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Begin with the End—Lessons Learned

Posted by Caitlin Dailey

Fri, Feb 02, 2018

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A former colleague of mine had a post-it note on his wall that read: You have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. Inspiring words, but for those of us in professional services (rather than entertainment) it can feel like the to-do lists never end.

I recently watched a webinar on productivity given by MIT Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen. There was a lot of useful information in the webinar, but one piece of advice really resonated: begin with the end.

“Beginning with the end” means letting your desired outcome drive the planning and execution of your task. If you are cognizant of what your end-goal is, it will make tackling projects of any scope a lot easier—whether that’s writing an email or the final report of a multi-phased segmentation study.

At CMB, we always begin with the end in mind. When kicking off a project, we meet with key client stakeholders to align on business and research objectives. We leverage our proprietary Business Decision tools to identify what the desired business objectives are, and use that information to inform our research objectives and design. This preliminary decision-focused conversation ensures the research solution, story, and results are actionable and will deliver meaningful outcomes with true business impact.

Once the project is kicked off, no time should be wasted—consider building out a narrative and recording tentative conclusions as soon as data starts coming in. It can be tremendously helpful to have a mid-field check of the data to revise those conclusions, and then do a final revision once you have all the data. The story might not change much during this time, but writing and revising your conclusions prior to the close of an initiative can make delivering the final report less stressful.

Particularly in market research, there’s pressure to deliver results faster than ever. When you start with the end in mind, you can be building out the story in an iterative process, rather than scrambling to at the end. Since unearthing a clear and meaningful story is one of the most important pieces of a project, you’re only helping yourself (and your colleagues) by beginning with the end.

Other ways to improve productivity

As I mentioned, there were loads of other useful tips from Pozen’s webinar on how to increase productivity:

  • Write down your daily goals: Rome wasn’t built in a day, so jot down objectives you can realistically accomplish today.
  • Don’t exhaust your schedule: Avoid scheduling every minute of your day. Having a calendar filled with meetings may look productive, but it’s important to include “thinking time” for yourself.
  • Include work and non-work tasks: Your list should include routine essentials like going to the gym or having dinner with your family. This will help maintain a healthy work/life balance and will give you time to “recharge”.
  • Manage your inbox: If you’re in the zone, don’t feel pressured to stop and respond to each email immediately (unless it’s urgent, of course). Instead, set aside time a little later to respond to all emails.
  • Let go of perfectionism: Do you reread an email 5 times before you hit send? Scan through a deck repeatedly? Chances are, it were ready to go after the second review, so save your mental energy for something else and move on.
  • Quit procrastinating: One of the biggest hurdles to getting things done is simply starting them.

I’m now being mindful of how I can incorporate these practices into my life to maximize my productivity, and in turn, hope to tip the scale of my work/life balance in favor of a more stress-free work week. I hope you can too!

Caitlin Dailey is a Senior Project Manager on the Financial Services, Insurance, and Healthcare team at CMB and is looking forward to trying out these tactics to help get her out of the office a little earlier in 2018.

Topics: business decisions, research design, methodology

Welcoming a New Year and New Opportunities

Posted by Jim Garrity

Fri, Jan 05, 2018

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It’s 2018 and I truly believe there is no better time to be in the insights business. Yes, our industry and our clients face daunting challenges—new market entrants, digital disruption, political and regulatory upheaval, and increasingly empowered consumers are just a few. But it is also true that these disruptions have the potential to reveal—to those organizations prepared to tackle them—more opportunities than ever before. 

I firmly believe that CMB has never been better positioned to help our clients face both the challenges and the opportunities head on.  As we enter this new year, I want to reaffirm our commitment to you—to continue to be your collaborative, decision-focused, creative and forward-thinking partner. I also want to share just a bit about how we are investing in your success—ensuring we help you meet your objectives today and in the years to come.

