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Julie Kurd

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How to get the most ROI from TMRE 2016

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, Oct 05, 2016

Knect365’s (formerly IIR) TMRE conference is the diva of the insights conference world—from October 17th to the 20thyou can expect thousands of attendees, six tracks running simultaneously, and terrific keynote speakers like Freakonomic’s Stephen Dubner. All of this adds up to a significantly higher price tag, so let’s talk about how you’re going to communicate conference ROI to your CMO. 

TMRE-logo-RGB-f8eb4e44e97cd9a1288fe47eb11fd40e.png

Plan prior to the conference:

  • Write your elevator pitch: Whether you’re reserved or chatty, you’re going meet a lot of new people at TMRE, so take a minute to prepare your elevator speech:
    1. “My name is ___ and I work for ___, the makers of ___.”  If you work for Amazon, people understand that, but if you work for SC Johnson or Coca Cola, specify the product line.
    2. “In the coming year we’re focused on improving our ___, and for that we’re interested in ___.”  Here’s an example: “We just finished up a big journey study, which will help us drive the right messages to the right people at the right moments.” You can follow that up with something like: “In the coming year we’re going to do a lot of messaging optimization and concept testing to bring those moments into focus by segment.” That’s your hook, and your reason for the conversation you’re having.   
    3. Next comes your question. You’ve offered a bit about what you do, but who are you talking with?  If they are a peer or competitor, ask, “How about you?”  That’s it.  You need to bring this information back to your company.  If they are a supplier of research, ask, “How would you approach this if you were pitching to me?” 
  • Highlight the agenda: Figure out which sessions you want to attend. Tip:  I circle my agenda based on who will be speaking vs. the topic itself.  I want a mix of dot com, financial services, technology, healthcare, hospitality, and consumer goods, so I circle every brand that interests me and then I go back and take a look at the titles.  If I’m interested in mobile/geotagging more than dashboards (or vice versa), then I can narrow it down from there.
  • Block your calendar for the October 17-20 dates: Activate your out of office message and be sure to mention that you’re WORKING offsite all day.  At the price of any conference, it’s really a crime to be dialing in to staff meetings or writing emails in your hotel room.  Plan ahead…if you have a big deadline, consider moving it.  The Conference ROI of you missing the conference…it’s not pretty.

During the Conference:

  • Recap 3 of the sessions in writing so you can talk specifically about the cases during a future lunch and/or a staff meeting:  It is not enough to just go and listen to each session and then when you return to the office proclaim, “the conference was great.” You need to listen fiercely, with pen or tablet in hand, and write down who spoke, what they said and how it can be useful to your business. This is key, you need to find a way to weave in at least two of those three sessions into your future behaviors. TMRE should CHANGE the way you think, and the only way change happens is if you bring it on yourself. 
  • Make a few new acquaintances (and connect on LinkedIn): Because you need to keep actively learning in and across industries, use TMRE to expand your network. One of our clients recently told me, “I’m painfully introverted so I just go to the sessions.” But how are you going to remember that incredible speaker from ___ or that kind person from ___ unless you connect on LinkedIn?  It may seem awkward, but when it comes time to look for new methodologies, share best practices or recruit new hires, you’ll be happy you connected with a wider net of people.  Companies can get insular, so TMRE offers you the opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t typically meet.
  • Bonus tip—take a photo of yourself with one of the famous authors and share it with your CMO: OK, you don’t NEED to do this, but you need to come up with one visual representation of you at work and broadening your horizons at the IIR TMRE. Best-selling authors including Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics), Zoe Chance (Better Influence) or Francis Glebas (The Animator’s Eye) will be there, so you can check out at least one of those books prior to the conference.  Or you can take a picture of the stage for one of your favorite sessions and share that.  A picture tells a great story!

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the Twitter #mrx community. Talk research with her @julie1research.

Headed to TMRE? Stop by Booth 516 and say hello to Julie and the rest of the CMB team. And don't forget to catch CMB's Brant Cruz and Electronic Arts' (EA's) Jodie Antypas as they share how  EA leveraged insights to make a dramatic company turnaround: October 18th @11:15am.

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, conference recap, Market research

How To Not Flunk the MRA Corporate Researchers Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, Sep 06, 2016

You’re not going to flunk the MRA’s Corporate Researchers Conference, I won’t let you. Here are six sure-fire ways to fail (and how to avoid them): 

