of things but I knew that I could sell. One of the things about being in college for so long is that you start to develop personal communication type of skills.
So I remember that it all came down to not knowing what I was going to do at graduation. We had a speed networking event with all the market research firms here in town. I remember Randy Brooks who started Directions, who was the keynote speaker. And it fired me up and gave me some encouragement. I was going around the tables, and I started thinking… “How am I going to do this? Am I an Analyst? Or maybe am I an employee 1800 at Burke?” That type of talking through. And I ran into Mike Holmes, who started EMI, and Aaron Walton, who was at EMI for 12 years. Aaron is a little older than me, and we started talking and had a connection. He said it was a lot of market research but also other business things as well, such as selling and business acumen. You might be a good fit. Honestly, he was a guy that was a year older than me, and he was driving a Saab at the time.
And I was like “Oh my! This could be me!”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So I graduated on Friday and started on Monday. It was great! I think I was employee 6 at EMI. And it was something that I just gravitated to it, and I was fascinated by research. I was fascinated by the outcomes of things. I think everyone tries to find their passion in market research when they start. So for me, it was… I started in ’07, and I started in some primaries for the ‘08 election. So it was that real life application. We were proving samples for polling companies and to see “Howard Dean wins Vermont”. And I was like “Oh my gosh!” I just started seeing things happen, real life implications of what my work was, and that was my buy-in. And that is when I knew. I love the industry, and I could see how my daily work was having an impact on everything around us, whether it was the economy or polling or consumer electronic type of company. And I fell in love! I was in!
Back when polling was getting it right.
Right, back when people respected polling. Ha! Those were the days!
Still a huge influential industry but it has been interesting to see how it has been struggling more, more and more to nail the outcome.
The polling industry needs like a PR refurbishing company.
And maybe explain to people what margin of error is. And maybe not call people. That’s a whole other thing. The whole industry just needs a whole rebranding, I feel.
Yes, I think that they will always be a big industry, right? But it is under so much scrutiny, and for the right reasons. Because as you said, you can just say: “Hey! This guy is red!” And then you go outside and… crap!
You don’t get to do it too many times in a row anyway.
Right. I am with you.
Let’s talk about your podcast!
Intellicast Podcast. You started right at the gate this year, is that correct? 2018?
A lot of episodes. Thirty-seven episodes. Why in the world did you guys spend so much… I mean, this is a big time commitment. I do not think people really recognize the investment it is. So why did you guys decide to do it?
I started… Actually I think I bought all the equipment at the end of October last year. I had been at EMI for 11 years. And with just the 10-year mark, I started going through some things, maybe like a third life crisis? I do not know. Ha! I go back, and I started to post more things on LinkedIn, I wrote more in LinkedIn. And I started to think like “I have been ten years in this business, and I am, a sales person.” Sometimes when you are a sales expert in an industry, no matter where you are, you are a blank canvas because you have to be somebody for this client, somebody for that client. And I wanted to try to build something. I wanted to be somebody, the person that I was after 5pm. And my boss recognized that. And he asked me: “What if you starting doing some podcasts?” And I said: “Yeah, that would be great” And that is what I did. I bought the equipment, and it just sat; it sat in my drawer for months. I needed a kick to start doing it. And finally, I said: “Let’s just record one, and see how it goes”. I grabbed Brian Lamar, who is our insights guy here. He is a clown in the most endearing term. He is somebody who is always there to entertain and is always looking for some kind of engagement with his audience. So I knew he would be perfect for it. He is also very smart, and has 30 years in the industry. Without him, if I would have started the podcast myself, which was the initial plan, or if I did not have him there to be an accountability partner, my initial plan was if I ever record it, maybe I will do three or four until people stop asking me “When is the next one coming out?” And it goes away. But he keeps me focused. Our marketing guy makes things easy for us as well, and always has things on our calendar. He gives us topics. He is always scouting the MR news and to see what to talk about. And he keeps us on track as far as timings and everything. As far as editing, he does all that. So it really is starting to become the easy way.
