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About the Author
Host of the #1 Podcast for Market Research, the Happy Market Research Podcast. You live once. Love the... 1. stuff you build, 2. the people you build it for, and 3. the team you build it with. Those 3 things are where Jamin dedicates all his effort. He is a seasoned chief executive with a background in leading high growth organizations from inception to exit. Over the last 20 years, he has developed a deep knowledge of market research which gives him a unique view when assessing which tools and techniques are trending. As the previous CEO of FocusVision, he was the first to bring to market a combination of qualitative and quantitative technologies that are used by 75% of the Fortune 100 and over 3,000 companies globally. Prior to FocusVision, he pioneered online surveys, conducting one of the first ones in 1996 and founded a top survey platform, Decipher, in 2000.

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5 Things every Researcher should know about how Buzzfeed uses consumer insights

Today I had the privilege of interviewing Edwin Wong from Buzzfeed. We chatted about how his research background at Yahoo and Pinterest informs Buzzfeed. We also discussed what he looks for in suppliers and his advice for recently minted marketing researchers.

These notes are just my big takeaways and should not be taken as the complete picture. For that, you’ll need to listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions.

Background

Edwin’s entry into research came from being part of the first few hires at a then small startup, Hall & Partners, which works with top brands to unlock new opportunities to co-invent the future. While at Hall & Partners, he was part of it’s ascension into the stratosphere of brand consulting.

My key takeaways

Walk alongside your customer and win

Prior to the interview Edwin and I were laughing about a particularly difficult project which required us to work over Christmas break and into New Years.

“There’s no such thing as vendor, client, whatever; it’s really partnerships.” 

I still recall the strain of that project. We had screwed something up in the survey programming and the sample simply wasn’t coming in at the rate promised. The customer had to have the data directly after the holiday break so that the company executives could make a strategic shift. Pressure was mounting daily and peoples’ careers were literally on the line.

No matter how late, no matter how early, weekend, holiday, vacation, at the bar with a few drinks in…we picked up the phone if a customer needed us.

This is something that is hard to quantify in collateral, websites and in sales decks. But each of us, yeah, I mean you and me, has a similar warchest of stories to pull from. When you are talking to prospective customers try telling them the story of how your team came through for another firm when the odds were stacked against you. I promise, the company you are pitching has plenty of examples when a trusted vender didn’t pickup the phone until Monday.

Take the full view

Context is one of the easiest things to loose when doing research. Why? We isolate our data from outside influences such as current events, where the respondents are coming from and their motivations. By incorporating external data such as purchase behavior, macro trends and media consumption we offer a fuller view of what is driving a consumer insight.

Edwin gave us a brilliant quote from Buzzfeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti,

“We are data full, not data rich.” 

That is exactly correct. Despite the rise in the volume of data, brands simply don’t know how to apply it to self-reported quantitative and qualitative research data. But it can be very easy to apply it…even if you have no technology. For example, if you are using a customer supplied list get a few other relevant variables besides contact information and combine that into your analysis. This extra step will help inform your findings, add value to the study and make you standout from your peers.

Research logistics are less important than Why

Today’s technology is making it easier and easier for brands to do research themselves saving time and money without compromising quality. However, pattern recognition continues to be a point of massive value.

“Gaining an understanding of what the consumer is doing is actually quite easy. But the why is what’s important.” 

And

“As we start to look at some of these newer platforms, the reason why I think they’re taking off is because they are aligning the digital experience with what’s core to being human. Part of Buzzfeed’s success is being able to dissect what the experience actually means to the consumer.” 

Seeing the same story play out in other clients and in other industries will help you put together a clear view on market trends so that your research findings uncover the why in the numbers.

Story trumps numbers

Long gone are the days where you present a 30 page powerpoint showing charts and tables. Today is the day of the story.

“Numbers matter less than the story. Methodology is absolutely critical, [because] the stories we tell each other are the stories that move the business.” 

It isn’t enough to have a data backed position. You have to craft a story which can be discussed at the water-cooler. Our research needs to connect to the organization through its employees so they can affect the change necessary to ensure its long-term success.

