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Optimizing Your Conference ROI

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Aug 02, 2018

attending a conference (Resized)

With tightening travel and professional development budgets, I've adapted an earlier blog post about making the most of your conference experience. Conferences are expensive and so your company wants to know what’s in it for them.

And while of course you need to prove the ROI, you also need to think about it as "WIIFM" ("What’s in it for me”) to squeeze every valuable ounce out of your conference experience and delight your company.

With the US insights community’s largest industry conferences (TMRE and CRC) right around the corner, let’s talk personal branding and ROI:

  • Block off your office calendar during the days of the conference. Activate your out of office message and be sure to mention that you’re WORKING offsite all day.  It is really a crime against your boss and company to be dialing into staff meetings or writing emails from your hotel room when you mutually agreed that you’d be learning at a conference. The conference ROI of you missing the conference because you were sitting in your hotel room…it’s not pretty.  Thank your boss/peers/staff for this critical professional development opportunity as appropriate and promise the right person at your company a brief ROI summary (more later).
  • Highlight the agenda prior to the conference. Map out which sessions you want to attend. When there are several tracks running concurrently, I circle my agenda with all the sessions I want to see and then go back and refine when I’m actually at the conference. Sometimes the same (or similar) session is held at two different times during a conference so you don’t have to make tough tradeoffs. Or sometimes the keynote has a working session and after their opening presentation, so you could hear them twice or try something new.
  • Plan your elevator pitch and ask: Whether you’re reserved or chatty, you’re going meet a lot of new people at conferences, so make sure to prepare your elevator pitch:
    1. “My name is ___ and I work for ___, the makers of ___. In the coming year we’re focused on improving our ___, and for that reason, I’m here at the conference to learn more about ___.” 
    2. Here’s an example: “We just finished up a big customer journey project, which will help us drive the right messages to the right people at the right moments.” You can follow 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 to?  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?” 
  • Recap at least three sessions in writing so you can talk specifically about the cases during a future lunch and/or meeting:  Don’t just return to the office and proclaim, “the conference was great; I learned so much.” Listen fiercely and write down who spoke, what they said, how they presented. Take something forward that you can apply in your own career. Why was that session useful?  Did the speaker talk about a new technique? Did they present in a style that you want to mimic? Did they talk about the world of tomorrow in a way that’s accessible to you, can you bring it to life back at your company? Once you finish writing and are back home, how can you mention that session 3x, so it sticks in your active memory and changes something about your habits? 
  • Make a few new acquaintances (and connect on LinkedIn):  You want to keep actively learning and building your professional network, so connect on LinkedIn with speakers and conference goers. One of our F100 clients recently told me, “I’m painfully introverted so I just go to the sessions.” And while of course I understand, it’s vital to us all to expand our network, from a peer, collaborator, and employee recruitment perspective. Let’s always be learning together.
  • Bonus tip—take a photo of yourself with one of the famous speakers 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 broadening your horizons at the conference. If you’re speaking, get a photo of you while presenting (any of us will take it… just ask).  If you’re attending, snap a picture of your favorite speakers or in “Booth City” where you’ll meet a number of suppliers.  Share your photo with your company so they can experience your effort (and visualize you learning vs. at the pool). If relevant to you, even consider sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter because a picture tells a great story (and gets a lot of likes!)

Are you heading to CRC or TMRE? If so, reach out and let’s connect while there!

Julie is an inspired TMRE Sponsor, participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter, interested in your stories; follow her on LinkedIn.

Topics: conference recap, professional development

Consumer-Driven Ideas from Leaders at Keds, NYU, and Alibaba

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, May 17, 2018

Yale header-2A few hundred of us attended the annual #YaleInsights18 conference to listen to leaders at companies and universities including L’Oreal, Warby Parker, Keds, Alibaba, Yale and NYU Stern. Three of the sessions are recapped below. 

