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Archive for July, 2007

Interview with Bill Neal

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Think of a research author, think of a great research presenter, think of a great researcher. And now think about someone who has given so much to this great industry. For me, when I do that exercise I have a list of four people. Included in that list is Bill Neal. In the eighties I remember going to a few conferences and seeing Bill present. I was mesmerized and frankly intimidated with his presentation style, depth of knowledge and big smile. I remember saying to myself that I hope that I can be half of the presenter that Bill Neal is – from the second he walked in a conference room he had total command of the group and had the respect from every attendee in the room.

It is with great pleasure and an honor that today’s interview is with Bill Neal.

You have been in the market research industry for about 35 years. How did you first get started?

That’s really a long story. But here’s the short version. When I graduated from Drexel in 1966, I was planning on a career in the military. After my second combat tour in Vietnam, to my utter surprise, the Army sent me to graduate school at Georgia Tech. The inside joke is that the Army probably felt I wasn’t ducking bullets too well, so maybe they could educate me. After two years at Tech, I found out that building statistical models and doing marketing research was a lot more fun then getting shot at. So another grad student and I started SDR. A year or so later, a third grad student, Dave Feldman, joined us, and Dave and I have been at it ever since.

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Everyone Deserves a Second Chance…But What About a Third, Fourth Or Fifth?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

I am sure that everyone who is reading this blog can think of a time where you either wanted a second chance or gave someone a second chance. I am sure there were times in high school where you asked your parents for a second chance. I am sure there were times were your company made an error and asked a client for a second chance.

Let me know if this has happened to you:

  • You are on a business trip and a button on your shirt cracks and falls off.
  • You go to pick up your dry cleaning and it isn’t ready when they said it would be.
  • You noticed the collar on your shirt hasn’t been cleaned the way you like it!
  • Your dry cleaner lost your clothes!

I am sure if I could see your faces as you are reading this, a number of heads are going up and down saying “yes that has happened to me” and relate to what I am describing.

Since 2004 I have been using the same dry cleaner. It is very close to work, close to restaurants I go to at lunch and VERY CONVENIENT to me. Over the past few years they have done an okay job. At the beginning they did a nice job but in the past 5 months they have changed management and things have slipped a little bit.

I was having lunch with a co-worker, TA, and of course dropped off and my dry cleaning. A few days past and I went to pick up my clothes. I use the drop off service so I didn’t have a receipt. When I asked for my clothes she responded with “we don’t have clothes here for you.” When I questioned her again I got a look of disbelief like I had three heads and she was wondering if I heard her. Quickly she got a few more co-workers and they were chatting and two of them came over to me and responded with the same message “we don’t have clothes here for you.” Although I give them an “A” for having a consistent message, I knew they were wrong. I even described two of the shirts which were brand new and I have never worn. I gave them my cell phone and asked them to look around and give me a call.

An hour goes by, and they leave a message saying they found my clothes. Hip hop hooray–or so I thought. I went back after the weekend and picked up my clothes. They did hand me some clothes but they weren’t the ones I were missing. Actually let me restate that. Those clothes WERE missing but I didn’t know it. The clothes they handed me were from three months earlier. Apparently I have too many clothes and didn’t notice they were missing–possibly another blog down the road. I said that these are my clothes but not the ones that I am missing. Again they politely responded with “we don’t have clothes here for you.” After sort of chuckling I described the two shirts I am missing and the color of the bag I brought them in. After five more minutes of an animated discussion I said my shirts are like those – and noticed that “those” were actually my shirts, but under someone else’s name.

I thought the drama was over but it really wasn’t because I noticed when I got to my car they charged me the wrong amount–actually saving me $12.00. I thought about going back and telling them but decided against that and headed to a bar to get a drink instead! What a fiasco.

So after losing clothes that I knew they lost, losing clothes that I didn’t know were missing, and charging me the wrong amount–what do I do? I thought long and hard about never using them again but they are very convenient. The one change I have made is now I ask for a receipt.