  1.  Don’t plan ahead. Right this moment, send yourself an invite to two 30-minute “meetings.” One meeting just prior to the conference (MRA CRC starts 9/26) to plan your goals, and one about a week after you’re back (first week of October).  Before the conference, your first order of business is to print out the agenda.  Read the synopses and circle the sessions you want to attend.  In some timeslots, you’ll notice you want to attend all three sessions (circle them all) and in others you may find nothing relevant to your industry or your role. You can always re-read the agenda and make adjustments during the actual conference. I’ll talk about meeting number two a bit later.
  2. Stay in your hotel room on conference calls. Yes, of course you’re busy. We all are. But we also all need to invest the time to broaden our understanding of the world, our industry, and our clients—you need to LEAVE YOUR HOTEL ROOM.  Hack your workaholic tendencies by booking your calendar as "unavailable," from 7:30am until 11:00pm every day of the conference so others know that you’re busy. CRC2.png
  3. Don’t have your elevator speech. Map out your interests/needs/desires to focus your conversations.  A lot of your fellow attendees have significant experience, so if you care about the role of emotions in brand identity and not about millennial shopper behavior, we’ll tailor our conversation and case examples to respond to your specific question(s).  Here are the bare bones of your elevator speech: use your 30-minute pre-conference meeting to write it (or write it on the plane).  You should state the super obvious things about yourself and your company’s context, that we suppliers probably don’t know:
    • My name is __ and I’m from __ (yes, it’s on the nametag, so this is optional)
    • There are __ number of people in our research department and we’re centralized/decentralized. We want to know if you’re the only researcher or have a team, if you outsource 100% or 0% of your work, and if you have a new CMO who has doubled or cut budgets. 
    • State your interest and your pain point: We have a __ [project] coming up, and I need to __.  How would you approach this if you were pitching me? Alternatively, if you don’t have an immediate need, direct the conversation like this: While there’s nothing I’m outsourcing now, I need to think about 2017, and we’re most focused on __ [millennial targeting, geographic expansion, brand or product, etc.].  Can you tell me more about what you’re doing in this space and how it’s relevant to me?
  4. Avoid ‘booth city.’ Vendors (we prefer “suppliers” or “partners”) are not vampires.  We come with our pop-up storefronts offering you candy, raffles, cocktails, t-shirts and cute toys to bring home for the kids. Collect it all, but don’t just make it a "grab and go."  Learn a little from us…our PhD’s are using proven techniques in exciting ways and inventing new approaches that brands need and love.  Respond to us when we invite you to connect and see where it leads!  You have to play to win. 
  5. Don’t build your network. Whether you’re connected to 50 or 500 people on LinkedIn, you need to keep actively learning alongside your network.  For your professional network, you need a mix of hub and spoke, content originators, amplifiers, spotters, visionaries and geographically diverse folks, so as you meet people, don’t just collect business cards that will languish at the bottom of your laptop bag. Connect with people on LinkedIn and you’ll have access to a broader network of connections, ideas, and inspiration.
  6. Don’t share. You’ve already gone through the effort of attending the conference, but there’s research that suggests we don’t retain information unless we re-purpose it, share it three times, merchandise it, etc. In other words, you need to take one more step to cement the knowledge or the people you met into your universe.  That’s where that second 30-minute meeting comes in:
    • Get connected: Follow up with the people you met on LinkedIn and Twitter, and drop them a note (see #5 above)
    • Share externally: Post your presentation on your LinkedIn profile so more people can see it. Didn’t present?  Be sure to take detailed notes in two-four sessions and write a post in easy bullet format to share what you learned.
    • Share internally: Share what you learned during your internal staff meeting or take a stakeholder to lunch and talk about an idea sparked from the conference and how it might help them. Don’t be generic…state the name of the presentation, who presented, what was learned, and why it was useful.

Follow these simple steps and I promise you, you’re not going to flunk. For an added incentive, tell me what you do to win at CRC (or another conference) and I’ll send you a fun little gift.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, talk research with her @julie1research.

Topics: conference recap, Market research

Getting Virtual at IIR Omnishopper: The Future of Retail

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, Jul 26, 2016

cy.pngAt this month’s IIR Omnishopper conference, all anyone could talk about was Pokémon Go.  Several research suppliers told me they’d downloaded it and everyone was marveling at its stellar adoption and usage rates.  I had my 13 year old son’s account on my mobile device, so I began the conference naively thinking ‘I’ll go out before the sessions start and catch a few Pokemon for him.’  I couldn’t stop, and despite the fact that CMB works with leading gaming companies, and we’ve got more than a few die-hard gamers on staff, I don’t consider myself a gamer.

How had I morphed into Cheffen Yobs from the moment I began to play? The answers are a case study in consumer motivation:

  • Primary motivation/goal: My initial, primary motivation/goal for Pokémon Go, of course was getting more creatures and points because why not? It was a hot new marketing opportunity and I anticipated being able to talk about it over lunch at the conference (the game rates high on helping me build my social and personal identity)!
  • Secondary motivation/goal: I quickly learned that Pokémon Go has history embedded in each stop, so I started learning interesting things about the city of Chicago. This motivated me to alter my destinations, because I was curious about a particular building or statue. I was looking in the ‘corners’ of Chicago city center, and I was discovering new art, new monuments, and new bridges.  Over the course of the 3-day conference, I walked through several great sections of Chicago. I went to about 12 hours of conference material but I set my clock to wake up earlier to play that game.  Typically at a conference I fly in and then I sit.  And I sit. And I sit.   
  • Unintended benefit: Many of my colleagues share their gamified solution to fitness at our office, and they push each other to exercise more, but my life is hectic and I just don’t add fitness to my priority list. Imagine my surprise when one of the unintended benefits of my trip was that I actually walked 10 km in a level of heat that I can’t even describe, and I didn’t even know I had walked so much until I got home and my son told me!