Investment in groundbreaking Consumer Psychology solutions: Brands that will thrive in the future understand consumer motivations are both critical and complex. Our Consumer Psychology team lend their innovative thinking on the self, identity, and emotions to all of our work.

Developing configurable solutions to solve common problems quickly and cost effectively: Time and cost pressures will only increase over the coming year(s) and we are committed to leveraging technology and processes to deliver tailored results without resorting to cookie-cutter approaches.  We’re also excited to offer expanded solutions in partnership with our new parent company—ITA Group—delivering insights into the world of incentives, engagement and cultural transformation.

Staying on the forefront of the latest in predictive and advanced analytics techniques: Massive computing power paired with our Advanced Analytics Team’s expertise give our clients the advantage—providing a best assessment of the future under a variety of scenarios. Clients have LOTS of data that tells them what DID happen, we leverage predictive analytics to tell them what WILL happen—a critical need in a changing world.

Thoughtful and creative solutions from innovative design to co-creation: While a creative approach to a quantitative research design might seem worlds apart from an inventive co-creation workshop—we know meaningful insights aren’t about numbers on a slide and that creativity, curiosity and a relentless focus on decisions lead to the biggest breakthroughs.

Our people are your partners: Your CMB team is smart, client-focused and fun to work with. From our most tenured and expert senior consultants to our incredibly bright and creative associates, every member of your CMB team is focused on helping you and your business succeed.

Thank you for your partnership and here’s to a new year full of successes for you and your team.

Topics: Market research, business decisions, data integration, technology solutions

Are We There Yet? How TURF Can Save Your Family Trip

Posted by Victoria Young

Tue, Sep 05, 2017

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As the summer comes to a close, I’m reminiscing about the annual end-of-summer trip to New Hampshire my family used to take. There’s a lot to do and see in New Hampshire, and only having a week, we had to pick and choose how to spend our time wisely. Ultimately that decision was up to my mom, but that didn’t prevent me and my brother sharing our various opinions.

We all loved Story Land (that was a given) and it was always included on our NH itinerary… but that’s where unanimous agreement ended. My brother pined for Six Gun City–a Wild West themed park–but I preferred Santa’s Village. I thought Santa’s Village was cute while my brother thought it was tacky. Meanwhile, both my brother and I moaned and groaned when our mom insisted we hang out on the side of the road for an hour to look at The Old Man in the Mountain (RIP).

During the week, we managed to hit all desired attractions (and more), but tensions ran high some days. My brother complained at Santa’s Village while I couldn’t be bothered at Six Gun City—looking back, I can’t imagine the stress we caused our mom with our eye-rolling and sighs.

The researcher in me wonders if there could’ve been a way to satisfy everyone’s desires without upsetting some? Then I realized that this scenario isn’t totally unlike what we run TURF analyses for. If there had been a TURF analysis for our family vacations, perhaps it would’ve saved a lot of headaches.  

But what is “TURF”?

TURF is an acronym for “Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency.” TURF Analysis is a statistical analysis that was traditionally used to help media buyers determine where to place ads to reach the widest possible audience. But the use of TURF has since expanded to help answer product development questions like “What is the smallest number of features, services or products that could be offered to appeal to the largest number of potential consumers?”  

TURF determines the maximum number of people reached by looking for unduplicated reach. For example, if Person A likes Channel X and Channel Y, and both channels are included in the analysis, the model will get no additional reach from Person A than it would’ve had only Channel X or Channel Y been included.

This type of analysis could’ve helped us determine which attractions would appeal to the largest audience on our family trips. TURF is ideal when the number of choice combinations is high and the number of combinations are restricted—in my family’s case, we were restricted by time, money, and patience.

TURF tests each combination of options (e.g., Story Land, Clark’s Trading Post, Santa’s Village, etc.), and reports both reach and frequency for each combination. As you add items (in this case, attractions), the reach increases for a while and then tapers off. This is called the law of diminishing returns. The key is finding that sweet spot where you get the highest reach with the fewest items, and where anything above that is only incremental.

