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Archive for March, 2007

What Is Your Favorite Day of the Year?

Friday, March 16th, 2007

You have 365 choices – what is the day you get most excited about during the year?

The one day that really gets you jazzed up!

The one day that you don’t really need that extra cup of coffee or soda to get you started in the morning!

What is your favorite day of the year?

It is kind of an interesting question. Do you go with your birthday? If so does that mean Christmas and the other holidays don’t mean as much? Do you go with Mothers Day – a day that is the same for 152 million Americans?

I picked two. For me it would be Thanksgiving – very easy choice. Since my sisters and parents are all in different states it is the one time of year that I know I can circle on the calendar that we will all be together. As my kids get a little older I think this day and this time has become even more important.

My second choice would be the Friday before Memorial Day. Yes probably most of you would say that is an odd choice – perhaps a VERY odd choice. To me that day always meant so much because I know I would be on Cape Cod enjoying the sun, beach, playing tennis and eating lobsters. To me that Friday was always the first day of summer, (even though the calendar said something different).

We asked this question a few weeks ago as an online survey, and this is how over 3,000 responded (click here for complete results)

Total Male Female
Total 3257 100.0 % 1611 100.0 % 1645 100.0 %
Christmas Day 1042 32.0 % 475 29.5 % 566 34.4 %
Birthday 491 15.1 % 260 16.1 % 231 14.0 %
Other 398 12.2 % 237 14.7 % 161 9.8 %
Thanksgiving 287 8.8 % 156 9.7 % 131 8.0 %
Independence Day 206 6.3 % 130 8.1 % 76 4.6 %
Wedding Anniversary 125 3.8 % 69 4.3 % 56 3.4 %
New Year’s Day 119 3.7 % 65 4.0 % 54 3.3 %
Halloween 95 2.9 % 30 1.9 % 65 4.0 %
Child’s Birthday 91 2.8 % 24 1.5 % 67 4.1 %
Easter 84 2.6 % 35 2.2 % 49 3.0 %
Christmas Eve 80 2.5 % 15 0.9 % 65 4.0 %
First Day of Spring 51 1.6 % 16 1.0 % 35 2.1 %
First Day of Summer 44 1.4 % 27 1.7 % 17 1.0 %
Memorial Day 34 1.0 % 27 1.7 % 7 0.4 %
New Year’s Eve 33 1.0 % 13 0.8 % 20 1.2 %
Valentine’s Day 26 0.8 % 6 0.4 % 20 1.2 %
First Day of Fall 14 0.4 % 10 0.6 % 4 0.2 %
Mother’s Day 14 0.4 % 0 0.0 % 14 0.9 %
Labor Day 13 0.4 % 10 0.6 % 3 0.2 %
St. Patrick’s Day 10 0.3 % 6 0.4 % 4 0.2 %

What is your favorite day of the year and why?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Interview with Harry Heller

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I always remember starting in the research industry in the 80’s and recall names of researchers that everyone was talking about – almost a sort of buzz. Bill Neal, Kevin Clancy, the late Robert Schulman and Dr. Harry Heller. Dr. Heller has been in the industry for 30+ years. It would take too long to list everything he has done, but it is very safe to say he has accomplished a tremendous amount. I hope you find this interview with Dr. Heller interesting and appropriate to your business. I know I did.

How much did it mean to you when in 2003, your peers at the Market Research Council elected you to the Marketing Research Hall of Fame?

It was one of the most exciting things that happened to me in my career. It happened about 40 years toiling in the business I love. Starting at ad agencies and clients and then on to research companies, the final one at which I was CEO. I always tried to explore how research can be improved by designing new ways and approaches of collecting data and analyzing results. We utilized attitude segmentation when it was an emerging technique, developed ways to “derive” importance in addition to asking respondents to report on what is important (often biased,) and became interested in what makes a brand successful. While our clients liked these approaches and succeeded using them, it is hard to know what your expert peers really think. That is because a lot of research (especially on the supply side) is conducted in silos — we know what our team does, but not what everyone else is doing. So in the MRC are a majority of the 85 top researchers telling me they think I belong in the Marketing Research Hall of Fame. One benefit, my rookie card is selling for $1,000 on EBay.