Advice to young market researchers

I see this a lot with eager researchers. They pop down in a chair next to some company subject matter expert of 20 years and start challenging. The reality is that, as a researcher, we are never as up to date on the business as the executives and we are never as close the the customer as sales. So, listen and then apply the insights in the context that they provide.

“We are hardly ever the smartest person in the room… be the best listener.” 

If you are a good listener, you will see how the dots connect into your insights and be able to tell a story that is supported instead of dismissed.

I recall a sales pitch I gave in Seattle about 5 years ago. It was for a very large piece of business. The pitch started with a slide that was titled, “Objectives & Client State”. Then the 2nd slide had in big bold letters, “What’s Changed?”. When the 2nd slide came on the overhead the client burst out laughing and said, “Thank God you asked…”. She proceeded to tell me over the last week they were going through a series of layoffs and had completely different buy motivations. If I hadn’t asked she likely would have likely patiently sat through my presentation and then smiled me to the door. Instead, I walked out with a signed contract.

In Conclusion

I was blown away with the level of detail Mr. Wong provided the research community. It is clear the value brands are looking for is shifting more and more away from the gathering of the insights and more towards what those insights mean to inform business decisions. 

Happy Market Research exists to facilitate a conversation between insights professionals and the brands they serve. I hope you found this useful and that you’ll keep tuning in.

Have a great day! 🙂

6 Keys to Grow Your Business Through LinkedIn Articles & Posts

Trying to grow an audience on LinkedIn? Me too! But the analytics around Articles and Posts has had me vexed.

In this first article I introduce the benefits and best practices around both Articles and Posts so you can bring the right tool to the job.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I’ve been all in on LinkedIn from the beginning. In fact, for over 8 years, LinkedIn was one of my largest users of the Consumer Survey Platform I built. Sadly, I continue to be frustrated with the way my Articles are performing in comparison to my Posts.

1: ARTICLES SEEM TO PERFORM POORLY COMPARED TO POSTS

For example, below is the analytics from my best performing Article we see 135 views, 37 likes and 6 comments.

Compare this well performing Post which had over 12k views, 100 likes and 20 comments…

2. ARTICLES TAKE MORE RESOURCES TO CREATE THAN POSTS

There was no paid ad spend on either the LinkedIn Article or the Post. My hourly rate is much higher but, for this work, $100 an hour felt right.

The economics is very obviously in favor of the Post. Here is why:

  1. They require less time, money and energy to produce.
  2. Seem to get way more currency of choice, #attention.

Engagement is my attempt to create a measure of impact per post and consists of Likes + Comments. Physiologically, Views has some important impact on me. So, the emotional lens created by views and the larger Engagement supported an “all in” effort on Posts.

3: VIEWS FOR ARTICLES ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN POSTS

I reviewed over 20 blogs, articles and had many discussions with other LinkedIn influencers to better understand their experience. I also joined the Writing on LinkedIn Group (which produced way too much spam).

Let’s start with views. According to LinkedIn’s FAQ, not all views are equal. The difference between the number of views on a post, video or an article…

  1. Articles – Someone has clicked on and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app. Note: Clicking into and viewing your own article also counts towards the number of views for that article.
  2. Posts – Someone saw your post on their LinkedIn homepage feed.
  3. Videos – Someone has viewed your video in their LinkedIn homepage feed, or by clicking on the video.

The huge distinction here is between Articles and Posts. In my example post, we have a 9:1 ratio of Post:Article views.

However, the quality of the view for an Article is much…much higher. 

But, why?

Observe your behavior when consuming your feed on LinkedIn. You are likely swiping up until something catches your eye. This gives each post a “view” count even though you didn’t really see it. This view also has competition from ads. The below screen has a yellow overlay over the ad areas on that screen (excluding promoted posts):

Conversely, a view in an Article is counted when someone clicks the Article that they discover in their feed which creates a much lower outcome. BUT, the value of that view is HUGE! Why? You have a captured (engaged) audience…and no yellow. 🙂

Now that we know not all views are created equal, what about the difference between Likes, Comments and Shares?

4: COMMENTS AND SHARES ARE A VITAL PART OF YOUR FUNNEL

From my experience, comments offer the highest value opportunity across the View, Like, Comment and Share indicators. Why?

Shares yield views (top of the funnel) but Comments yield opportunity. 

