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Consultative skill development

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Behind the Scenes






Visionary

Disruptor


Innovator

Industry Leader


 

I was talking to a junior colleague recently, who noted that folks with titles such as the above (bestowed on them by industry peers) are the ones who "get all the visibility" and typically get the funds to travel to conferences, speak at industry events, etc. 

We praise the innovators, the disruptors, the folks who raise the thought level of the industry, and we absolutely should - precisely because they bring the game to the next level. 

But in this post, I want to ensure we're also praising the project managers, the data analysts, and the strategists who often provide real structure for the business and projects and their work often allows the industry leaders to shine, and the visionaries to have enough time to create their visions. We can have all the disruptive thinking 
and lofty goals in the world, but without the project planning, the task management, etc., it doesn't get done.


Many of you reading this are leaders in your organizations: C-level executives, VPs, Directors and Managers. We all think heavily, deeply, and loftily about how to move our companies and our business forward. Please take a moment today to thank the project managers, strategists, programmers, PowerPoint designers, traffic managers, and others in your organization for keeping things running smoothly. And if you feel an imbalance on your team (perhaps too heavy in the visionary department and not enough execution?) consider adding those skill sets to your team, or add training for your existing staff. 

Consider also bringing some of these folks to TMRE with you, to hone their skill sets in tracks such as "Consultative Skill Development" and "The New MR Toolkit."  

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Infographics or Info-annoying?



Ok folks, let’s talk infographics. They are a hot topic in business information circles (including research), and love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay.

Let’s break this down. Common complaints about infographics that I’ve heard include:

  • They’re busy – there’s so much information in one visual that they eye is not sure where to look…and how the heck do you print them out?
  • Everyone thinks they are an infographics designer, even if they’re just essentially creating a colorful PowerPoint slide. Take this HOT PINK infographic about the Kardashian wedding for example.
  • They’re too simplistic and incomplete – they’re not communicating the full scope of research findings to the customer or end-user.
  • Unless you have in-house graphic design, good infographics can be very expensive to produce.
  • Data used in infographics is dated, incorrect, or very biased.

Ok, let’s face it, there are some pretty awful infographics out there, and the tide of folks complaining about infographics is growing. Witness sites such as a Tumblr for terrible infographics, articles such as “Ending the Infographic Plague ,” and, well, this one from Gizmodo. There are also folks out there simply not using the correct information (i.e. old data when new data is available) to create their infographics.

All of these complaints aside, it’s hard to ignore the fact that sometimes one infographic piece can cut through the clutter of overwhelming data and give the client or end-user an ‘ah hah’ moment. That’s when an infographic is done well, delivering data in an unexpected way that resonates. In addition to using infographics for client presentations and deliverables, infographics are typically excellent traffic drivers on your website, so it’s understandable why they’re particularly popular right now.

So, if you’re working on a project that involves infographics, remember they have a short shelf life (data gets old fast!), they can be expensive to produce, and it’s on YOU to ensure they’re done accurately.

For inspiration (and guidance) be sure to check out the fabulous Edward Tufte, “The Leonardo da Vinci of data,” and you can start with some good examples curated by Kissmetrics.

Also remember that if you’re joining us at TMRE in November there are some related to data visualization, such as “Making an Impact – Data Visualization and Deployment Techniques that Bring Research to Life.”

Finally, are you curious about research-specific infographics? Look no further than The Nitty GRITty of the Research Industry!

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It's Overwhelming!





The concept of content curation has been on my mind a lot this week.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it is the process of identifying, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific topic or issue online. Content curation can be a very valuable activity in your business, as it can make you a recognized and trusted resource for pertinent news and important information…and it can keep you continually visible to your audience.

The trending of content curation as a “hot topic” has really taken off in the last few years, which is not a surprise as the pace of data and content creation is expanding exponentially each year. In fact, back in 2010 Nielsen and AOL estimated that 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day.  You can bet that number has gone up since then. Talk about drinking from a fire hose of information!

In fact, many marketers are using content curation as a key component of their content marketing strategy, according to Curata’s 2012 Content Curation Adoption Survey, with 95 percent of respondents indicating they have curated content in the past six months. In my company, content curation comes up a lot, because we strive to be a recognized and trusted resource for news and information in the various industries we serve and curation is certainly part of our strategy.

With many of us in a state of overwhelm with the amount of market research knowledge that’s out there, it’s no surprise that many of us have turned to content curators (our trusted friends, industry leaders, and great research thinkers) as we’re all in need of someone to curate the wealth of content that’s out there for us. As Kelley mentioned in her recent blog post here,” Developments in our industry and technology are moving so fast, it's hard to keep up.“ That’s why we select who we follow on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with care, subscribe to specific industry journals and Paper.Lis, add specific blogs to our reader, etc. Those sources are curating content for us.

But we also need to cultivate the skill of being curators ourselves.

Why?

Because essentially we are research content (and data) curators for our customers, and we need to be good ones. If you think about it, presenting our clients with ALL of the data from a study in raw format would be like asking them to drink from that fire hose previously mentioned! Even a 25-question survey with 500 respondents is a lot of raw data for them to look at.

We need to be good curators, identifying, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content on a specific topic or issue, by teasing out insights, knowing how to find the story in the data, removing our bias and personal filters, and by knowing who you’re curating the data for (your audience) and what data and delivery method will resonate most.

The pace of online content sharing and data creation is only going to increase over time, so curation (both employing it and learning it) is an important skill to master!

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Immerse Yourself



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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




Hello! I'm your client. 

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

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

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

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

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

1) Do Your Research

This is simple, but it bears repeating!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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