Questions and excitement about Pokémon Go also found their way into the conference sessions.  The Mall of America’s Emily Shannon talked about the Mall’s digital strategy. There’s the mundane—assigning every bathroom a different text number so you can text that the bathrooms are dirty, and there’s the delicious—hungry shoppers can ask ‘where can I get a great ice cream?’ and because the Mall of America has 12 ice cream stores, the Mall staff ask further questions about the ice cream preference (via text) and deliver an exceptional experience.  Shannon said that the Pokémon Go was definitely delivering the excitement and enthusiasm that are central to the Mall of America’s value proposition, so they were meeting and selecting strategies to increase engagement and delight among mall goers.  In the week following the conference, the Mall of America has launched a Trainer Lounge and tips for playing Pokémon Go at the Mall. 

The conference was exactly about engaging consumers along the path of discovery through purchase and repurchase to loyalty and advocacy.  Each presenter had a different take, and each brought us through their approaches, from full body Virtual Reality to eyeglass technology, cash register data, landscape assessment, qualitative consumer diary, strategy platforms, ideation, and survey trends.  Many speakers, including Ron Wetklow of Treasury Wine Estates, to Scott Young of from PRS IN VIVO, and Laura-Lynn Freck, of Red Bull talked about digital engagement driving physical engagement. 

In the consumer insights industry, engagement, primary and secondary motivations and unintended consequences are central to our work.  In the weeks since the conference, I’ve logged in a few times, but I don’t feel motivated to play.  Why?  1) the history of my suburb just isn’t that exciting, 2) there are only a few stops near my house and it’s not that interesting to go to the same spot 10 times 3) thanks to in-group norms—I’m not going to stand outside the library with 10 kids under 18 years old to play a game on my mobile device because they’re ‘not my tribe’. But, combine the game with my frequent traveling and make me learn stuff on my timetable and maybe even talk to people and I’ll play every time.  It’s been 10 days since the conference and I see the game everywhere, my bet is on the brands who can “catch” the opportunities that come from these uber-engaging tech-enabled phenomena.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

Did you miss our recent webinar on the power of Social Currency measurement to help brands activate the 7 levers that encourage consumers to advocate, engage, and gain real value? You're not out of luck:

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Topics: technology research, consumer insights, conference recap, customer experience and loyalty, retail research

Which #MRX Conference Is Right for You?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Jun 02, 2016

In the lives of kids and teens, you have your birthdays and your “half” birthdays. In the world of market research conferences, you also have main events and “half” events—the main events are the IIR TMRE Conference (in October) and the MRA’s Corporate Research Conference (in late September). These are the coming-of-age events—lots of attendees, many tracks, guest speakers whose names you recognize, and clients from the world’s leading brands.

In my role at CMB, I participate in a lot of conferences. In addition to the large fall conferences, there’s a lot to be learned at the smaller conferences that bloom each spring. As you think about what you want and expect from your conference experience, crisscross the country with me as I share a little about 2 great “half” events:

ISC2014LogoLong.pngMRA’s Insights & Strategies Conference (ISC)

The MRA ISC is perfect for low pressure networking and conversation, and the content is great. Here are some reasons to register:

  • Your boss will approve of the cost, and your family will love the shorter duration. This conference was located in New Orleans this year—which is a convenient nonstop flight from most US locations—and, with a civilized 1pm check-in, you can get a full day of work in before you go. Less expensive than other comparable events, this conference offers several tracks, covering dozens of topics with 45 speakers. In contrast with the super large conferences (which many extroverts like me love and attend in Q4), this conference has a manageable ~400 attendees.
  • Learn about new innovative companies and techniques, and reconnect with your key research vendor partners. Unilever’s Marie Wolfe introduced me to two nicely positioned qualitative research solution companies: Discuss.io and WeSeeThrough. These two innovative qualitative research companies offer new options for online qualitative—rapid online interviewing from Discuss.io and sensor technology from WeSeeThrough. Companies like CMB are there too, mixing new and proven techniques with tried-and-trusted rock solid execution.
  • Exceptional networking. Networking is essential to remaining vital in the workforce, even if speaking to strangers isn’t your favorite thing to do. ISC builds in a lot of natural networking functions with different types of people in mind—sessions are small, large, adventurous, workshoppy, and sometimes even involve bacon. Sessions range from 20 minutes to 1 ½ hours and are often interactive. The meals are all varied, so you can sit at large tables one meal and walk around cocktail style for another meal.
  • Location, location, location. MRA does a great job pushing us to truly experience the city we’re in. Whether you’re visiting a local company or trailing a marching band down Bourbon Street on a Wednesday night, if you attend an MRA conference, you’ll venture outside the hotel because they create activities and experiences for you to do it. MRA is great at picking cool new places that even frequent travelers like me haven’t visited, including St. Louis and now New Orleans.