Are you seeding the clouds for earned impressions?  Keds CMO Emily Culp talks about the shift from the 2-minute “long form” ad to a more integrated digital strategy that incorporates quick five second video GIFs. This strategy pulls together media impressions from a mix of sources like celebrities (1M+ followers), regional influencers (500k-1M followers) and micro-influencers (1-100k followers). Keds understands that a celebrity can get 150,000 likes on a picture of them wearing Keds vs. the Keds website that can’t get the same brand heat and wholesale interest. Keds is seeding with bloggers and consumers with the goal of getting their shoes in the hands of influential people who will be loyal brand ambassadors. These shoe-wearers in turn create user generated content. Keds then builds on this digital native-first strategy by leveraging their website, social media, PR/seeding, emails, and their sell in/sell through data.

Are you using AI to personalize promotional offers? NYU Stern School Professor Anindya Ghose explained that mobile devices provide atomic levels of behavioral data because they are owned and used by a single person. Specifically, companies can “know” the device’s location with 91% accuracy and within three feet. He says that in addition to location, as researchers, we need to layer in time, context, crowdedness (how crowded the location is), weather, trajectory, social dynamics, saliency and tech mix to really optimize the “in the moment” promotional offers. For example, if I’m walking to the train station during my morning commute, I might be enticed by an offer at a coffee shop I never frequent.  In the evening when I return, I might be more likely to divert my habitual path for a different promotion, but not likely for a coffee. So, depending on the time of day, the offers that need to pop are different.  In fact, commuters are ALWAYS more likely to redeem an offer than non-commuters. 

Can you see the human in your consumer data or are they just IP Addresses?  Alibaba’s Lee McCabe talked about the future of commerce in a connected world. At Alibaba, they’re focusing on context, convergence and contact. Alibaba is fully vertically integrated so they can take data and consumer insight to a whole different level of identifiable, analyzable and reachable. They have real person identity, full dimension analysis (all the sites and businesses they own have a single sign on so they can see across browsing, social, media, purchase, pay, logistics, entertainment, travel) and measure all around touchpoints for the consumer. On 11/11, Singles’ Day, (think of Singles’ Day as Black Friday on a global scale), Alibaba sold 100 Maserati’s in 18 seconds and 350 Alfa Romeo cars in 33 seconds. In fact, 140,000 brands participated in Singles’ Day across 225 countries/territories, and consumers placed 812M orders that generated $25B in sales that one day.   

How are we all using multi-method and multi-source to grow our brands?  These are a few of the ways.

Yale often posts conference content to its YouTube channel to broaden its reach, and we will append this blog post if/when that channel appears.

Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, integrated data, Artificial Intelligence

Telling Your Insights Story: Reflections from a 2018 Qually Award Finalist

Posted by Kelsey Segaloff

Wed, Apr 04, 2018

Earlier this year, I ditched snowy Boston for the Qualitative Research Consultants Annual Conference in sunny Phoenix. I’d been to the conference before, but this year was particularly special because I was a 2018 Qually Award Finalist—a competition that challenges researchers to demonstrate a creative approach to problem solving.

In the competition, we were asked to respond to a client RFP. The three finalists then were invited to present our proposals to a live audience at the conference. While I didn’t win the competition, it was an incredible opportunity to challenge myself to think creatively about how we can approach qualitative research.

Since working in the industry, I’ve learned that storytelling—finding and communicating the story from the data—is one of the most important skills a researcher can have. It’s our job to dig into the data and create a compelling narrative so that our clients have relatable and actionable insights.

I wanted to incorporate storytelling into my proposal in an unconventional way. So rather than looking at how other researchers tell stories, I looked outward—how are people telling and consuming stories in everyday life?

One of the most powerful and culturally-relevant ways stories are shared today is through podcasts. I listen to them every day on my way to work, so I thought, “Why not create an insights podcast?”

I proposed taking the audio gathered from in-person interviews, ethnographies, shop-a-longs, etc., and piecing them together into a podcast. It’s a simple yet powerful way to tell an insights story.

Too often our minds default to a PowerPoint presentation when we talk about storytelling. But as you’ll see in the video below, inspiration for storytelling can come from anywhere:

Kelsey Segaloff is a Senior Qualitative Associate Researcher at CMB and an avid consumer of true crime and Bachelor-themed podcasts.