The first steps are always the hardest, and sometimes you need someone to push you off the cliff to take that first step. And those two did it for me and did it for the podcast.
How was it impacted your personal brand?
Greatly. That is one of things from our podcast that is so different from… and why I wanted to be different. That is, I wanted it to be like a real person. And this goes back to what I was saying earlier, when you are a sales person in the industry, an influencer, and you have some experience in conferences and things like that, it is hard to walk that line between the “I have to be this, and I have to stand who I am and this is who I need to be to make a revenue, to sell something to be prosperous in this industry” and then “who I really am”. It is great if those two people are close to each other. If there is not a huge polarized thing but being ourselves… you know, you talk about sports yourself. We do the Mount Rushmore thing here as a joke because I rank everything in life. If we are sitting together and someone says: “This song is great.” I would say: “Yes, this is my number 14 favorite song of all time”. Ha! I am always thinking about ranking things. So we do things like that. It has really grounded me, it has helped my personal brand. It has helped me feel more comfortable about who I am and try to marry, for a panel shake, the beta-b responded me and the consumer responded me. It has helped me balance life a little more
What was one of the most difficult parts of your first five episodes, since you are into ranking things, right? What was the most difficult thing in those early days?
What was the thing that really surprised you as really hard?
There is a balance sometimes in… you never want to make anybody mad. So it is tough sometimes to talk about a company did this, and to say if this is a good or bad decision or what type of impact we have. Undoubtedly everyone is everyone’s client, and everyone is everyone’s vendor. So you don’t want to say anything that sparks something. And at the same time we walk the line pretty well. But it has been hard what is EMI’s stands on something. I have yet to get a call from a sales person and say: “Hey! You bad mouthed my client. You’ll never spend money with us again”.
It is always kind of a danger. Because we are hard on some people. And sometimes we talk about the blockchain of some people and some people say “blockchain is this” or “blockchain is that”. Or “programmatic sampling is this” or “programmatic sampling is that”. You can really come really close. And there has definitely been some deleted segments of things we talked about.
We also have some deleted segments as well, just for full transparency.
Right. But that has been a part that has been very difficult but you start to equal things out, a little bit. It is getting easier and easier.
Yeah, I do find a flow… I got to tell you one of the things that was really hard for me was listening to my podcast.
Yes, that’s true. I really hated the sound voice of my voice. So that was hard. And I would notice… I go back and listen to the first twenty, and I said “uhm” a lot, and I can’t stand it.
You just want to turn yours off! Ha!
And I say: “What are you doing? Why are you talking like that? Why do you sound like that? That is not how I naturally speak.” And I would use words I have never used before, I don’t know who this is. Nobody talks like that. And you speak into a void like we are doing right now, just you and I. And then I think: “Oh no, there is other people listening to this! What are they going to think when they listen to this?” Thing like that. To this day, Brian has never listened to a podcast. He has never listened to one of our podcasts before.
Are you serious?
Never asked. He leaves the room, we put it on over the office system here, and he goes to the one room that does not have a speaker in it and works from there when it is on.
He has never listened to us before. At the same time, it is also embarrassing… I would be… I went on vacation with my family a while back, and my Bluetooth would kick in and my wife would catch me listening to my podcast, and that is the most embarrassing… She says: “Oh so you just drive around so you can hear yourself talking, great! Look at you!”
Totally, totally! You will appreciate this: I was watching some YouTube content where it is basically just me talking to a camera. And I hooked up YouTube to our TV last night, and it had my account detail and the most recent video watched was me talking to myself so it was this miraculously narcissistic view.
Sure. Right. It is true. It’s good.
But I hate it. I would rather watch another view. It is hard for me not to go to a negative place and be overcritical. But then when I go and listen to other podcasters, who I really like, and if you can apply that same lens to them, I think it would be the same sort of thing. So I think the biggest lesson for me is: “Give yourself some grace and know that you are not going to do it great and embrace the “suck” part of the early days and just keep learning and do it a little bit better.”