Who are some of the people you look up to in the market research community?

There are two types of people I respect, those that exceed on the technical aspects of research and those that exceed on the business side. On the technical side are some people many researchers may not remember. Let me reintroduce Russ Haley who developed the early approaches of attitude segmentation using factor analyses of items and people and Ernest Dichter practically invented qualitative research. (I once had a 3-hour dinner with him before an AMA meeting he was speaking at and I was chairing. His creativity blew me away.) Ted Dunn probably contributed more to measuring mass communication than anyone else in the industry. On the business side two of my peers jump out. Jay Wilson took Roper Starch from a company in trouble to one of the big success stories and he became a leader in our industry and on of my mentors, Seymour Lieberman, had his own small company in New York City, but when he had employees that were entrepreneurial, he would fund them and help them manage a division of his company. After Sy retired his successor companies have gone on to greater things – now known by their Lieberman Research acronyms, LRW and LRE.

Continue reading “Interview with Harry Heller” »

Attention Detroit Lion Fans: Help Me Understand This

Monday, March 12th, 2007

There are so many things that I don’t understand, but this one might be close to the top. Let me start by saying that firing someone is not fun. I am not one to take that very lightly, but in this case I just don’t get it.

The Detroit Lions were 9-7 in 2000 and missed the playoffs by a field goal in the season’s last game. Lions owner William Clay Ford, Sr. hired Matt Millen, a former player and broadcaster, as President and CEO of football operations. Here is something important to remember: Millen had no previous business experience or any experience in running a football operation.

Just for the record, Matt was a solid football player and a pretty good broadcaster.

Here is what has happened since he was hired and has been in charge:

  • The Detroit Lions didn’t win a road game in 2001, 2002, or 2003—becoming the first time for an NFL team to not win a road game three years in a row
  • The Detroit Lions own the NFL’s worst winning percentage
  • They drafted receivers in the first round three years in a row
  • The Lions hired and fired a few head coaches

Here is the Lions record during Matt’s career as the Lions’ President and CEO:

2001 2 14 0 5th NFC Central
2002 3 13 0 4th NFC North
2003 5 11 0 4th NFC North
2004 6 10 0 3rd NFC North
2005 5 11 0 3rd NFC North
2006 2 9 0 4th NFC North

Do you notice anything? Do you see any similarities? Here is a question: Do you see any success in those numbers? I would say no. However, the Ford family sees it different!

They see something that all of us don’t!

They see success because before the 2005 season they AWARDED Matt Millen a five-year contract extension! Why?

Here is a trivia question: Guess how many playoff games the Detroit Lions have won since 1958? One! With Matt Millen at the helm does anyone think the trend will change anytime soon?

Four head coaches were fired – why? I assume for bad performance. If that’s the case, why hasn’t the same thing happened to Matt Millen? I am now scratching my head even more and frankly I still don’t get it!

I look forward to your comments!

Attention Vice Presidents, Presidents and CEOs: What Do You Keep Track of?

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Running a company these days is very challenging. Exceeding revenue and profit goals can be very difficult in today’s economy. Things move quickly these days and clearly can change at a moment’s notice.

I will admit I am a numbers guy. I keep track of a lot of things that I find very useful in running and managing the business.

Here are a number of things that help me do that:

  • Revenue per person
  • Billability
  • 7 year history of client revenue
  • Profitability by client
  • Revenue for the month
  • Hit rate by client and by new business development person
  • When I am reviewing leases – square feet by employee is critical
  • Percentage of salary to revenue
  • Inactive accounts
  • Employee turnover rate

Every company is different. Systems and procedures vary from one company to another, but I am sure some of these ring a bell and are being used by you while others might not be.

Which ones make sense to you?

What do you track?

I look forward to reading your comments.