IIR’s TMRE in Focus: the New Face of Consumer Insights

tmre_in_focus.pngI initially wondered if it was worth it to lose a day at the office flying from Boston to California to attend such a small (125 person) event. In addition to strong content, here’s why I’m glad I participated:

  • Hands-on, experiential sessions. This conference experimented with new, hands-on, experiential formats, including workshop breakouts. For example, during the Netflix session, we all collaborated at tables of 4-8 people to condense 6 slides into 2 to get a more relevant storyline from the insights. Every table had new ideas and enhanced the final discussion. This hands-on collaboration helped to create mental “stickiness.”
  • Problem solving perspective. Speakers were focused on solving client side researcher problems, ranging from improving the research organization and impact at your company to collaborating on a common goal. The digital world requires serious structural changes to assess and prioritize every option for your brand. For example, when Pinterest spoke, they focused on the rising tide of DIY (do it yourself) research and noted that the company’s department of 10 researchers handles all qual and quant in-house. Pinterest’s researchers are focused on helping the company become a catalog of ideas where people can discover, save, and share the things they love. As you evaluate the research department of tomorrow, look to your peers for clues on how to structure it, what to outsource, and whether to centralize or decentralize the research budget.
  • West coast orientation. Attendees were primarily from the west coast (Gap, Microsoft, Netflix, Warner Brothers, Twitter, Pinterest, Kendall Jackson, Gallo, etc.). A number of non-west coast attendees were from companies like L’Oréal that could combine the trip with office visits to its sub-brand home offices. This is a location-focused conference. So, if you want to connect with NoCali and SoCali researchers, this might be a good option for you.   
  • In hotel experience. This event took place at the Ritz-Carlton at the world’s largest marina—Marina del Rey. We took initiative to leave the “campus”—venturing to Venice Beach and Santa Monica—and invited other conference-goers after the conference ended both nights, or we never would have left the hotel. Meals were simple, and the conference started late and ended early each night.

If you’re sending people to several conferences next year, or if you’re choosing from all your options, consider the May conferences. First, compare both agendas to see if one conference has more content you’re interested in or more speakers from companies you want to learn from. Next, take location, time of year, and conference size into consideration. When it’s time to decide, weigh all the information against your goals. Happy learning! 

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

We've had a busy month of attending conferences. Couldn't make one? 

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap

CMB Conference Recap: Yale’s Customer Insights Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, May 11, 2016

Logo_Yale.jpgA hidden gem of a Consumer Insights conference, the Yale Customer Insights Conference is great for researchers seeking advanced quantitative methodological thinking. This conference is a rare mix of business and academia. Well-known PhDs came from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Wash U to share their research and findings. Not to be outdone, mega-brand thinkers from companies including Spotify, Vail Resorts, Viacom, and REI also came to share their insights. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Peter Fader discussed how Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) drives business forward. He had an abundance of wondrously specific cases, including how Starbucks is shifting from knowing your “usual” locally to knowing your “usual” virtually so that you’re able to have a personal and frictionless experience no matter where you are. In other words, Starbucks has become “a CRM company that monetizes through coffee.” This attempt to understand what each customer wants/needs at the atom level is a prime example of what Starbucks is obsessing over (and it’s not the next roast).
  • Kirsten Lynch, the CMO of Vail Resorts, focuses on the emotion and passion of Vail’s very specific target audience. The company’s segmentation scheme directly feeds everything they do. The target customers are not just pedestrian affluent—they are significantly wealthy, with average household incomes of $280k, so the customer mindset is very focused on exclusivity and excitement (vs discounts). When guests return to one of the resorts, everything they do is tracked in the Vail app: ski runs, where they dine, the people they’re with, etc. Like Starbucks, the data again is available at that atomized level, which not only allows Vail Resorts to personalize the experience for the guest, but also allows Vail’s leadership to assess strategic assets and ask: what do we need next? Another lift or another restaurant? Where do we need it, and why?
  • Spotify took all of the data it collected last year and used it on a “Year in Music” campaign, which was not only able to give each subscriber a recap of his/her year in music, but also able to give specific countries and zip codes information on the most popular songs/albums in that area. Fun fact: Eric Solomon, Director of Global Brand Strategy for Spotify, shared that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was the most popular song last year in Williamsburg, one of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods (can Beliebers be trendy?). People now listen to more than 40 hours of music in a week (yes, that’s the level of a full time job), and Spotify is using this data to segment by mood states (party, focus, sleep, workout, etc.) instead of by genre.
  • Ross Martin, Viacom’s EVP of Market Strategy and Entertainment, talked about how the company is moving passive fans to active “super” fans and discussed the shift from selling impressions to engagement. How can brands acknowledge and celebrate these super fans? Martin shared an example of a Millennial asking Viacom if he could make Ninja Turtle cuff links (a potential trademark violation) for his wedding. Viacom not only approved the use, but actually manufactured the cufflinks and sent them to the entire wedding party for an experiential point of connection with its influential fan base (which was an earned media opportunity for sure).
  • Michel Tuan Pham from Columbia Business School discussed how feelings and emotions affect our judgments and decisions. Whether there’s a “like” button or the option to give something a rating (e.g. 5 stars), people derive pleasure from the act of liking or rating something. His research found that even when there are no stakes and no decisions to be made, people like to “like.” His research examines motivation (narcissism) for these “likes”—and he concludes that as marketers, you should emphasize the “you” when asking customers to “tell others how YOU feel about Product X” because it’s more narcissistic than altruistically motivated.