To make this more digestible, consider the example below. We’re planning a family vacation with our extended family, all of whom have varying preferences:

Story Land table.png

Of our 8 family members, 4 like Story Land (50% reach). Two other attractions–Attitash Bear Peak and Santa’s Village–appeal to 3 family members, but because all 3 who like Santa’s Village also like Story Land, only Attitash Bear Peak adds to the model’s reach. 

If we add Attitash Bear Peak, we come up with a total of 6 family members (75%) who get something they want.  Both Six Gun City and Clark’s Trading Post reach 2 family members, but only Six Gun City reaches Cousin Blair, one of two family members not reached by the first two attractions, bringing us to 87.5% reach.  We’re unable to please everyone, especially Long Lost Uncle Mark who appears to not enjoy anything. 

As the chart below suggests, we could please almost everyone in three stops: Story Land, Attitash Bear Peak, and Six Gun City.  Instead of going everywhere, we can maximize everyone’s happiness (reach) and stay within our restrictions (budget, time, patience) by going to those three stops.

Story Land chart_2.png

 

Ok, so TURF might not be the most logical answer to family vacation logistics, but it can help companies make important business decisions, especially when they are faced with multiple options and a limited budget.

So for now, my mom, brother, and I will continue to ask ourselves, who’s up for Story Land?

Victoria is a Senior Associate Researcher at CMB who still loves Story Land and traveling with her family.

Topics: business decisions, quantitative research

Plotting the Future of Insights… Today

Posted by Judy Melanson

Thu, Jul 06, 2017

The future is here:  technology is empowering people like never before and consumers have myriad choices and high expectations. From the C-Suite down, brands are trying to make sense of digital disruption and what it means for their organization. Insights folks aren’t immune to this disruption—in an increasingly consumer-centric and data-rich world we all have to think about where insight truly adds value.

lunch 2.jpegCMB's Judy Melanson kicks off our "lunch and learn" with Boston-area insights folks by discussing the digital disruption and increasingly evolving corporate environment.

What does this mean for your organization? For nimble, flexible, and innovative firms, there’s a tremendous opportunity to blaze new trails for how insights operates. On the other hand, organizations that are slow to adapt may fall behind and even fail.

In the spirit of focusing on this (now) future, last week a handful of Boston-based researchers joined CMBers for an engaging and insightful “lunch and learn” to share best practices on leveraging opportunities and overcoming challenges in today’s evolving corporate environment. After all, if decisions were easy and choices were clear, none of us would work in research!

During the lunch, CMB’s Brant Cruz presented a short case study on a strategic insights architecture audit we recently conducted of Electronic Arts’ (EA) research department. With the support of senior leadership, EA’s insights team improved the effectiveness of their department, employee satisfaction, and ultimately drove improvements and efficiencies across the organization. We used the EA case study as a jumping off point for discussion because, like many of the researchers around the table, EA was asking big questions like, “how can insights drive positive change and growth?”

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CMB's Brant Cruz giving a short presentation on our recent strategic insights architecture audit for Electronic Arts' (EA) research department.

After the presentation, we opened it up to the Boston-area insights folks to discuss what they’re most excited about in the future of insights and the challenges/obstacles they currently face. It was an engaging and enlightening conversation that proved organizations across the board—agency, non-profit, financial services, etc.—are facing some of the same challenges.