I created the below image to show the order of performance vs my overall Key Performance Indicator (KPI) which is Comments. This is where Paid becomes a critical component for your LinkedIn social strategy. By placing a few ad dollars against an Article, you’ll greatly improve your top of the communication funnel; and if you are adding value and your creative connects, you’ll see the trickle down effects.

5: ACTIONS

Take the time to produce quality articles that add value to your target audience. To this end, I will be producing 3 articles per week this year.

  1. Ensure all content you produce, especially Articles, add value.
  2. Spend the time with creative. Given the ease of use introduced by Canva to create amazing social graphics, there are simply no excuses for subpar creative.

6: FUTURE ARTICLES

I’ll be continuing this series based on my findings over the coming months. Here are some of the other items I’ll be exploring:

  1. Why do people Like vs Comment on LinkedIn & How to Drive Comments?
  2. What is the long tail of Posts vs Articles?
  3. If boosted, would Articles out perform Posts? If so, how much money to hit the tipping point? I’ll likely build a calculator for this so you can test and see if the market is going to yield an adequate return.

What else should I be paying attention to or would you like me to investigate?

If you got value from this, it would mean a ton if you could share this article on Twitter!

2 Tips For Turning Customers into Brand Champions

The end of 2018 was marked by Customer Experience being named King. With the acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP for $8b to be completed in Q1 ’19, Customer Experience is on track to have an incredible global era for the next decade, and we are just starting.

Everyday there are brands impacted by customer experience through the use of online ratings and social media. Consider this…

  1. According to a study done by Nielsen, over 65% of consumers prefer other customer recommendations over any other sources when choosing a product or service.
  2. Additionally, Sprout Data showed, “Two out of three (66 percent) respondents said posts from brands rarely or never influence their opinions.”

In this article, I give advice on how to grow your business (this especially applies to Market Research companies) by creating and capitalizing on amazing customer experiences based on my recent interview with Kantar’s Ann Green and Stephen DiMarco.

1. EXTEND YOUR VIEW OF THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TO TIME AND SPACE 

Consider the last time you had a hot date. You likely picked a fancy place for dinner and everyone would have been excited. But then you showed up and the parking lot was full, and you had to walk half a mile from the parking garage in the pouring rain with no umbrella. Your experience had to have been downgraded. Does the restaurant owner own the parking lot? Most likely no. Do they own the experience? 100% yes!

During the interview Ann Green used the example of Delta Airlines, “Delta used to be a means to get from one place to another. It was a flight. Now it is an experience. It is everything from onboard services to ordering a drink at the gate.” She went on to say,

“People are spending more on experiences than they are on things or products. So, marketers have to spend a lot more time and money getting to know their customer, so they impact not just the exact product but also the time and area around that consumption.”

To create a successful experience, we have to view the experience through the eyes of the consumer. In short, the context of the experience is just as important as the food, flight, insights report, or whatever else you are delivering.

2. SOFTWARE IS ONLY PART OF THE SOLUTION

Technology enabled data collection through Software as a Service is employed across most large companies in the same way that they have CRMs like Salesforce.com. But you still need professional services.

How? These are some tips from Kantar:

  1. Partner: Start with an investment with clients on discovery that creates a shared point of view of the customer pain points. Ideally, these pain points are unfilled by competitors.
  2. Listen: You have to use the right shoe for the right foot. There is no one size fits all here. Sometimes you’ll need an ethnography, IDI, Focus Group, Survey, Diary, or all the above. No matter what you employ, be open minded…this came up in many of the interviews of 2018. Check your assumptions at the door and get ready to learn.
  3. Delivery: Data tables, PowerPoints, Dashboards…these don’t get consumed by the organization. Consumer insights must facilitate a conversation that concludes with, “What is the action?”
  4. Prioritize: Action Over Answers

But to help the brand recreate the brand promise, research needs to identify an unmet need and extend to the operational plan to meet that need. This is why Kantar is finding purchase in Professional Services that take the data to the next level.

Basically, current CX solutions are great but need a lot of contextualization around them to be useful and brands need help with the specialized expertise to ensure decisions are driving successful business outcomes. 

As researchers and business owners, once we recognize that software is just part of the solution, then we can see the opportunity to shine for our clients.

