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A Day in the Life...

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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75 Slides

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event blog


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This Week at TMRE...

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



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

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

Day 1 Recap

Day 2 Recap


Day 3 Recap

Twitter stream for the event

Eventifier for the event



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

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog-

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

-Cross-posted from The Market Research Event blog-


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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