  • The question for me is how many chances do you give someone?
  • Has this dilemma happened to you?
  • Are all dry cleaners this bad?

I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

Even Though I Met My Goals–Somehow They Just Aren’t Right!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

In September my son Justin started to play soccer. It was 3 on 3 co-ed soccer on a small field with no goalie. I was so excited that Justin was about to play a somewhat organized sport. When I was a kid I did play a number of sports but soccer wasn’t really popular so, I really never played organized soccer. I couldn’t wait to see him in action. If you haven’t seen 5-year-olds playing soccer, it is very funny and really cute. The ball goes to the left 6 people go to the left. The ball goes in the other direction and guess what… 6 kids (with smiles on their faces) go in that direction.

Being goal-oriented I, gave some thought to what I had hoped he would get out of the program:

  • Show up on time and participate
  • Enjoy the game
  • Not cry
  • Score a few goals (everyone wants their kid to score)
  • Constantly have a smile on his face

Those goals seem reasonable and probably none of them are out of the ordinary.

Here are the goals I set up for myself:

  • Try not to miss any games (99% of them are on the weekends)
  • Cheer him on – go Justin go!
  • Not yell at the coach or anyone else – yes this happens in Texas and in other states!
  • Spend some extra time with him by taking him out for lunch after the game
  • Leave my BlackBerry in the car

Most of my goals are normal but frankly the last one really bothers me a lot. I have to make a conscience decision to leave my BlackBerry in the car. I have to give consideration to being out of pocket for one hour while Justin runs up and down the field. It just doesn’t seem right! It is very sad that I didn’t want him to say “hey Dad, look at me” and see me sending business or personal emails.

I hope you are smarter than I am and don’t need to set a goal to do the right thing.

What was happening in your life when you questioned some of your priorities?

I look forward to your comments.

Looking for a Job: The Most Important 15 Minutes of the Interviewing Process!

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

So today is the day of the big interview, the day that your life is going to change for the better. You have done all your homework on the company and feel very prepared for the interview. You know exactly where the company is located, (actually you took a dry run over the weekend to make sure) and there aren’t any traffic issues today. You put on your best interviewing suit and the rest is easy.

You had a quick snack and leave for the big interview. You arrive 20 minutes early and you wait downstairs for 5 minutes until you feel it is ok to go up.

You greet the receptionist and now you are sitting in the reception area. To me the next 15 minutes are the MOST important part of the process:

  • Is the receptionist friendly?
  • Is there a lot of friendly interaction with co-workers?
  • Is there a lot of hustle and bustle?
  • What magazines are in the waiting area?
  • What is the dress code?
  • Do people decorate their cubicles with lots of personal items?
  • Do they have any trophies or awards on display?
  • Do they display a client roster on the wall?

I believe answers to all of these questions can help you in your evaluation process. Everyone wants a fun and thriving work environment.

  • Does this office have it?
  • Would you fit in?

If you arrive early and really pay attention you might be able to find out!

I look forward to reading your comments.

I Get Mail Every Day, but What Happened to All of the Surveys?

Friday, July 20th, 2007

The good old days, when you went to your mailbox with that excited look on your face and reached in and pulled out stacks of mail. From time to time you would get a survey–a mail survey to fill out with a crisp $1 or $2 dollar bill. Some respondents loved the experience; some filled it out because they felt obligated because of the crisp bills that were sent to them. While others filled it out because they had interest in the product or service.

In preparation for moderating the MRA end user group I was doing a little research for the moderators guide and a discussion started about mail surveys. A number of people chimed in and lo and behold it not only is a topic for the session next month, but I thought it should be a topic for a blog.

Mail surveys began in the 1970’s. Researchers began sending questionnaires via mail to either randomized samples of the U.S. population or a subset of a research panel.

What happened to them? Yes phone research took away some of the data collection pie from mail surveys and clearly online did the same.

I really want to hear from companies and staff that are conducting mail surveys.