Be sure to add this conference to your calendar for next year, and we’ll see you there.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research

CMB Conference Recap: ARF Re!Think16

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Mar 17, 2016

Re-Think-2016.jpgRon Amram of Heineken uttered the three words that sum up my ARF #ReThink16 experience: science, storytelling, and seconds. Let’s recap some of the most energizing insights: 

  • Science: Using Data to Generate Insights
    • AT&T Mobility’s Greg Pharo talked about how AT&T measures the impact of mass and digital advertising. They start with a regression and integrate marketing variables (media weight, impressions, GRPs, brand and message recall, WoM, etc.) as well as information on major product launches, distribution, and competitive data, topped off with macroeconomic data and internal operational data such as quality (network functioning, etc.).
    • GfK’s voice analytics research actually records respondents’ voices and captures voice inflection, which predicts new idea or new product success by asking a simple question: “What do you think about this product and why?” They explore sentiment by analyzing respondents’ speech for passion, activation, and whether they’d purchase. I had to ask a question: since I have a sunny and positive personality, wouldn’t my voice always sound to a machine as though I like every product? Evidently, no. They establish each individual respondent’s baseline and measure the change.  
    • Nielsen talked about its new 40 ad normative benchmark (increasing soon to 75) and how it uses a multi-method approach—a mix of medical grade EEG, eye tracking, facial coding, biometrics, and self-reporting—to get a full view of reactions to advertising. 
  • Storytelling: Using Creative That’s Personal
    • Doug Ziewacz (Head of North America Digital Media and Advertising for Under Armour Connected Fitness) spoke about the ecosystem of connected health and fitness. It’s not enough to just receive a notification that you’ve hit your 10,000 steps—many people are looking for community and rewards.
    • Tell your story. I saw several presentations that covered how companies ensure that potential purchasers view a product’s advertising and how companies are driving interest from target audiences.
      • Heineken, for example, knows that 50% of its 21-34 year-old male target don’t even drink beer, so they focus on telling stories to the other 50%. The company’s research shows that most male beer drinkers are sort of loyal to a dozen beer brands, with different preferences for different occasions. Ron Amram (VP of Media at Heineken) talked about the need to activate people with their beer for the right occasion. 
      • Manvir Kalsi, Senior Manager of Innovation Process and Research at Samsung, said that Samsung spends ~$3B in advertising globally. With such a large footprint, they often end up adding impressions for people who will never be interested in the product. Now, the company focuses on reaching entrenched Apple consumers with messages (such as long battery life) that might not resonate with Samsung loyalists but will hit Apple users hard and give those Apple users reasons to believe in Samsung. 
  • Seconds: Be Responsive Enough to Influence the Purchase Decision Funnel
    • Nathalie Bordes from ESPN talked about sub-second ad exposure effectiveness. She spoke frankly about how exposure time is no longer the most meaningful part of ad recall for mobile scrolling or static environments. In fact, 36% of audience recalled an ad with only half a second of exposure. There was 59% recall in 1 second and 78% recall in 2 seconds. Point being, every time we have to wait 4 or 5 seconds before clicking “skip ad” on YouTube, our brains really are taking in those ads.
    • Laura Bernstein from Symphony Advanced Media discussed the evolution of Millennials’ video viewing habits. Symphony is using measurement technology among its panel of 15,000 viewers who simply install an app and then keep their phones charged and near them, allowing the app to passively collect cross-platform data. A great example of leveraging the right tech for the right audience.

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Topics: storytelling, marketing science, advertising, data integration, conference recap

The Research Hero’s Journey: TMRE Conference Recap

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Nov 09, 2015

I’m back from IIR’s TMRE conference—three intense days spent with hundreds of consumer insights professionals who are charged with supporting the C-Suite in these perilous and changing times. Reflecting on the challenges facing these brave souls, I’m reminded of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, the narrative pattern found in millions of stories from Greek myth to Disney films. If it’s been awhile since your last literature class, refresh yourself on the Journey here or with this simple example from Cinderella.

the hero's journey, TMRE conference recap, CMB

Now, come with me as we follow our insights heroes and heroines on the path to re-invent and re-discover the magic that drives businesses forward. 