Here are some emerging themes:

  • Pace of decision-making: It’s important to build in time to gather, analyze, and determine research results. There’s a need to streamline methodologies while adhering to business requirements. The challenge is making time for satisfying both.
  • Organizational structure: Many organizations we spoke to stressed the challenge of a siloed work environment where (1) departments have competing priorities and (2) are sometimes conducting their own research. This compartmentalized structure prevents the potential for the organization to have a cohesive data and insights strategy.
  • Call to action: Most agreed when one researcher mentioned the challenge of research read outs that end in “ta-da” instead of “what now”? Oftentimes there’s a lack of shared vision/grasp of actions to take based on the results. How do we move from “ah ha” moments to actionable strategies?
  • Knowledge sharing: This relates to the siloed organizational structure. When departments aren’t communicating, the organization loses a tremendous opportunity to share knowledge and data within its teams.
  • Lots of data: There’s an amazing amount of data at an organization’s fingertips that sometimes, they don’t know what to do with it. How can an organization identify what data is important that will yield actionable, valuable insight?

While there are common challenges researchers are facing, the changing landscape poses a lot of new opportunities, too:

  • Frameworks: Don’t reinvent the wheel, seize the opportunity to use and improve upon existing designs within the organization.
  • Consider new sources of information: There’s value in looking at “nontraditional” data points, for example, the behavioral psychology of consumer decision-making (e.g., consumer identity and emotion).
  • Blend techniques: Consider a hybrid approach to your research projects, combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies for a richer perspective. In adding a qualitative component to your project, you’ll dig deeper and uncover the “why” behind the numbers.
  • Make data work harder: Look at your data every which way—horizontally and vertically—to identify potentially hidden insights. Look for opportunities to integrate your data in ways you haven’t before.
  • Improve decision-making: Make insights part of your organization’s key decision-making process to drive meaningful action.
  • Focus on the business objectives—What key business questions are you trying to answer? Let that guide your data, insights, and action plan.

There are overarching challenges and opportunities we in the insights community face as organizational structures continue to evolve. And while these larger challenges and opportunities must be met with the support from the top down, there are immediate actions you can take to improve your personal effectiveness as a member of your team:

  • Be an agent of change: Embrace new ideas and tools.
  • Be future focused: Encourage people to think of research as an investment rather than an expense.
  • Be a provocateur: Shape your organization’s thinking by asking hard questions that inspire risk taking and creativity.
  • Be the voice: Advocate for bringing the customer into the organization’s decision-making. In this consumer-centric world, you must connect the brand to the consumer.
  • "Create more value from insights: Provide the "now what" and be accountable for the business result.

Reflect on your research super-power—what makes you good at what you do—and apply it in today’s challenging business environment to drive positive change.

Missed us at the Boston Lunch and Learn? We'll be at the Insights Association's Great Lakes Chapter Meet & Greet in Chicago on July 27! Enjoy cocktails and hor d'oeuvres, network with regional insights professionals, and meet with some of our lead researchers! More information here.

Judy is CMB’s VP of Travel and Entertainment, leading studies to drive strategies to get, keep and grow loyal customers and viewers.  Her super-power, passion, comes alive in her desire to connect with research teams and deliver insights of value.  

 

 

Topics: growth and innovation, business decisions

CMB Employee Spotlight: Andy Cole, Strategy Consultant

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Mar 30, 2016

Andy_Cole_Chadwick Martin Bailey.jpgEarlier this year, CMB proudly introduced our new Consulting and Research Services team (CRS). This team is an extension of our long-term commitment to extending the reach of traditional market research through strategic consulting services. To better understand this team’s unique contributions to client engagements, I sat down one of our strategy consultants, Andy Cole. 

Andy, thanks for taking the time out of your day to connect. Can you tell me a little about your professional background and experiences? 

In a word, I would describe my career as “varied” or “diverse,” but most people look at my background and wonder if I have a problem sitting still. I’m originally trained as a mechanical engineer, and I started out doing R&D projects involving aerospace with Google, non-emissive fuels with the EPA, military-focused brain trauma with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), and vehicle collision forensics (with a small, lesser-known engineering company). My first regular job had me working for a large alternative energy company that would send me all over North America to climb 300-meter industrial wind turbines to figure out why they were offline, design temporary solutions to get them up and running ASAP, and work with R&D in Denmark to develop a permanent fix for systemic issues. 