  • How are the response rates?
  • When is it appropriate?
  • Any best practices you can share?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Why Are All of the Best and Brightest Going to the Northeast?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

I was reading an article the other day that caught my attention. The article was USA Today’s 2007 All-USA High School Academic Team. They named 20 high school seniors to the 21st annual All-USA High School Academic First team. In disciplines from physics to photography, they have exceeded their talents beyond the classroom.

The First team members were selected from almost 1,200 nominees nationwide. They each received a trophy and a $2,500 cash award.

As I was reading names like Wesley Yu, Scott Molony, and Felix Zhang, I realized a few things:

  • I didn’t know any of them
  • There is a huge number of young, bright people in our country
  • The First team represented 16 different states
  • Ohio, California and Pennsylvania were the only states that had more than one student on the list

So far all of that makes sense and nothing seems strange…yet…keep reading…

The students chose only seven different colleges:

  1. Caltech
  2. Boston College
  3. Harvard
  4. Brown
  5. Stanford
  6. Princeton
  7. Yale

Here goes with a few things that I was surprised about:

  • Columbia, Duke, UNC, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania weren’t colleges the top students were going to
  • Stanford had only one person registered to attend their school. Only one? The same number that Boston College had!

Eight of the top ten chose Harvard! Fourteen of the top twenty chose Harvard! All the students with the exception of two are attending colleges or universities in the northeast! That’s right 90% – yes I said 90% are attending schools in the northeast!

I was shocked then and frankly I am still shocked. Yes the northeast has great schools, but there are a lot of great schools.

  • Does Harvard just do a much better job recruiting than the other schools?
  • Are you surprised?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Best Football Movies of All Time

Monday, July 16th, 2007

I will admit I do like watching a good football game on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night. The game will really keep my attention if the two teams are evenly matched and it is a high scoring event or one of my favorite teams is pounding another team.

I also enjoy watching a good football movie. When I was thinking about great football movies, I did have trouble putting together a huge list. While I think that some of the movies are very obvious I really had to think about what were the best.

Here is my shot at a list of the top 10:

Any Given Sunday (1999)
Brian’s Song (1971)
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Knute Rockne All American (1940)
North Dallas Forty (1979)
Paper Lion (1968)
Remember the Titans (2000)
Rudy (1993)
The Longest Yard (1974)
The Program (1993)

Clearly there are some classics on the list. Of course I do love the original Longest Yard. Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert were fantastic as were a number of other actors. I did think Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger worked really well together in Jerry Maguire.

Brian’s Song, Remember the Titans, and Rudy are my three favorites, with Brian’s Song topping the list. I still get all choked up watching Brian’s Song. Growing up I lived in Chicago for a very short time and really liked the Bears. In fact my favorite player of all time is Walter Payton. The synergy between the actors who play Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billie Dee Williams) is special… in fact very special. I love the cinematography and enjoy how the director weaved in real footage into the movie. For me, I could really feel how much the two players cared for each other and Gale Sayers was deeply sad when Brian Piccolo become ill.

  • Do you agree with my choice?
  • What movies did I leave out?
  • What is your favorite of all time?

I look forward to your comments.

Honey, Do You Really Need A Purse That Big?

Friday, July 13th, 2007

I am confident that every guy has said to his significant other one of these phrases:

  • Why is your purse so big?
  • I can’t believe how much stuff you have in your purse!
  • Do you really need 20 different purses?

I know I have said those phrases and others. If you have ever wondered what items are in those big, fashion-oriented bags you need to keep reading.

Consumer strategist Kelley Styring’s study, In Your Purse: Archeology of the American Handbag, is the first qualitative and quantitative study of both the contents and the context of a woman’s purse. The study’s results were released in April at the M2W™-The Marketing-to-Women Conference in Chicago and were the buzz at the conference.

After reviewing Kelly’s website and marketing materials I was very surprised on most of the data but found the information absolutely fascinating.

  • Did you know there are 8 different purse types?
  • 86% of purses had keys
  • 63% of purses contain food/gum/beverage
  • 51% of every purse has trash
  • 14% of purses had weapons

The main thing that was found is billions of dollars in revenue opportunities for marketers!