 

Topics: qualitative research, storytelling, conference recap

Beer, Pot, Car Racing and More: A brief roundup of Quirks East 2018

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Mar 05, 2018

quirks east poster3.png 

Here are a few learnings from last week's Quirk’s East Event in Brooklyn:

Measuring the success of Corona’s new nonlinear ads. Samrat Samran from AB InBev and Pranav Yadav from Neuro-Insight shared Corona’s advertisements that focus on the lime ritual. These “story fragments” equate the 'feeling' you get when a lime goes into the beer bottle with a surfer plunging into the water. To quantify success of a non-linear advertisement, they established guardrails on five key branding moments (brand memory, emotional intensity, and engagement etc.). Through this framework, they were able to see an increased recall on the second ad view because interestingly, a nonlinear story is challenging enough that the brain seizes on new aspects of the story in the second viewing.

Legal Cannabis is a Brand Innovation Game ChangerIn a time where many Fortune 500 companies are still asking for drug tests, it may not be intuitive to account for cannabis in your innovation pipeline—especially if you don’t work in the cannabis industry. But marijuana pairings are occurring beyond the music, snacks, etc., so it’s time to start paying attention to this growing category. In the BDS Analytics presentation, of those studied (28% were users, 34% were acceptors, and 38% were rejecters), almost everyone (including rejecters) universally accept some form of marijuana use as ‘acceptable’. And in this case, rejecters aren’t necessarily opponents, they just choose not to use. The cannabis market is diverse in generation, gender, and motivations—and likely will continue to grow in complexity.

NASCAR’s Passive Metering and Digital Media Tracking. NASCAR’s Norris Scott and Luth’s Candice Rab spoke about their behavior-based insights research. In the study, respondents downloaded an app that passively tracked behavior across devices—from PC, smartphone, and tablet. Integrating digital data with survey research helped contextualize participants’ behavior and shed light on the “why” behind attitudes and consumption of digital sports media among NASCAR fans and super-fans. Through this approach, NASCAR discovered that fans are also looking at a range of other sports content, such as ESPN, Yahoo Sports, etc., and half the fans use digital to enhance their race viewing experience.   

Gen Z (Tweens, Teens) and their Secret (Visual) Languages. Kids have always loved having secret languages that bonds and empowers them. Writing has given way to typing to tapping to snapping, per Stephanie Retblatt of SmartyPants. Text has morphed into videos, and videos to emojis, GIFs, memes, filters, and stickers. This evolution marks the significant shift in how kids and tweens experience emotions in ways that text hasn’t kept up with. “Animoji” and “Bitmoji” are part of a new visual curation brought to us by Snapchat.

Changing role of Artificial Intelligence in research. Whether you’re a F500 company or a Consumer Insights firm, Peter Mackey of Wizer says we need to take AI seriously. Peter showed how a chasm is starting to build between client reality (speed over quality, tighter budgets) and traditional consumer insights. In traditional insights, qualified thinkers brainstorm with you, frame the challenge, and craft the research design—all of which is time intensive. These days, budget-conscious marketers have resorted to DIY surveys, templated survey automation, human supervised/semi-automated coding and transcription. Today, we’re all experimenting with AI in market research world (#MRX):

  • Input – Automating the survey
  • Data Processing – quantitative and qualitative quality control such as respondent fraud detection algorithms
  • Output – positive findings in green and negative in red.  Natural language interpretation.
Co-Creation and the Future of Loyalty & Rewards with the Hilton. To break out of the “sea of sameness”, executives and consumers can come together to ideate innovative solutions using a co-creation approach. My company, CMB, presented with our client, Jessica Boothe of Hilton, on a recent co-creation session that explored the future of Global Loyalty and Rewards programs. Hilton has renovated its rewards program, simplifying both the earn and the burn aspects of rewards. This co-creation initiative discovered and re-discovered potential new emotional and functional rewards for both elite and non-elite members of the Honors program.      

Whether you always have a travel bag to unpack, or you ‘never get to go anywhere,’ learning is always available to everyone. Sign up for our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, 3/7 at 12pm ET.

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Topics: conference recap

CMB + ABC @ TMRE 2017: Attracting Viewers (& Customers) in the Golden Age of Content

Posted by Megan McManaman

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

abctmre.png

We're less than 24 hours into TMRE 2017 and it has been a whirlwind of sessions and great conversations with researchers and marketers from all over the world. If you're not one of the 1000+ people who've converged on Orlando for one of the biggest market research events in the U.S., don't worry—we won't let you miss out. 