I’m not sure if that meets anyone else’s definition of a regular job. So, how did you get from scaling wind turbines to a career in strategic consulting and research? 

I realized that I had a strong interest in business and management, so I got my MBA and began consulting with large, small, and non-profit organizations on a wide range of topics, including social media marketing, energy, executive training programs, and product development. I also launched two successful businesses in the innovation marketplace, helping large corporations rapidly develop new technologies and discover emerging markets, which was a great adventure but lacked the lifestyle I was ultimately looking for. 

I value diverse experiences because the most innovative solutions are borrowed from other industries and combined or repurposed in a new way. To me, this is the difference between being a true partner who can “connect the dots” versus a consultant who simply knows the best practices in a given industry. Clients don’t hire CMB if they’re just looking for best practices—we recommend a Google search for that purpose. 

Given your unique line of sight, in your opinion, what's the greatest opportunity facing businesses today that a research-based consulting engagement could support? 

There is an enormous trend in companies turning from sales-focused strategies to customer-centric design. When you hear companies embracing things like user experience, VOC, pivoting, and iterating, it’s all about observing and listening to customers, making constant measurements, testing new concepts in the market, etc. That all just screams for custom research. 

When companies are looking to become more customer-centric, they have to have a deep understanding of the target market that is backed by market information and unique insights. This is a huge opportunity for businesses to gain an advantage over their competition, and it’s truly CMB’s sweet spot. 

It seems that more and more consultants are embracing the impact of research. What’s your take on the role of research in the future of business consulting? 

The bottom line is that companies are looking for clear and confident strategic direction, and the language of today’s business is increasingly metric-oriented. It’s not enough for consultants to simply say that customers will like an idea or that a decision will result in greater revenues. The savvy business leader needs to know exactly how much more preferable a concept is and exactly how much revenue they should expect compared to taking an alternative path. Smart clients don’t trust advice without evidence to support it, and that is exactly what research provides. Good research forms the foundation on which effective strategies are built. 

Can you provide an example of a recent client engagement that blurred the lines of delineation between market research and strategic consulting? 

With the Affordable Care Act shaking up the entire healthcare industry, a large national insurance carrier saw an opportunity to use intimate knowledge of customer journey experiences and expectations to figure out which stages and channels were most influential (and would therefore pose the greatest marketing opportunity). Furthermore, the company wanted to know what messaging resonated with individual customers at each stage and within each channel, so it could be sure that marketing efforts would be as effective as possible.  

To tackle this ambiguous challenge, we took a multi-pronged and multi-phased approach: 

  1. A qualitative phase—involving in-depth interviews and moderated online discussion boards—to surface key stages, channels, and underlying context from the customer journey.
  2. A facilitated workshop with stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss key findings/insights and hypotheses, brainstorm potential solutions, and align on the path forward.
  3. A quantitative phase to reveal what individual customers value most throughout their experience and to identify which experiences have the potential to be particularly influential in the decision to purchase. 

It’s great when you get the opportunity to really dig in to that level of detail. What did you learn? 

At the conclusion of the project, we not only identified a number of surprising marketing opportunities by disproving a few fundamental assumptions, but we also validated (and put to rest) several long-standing hypotheses that were a stagnating source of internal debate. We also collaborated with the client to identify creative messaging campaigns that directly aligned with the trends stemming from our research as well as with the organization’s overarching strategic objectives. 

I look forward to hearing about more projects like this one that blur the lines in the future. Thanks again for taking time out of your day, Andy. 

Heather Magaw is the Vice President of Client Services at Chadwick Martin Bailey and has never climbed a wind turbine in her life. . .and never intends to.

Andy Cole is a Consultant at Chadwick Martin Bailey and has already left the interview to go investigate three seemingly unrelated things. 

Learn more about our strategy consulting expertise.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, strategy consulting, healthcare research, business decisions, growth and innovation, customer journey