“Contradiction is where the genius of innovation lies, and the purse is a bag of contradiction on a string,” says Styring, a former Frito-Lay consumer strategy director and Procter & Gamble researcher who now consults with Fortune 100 companies through her company, InsightFarm. “I found that the purse – the nerve center of a woman’s life, bearer of her most important things – is also a disorganized bag full of junk. But that’s where the opportunity exists for marketers to fulfill unmet needs.”

Styring found that 95 percent of U.S. women aged 18-64 carry a purse every day, and that they carry 2.4 purses on a regular basis. Since women make 70 percent of all retail buys, that purse becomes a key purchasing instrument, the only physical link between the home (where needs are created) and the store (where those needs can be fulfilled).

Kelley spent 100 hours interviewing 100 women and cataloguing 100 purses and their contents which was 6,670 objects (guys do the math). On average that is 66 items in each purse! I feel your pain when someone asks you to hold their bag – considering on average they weigh over 3 pounds.

If you are a curious person or a marketer looking for opportunities to better market your products, you most certainly want to reach out and contact Kelley and find out more about this fascinating study.

Kelley – nice job. Keep up the good work!

If you want to hear more about Kelley’s research and you are going to be in Dallas on July 19th, please sign up for the Consumer Understanding Summit at: http://www.marcresearch.com/summit/.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

Favorite Movie Quote Of All Time

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

They say the greatest form of flattery is to quote someone. So today let’s flatter some writers of movies. Often when I am presenting at a conference I will toss in a movie quote to drive home a point. I really like using movie quotes because they can break up a speech and often the audience can relate to the point through the movie. There are so many movies and so many great quotes.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “You had me at hello” Jerry Maguire
  • “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” — Animal House
  • “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a d*mn what you think you are entitled to.” — A Few Good Men
  • “My biological clock is ticking” My Cousin Vinny
  • “I know what you’re thinking, “Did he fire six shots, or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya punk?” — Dirty Harry

Do you like movie quotes?

Do you ever use them in presentations?

Do you use certain ones with your friends and family?

What are some of your favorites?

I Was Never a Fan Of His, But Now I Am

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Growing up in Boston, you don’t root for the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact you root against them, their players, and their owner and hope that when they came to Boston once a year my beloved Celtics would put on a show for the world to see and “kick some butt.” Growing up, those games were always on the biggest stage–on national TV many times prior to the Super Bowl.

In 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers picked him in the 1st round with the 24th pick. He spent 8 years with the Lakers and won three NBA Championships. He isn’t a superstar. He is a nice complementary player who goes out and does whatever it takes to get his job done and put his team in a position to win basketball games. He has been playing basketball for his entire life and it is very important to him–but the most important? More to follow.

Almost a year ago, during the off season, Derek and Candace Fisher had their 4th child born–a baby girl named Tatum. Obviously this was supposed to be a happy time in their lives. Unfortunately nine months after she was born, Tatum has been diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a degenerative and rare form of eye cancer, which has required an emergency three-hour surgery and chemotherapy at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital.

During the 2007 NBA playoffs, Derek made the decision to be with his family during the surgery. Being by Tatum and supporting his family was MORE important than basketball–a game that he has played since he was a little boy and a game that has earned him millions of dollars.

Derek’s family lives in Newark, NJ and he now plays for the Utah Jazz, a team that is thousands of miles away from them. In late June he asked the Jazz to void his contract and release him, stating he needed to care for his daughter. “Basketball is not a priority,” Fisher said. “I don’t have plans to retire. I would enjoy playing the game, but there are a lot of things to consider.”

By the way, the contract he asked the Jazz to void had $21 million dollars left on it!

It is very refreshing to hear about a good guy in sports. Especially since it seems like every hour you hear about some athlete getting in trouble.

Derek…way to go!

You have a new fan in Dallas and his name is Merrill Dubrow!