  • Ordinary World and the Call to Adventure: The world has changed, and the Hero faces a challenge. GfK’s CEO, David Krajicek likens insights folks to calligraphers and 11th century monks who copied manuscripts and whose wondrous artistry was killed by the scalability and speed of movable type. David says that insights folks must find a way to provide CMOs with immediate answers and handcrafted artistry (which requires our patience and focus), but the latter is becoming less frequent. A lot of the time, fast and directional is all decision-makers are willing to pay for.
  • Refusal of the Call: Our Hero balks at the seemingly impossible task. The C-Suite still needs artistry and reflection, but the craft of insights requires varied tools, exceptional rigor, mastery, and time. The swift and violent current of commerce requires insights folks to offer speed. There is a place in a portfolio of insights for short-term efforts as well as more contemplative efforts. Many research suppliers offer fast/inexpensive/directionally accurate solutions, and many others offer more pensive/structured thinking. Each side refuses the call.
  • Meeting the Mentor: Our Hero finds inspiration in disruption. Seth Godin reminds us that the boss keeps begging for more—more ratings, more shelf space—yielding average products for average people. You can’t grow by solving for the average. Brands that are growing are brands that look forward (think: AirBnB). The Hero and the Hero’s Journey must progress to avoid becoming a commodity.  
  • Crossing the Threshold: Our Hero takes the first step into the new world. While everyone in the insights world is talking about data, only 6% report that they’ve crossed the threshold into actually fusing passive (unstructured) data with survey research (structured) data. One company already on its way is LinkedIn. As LinkedIn’s Sally Sadosky and Al Nevarez shared, the site has insourced most of its survey research, and LinkedIn is marrying the survey data to its data sources. The company is using big data to align its offerings with the most impactful opportunities. LinkedIn classifies/segments, ranks drivers, categorizes text, and generates lift for key metrics.    
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Our Hero discovers friends and foes. On to the sessions at TMRE. . .the tests, the allies, and the enemies of the Hero as he/she journeys. Several speakers talked in generalities rather than tell their unique story—they played the middle. Our heroes found the allies and the tests in the other rooms and were rewarded with meaningful insights, including:
    • Remain optimistic, but embrace negative metrics: Poker player Caspar Berry reminded us to embrace uncertainty and to rise to meet the challenge despite the fear of failure. Risk-taking leaders are consistent and successful. They also get conned a lot, but they remain optimistic.
    • Know the game: Heineken’s Joanne McDonough conducted an entertaining and memorable presentation on the brand’s positioning—“behaving premium.” Heineken conducted mobile ethnos and interviews at exclusive night clubs in Miami, Los Angeles, and NYC. The company uncovered insights about the “Champagne Girl,” Table Service, and a lot more about dudes and their nights out.
    • Know the giants by name: Competing in the expectation economy has its impact challenges says @trendwatching’s Maxwell Luthy. It’s critical to understand the Internet of Things (IoT), the sharing economy, the “near me” or localization push, 2-way transparency (I rate the brand and the brand rates me), citizenship (of the world), and more.
    • Show your effort: Dan Ariely stressed that we need to understand that people’s cognition is relative to the time they’re willing to put into it. How can we eliminate friction? Storytelling to make insights actionable. Simple testing of the details. If there’s a way you can eliminate barriers—do it.
  • Approach: Our Hero is joined by allies to prepare for the new world. John Dryden and Kimberley Clark’s Laura Dropp talked about the next generation—Gen Z—who are always connected and never alone. These youngsters (ages 10 to 20) need you to be an easily accessible resource. Gen Zers naturally blend the physical and the virtual, making real connections fluidly, and they want our help to make a difference in the world.
  • Central Ordeal: Our Hero confronts his/her worst fears. The C-suite turnover is great, and the lowly research Hero is cast aside, playing a role perceived by many as not worthy of its own budget. It is here that researchers must make decisions about the level of risk they’re willing to take—breaking away from the tried but tired models of the past.
  • The Reward: Our Hero’s risks are rewarded. Compromises are made, and organizations are restructured to handle fast and directional insight. The budget for the thoughtful, foundational, deeper-diving insights is rewarded as the lightbulb goes on in the C-Suite.
  • The Road Back: Our Hero makes his/her way back, transformed. The marketing we grew up with is going away, and it’s time to get schooled by the world around us—embracing the new connections we must make with one another.
  • Resurrection: Our Hero must prove himself/herself once again. To drive brand zeal and customer loyalty, it’s not enough to provide a tasty meal or a clean hotel room. Consumers want a meal to be instagrammable and the hotel experience to be differentiated. At TMRE, we took clients out to Café Tu Tu Tango. We expected a good meal, but we received much more—excellent tapas and sangria, a great band, two artists painting at desks mingled with the diners (their art for sale on the walls), and a tarot card reader. It was a memorable and differentiating experience and a good example of why we can’t be content with business as usual.
  • Return with the Elixir: The Hero continues on with the power to transform as he/she has been transformed. To grow profitably, all of us need to be memorable, show our artistry or our speed, connect to the IoT, and be authentic. Research that lacks either showmanship or artistry will not suffice. We need the storytelling techniques to make insights memorable, entertaining, and, ultimately, actionable.