This afternoon, CMB's own Judy Melanson and ABC's Lyndsey Albertson presented an in-depth look at how ABC is building a deep understanding of what drives content discovery and what keeps viewers watching! You don't have to be ABC Disney to know how critical it is to gain traction for new products while navigating a market in flux.  As you navigate your customer journeys, amid seismic shifts, are you asking and answering these 7 critical questions?

  1. What does “new” mean to your consumers; what content, products, and materials can you re-merchandise?
  2. Do you understand how your industry’s disruptors are meeting customer needs?
  3. Are you regularly evaluating your schedules to ensure offerings break through and remain relevant?
  4. How well is your brand’s story connecting with your customers’ emotions?
  5. Are you fully leveraging the power of social to engage?
  6. How are your distribution points ensuring relevance and stickiness?
  7. Have you adapted your product availability to better fit with consumer needs (that may be changing due to competitor offerings)?

Learn more about how we're helping leading brands ask, answer and act on the questions that matter, drop us a note or give us a call:

Contact us!

At TMRE now? Stop by Booth 409 to chat! 

 

Topics: conference recap, digital media and entertainment research, customer journey

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: the 2017 Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC)

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Oct 19, 2017

CRC creative-1.png

It was quite a week to be in Chicago for lovers of musicals and insights!  As one of the lucky market researchers who got to attend the Corporate Researchers Conference AND see Hamilton, I knew I couldn’t “throw away my shot” to share just a few highlights that inspired me and made me think.

First up, the critical question: Marketers and Researchers, how are you helping your company to differentiate, separate, and grow? If you want to be “in the room” with your company’s decision-makers, and not just the bearer of insights, you’re going to have to employ art and science. Here’s what some of your peers are doing:

  • Judd Antin of Airbnb will ONLY hire “full stack” researchers—those with 1) formative qualitative (ethnos), 2) evaluative qualitative (usability), 3) survey design, 4) applied statistics (yeah), and 5) SQL (merging data sets etc.). He sees the sciences as key to growth, a solution to homophily and the confirmation bias that limits our thinking and growth. He is definitely not throwing away his shot. He challenges us to get outside of our point of view and has established guidelines for non-English surveys in a company that is in hundreds of countries.  His group is redesigning the host interface, conducting ‘check-in’-a-longs (take me!) and he’s demanding rigorous quantitative analysis to prioritize the strategically important improvements and operational optimize the tactical elements. They have a full time international community member panel in 10 countries and in 10 languages and they translate surveys in and out of native languages for results in a single week. As Alexander Hamilton would say, “Learn to think continentally".
  • Charise Shields from Toyota reminded us that women buy cars. Millennials buy cars. Millennial women buy cars. They are redefining the two-year intender path to purchase, and they aren’t a monolithic block. They are single parents, married parents, couples without kids, and childless singles. The upper funnel of the purchase decision funnel has been democratized because the path to purchase begins online. This shift in the anatomy of the purchase journey means researchers need to reevaluate their preferences for relying solely on advanced quantitative research. Charise’s presentation was a great example of why I love CRC—talking to researchers who are flexible, innovative, and willing to try new things.
  • Ronda Slaven from Synchrony Financial and Neil Marcus from MetLife were not afraid to discuss the disturbing implications of poor participant experience on deflating brand equity. Both Ronda and Neil spoke candidly about their experience and the work they are doing to improve the participant experience. It seems like a simple gesture, but Neil shared a video (shot with an iPhone!) of himself thanking participants for their time. MetLife embedded the “thank you” video at the end of a survey, and saw a significant increase in participant satisfaction among those who watched the video over those who didn’t. Ronda and Neil are challenging their teams to push the envelope on improving participant satisfaction—practically shouting “I’m past patiently waiting, I’m passionately smashing expectation, every action is an act of creation.”  These brave researchers are reshaping the industry’s poor habit of cramming everything into a questionnaire or moderator’s guide. After all, in a way, participants are an extension of the organization and their happiness matters.
  • Mark Stephens from American Family is an agent for change, Mark and Judd are very alike in that they see the power of both qualitative and quantitative as a pathway to company growth and to making the world a better place. OK this is CMB’s co-presentation, and I work at CMB, so it’s easy to see your own work as a masterpiece, but, sitting in a full room of the LAST session of the LAST day, the researchers in the audience asked two dozen questions about proxy variables and appending data and drilled for understanding like Hamilton….studying profoundly, day and night so their minds are obsessed with “the fruit of labor and thought”.
  • Kate Morris of Fidelity presented on her public relations research work. She drilled home the importance of being memorable because memorable is actionable. Of course, storytelling is a typical imperative in the research world, Kate’s wonderful defiance and unique perspective reminds us, as Hamilton reminds us, to ask “who tells your story?”
The market research industry is maturing, and with maturity comes the responsibility to deny the mediocrity of “talk less, smile more” and to insist that the tactics and strategy are shaped by advanced quantitative and qualitative research and not by habit or blind conformity. It’s time to ask…“If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”

