M/A/R/C Research
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Archive for October, 2006

Need Help Naming your Pet?

Monday, October 30th, 2006

I can remember growing up and having discussions with my parents about getting a pet and most importantly: naming the pet. Growing up, we had dogs that had the names of Peppy, Duchess, King and Shayna.

Last year we had an addition to our family: a 3 and a half pound Yorkshire Terrier. Considering my kids aren’t old enough or creative enough to come up with names, that was left to Tricia and myself. Frankly it was one of the easiest things to do. Since we recently moved to Texas from Massachusetts, our new Yorkie is now named “Boston.”

In the past, Rover, Fluffy and Spot were common names. Today, people are more likely to choose traditional human names for pets or have children who co-opt popular Disney and other storybook characters.

I was reading an article that had information from Veterinary Pet Insurance with the 10 most popular dog and cat names.

Dogs:

  1. Max
  2. Bailey
  3. Buddy
  4. Molly
  5. Maggie
  6. Lucy
  7. Daisy
  8. Bella
  9. Jake
  10. Rocky

Cats:

  1. Max
  2. Tigger
  3. Smokey
  4. Tiger
  5. Chloe
  6. Shadow
  7. Lucy
  8. Angel
  9. Oliver
  10. Simba

Here is a picture of our 3 and a half pound bundle of joy!

I look forward to hearing the names of your pets and the stories of how you named them. If you have pictures of your pets on the web, feel free to include links to them.

What a Difference 100 Years Makes

Friday, October 27th, 2006

100 Years ago…

  1. Only 14 percent of homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
  2. Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.
  3. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
  4. There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  5. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  6. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
  7. The average wage in the U.S. was 22 Cents per hour.
  8. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  9. a. A Dentist made $2,500 per year.

    b. A Veterinarian $1,500 per year.

    c. A Mechanical Engineer about $5,000 per year.

    d. A competent Accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year

  10. More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME.
  11. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!
  12. There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  13. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
  14. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores.
  15. There were about 230 reported Murders in the ENTIRE U.S. A. !

The year 2106: What does it look like?

  1. Are we driving in cars like the Jetsons?
  2. Are we going to the moon for fun?
  3. Are there 20 countries participating in baseball’s World Series?
  4. Is there only one Market Research Association?
  5. Is everyone walking around with chips implanted at birth so we know where you are at all times?
  6. Is there a president of the world?

Fun and interesting to think about. What are your thoughts?

I Have a Challenge for the Research Community

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Even though my beloved Boston Red Sox had a sub par year, it was a very successful year in the eyes of Major League baseball. The reason is simply…actually I can give you many reasons…like over 76 million reasons. In fact, 76,043,902 reasons. That is the exact number of fans who went to baseball games this year.

Why is that number important you ask?

Because this set the all time attendance mark for baseball—a record that has now been broken three years in a row.

On page 12c of the October 4, 2006 issue of USA Today, Major League Baseball took out a full page ad thanking their fans—all 76,043,902 of them. It started me thinking about how many respondents the market research community might have on an annual basis—perhaps 100 million?

Clearly that can be debated…but today isn’t the day for that.

But wouldn’t it be cool to have the research community thank our lifeblood of the industry—OUR RESPONDENTS! Perhaps the research industry should start an ad campaign to thank respondents. And think of how great would it be if the research community worked together to make this happen.

Everyone in our great industry acknowledges that response rate is the biggest problem that the industry is currently facing. This is such a hot topic that an entire conference was chaired by Bob Lederer last month. Isn’t it time to stand up and really do something about this?

So here is my challenge. I am looking for 100 companies to work together and commit $10,000 each. (The math is simple. That’s one…million…dollars).

  • Is this an opportunity for data collectors, full service companies and clients to really work together?
  • Would this make a difference?
  • Would this be enough to increase awareness?
  • Would this increase response rates?

We are actually looking for 99 companies because as President and CEO of M/A/R/C Research, I will put our money where our mouth is and commit to the $10,000 price tag.

I look forward to reading your comments and potential next steps.

Can I Have a Job?

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

During my market research career I have indirectly or directly hired hundreds of people. In fact, I interviewed two people last week and they both asked me the same question:

“What are your hiring criteria?”

For most positions I narrow the choices down to three candidates and then rate each on 30 different criteria.

Listed below is a sample of eleven of them, in alphabetical order:

