Insights professionals have a lot of opportunities to learn and network—there is no shortage of conferences, webinars, and meetups—but making time to get out of the office can be a challenge. I get it! That’s why I’ve always valued local industry events—and in particular those hosted by our local chapter of the Market Research Association.
With the merger of the Market Research Association (MRA) and CASRO I was interested to see how our local chapter would adapt. My first look into the new organization was the New England Insights Association (NEIA) Spring Conference. I was happy to see the turnout was great and energy was high. So, what did we take away from the event? I asked some of my fellow CMB attendees to share their favorite takeaways:
- NEIA helps legitimize market research as a means of delivering valid insights to our clients. With the propagation of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts” in the media and on social channels, we're all suffering from information overload. Our profession must take the high road amid the noise and ensure we continue to deliver reliable, accurate insights. In the opening session of the conference, David Harris of Insight & Measurement and Ted Pulsifer of Market Cube reminded us that respondents are people and we achieve quality primary research data when we remember that questionnaires are forms of communication with them. They discussed several respondent-centric questionnaire development best practices that yield more accurate answers to the business questions we are asking.
- We need to remain future-focused and leverage existing (and new) technology. First, Mariann Lowery and Alex Olson of MGMA spoke about how simple SMS technology can be supercharged as a thought leadership polling platform for the healthcare industry. Then, Frank Kelly of Lightspeed Research spoke about how we can get deeper insights in quantitative studies by using voice, video, and other traditionally qualitative technologies. While not “new”, they have become ubiquitous and the tools for using them efficiently at large scales are constantly improving—to our benefit.
- As researchers, we need to be careful about how we ask questions. The way a question is phrased can have a serious impact on respondents’ answers. For example, at the conference, a volunteer was asked about the placement and number of balloons she saw printed on a colorfully decorated blindfold. Even though there actually weren’t any balloons on the blindfold, after the questioning, the volunteer had become convinced there were This is a simple example of the power of suggestion and how as researchers we can have a significant amount of influence over respondents’ answers. That’s why it’s important we are cognizant of how and what we’re asking to limit those biases.
- The importance of knowing your target audience is as critical for B2B research as B2C. Kim Wallace of Wallace & Wallace Associates, described his version of the customer decision journey and the impact that marketing messaging can have on the buyer’s decision. For me, his B2B examples underscored the value and importance of sending the right marketing message to the right potential buyer.
- Our industry needs to hear and amplify the voice of corporate researchers. A panel of corporate researchers, including Cathy James of Keurig, Rick Blake of The Hartford, Joe Johnson of LogMeIn and Amy Zalatan of Vistaprint, provided great perspective on the relationship between corporate researchers and research suppliers. They discussed how industry and business culture, coupled with how the insights function is structured internally, varies greatly by organization, and leads to different perspectives on the relationships and values they have with supply-side research companies. The discussion centered on challenges they face as corporate researchers and how they create actionable insights grounded in business decisions.
Overall, the first annual NEIA Spring Event was a great success. I gained insights from industry peers, networked with the New England research community, and came back to work feeling inspired and refreshed.
I encourage anyone interested in staying informed or getting involved with their local Insights Association chapter to visit their website.
CMB is committed to staying involved with local Insights Association chapters. In fact, our VP of eCommerce and Digital Media, Brant Cruz, recently presented with robotics firm, Anki, at the IA Northwest Educational Summit last week in San Francisco. If you’re interested in learning more about this presentation, sign up here to receive your copy of “How to Keep a Cutting-Edge Tech Product Relevant for Today’s Fickle Consumer”.
Brian Jones is a New England transplant from Central New York; but don’t hold that against him. He likes chicken and shells as much as the next guy but is missing good chicken wings. Thanks to Lauren Sears, Senior Associate Researcher at CMB, who contributed content to this article. Lauren’s also from New York but likes Boston better. Shh, don’t tell her family.