Yes, embrace the “suck” part is a really good way to look at it. And keep learning from it. I was at a Wire event the other day. And somebody came up to me and said: “I really love the podcast”. And you say thank you but in my first part, I really wanted to dive in and ask “What am I doing wrong?” “Do you listen…?” “How are we…?” And try to get the feedback on it. But yes, a little bit more grace would go a long way.
That is right, that is right. I have a game prepared for us today. We all know that digital coin is the currency of the future, or at least, that is what people is telling me.
Yes. That is what everybody says, yeah.
So here we go. OK, so you are a VC, that is, a venture capitalist, and you are looking to invest in future tech for market research. You have 10 Adam bucks. Adam bucks, by the way, are the coin of choice for this future world of ours.
Got it. Love it!
You have seven options. The first one is virtual reality, or VR, the second one is augmented reality, AR. Qualitative Scale is the third one. The fourth category is voice. The fifth is big data. Sixth is traditional trackers. Seventh is blockchain.
So we have seven things. Relatively quick, your objective is to maximize your shareholder return in a five year period starting from today. So we are in 2018, so whatever that is, 2023, 2024. And you want to invest your 10 Adam bucks by either putting them all in one of these seven categories or you can distribute them around. So it is VR, AR, qualitative scale, voice, big data, traditional trackers and blockchain. Where would you make your investments?
I would only invest in four of them. And my thought process here is that they are all connected. Some of these things… To me, VR, AR, and to an extent big data, almost seem like end games to me in our industry. And what I mean by that is that if we were really to invest them and get the most out of them, if we had more machine learning type, and AI, then you start to eliminate a little bit more of the human element of it, which is a huge… As much as it is in the math industry it’s definitely a human industry as well… and learning the behaviors. So I wonder if I were to invest in that, I feel that there is a ceiling. It is almost to an end game where the returns would not be as great. I definitely feel that the money is going to be huge. But as far as the returns on it, especially if it goes beyond five years, I think it would be good for three, maybe five years but then it is going to plateau out. So that is how I feel about those. But the one I would not give any money to is traditional trackers.
Man, you just cut them off at the knees!
Yeah. And I will say that as a sample company who does a lot of traditional trackers and loves them and loves the revenue from them. And please gives us more and it is the best! But at the same time it does not make a ton of business sense in the way things are progressing in a couple of different layers, I think there is the traditional idea of pulse type thing where it is almost spending the money to make the money. And I don’t know if enough change is happening in the market or any kind of influence whatever the context is where you constantly need to be measuring something over and over again. And I do not think… I think if people really looked at it, and looked at the results until you have a huge shift, until you change the scope of things… I mean, how many times do you do that in a year on a product? And why would you need to measure that monthly if you are only doing that twice a year? It has been a cash cow for sample companies of full service market research firms but I think that full service market research firms may be feeling the heat of having that type of cash cow, and relying on something like that to bring a lot in. And along with that, I had this idea that the market research industry is a year or two behind everybody else, or behind society.
So if you think about it, everyone starts using mobile and tablets, you are never on your desktop, and a year or two later, we talking about how to get mobile surveys. And then, everyone is talking about DIY, and you’re watching HGTV and you are redoing the backsplash at your house and then, we’re coming out with DIY dashboards for programming, field work, anything. And right now, our industry is really into trackers and maybe some big data and these huge monstrous projects but society seems to be making a shift towards more like a craft type: craft bourbon, craft beers, buy local, all these smaller scale where you get so much more richness out of whatever you are consuming. I think research could make that shift as well. That is why I put 5 Adam buck towards Qualitative Scale because even I really feel that as much as it might seem like taking a step backwards, the richer the data we can have the more in tune we are with our actual customers. The idea of grabbing an entire community or getting everybody is… there is so many different choices whether it is media, products… I think that a more craft approach to things, small batch type approach is something that I think it is really going to take off in our industry in the next few years.