 

Topics: conference recap, Market research

Conference Recap: New England Insights Association Spring Event

Posted by Brian Jones

Wed, Jun 14, 2017

group shot--NEIA Spring 2017.jpg

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.

Topics: conference recap

Look Everywhere

Posted by Julie Kurd

Fri, May 12, 2017

NEXT.pngA F500 CMO walked in to our office with just a pen (but no paper). This isn’t the intro to bad joke, it really happened.  If a CMO can be open, prioritize learning, and trust the world to freely share ideas (and a sheet of paper to write on), then as the Head of Strategy and Insights, or even as the Insights Analyst fresh out of school, you should too.

One of the easiest ways to learn and grow professionally is to attend conferences and webinars. It’s not enough to just be great at your role and manage and execute a stable of projects—and you definitely don’t get points for saying things like ‘system 1 thinking’.  

Have no budget and no time allocated for conferences? Attend free webinars offered by virtually everyone with something to say (you can find CMB’s here). Have a small budget and a day per year? Sign up for the economically priced local chapter sessions (New England’s on May 18 and San Francisco’s on June 8). Can you commit to a larger format that takes more time away and offers more tracks (and costs more)?  Participate in conferences such as the Insights Association’s NEXT or CRC

Earlier this week I traveled to NYC for the NEXT Conference. What did I learn? Glad you asked:

  • Science and Creativity walk into a bar—I loved the title of Pranav Yadav’s presentation but the content was even better: a great strategic summary of the neuro category (e.g., eye tracking, facial coding, galvanic skin response, belts/monitors, MRIs) followed by specific advertising examples of when the neuro element is tracking above or below average. Do you just roll ads that were tested on TV into your digital and other (e.g. billboard) content? Depending upon the channel, the ads should be recut. For example, iconic triggers work best on billboards and more functional use screens (iPads/tablets), whereas particular cuts of a longer ad should wind up in a shorter spot that’s rearranged for social media.
  • The Control (Freak) Enthusiast–Michael Tchong decribes a trend among the US population that’s growing increasingly obsessed with having control over all things at all times. Think about how the control phenomenon has seeped into your life, too. You know exactly how far away your Uber driver is, every movement of your Amazon order, and when your pizza from GrubHub will be arriving—we’re all becoming Control Enthusiasts. What does this mean for your brand?
  • Shark Tank Stories for dwindling attention spans—You have to make heads “turn” not “spin”. Don’t just revise your 50-slide decks. Instead, if you receive one of these monster decks, reply to the attached document simply saying “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read) to disrupt your reporting and inspire a sea change. Insights NEXT scheduled a ‘shark tank’ session where four talented companies pitched their ideas and of the four, the pitch by Anders Bengtsson from Protobrand, won the shark tank portion.

Life is hectic and budgets are tight, but you can’t afford not to learn and grow. You can afford to send each of your team members to a few free webinars, a local chapter event, or to the next great conference where you can meet your peers, new vendors, and get exposure to the latest ideas and technology. 

Kelsey Saulsbury of Schwanns summed up the conference imperative in a single phrase uttered by a squealing child on an Easter Egg Hunt at her cousin’s house, “Look everywhere!”

Julie Kurd thrives in hectic, dynamic environments full of shiny thinkers with snowflake personalities.