  1. AMA/MRA Experience — I like people who give something back to the industry. Also for me it shows that people have other interests and can handle their job and other things at the same time.
  2. Communication — Obviously important no matter how great the idea or thought is. If you can’t clearly communicate it, it doesn’t matter.
  3. Computer skills — In a technology world you need to embrace technology, not be afraid of it.
  4. Energy — People who tend to have high energy can help with morale—always a plus.
  5. History with me — This doesn’t mean you won’t get hired if I don’t know you, but it does mean I put a high value on people I know and trust. I also rely heavily on industry contacts—especially people in my inner circle. Their opinion is very, very important. Our industry is small, and chances are that one of my contacts knows the person I am interviewing. I use that to my advantage. I believe the more information you have on a person, the better off you are.
  6. Hungry — This can be subjective, but I believe there are some questions that can pull this out. Obviously if the person is in a new business development role, this is a “must have” to me.
  7. Long term potential — Nobody likes to hire for the short term. Reviewing their track record and understanding their goals in life can uncover a lot.
  8. Self starter — Companies of today need people who can take the ball and run with it. Go-getters.
  9. Team oriented — Most people can’t be successful if they are a lone wolf. Team players add to the morale of a company.
  10. Trainable – Since I believe I am an over achiever, I like people who are trainable. Some of my best hires are people who have a thirst for knowledge.
  11. Work with my management style – Very important. Nobody has time to micro manage people. I realize my management style isn’t for everyone. The real key is to hire the best people and put them in a position to be successful.

Hiring people is expensive; replacing people is very expensive. It is my hope that this list helps a little in the process.

I look forward to reading your comments and criteria.

A Trip Down Memory Lane–or Oldies but Goodies

Friday, October 20th, 2006

It only takes people ten seconds, when they are in my car, to realize that I like oldies—the classics. What people don’t really know, is that I like a lot of different kinds of oldies. For my definition of an oldie, I am assuming that something is over 20 years old. I call them Oldies but Goodies.

Here are five that came to my mind quickly:

  • I love Bruce Springsteen. His nickname “The Boss” is so appropriate. Perhaps I like the fact that he plays great music in jeans and a T-shirt for three hours and doesn’t take a break. And he does all that at a young age of 57!
  • I liked Scooby Doo growing up as a kid, and now I watch him over and over and over again with my little one. The show is over 37 years old and has recently made it to the silver screen.
  • I like the Wheel of Fortune show. I was fortunate enough to secure 20 tickets last month and invited staff to join me as we watched one of America’s greatest game shows. The amazing thing is how many people wanted to go see the tapings. It was in a facility that held close to 4500 people and was sold out for 4 straight days! The show is over 31 years old and recently celebrated its 4,000th show.
  • Joe Paterno. Anybody who is coaching major college football at 79 needs to make my list. He is in his 41st year as the head coach at Penn State and his 56th year of being on the staff. Maybe he made my list because I like his class and records or maybe just because he is old school and is still one of the few coaches who paces the sidelines in a tie!
  • To me, if you love chocolate, how can you not love a Snickers Bar? The Snickers candy bar was introduced in 1930. Happy 76th Birthday!

I look forward to hearing about your “oldies but goodies.”

Partnership

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Partnership…

  • What does it mean to you?
  • What does it mean to your business?

Thanks.

Not Always Knowing Where You are Going is Okay…

Monday, October 16th, 2006

When I’m involved in something new, I can typically see where it is headed. I can see the ultimate end goal and know how to get there. In fact, sometimes I can predict when that goal will be reached in terms of timeframe.

I will admit recently I was in uncharted water. During the first quarter we had been discussing doing a blog, and frankly I didn’t know what that meant. Not only did I not know what that meant, but I truly hadn’t spent any time on any blogs.

As I got more information (translation: Randy, Joan and Frank—our internal team—were pushing me to start a blog), I started to check blogs out and began to get more comfortable with the whole idea. I was unsure, but I trusted the team and their advice, so we started to discuss it in greater detail. My questions were obvious:

  • Would I be able to think of any topics to write about?
  • Would anyone want to read what I write?
  • Would anyone comment?

I am excited to tell you that the blog was started over two months ago and the site has over 2,500 hits, 143 comments and we just had our 32nd posting this morning. The blog has really built up steam and has clearly exceeded my expectations. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Over the past few months the blog has been a springboard for speaking at conferences, meeting new contacts and as a bonus, I have learned a great deal!

Sometimes it’s okay to not know exactly where you’re headed. My experience here at M/A/R/C has reinforced some prior learning, and I think this is true for all management. As companies desire to move forward and develop additional strategies, they will venture into new and uncharted territory. And if upper management is comfortable with those chosen to be at the helm, trust and teamwork will uncover opportunities and deliver unexpected achievements.

I want to thank everyone who reads the blog, posts comments, sends emails with topics and forwards the link to industry contacts who might be interested in certain topics.

Congratulations, and thank you to Randy, Joan and Frank. You were right!

Thanks for pushing me!

I look forward to hearing other thoughts and comments from readers.

Industry Spotlight–Jack

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Over the past twenty-something years I have met many wonderful people. Some of my fondest times in the industry were back in the late 80’s when I was working for Marianne Schafer at Field Facts. During that time I was working in the Framingham, Massachusetts location. We had a one-room focus group facility that was quite busy. Like most facilities we had a number of recruiters—a handful of which were full-time.

I still recall one very clearly. His name was Jack. I don’t remember his last name but perhaps the folks who worked with me at Field Facts back in the day can help me out and post his last name.