That is super interesting! In your business… your whole business is predicated around completes. Quantitative does a lot less of completes than qualitative. Are you seeing an influx of qualitative companies looking for digital sample?
A little bit. Or just trying to find people more. I am seeing smaller quant studies. And when we are doing quant studies, what can we do with quant studies, what can we append to it? Can we do phone follow-ups? Would people be willing to join the community afterwards? So trying to get more and incorporate more qual into it. Some of the bigger companies as far as noise in the industry, companies like Schleshinger are starting to grow the quant aspect and put qual into it. Companies like 2020 that are developing software and are taking things like iModerate, which is getting dusty and make that something more. Qualitative companies are getting really innovative in how they are doing things, along with the huge boom a couple of years ago in M-Rock and C Space and things like that. So I think that qual is rebounding a little bit. It has been slow because all the money seems to be in quant. And quant sample suppliers are the loudest voices in the room a lot of times.
Because they have the biggest budgets, right?
Right. And they sponsor everything. But I definitely feel that qual is something that can grow a lot.
What is interesting is that when you pull it back, at the end of the day, if we have a small company with five or six customers, I can talk to each one of my customers monthly, and know how the company is progressing, how I am doing, and my company is delivering, etc. As the company scales, it becomes necessary to do a survey. It is a surrogate conversation. What qualitative is doing is through machine learning AIs is enabling a true conversation to happen but analyzed at scale.
It is very similar to why I think that those trackers are going to go away, right? I was looking at the example of the biggest TV shows ever watched. The M*A*S*H finale got 85,000,000 or something. It was unbelievable.
Seventy percent of the country was watching the M*A*S*H finale. But at the same time, there were four channels and what else are you doing, right?
And there was no Internet. So now people would say that NFL ratings are down. And I say: “Yeah, the NFL ratings are down but there is also 1,000 channels, and we have the Internet. Movies are better than they have ever been. TV is better. You can watch things on Hulu, Amazon, Netflix. There is other types of sports. There is e-sports. Along with those 1,000 channels there are another 40 TV sport channels you can watch. So the options are so much greater. This idea that everyone is going to watch the NFL, and everyone needs to be surveyed and we need to go this broad, that is just not reality any more.
I think brands need to think about it the same way. We need to know our total universe, we need to reach out to everybody so we can sell everybody this type of speaker or whatever. But no, you need to sell to your group. You need to know what your loyal is, what your fans are, what your key demographic is and how to do those. Get rich conversations and qual with them, and that is what ultimately is going to make the most money as a company. We are finally starting to realize that a little bit.
Yeah, it is interesting… piggybacking on your NFL point, while viewership might be down, you look at trends in fantasy football.
…which are significantly up. So overall engagement is up but it is just… that getting back to your small batch analogy early on, the consumer has the choices so that they can actually detail and control and tailor their entertainment experiences.
Right! I agree. To me, one rub in all of this is less money initially. So for somebody like me to say that craft research is a big thing and qual, that does not make sense for us now but that is the thing that I urge us to do here, and I urge all companies to do. People are starting to do a little bit more of this. You have to diversify yourself a little bit. You have to diversify your revenue streams. You have to think about how do we adapt from where we are going instead of being stuck to where we are. That is kind of scary in this industry sometimes but we are blessed also to have a lot of disruptors in this industry.
So I put 5 dollars for my qual, a dollar each for VR & AR and I put three dollars for blockchain because that is the disrupt word of right now, of how things are. We are blessed to have disruptors in this industry like Patrick Comer or what the blockchain people are starting to do now. Granted they might say that they are going to put the panel industry out of business, which might be too much of a disruption but disruptors push you to do different things. So why I believe in blockchain and why would I put the investment because it is just too much of a one plus one has to equal two. If I believe that qual scale is going to give me richer data and going to get me more engagement of my respondents, and then of my customers, I have to believe that if I could have them linked and collect passive data, if I am able to append more data, there has to be some kind of sovereign identity to get paid their worth for their beliefs. If there is more security there because of blockchain technology and how that works, it has to be… people use the term “proof of concept” a lot of times in investing. Right now it is just a logic proof of concept with blockchain for me in that if we don’t screw it up, the basic building blocks of it all add up to where it has to make the industry better.