Topics: conference recap

QRCA 2017 Conference Recap

Posted by Anne Hooper

Wed, Mar 01, 2017

powerofperspective-image.jpgA couple weeks ago I took a hiatus from the Boston winter and flew to sunny Los Angeles for the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Annual Conference: The Power of Perspective. For any qualitative researcher interested in learning and connecting with the qual community, this conference is a must

For three intense days, my fellow “quallies” and I were immersed in the latest industry methods, tools, and techniques.  I’m always impressed with QRCA and this year’s theme “The Power of Perspective” didn’t disappoint.  In fact, it was one of best conferences I’ve been to in years!  I came home feeling renewed, refreshed, and reenergized with plenty of new tools for my qualitative toolbox.

While I learned a lot during those three days, a few things really stood out to me. Some of my learnings will make me a better practitioner while others went as far as making me cry.  (Yep, you read that right.  I cried.  But I swear I didn’t make that ugly cry face!). 

So here are some of my most memorable takeaways from QRCA 2017:

Theater and qualitative research are more alike than different. Theater is storytelling—stories that reflect our society, help us empathize with others, bring to life historical figures and moments, and have the power to change our perspectives. This is similar to what we do in qualitative research. We are storytellers, truth-seekers, and opinion shapers. We strive to connect with others in a meaningful way, to tell their stories, and to ultimately affect change.

Just as the protagonist is vital to a theater performance, the participant (our “protagonist”) is vital to the market research story. For our story to be successful we must fully understand them—who they are, what they want, and their situation.

Technology continues to shape qual. As new technology transforms society, it’s also reshaping the way qualitative researchers collect and analyze data. In one session, speaker Pam Goldfarb Liss spoke about the impact of new technology—for example, using virtual reality like video screens and specially outfitted wearables to let participants interact with a fabricated environment. Qual researchers are also using facial recognition software, augmented reality (i.e., virtual shop-alongs and package testing), and artificial intelligence in their work. With new technology emerging almost daily, it’s important to continue to think of ways it can help improve our work for the benefit of our participants and clients.  

Listening is powerful. Benjamin Mathes, founder of Urban Confessional*, the LA-born free listening project, lead an interactive session on listening. Urban Confessional is grounded in the belief that people just need someone to talk to and recruits volunteers to stand in public spaces and offer to lend an ear to anyone who wants to unload something.

Armed with a simple cardboard sign reading “Free Listening,” a few quallies and I hit the streets of LA to give Urban Confessional a try. Was I scared? A bit. Excited? Totally. Ready? Not at all… but what an experience! What I learned not only applies to life, but there is a direct connection to what makes for an effective qualitative researcher:

  • What others hear is more important than what we say
  • True listening is allowing someone to be completely themselves in our presence
  • Respecting silence can be really tough, but it’s important

My QRCA experience culminated in a session lead by John Boettner, Chief Enchantment Officer at Teen Press Inc. John, along with two teen journalists, spoke about the beauty and challenges of humanity and how they apply to the work that we do.

Whether you’re a qualitative researcher or not, you’ll be moved by Teen Press, maybe even to tears. Here are my key takeaways that will stay with me forever: 

  • When someone is telling their truths, things can go where you never expected them to. Embrace it and let it happen.
  • Listen to people with sincerity and a genuine desire to connect with them—when you do this, something special happens
  • Other peoples’ perspectives and stories better help us understand each other as human beings. We need to do this now more than ever.
  • Everyone has a story to share and sometimes just wants to be listened to. Be an active listener for them.
  • Embrace awkwardness, especially silence. You might learn a thing or two from it.

I could go on and on about the great things I learned at QRCA 2017, but you’d be here a while. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a conference full of tips, tricks, tools, and special moments.

I’m putting all the valuable insight I learned at QRCA to practice and am already excited for next year’s conference. See you in Phoenix for QRCA 2018!

 As CMB’s Qualitative Research Director and mom of a 15 year old daughter, Anne is thankful for teachers like John Boettner and the millions of other teachers out there that make a difference in our kids lives’ every day.  And BTW:  she’s finally stopped crying and is officially back to work.

 *Disclaimer: If you aren’t familiar with Urban Confessional, I highly recommend checking it out because it’s relevant to all of us human beings.

 

Topics: qualitative research, conference recap

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. 

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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