Where are you on your Hero’s Journey?

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: business decisions, internet of things, marketing strategy, B2B research, conference recap

Are You a Wingman to Your CMO?

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Oct 19, 2015

CMB conference recap, market research conferences, corporate researchers conferenceThe traditional military definition of a "wingman" is the second pilot who flies behind and off the right wing of the lead aircraft. The wingman protects the lead by watching his/her back. As I reflected on this year’s MRA Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) in St. Louis, I thought about my experiences with the wingmen and wingwomen of Chief Marketing Officers at Fortune 500 companies. 

Here’s what separates wingmen and wingwomen from the rest of the pack:

  • They test new stuff ALL THE TIME. Jeffrey Henning moderated a panel with Samsung’s Manvir Kalsi, Chico’s Ivy Boehm, and Lowe’s Celia Van Wickel, asking them to talk about techniques that have disappointed them. They primarily talked about emerging technologies, specifically about vendors who overpromised with facial coding in neuroscience and thematic roll ups that “create themselves” in text analytics. They discussed their “lead pilots” and their companies’ “formation” not having enough time for overly “mathy” insights. They also talked about how they’ve brought dynamic deliverables to their organizations in an attempt to reduce the PowerPoint clutter. Chico’s Ivy Boehm mentioned her quest to shift from 60 page “boring PowerPoints” (her words) to just 20 solid slides through combining information and drawing deeper conclusions. Manvir, Ivy, and Celia also discussed the challenges each of them faces as they make trade-offs in an effort to try new things—even though they know that sometimes all they need are some well-moderated traditional focus groups and a straight up, well-written quantitative survey. This panel proved that no matter the challenge, wingmen are always improving their game.  
  • They play around with working at Mach speed and at a normal pace. Microsoft’s Barry Jennings talked about the company’s Rapid Deployment Programs, which elicit feedback from customers at the later stages of the product development cycle. Successful wingmen are able to adjust and change course quickly—they can’t just head for the horizon. This is the key challenge: knowing when and where to get insights quickly at a lesser cost. At Microsoft, the process is clearly defined: ideation, iteration, validation, repeat. This process helps some concepts fail faster and helps others go to market more quickly. While Microsoft does loads of very methodical research, it’s also pushing itself to be fast and impactful vs perfect. Their program integrates activities, social and independent, moving from ideation to quant to qual and back. They collect feedback across any device and operating system, and they launch research in a day, share results, integrate historic data, and iterate. 
  • They begin with the end in mind and quantify their impact. Terrific researchers understand the business impacts of their research. Roxanne Gray, VP of Research for Wells Fargo, described the diverse household research that supports their “together, we’ll go far” promise. Customer insights played prominently for Wells Fargo as it launched its most recent campaign about the company’s commitment to helping diverse households talk about their finances. Grab a box of tissues, and see more about how Wells Fargo illustrated its 25-year commitment to people with diverse backgrounds. The impact? Roxanne’s research supported confident decision-making that quadrupled earned media. She was energized by the research itself, the executive decisions her stakeholders would make from the research, and the easy-to-digest delivery of insights that she presented as a story, and it showed. 
  • They love what they do, and they stay curious. Wingmen and wingwomen venture out to conferences to present, network, and listen to others. This deep passion for research, learning, and sharing is what keeps us sharp and focused at our organizations. At the best conferences, such as MRA’s CRC, the sheer number of wingmen and the quality of presentations (not to mention the bacon at breakfast) is incredible. If your position as a wingman isn’t rewarded with an adequate budget for this type of travel, have no fear. . . you can check out your local MRA chapter, attend online webinars, talk and listen with your global research peers face-to-face, and connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Let’s keep a line of sight on our lead pilots, the horizon, our formation, and let’s go!

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: product development, storytelling, business decisions, conference recap

You’re Doing It Wrong: 5 Takeaways from #YaleInsights15

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, May 19, 2015

 

Customer Insights catIf your brand were a meme, would it look like the one on the right? At the 2015 Yale Customer Insight Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, we heard a lot about the evolving marketplace, powerful consumers, and how to get it right.  We’re living in an increasingly customer-centric world—a world where businesses are taking cues from their customers like never before.  Deepak Advani, GM at IBM Commerce points out that more than three-quarters of customers think brands don’t understand them.  So, if you are doing it wrong…how can you get on track?

  1. Visual language first.  Facebook’s Director of Global Agency development, Patrick Harris says that rather than talk about a good book/trip/movie, people are posting a picture of it to “show not tell.” Facebook estimates a 75% global increase in visual language.  Are you wasting time on content no one will read or resonate with?