I really feel like blockchain, at least in my understanding of the technology, is being thrown away in a way like AR or VR…
…but it is a lot different than that. It is much more like online surveys were to phone or in-mall intercept. It is more of a technology empowerment thing as opposed to a new thing, right? It just enables better sample. It feels like it is not a new dollar that they are brand is coming up in order to fund a blockchain firm for their research. It is the same dollar for just a sample. It is just a sample blockchain enabled.
I agree with you. I have actually talked with Cyma about this. What we’re talking about what does that look like. But I think it does if you are doing it right. And if you are incentivizing the people right that you have the chance to… Sometimes in this industry it seems that it is just the same USD5 billion every single year, and we are just dividing it differently or whatever. But I think that you have an opportunity to gain a lot of market share. The sample industry can be so broken right now. Every year there is 4 or 5 “Here is the secret the industry does not want you to know about a sample!” Somebody always comes out with something like that! Ha! This gives us the opportunity to eliminate those arguments a little bit. And I think in the long run maybe get a little bit more, and then evolve a little bit more. So I have always thought if I am on blockchain, I can connect my Facebook, my Amazon, and maybe I connect my nest in my house or my progressive car things where… I do a survey for a gym, and they ask “How many times do you go to the gym?” And I go three times a week. And they go: “Huh. Your car says you go twice a week.” Ha! Something like that… Maybe we can get a little bit more honest and the better sample companies can make more money.
And new revenue.
I had never considered that but that is… It’s funny because we are talking about blockchain right now and of course, gosh, in 2018 IIeX it is all about blockchain in Atlanta. And it just continues to be the buzz word. I just sat there listening to the presentations thinking to myself: “Man! We are still asking gender at every survey.”
Right? You know what I am saying? So it feels to me that there is a lot of fundamental issues that we need to consider when we are thinking about sourcing sample. How? Anyway,…
In a non-capitalistic environment, you have got a solo ID for every respondent regardless of panel. And you can append like the basics to everything. That was huge!
For some reason, sample suppliers are all guilty of it. We sell that as almost like a premium! Ha!
It’s foolish. We should not be selling ourselves on targeting ability. Maybe we should sell ourselves on how easy it is to work with us. Maybe like pricing, service, dashboard, visuals, those type of things instead of “this is our stuff”. All that can almost be the same, like a grocery store.
That is an interesting world you are painting. That is super interesting! Of course, nobody wants to hear that because you immediately move into, to some degree, a commodity. I will argue strongly that brands and buyers are thrilled to pay for higher level of service and ease of views. Just that overall confidence to the researcher is what they care about. And I still argue or believe that the value of research at the end of the day boils down to how good that respondent is.
And by creating this race to the bottom, in order to maximize the margin, as an industry we are really doing ourselves a significant disservice. And that is where we need to start looking at things, like incentivizing levels to respondent so that they give a shit when they are taking a survey.
I am with you. And that is a huge part… If sample is a commodity is because we made ourselves that way. There is no one else to point the finger to but ourselves, and commodity is not necessarily a bad word. But if you are looking at margin percentages, looking at those kinds of return, then that can be a taboo. And the more VC that gets into the panel industry, that is why people are not rushing to say the word “commodity” all the time. Ha!
Yeah, right? But if you look at the opportunity for differentiation, and using your example of the grocery stores, thinking of Whole Foods versus Food Max, you do have big opportunities, I think, to win in both markets. You could be can be Food Max, I don’t know how national that brand is…
Yeah, like a big box grocery type of thing.