“Did You Know” Video

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

A few weeks ago I received a video called “Did You Know”. No less than 4 people sent it to me. A few of them suggested that I post it on the blog (which I was planning on doing, but not until next month). However, after I shared the 6:07 video at the MRA Strategic Board meeting last week I have decided to share it this week.

What I get out of the video is the need to stay on our toes with regard to the marketplace in which we deal and the skills and technology we use to do our jobs correctly, with excellence and with a competitive advantage.

Sit back and enjoy the video. I have watched the video 5 times and each time I come away more impressed with what is going on. It clearly gives you a different perspective on where we are positioned in this big world in which we live.

I look forward to your comments and hearing what you got out of the video.

Attention MRA Members: The Future Is in Good Hands

Monday, March 5th, 2007

I just returned from a 55 hour trip to Ft Lauderdale and I am very excited. You are probably thinking – Ft Lauderdale, the sun, spring training, the beach in February…of course you are in a good mood and had a great time! All of that is clearly true in having a good time. However, I did none of that. I was in a conference room discussing the industry I love the most: our industry–the Marketing Research Industry.

I was there with 46 other people, brainstorming, discussing strategy, discussing what 2013 will look like. I came away very impressed. It was 47 people who are passionate, intelligent, successful researchers and business owners coming together for one common goal: OUR ASSOCIATION.

Looking around the room I saw so many people who were excited about what we were doing and how we did it. We had second generation researchers like Jacki Spear, Steve Schlesinger, Adam Weinstein and Colleen Moore Mezler. We had researchers like Jim Longo, Merrill Shugoll and Bette Anne Champion who are married to other researchers. In the room we had Past MRA Presidents Michael Mermelstein, Jane Cook and of course 40 year board member Howard Gershowitz who admitted during the session his company did interview dinosaurs.

In addition we had MRA staff, current MRA presidents of all of the chapters and our advisory board with everyone participating and sharing ideas.

I have presented at many conferences and colleges over the years and had a one hour presentation on the first day. This one was a little different for me. For some reason I was a little more pumped, a little more excited than normal. I ended my presentation with “It has been an honor and a privilege to present to you today…” That was a mistake! It should have been a much bigger picture. I should have ended with “It is an honor and a privilege to be in a room, on a national board with such a talented, passionate and intelligent group of people.”

Thank you for allowing me to be part of this group. The MRA future is bright because of each of you and your contribution.

I look forward to hearing from others who were in the room and if they felt the same.

Did You Hear About the “Beef” between Athens, TX and New Haven, CT?

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

I am sure most people may not have heard, but there is a “beef” going on between Athens, Texas and New Haven, CT. Buried in a small area of the newspaper was a story about where is the official birthplace of the hamburger.

On one side we have Athens, TX located 70 miles southeast of Dallas who believes the hamburger originated in their town in 1904. In fact they even have a marker that was installed in 1984 where Mr. Davis sold the first one. In addition, the town has an annual hamburger cook off which they believe strengthens their position.

On the other side is New Haven, CT. According to Louis Lunch in Connecticut, they say the first hamburger was cooked and sold in 1900.

Here is what I know for sure: (No it isn’t that I have done tons of research and know the answer, in fact I have no idea who is right.) What I know for sure is I love hamburgers. That is a 100% fact! When I first started dating my wife, I actually said to her Mom, “I’m very easy on food requirements. You can give me a cheeseburger anytime and I am happy.”

I would rather have a hamburger than a steak! I know that probably sounds crazy to most readers, but I really love burgers!

What I thought would be nice is rather than try and settle a dispute, is identify people’s favorite burger joints. Here are three of my favorites:

  1. Inn & Out Burger – located only on the west coast. Limited menu, long lines and tasty burgers
  2. Ritzy’s – Recently had my first hamburger there and the sirloin sliders with their special secret sauce are unbelievable
  3. Johnny Bees – Located in Southlake, Texas – small but tasty burgers and crunchy, square buns

I hope the dispute is settled quickly and without any incident. I look forward to hearing your favorite spot and more importantly, look forward to visiting them as I travel around.