  2. Be loved by Millennials.  Millennials aren’t fighting the power…they are the power and they know it.  If they don’t love your brand, it is game over, you just don’t know it yet.  Anne Hubert over at Viacom’s Scratch asked us to consider a generation that’s 86 million strong and demands an emotional connection to your brand. You can call them raging narcissists with their heads in their phones and unprofitable for your business model, but if you think they aren’t a factor in your business, Hubert says they might be ignoring your brand.  And all that equity you’ve banked can disappear if they don’t want to work for you and they don’t care about your products/services.

  3. Curate good (not branded) content.  GE may be among the largest companies in the world, but Linda Boff, GE’s Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing, is under no illusions that they need to curate exceptional content— allowing their values of optimism, innovation and flexibility to shine. For instance, GE created 100 pairs of sneakers to celebrate their role in the moon landing. The kicks had everyone from sneaker-heads and fashionistas to museums talking.

  4. Self pace.  Ossa Fisher, CMO at ISTATION showed us the power of pacing and 1:1 learning. A child having trouble with a subject can self-pace their learning on smartphones and tablets, avoiding the embarrassment of being too slow (or too quick) in a larger classroom.  Without the stigma, the child can focus on what they know and don’t know, and work at a comfortable pace.  Even the classroom instructor is excited because she can monitor progress toward a goal without slowing down the class.

  5. Share.  Richelle Parham (Former CMO of eBay) and Bob Adams (Senior Director at Visa) talk about the rise of the sharing economy. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and many others are disrupting entrenched businesses and focused on customer needs. For example, dog owners love their dogs and it feels very wrong to leave the dog in a small cage while the owners go off on vacation.  In the sharing economy, dog lovers can be matched to other dog lovers and can ensure their dog is also going on a great vacation in a loving home.

As you head into the summer months, recognize the ways your company may be “doing it wrong” and take strides to sharpen and grow your brand.

Julie is an Account Executive. She is in her element connecting with innovative big thinkers on topics ranging from emotion to mobile and complex choice modelling. Follow her @julie1research using hashtag #MRX.

Topics: millennials, marketing strategy, conference recap, brand health and positioning

It's Time to Be Bold: 5 Takeaways from the IIR FUSE Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Apr 23, 2015

FUSE, branding, brand strategyLast week’s FUSE conference gathered top branding and design leaders to talk about disruption, brand strategy, and the changing marketplace. Until recently, branding experts urged brands to focus on mindfulness: gather the data, listen, and react to the results. But a new economy demands a bold and proactive approach—listening is great but it’s not nearly enough. Here are my top 5 takeaways:

1. You can call it a comeback—if you’re willing to be radical. Legacy brand Kodak is rising from the ashes of bankruptcy, and its near death reminds us of the need for disruption. Kodak CMO, Steve Overman, described the company’s journey as that of a beloved brand in search of a product suite that will serve as the brand’s emotional glue. Is this brand going to climb out of the cracks? Who knows, but if it’s got a shot, it will be through a radical reimagining of Kodak’s products and not just a tweak of its messaging.

2. Don’t discount the incredible. Futurist @bkreit (Bradley Kreit) talked about the emerging tech that’s making its way into your reality. These include: mood-spotting—algorithms that can escalate a call based on your emotions, sensors to tell you you’re running low on Tide, apps like Dorothy which allows you to click your heels 3 times and order an Uber, 3D printed domiciles, and other things like sensors for major disease self-evaluation. We’ve got the data, we’ve got the technology, and it’ll be here sooner than you think. . .all of it personalized, inexpensive, and possible. 

3. Be real, be emotional. @MorganSpurlock (Morgan Spurlock), Oscar Nominated filmmaker (Super Size Me, 2004), shared his latest project—a channel called Smartish. The concept is brand entertainment curated by “smartish” talent. How can branded content be authentic? Spurlock explains that it’s critical to identify and develop your brand’s core essence and the emotional payoff it will provide for your target market.

4. Whether you’re selling candy or condoms—you’ve got to go there. Serendipitously, I sat between one of Wrigley’s design/brand people and one of Trojan’s folks (you know. . .the condom people). I asked them both what they were really selling. The brand manager from Trojan was quick to reply with “trusted pleasure” while Wrigley’s person said, “we offer simple pleasure.” This chance encounter reminded me how important it is to think waaay outside the box.

5. This ain’t your grandma’s motivation. According to James Fox, CEO of Red Peak Branding, Millennials, who grew up with internet access, report that their friends would describe them using outward facing adjectives such as “good looking, bold, funny, creative, stylish and successful.” The older crowd, who didn’t grow up with internet access, use descriptors like “a team player, independent, and a good friend,” which are inward and loyalty focused. Brands are facing off to groups of people with enormously different basic motivations, and their messaging needs to reflect that.

The world is transforming, and to be relevant and prominent, brands need to trade-off two key roles: consistently making well-thought-out brand decisions for the core (sharpening the brand) and innovating and growing. So forget what your mother told you, it’s definitely not enough to be kind and a good listener—you need to be bold.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

Topics: conference recap, brand health and positioning, growth and innovation