…exactly! You can win there as one thing but then you can win even if you are a boutique type Whole Foods, on the same side.
Right. And people are progressing. You look at where Lucid started and what their dashboard looked like to where they are now or what Pure Spectrum has done in the programmatic side, to make it easier visualizing for what you can get anywhere. Innovates, their new thing is great too: they have great visualization, great demographics, what things look like. So we are starting to diversify in different ways but the sample is not there where we should diversify, you know?
Right. So interesting! All right, so we got to shift gears a little bit and talk about Qualtrics. That is… two weeks ago or three weeks ago they announced their S1, that they were going public rather, and then right before they went public, of course, SAP bought them for a bunch of money. Tell me from your view what are the three things that Qualtrics did that we as research community or Insights nation can learn from?
The first one to me is that they sold. And why I say that is that there is this disease of too much sometimes that we have in life where you think: “I can do this”, “I can do this” or “I can do this”, and you start pushing yourself in your bandwidth capacity. I think that where Qualtrics started as say a software company to a programming company to then getting into consumer experiences where you can basically do an entire research project on it. And then, last year getting into… it almost felt like they were pushing a CRM. I left Qualtrics thinking that they are going to go after Salesforce. So it became so broad and they were doing so many different things that I think that if they were to file for their IPO and they would just get a lot of money, I think that could have grown more to your Jack of all trades like a master of none. By selling, I think, now they get a focus. SAP has a lot of different arms that Qualtrics could specialize in just maybe that consumer experience, maybe its part of market research and not the whole kit and kaboodle type of thing. So I think that it is great to be ambitious. Everyone should be ambitious. You should follow and do everything you can but at the same time, I think this, selling when they did really allowed Qualtrics to have a name, to have an identity and definition that would make them more profitable in the future, and if they were to keep going and conquer the world, or try to conquer the world, like death by a thousand cuts type of thing.
Got it. So focus is one of the things that benefitted from them selling. That is interesting. I had not considered that but that has a lot of truth. Any other things that you think we could pull from?
I think the greatest trick that Qualtrics has ever pulled is how they get into their customers: going to universities, giving them the software. To someone who is graduating from college to walk out with some kind of Qualtrics certification that may be just a piece of paper in the past but then they go to a job and they say: “Oh! I am Qualtrics Certified.” What the hell is that? “Well, let me show you”. And then, they have it. And then, they maybe to another jobs. So they start at such a young point in the researcher career by introducing their product that it is magic. It is a genius idea to start that young. If you ever go to a job fair or you walk through a community and you get all these cards on your door and then say “My first reflection of this community is that I am going to order from this pizza place all the time.” And Qualtrics did that. They were the first to market for a lot of researchers. And I think it is genius. No one has done it yet after that –which is crazy to me, or since then. I don’t know what you would do now to have the same kind of impact but I think it is super smart and it is something that we can all learn from.
Yeah, and you cannot get rid of them. It is interesting that they were the only ones pitching to colleges, and the contracts that they signed were actually profitable. They were not giving it away at least not in the later stages, after the first few years. And then, they are multi-year. So it literally… once an institution like a university has installed the platform, you know, to do all the training, it is impossible to get rid of that incumbent unless they just go out of business.
Yes, I agree.
I can quantify that with my personal experience. I am on two different boards, at my local college, Fresno State. I offered a free license to the campus, and they never gave me the free license, they are choosing to spend the money on Qualtrics because they are already in there. So unless we start in the high schools…
Right. Just keep going younger!