He was an interesting guy for a lot of reasons. For more than seven years he was on the radio. He had that radio voice, deep and clear—the kind of voice that if you closed your eyes you would want to hear him on the radio. Jack was GREAT at recruiting! The company had tons of contests back then, and he won every one of them. In fact he always out performed the other recruiters by a large margin. I still believe people wanted to talk to him every day on the phone—not because of the research topic or incentive—but because of his voice.

Jack always showed up to work ten minutes before his scheduled shift. He was never late (which was amazing because he had to take public transportation to work.) He had a work ethic that was second to none. He always wanted to do a good job and always wanted to do more. Jack was a perfect employee!

All of those things were amazing, but the most amazing thing about Jack is he is legally blind! He worked day after day, call after call, and had to bring the screeners a half inch away from his eyes so he could recruit. He never let that stop him. His attitude was great. In the years I worked with Jack he never complained. Not once.

I am sure most of you have stories that involve someone like Jack. All of us look forward to reading them.

The Best People-Watching in the World

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

I think most people dislike flying, perhaps even hate it. Maybe it’s because of the long lines, extra security, airline food or the pure fact that you are FLYING in the air…off the ground.

For me, I look at it a little different: it’s just part of business. It’s the means from getting from one place to another. This year I will fly close to 100,000 miles and I’ll admit I still am very amused at some of the things I see at the airport:

  • Unless you are Superman or Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, it is near IMPOSSIBLE—if you are in row 19—to get off the plane before the person in row 7.
  • Why is it okay to cut in line at an airport? Nowhere else is it allowed, but at the airport we say it’s okay.
  • I still get a chuckle when 100 people rush towards the gate to get on the plane when most of them are in group 6 and won’t move an inch. Then, the rest of us have to navigate through these people to get on the plane.

One of my favorite stories is when I was flying around 8:00 one night on a non stop to Miami. The lady sitting next to me was greeted by an old friend who was walking to her seat. It sounded like they hadn’t seen each other in years. They embraced for a minute while the line behind them came to a complete stop (of course someone behind her didn’t expect the sudden stop and smashed her nose into the guy in front). One of the ladies asked the other where she was going. As I mentioned earlier it was late and we were on a non stop flight to Miami. So I am thinking her answer was going to be…you guessed it…“Miami .” Of course I was correct. The lady sitting next to me then said what I thought was the funniest thing I had ever heard. She said, “Have a safe trip!” Since we were all on the same plane, I thought the comment was very funny.

The next time you are at the airport, look around, listen and watch. I assure you the people watching is some of the best.

I look forward to hearing your stories and experiences.

Networking Tips That Might Actually Help

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Since we are in the middle of the conference season, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a few helpful tips on how to get the most out of your next conference.

First of all, it doesn’t matter if you are a vendor or client…we all want to meet people in our industry and learn at least a few new things.

In offering you some ideas, my hope is that you either revisit something you used to do or learn and try something new.

Here are 12 tips:

  1. Always be on your toes. You never know when you’ll meet attendees, clients, prospects, colleagues, etc. I have met people in the hallway, bathroom, elevator (I actually met Jay Wilson in Las Vegas in an elevator), lobby and on a plane.
  2. Quality vs. quantity. Meet the people that make the most sense for your need today, whether it’s sales prospects or colleagues from whom you can learn current issues and corporate perspectives (even if it is only a handful of people).
  3. Don’t strain your neck. Concentrate on who you are talking to and what they have to say instead of wrenching your neck to see who else is across the room.
  4. Write important information on the back of business cards you collect—things like conversation topics, where you met them, other people you have in common, etc.
  5. Follow up with any materials that you promised to people within 48 hours! Make them a priority. This is very important. Since most people don’t do this, you WILL stand out and will probably make a new friend for life!
  6. Remember names (it’s a talent) and use them during a conversation.
  7. Do your homework before you go to a conference.
  • What are the topics?
  • Who is likely to be there?
  • What can you learn from them?
  • How can you help them?
  1. Always meet the President and Conference Chair. It’s simple—they know everyone and can help with introductions.
  2. Nervous about where you should sit? It’s the Uncle Booksie Party Rule. Growing up, my Uncle Booksie used to throw many huge parties and he was great at getting people to mingle and meet others. One of his hard and fast rules was to never sit with someone you came to the party with. That said, don’t sit with someone you work with!
  3. Add important information into your contact management tool within 48 hours. If not, you won’t do it and valuable information will be lost. As a client you have the opportunity to contact people about information or people you are looking for…whether they are at another client company or are a vendor whom you thought could be helpful. As a vendor, you will want to follow up with your new friends as soon as you can.
  4. After the conference, share materials with your team. It is a great way to share knowledge, experiences, practices and how you might apply new thinking to your strategy. Clients will want to collect materials from sessions where they learned something new and from exhibits where they are discovering new techniques and applications. Vendors need to absorb it all—the issues their clients and prospective clients are facing and dealing with, along with learning more about the competitive marketplace for research.
  5. If you’re the one who is arranging the dinner, always ask a concierge for the hottest restaurants—they change often. Yes I have shown up with clients to a restaurant that closed the month before. Don’t make the same mistake.

I look forward to hearing if you use any of these tips or have some that you use.