If you got value from this, it would mean a ton if you would share this article on Twitter!

3 Ways to Get the Job You Want!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee will change jobs every 3.8 years. Put another way, over a 40-year career that is 11 transitions. Why? LinkedIn recently released a study which shows that “opportunity for advancement” is the number one reason exceeding even “poor management”. 

1. FOCUS ON YOUR BRAND OVER SALES

Value will always win, and success will always follow.  

In the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes. 

Last year, at the Insights Association’s CEO Summit I met a remarkable young CEO, Colson Steber. He was facing many challenges including pressure on sales, operational issues, and rising debt service. After my presentation Colson grabbed me and we worked through a 30,000-foot tactical plan that would help turn the business around. Colson did the hard work and took our conversation to the next level created an amazing 2018 outcome: 

  • Stabilized the business 
  • Revenue up by 30%
  • Established an engaging culture
  • Raised employee pay
  • Improved his Gross Margin 
  • Grew Net Income

At this year’s CEO Summit, Colson gave a presentation in front of the 80 CEOs about our conversation and how he implemented it. He literally leveled up my brand. 

The advice I was giving him was the culmination of nearly 20 years as a leader. It would have been easy for me to frame our discussion in a consulting agreement, so I totally skipped over the monetization opportunity and we went to work. 

Never miss an opportunity to help someone in need. It is ok to stay late, answer questions or just help clean up. Please know that people will take advantage of you from time to time…but if your motivation if their success…who cares.

In addition to capitalizing on spontaneous opportunities, go out of your way to ask your boss and peers, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Kindness and hard work are strong differentiators and are core to the type of person any high-performance culture wants to employ. 

2. MEASURE, LEARN, & IMPROVE 

Find an aspect of your job that you can quantify and then do it. Why? Because this data will give your performance a benchmark that you can use to quantify the impact of changes you make. 

Why is this useful? Using data in your life will…

Before you say, “This is impossible.” consider this example:

Jane does video production in addition to a heap of other things. Currently, videos take 8 hours to create. She monitors how much time each video takes for the next few months. This creates a performance benchmark, e.g. 8 hours. 

This leads Jane to ask herself,

“How can I get it to 7 hours?” 

She thinks, maybe I can leverage existing assets to save some time and it will not jeopardize the quality. 

She uses Adobe Stock Images and BOOM…2 hours are saved on the next video. “Hrm”, Jane thinks. “I wonder if the performance of the videos is the same?” She looks at that data also. 

During her 1 on 1 with her manager, she tells the story and quantifies her improvement. Jane’s boss is impressed and even has Jane do a training with her peers. 

Now, imagine she is applying for a new job? “Over 2 months, I improved video production by 25% across my company.” It is easy to see the outcome of that job interview. 

3. CREATE LINKEDIN CONTENT WEEKLY

Brand is performance over time.  

LinkedIn as a platform is evolving. More and more of us are using it as a place to find current content, see what is trending, and connect with peers and influencers. 

Putting yourself out there may seem scary. Don’t worry. We all have bags under our eyes, pimples, and stumble over our words. Just get out there. The key is to be authentic. One of my favorite examples of this is Ryan Berry. Just checkout his feed to see what I mean. 

What content should you post? Pick a lane and stay on point for a few months. Here are some tips…

  1. Write a blog post. Break it up into a 4 parter. This will give your voice shape so people know what to expect and start positioning you as a thought leader. 
  2. Don’t like to write? That is fine, post a video. Just use your phone. Quality is something you can worry about once you get better at the craft. 
  3. Start a podcast and start interviewing people. This is a fantastic way to extend your reach and, if you are like me, gets you out of the spotlight. 

Pick your medium and outline your first few topics then shoot your video, write your blog, or line up your podcast interviews. The key is to just start.

LEVEL SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS 

This is going to take time.  

One of my employees who recently joined Twitter said, “I’ve never had anyone interact with my tweets so just dismissed the platform.” When you first start, it is going to be slow going. That is just part of it. Consistency is 80% of the game. The best part is: by doing you will hone your craft and quality along with building an audience. 

As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you the best. 

It would mean a ton if you would share this article on Twitter!