That’s right! That ship hass sailed! It is hard to get that institutional shift unless you move into a niche offering… We’ll see what SAP…
Right. The last thing that they have done that we could all learn from, and people kind of do this but it is sometimes a hit or miss, is a universal identity bridging their product to who they are. What I mean by that is that we are a customer experience app so we are going to call our conference the “experience summit”. Everything is going to be “experience”, whether you are a customer’s experience, how you measure the experiences, those types of things, and then they start making that be part of their identity as well. They give everybody there $1,500 to have an “experience”. When you are at the Qualtrics Conference, you can find somebody and say that you want to have an “experience” there, you want to meet a certain speaker, you want to do this while you are in Salt Lake, something like that. They are very true to their brand, 100% in that realm and that marries with their product. It is hard for a lot of people in our industry to do that but they have done it really well where when I think of “experience” –maybe I have been brainwashed, but when I think of the word “experience”, I think of the “X” logo that they use all the time. That is really good branding from their side.
Yes, it was interesting how they moved through. I think that our story, piggybacking on it a little bit, they actually tried to get into the market research space at the beginning but they could not get penetration so that is why they winded up defaulting to these schools.
One of their first products, actually I think it was their first product that they had was this thing called the “360 review”, which is where you would throw up a survey, have all your peers, and your friends and family complete it, and then it gives you this spider web graph of how you rate yourself relative to them on a variety of attributes. So it is just this idea of self-awareness sort of opportunity. Well, it is a requirement in almost every business in the US.
And it was really easy to productize. The survey is always the same. The inputs are always the same. And the outputs are always the same. So you could build a dashboard, right?
And you could build a workflow. And that kind of was their model the whole way through. It was creating these products that would be easily understood and applied and then, just expanding. I think that recently they announced 26 or so specific use cases that had completely customized input surveys and process management and then, dashboarding and reports, all centric to that particular business question wrapped around the methodology. So it is a really interesting use case, I think, about the Who Wins, the old school radio set (they did not have any instructions) or the Lego set that comes with the Death Star.
So tell us, what can we look forward to, we’re at the end of 2018.. What can we look forward from the Intellicast Podcast moving into 2019?
Moving into next year, I really want us to do more interviews and not interviews… My biggest interview is a lot like yours, I love hearing the origins’ story of people. I want to hear how you got into market research –that type of story, because almost everyone that you ask in market research when you ask they say the fell back into it and then they go backwards. But at the same time it is an industry that is driven so much by behavior, and it really is a passion that everyone has. Those passions vary and they go in different directions. But to me, the more we can do to learn about how people got in the industry, the more we can do to recruit more people in the industry. And I think that is always a good thing. I want people to experience what I have gotten from this industry. I want people to feel this purpose I have gotten from this industry. And that sounds super hokey, and there are probably a lot of eyes rolling right now when I said that. But I just know that when you are in school, when you are trying to figure things out, you don’t say the word “purpose” a lot of times but you are looking for what your place is. To me, market research gave me that so I am super passionate about it. So if I can share more origins stories or I can hear more of why people got in the industry or why they stayed in the industry, how they fell in the industry, and things like that, that is my focus for next year. And at the same time, my goal with the podcast, I said this from the beginning, I love when there are times when we sell. Somebody would ask me: “What is the perfect group to bring to a sales presentation?” There is always a super passionate person, who thinks you have the best product out there, there is a number 1 sales guy, then there is probably a project manager or your insights person, who is all numbers, these are all numbers; then there is the normal person in the room, and they are the person that will give you a wink or point their finger at you once or twice and always smile if you don’t get something and then say: “Guys, can we stop?”, and gives you time to think that through and say “What do you mean by that?” “Expand on that”, those types of things – the person who is not thinking about market research from sun up to sun down, I want to be that normal person. That is who I want it to be. I want our podcast to be like the level-headed wink-nod finger gun of the podcast industry, and if we can do that, I think that we will be pretty happy.
My guest today has been Adam Jolley, EVP of Business Development at EMI Online Research Solutions and market research influencer, host of the Intellicast Podcast. Thank you very much, Adam, for joining me today.
Thank you so much for having me.
And thank you everyone who is listening as always. I greatly value your input and reviews in whatever platform you are consuming this content. Please feel free to reach out to me directly @jaminbrazil of the platform of your choice.