3 Ways the Detroit Pistons are Using Data to Activate Fans & Sponsors

In my recent interview on the Happy Market Research Podcast with Shelly Bouren, Head of Research for the Detroit Pistons, she gave a transparent view of how the Detroit Pistons are using market research to engage both Fans and Sponsors. 

While relatively new to the world of market research, Bouren has a strong background in analytics from her experience in banking. This unorthodox background gives her a unique view of how and where insights should be integrated into the business to improve outcomes for both customers and owners. Her approach to research is both accessible and practical for us all. 

As part of, and an industry-leading, data & analytics department, Bouren manages research for all of the Detroit Pistons’ business departments; including operations/guest experience, marketing, entertainment, ticket sales, and sponsorship sales. 

1. DATA DELIVERS ACTION

This moniker is the hallmark of modern researchers. However, Bouren, takes this to a whole new level. On the walls of the office you’ll find signs like this,

Bouren says,

“Without context, the amount of data that is generated each season can be overwhelming. When current results were shared, there was a lot of head-nodding, and not a lot of action being taken.” 

By clearly and publicly articulating the rubric of research, you create a self-policing culture of action. It also creates a constant reminder to executives that, “We use research” to make decisions. This supports a culture of data driven decisions and supports the continued investment in research when budget time comes around.

2. BUILD RESEARCH AROUND COMPANY INITIATIVES

Having worked with hundreds of companies, this is harder in some and easier in others. It all depends on the transparency of the organization and degree of access you have to executive staff.

Bouren has designed her research around 6 questions which gives the Detroit Pistons clarity and opportunity to improve. She displays each question as a cog. If the machine of business is going to run efficiently, then we must invest in insights:

“Who are our customers?”

A highly tactical question that aligns everything a company does from sales and marketing to R&D to customer delivery.

  • Fans: Profiles & Personas
  • Partners: Scarborough Industry Research

“Are we reaching them?”

The adage, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” is vital when it comes to maximizing your Ad spend. 

  • TV/Radio Ratings
  • Social Measures
  • Media Monitoring

One trend I’ve heard over the last 50 interviews is that top firms are measuring not just the topline returns but also measuring at the individual level. For example, if you are selling in a B2B environment, LinkedIn now has a Social Selling solution which gives you a view of a target company’s org chart and the ability to be notified when buyers post or interact.

HACK: If you want to sell to P&G, start interacting with the buyers on social. This helps build a non-threatening relationship, informs you about who they are and what they care about (both professionally and socially), and will make your first meeting feel a lot more like a meeting among friends.

“What do they think of us?”

Don’t have your finger on the pulse of the consumer? SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott, feels it is so important they paid $8 billion for Qualtrics on a $400 million-dollar gross revenue. Honestly, there simply isn’t anything more important that knowing how your customers are feeling about you.

  • Fans: Brand Health Study
  • Attendees: Pistons Gameday Survey; Secret Shoppers; NBA Game Experience Study
  • Members: Fan Loyalty Tracker; Rewards Survey
  • Groups: NBA Group Leader Survey; Group Planning Surveys
  • Partners: Sponsor Satisfaction Study

HACK: Social listening is so important and easy to implement. If you say, “but I’m not on social,” you and your firm are in trouble. According to Edwin Wong, head of insights for Buzzfeed, “We created the largest Facebook group by simply going where the people are and talking about what they care about.” Your customers are on social and they are talking. Be there and engage…your competition is. 

“Do sponsorships benefit them?”

Havas Media improved their win rate by 50% by incorporating data into their pitches.

Brand Amplification Study; Sponsor Lift/Eval Study; Sponsor Recaps; Asset Valuations

“How can we grow?”

The rate of innovation is by no means slowing down. Voice, AI, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, etc. are changing the way consumers interact with the world. By allocating resources here, the organization is ensuring it is well prepared for these changes and whatever else might come up.

Prospecting Surveys; Campaign Support; Marketing Concept Testing

“What is our culture?”

Bouren put this cog at the bottom of the slide. In fact, it really isn’t number 6. It is the underpinnings of the whole machine. Being customer focused is not enough. You must have an engaged workforce.

Employee Survey; Pulse Surveys

HACK: Every company that is adding or subtracting headcount should do a pulse survey. For me, this was a weekly survey sent every Thursday at 3pm PT. The sooner you start tracking, then the sooner your baseline will come into focus; and you can start measuring things like the impact of 401ks or acquisitions or benefit changes or major company wins or major losses or…. Keep it short, 2 questions: NPS surrogate and an open-ended question. Best part is, you can do it for free using SurveyMonkey.

3. CREATE A DASHBOARD FOR AN “AT A GLANCE” COMPANY HEALTH CHECK

“The insights process dashboard has helped the organization understand how research can answer the questions that drive business and growth each season. It provides the framework for monthly executive level meetings, and has been a great communication tool to increase the reach and influence of our insights. With the increased exposure and understanding, I have been included in more strategic and planning conversations and am able to guide more data-driven decisions.“ 

CONCLUSION

AGENCY: If you sell into the market research industry, Bouren has given us one of the greatest gifts, a glimpse of how she frames and uses research. It is a clear roadmap of where you can add value and create clarity around your offerings, so they add value to your customers. 

BRAND: If you are inside the walls of a brand, Bouren has given us a comprehensive way to frame what we do day-to-day that will keep us managing up and ensuring our brands are acting with data.

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As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

2 Trends in Market Research from 31 Interviews at IIeX 2019 Amsterdam

On February 18th and 19th, Greenbook hosted the 5th annual IIeX in Amsterdam. While the venue was among the best I’ve ever seen, there was an overriding theme that surfaced, research empowerment

After doing over 80 interviews on the Happy Market Research Podcast among some of today’s top minds in market research, a theme is coming into focus: Research Empowerment

There were a ton of great talks and exhibitors a this year’s IIeX Amsterdam. Here are my 2 big takeaways from: 

1. Regardless of where you sit in your organization, consumer experience is part of your job. 

It used to be the case that doing a survey or one-on-one was hard. Those days are long gone. Today there are a host of tools including SurveyMonkey and Discuss.io that facilitate nearly instant access to consumers. 

Today’s tools are easy enough for even my mom to use but robust enough for most professional researchers. But that doesn’t mean research rigor is in place.

Most people who need the consumers’ point of view to inform their work have the ability to do a survey. For example, about 10 years ago a colleague told me there was a study done by Oracle on what tools their staff used to conduct research. They were surprised to learn that there were about 5,000 individual subscriptions to SurveyMonkey! 

Each person who has to make a decision about design that impacts the customer journey, al needs the customers’ point of view in near real-time. Tools make getting this point of view easy. But is that good?

THE PROBLEM

The problem with the democratization of research is that non-researchers often don’t understand the basics. Jake’s tweet on the right talks about many issues facing modern researchers. But show that list to non-researchers and see how much they actually understand.

The question isn’t,

“How do I get untrained researchers that are not in my department to stop doing research?” 

The question is,

“How do I empower them to get quality insights?” 

2. Insight Automation is a tool, not the answer. 

Research Automation as a value proposition has come into full bloom in market research. It addresses the conundrum, 

“Quality. Timing. Cost. Pick 2.”  

By automating the logistics function of research, we can spend more time on the “Now what and so what” of research. The real value prop is “Quality, Timing, and Cost…now you get all 3.”

Leveraging research automation can make hard things like adding external behavior data from your firms data lake become easy…even automated. This leaves you time to build a journalistic narrative that moves the company to change.

But, if Research Managers democratize insights as opposed to trying to centralize them, there must be an approval process. For example, in a recent chat with a P&G exec…they are concerned about research findings from different studies being compared over time.

“There is a lot that can change between studies including market conditions. With out setting the context or understanding what the business has done, you may misunderstand the drivers of of change.” 

Across your organization, people are doing research. This is why you have such a significant rise in data scientists and user experience researchers. Both of those job functions usually sit outside the purview of Market Research and are leveraged heavily because they have integrated insights into the daily tasks and workflows of designers and developers. 

QUESTION

Where and how should researchers deploy research empowerment? To answer this, I have simplified things…maybe too much…into two types of research: 

  1. Macro: These are commissioned by executives and have strategic implications for the business. Researchers must always be involved, if not outright in charge, of this type of work. 
  2. Micro: These spawn when there is a question like, “Which graphic is better?” or “What would the customer want to see here?” or “Is there a missing feature?” These are numerous and made through the organization. While they are not mission critical, the right choice has impact; so we want the person to have the tools and knowledge to incorporate the customer into their thinking. 

Most research that is done outside of the market research function is stuff we’ve been doing for decades: Satisfaction, Usability, Conjoint, Segmentation, etc. This is where we, as market researchers, can pull ahead and offer…

  1. Research automation tools such as Zappi or PureSpectrum offer firms the opportunity to standardize common methodologies and question types. This takes much of the risk out of the research. Additionally, by employing a research knowledge management system like KnowledgeHound you can create visibility on active and past projects ensuring presentations are inline with findings. This is a hell of a lot better than pretending research isn’t being done.
  2. Guidance: Once a month, a colleague of mine creates a SlideShare and then hosts a lunch-and-learn for the User Experience team where they cover a methodology, best practices, new tech, research tips, and Q&A. 

The technology should centralize the research putting research as the principle of insights and allows the organization to become better at getting and understanding the consumer voice.

Summary

So, what is the role of the corporate researcher? In part,

Empowerment

We need to establish best practices and guide the use of the right tools for the right jobs to ensure the implications from the customer views is accurate and impactful. 

As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

Shameless Plug

PureSpectrum has a lot to offer on this front. By partnering with existing automation solutions or by building them from the ground up, you can help improve your velocity of insights while saving money. Let me know if you’d like to talk: jamin@purespectrum.com.

4 Ways to Add Value to your Insights by Microsoft’s Director of Research

Today, Customer Experience is driving corporate decision making. In my recent interview with Marian Anderson, Director of Research at Microsoft, she outlined how Microsoft is using data to drive business decisions. 

Here are some of the highlights from our talk: 

1. Customer Empathy Wins Long Term 

In a recent talk I heard from Matt Cahill of McDonalds, he spoke about how they are improving sales by partnering with customers to maximize the consumer’s value. This is netting long term value and loyalty. 

Marian nailed this point, 

“We are intent on operating on behalf of the customer as opposed to building stuff they will buy.”  

Compare that to many of my experiences where “Share of Wallet” was the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). This KPI would be represented as a pie chart with the intent of gaining as much as possible. 

By partnering with consumers to make the right choices for themselves and their household, you create brand advocates which are far more valuable than the short-term impact model. 

2. Customer Centricity is the hallmark of a successful business. Establish it as a core value and back it up with data. 

Customer centricity is a core value of Microsoft and that value is set from the top. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has established this imperative in their DNA. 

The implication here is you must have voice of the customer, 

“You have to have data at the center of decision.”  

The good news is that core values self-police inside organizations, but the shift takes time. By humanizing our products, we will continue to set the customer as our North Star. 

3. Setting your findings in Context by leveraging other data adds value and impact to your research. 

Marian outlined a material problem for large corporations around their massive amounts of data. Here are a few that she mentioned they use regularly:

  1. Ethnographic 
  2. Quantitative  
  3. Internal telemetry
  4. External telemetry
  5. Motivation in social 
  6. Connection between satisfaction and revenue 
  7. Micro experience measurement 

This data must be leveraged because it sets a better context for the research. While this is hard, Marian says, 

“There is a relationship between hard and value. We never want to learn from one point of data in isolation.”  

4. Bring your research to life with NPR like story telling. 

Becoming expert in multivariate analysis is a skill that many of us researchers develop over time. Similarly, cultivating soft skills that enable you to guide a group discussion that uncovers hidden truths can be a lifelong endeavor. We have to treat storytelling as a similar skill to be studied and honed over our career. 

Remember the last time you listened to NPR? Regardless of your politics, you must admit their reporters do an amazing job of taking a combination of various data types and weaving them into a human story that connects to the audience. Marian says, 

“Influence requires a point of view communicated through story.” 

The better your story, the bigger the lever you give your research data to impact the company. 

CONCLUSION

What are brand researchers struggling with? Marian said it best, 

“Combination of multiple data sources and decisions needing to get made in speed.”  

By partnering with your customer to understand their needs and then developing a path forward, you will align your offerings and attitudes towards creating mutual long-term success. So…do that.

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It would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. 

I wish you all success and happiness!

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