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Archive for April, 2008

In Search Of Good Researchers? Where Do You Look?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

It appears to me that there is a shortage of good researchers in our industry. The MMR and MSMR Programs in the United States graduate less than 100 people every year with each graduate getting multiple offers.

When someone leaves your company unexpectedly what do you do?

For M/A/R/C we will do a number of things that breakdown into four buckets:

  1. Use referrals from our current staff. This makes up about 15% of our new hires. People want to work with their friends and contacts especially if they are happy. We do have a referral bonus program in place that seems to work pretty well.
  2. Pay attention at conferences — You can pick up some really good leads there. This makes up about 20% of our new hires. Once I get the attendee list, I will review the list a few times looking for clients, prospects and potential new hires. This has worked very well in the past. If you aren’t doing this you might want to try it.
  3. I tend to use industry contacts. If I call someone a friend, I put a very, very, very high value on our friendships. We can ask each other for favors and bounce things off each other knowing that the person asking the question will get a candid response — not necessarily the response they are looking for. I always rely on industry contacts for potential new hires and references. This has probably made up 50% of all of our new hires.
  4. The other bucket is a miscellaneous one that contains ads, search consultants, advisory boards, presenting at colleges, conferences and makes up 15% of our new hires. Some of these things you need to do just to keep the buzz about your company fresh. For me, there hasn’t been an immediate return with staff, but there have been some pleasant surprises like this blog recruiting a person whom I had lost touch with 15+ years ago.
  • Where do you look for new talent?
  • Have you had success putting ads in research publications or online sites?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Looking For Something To Read? What About Joining The Merrill Dubrow Blog Book Club?

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Over the past year, the Merrill Dubrow Book Club has read two books. It was to my surprise that the participants really enjoyed the experience. The time feels right for another book to be read. With summer, I thought people might be looking for a book to read, and why not have us provide that to them?

The book I chose was actually a present (thanks TA) to me. My Bat Boy Days: Lessons I Learned from the Boys of Summer. Steve Garvey wrote the book. I never knew he was a bat boy. I had been looking for a sports book that has a business connection and thought this might be the perfect choice. In the book Steve outlines and discusses leadership, fortitude, compassion, dignity and other things that he learned.

Here is what you are committing to do:

  1. Read the book within 30 days
  2. Post your comments along the way

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

What we are looking for are ten people to be members of a book club. Once we have ten volunteers, they will be contacted by email and asked to supply an address (which will NOT be posted on the blog) where we should ship the book. There is NO charge for participating in this book club. We are just asking you to make a commitment and read the book in the next 30 days and comment when asked. If we have more than ten participants, we will randomly pick the people. You are not committing to reading any more than just the one book that we will supply to you.

I believe this book should be an easy read and appropriate to everybody

I look forward to hearing from you and having you participate.

I Wish People Wouldn’t Be On Their Cell Phone ____________? Your Turn To Fill In The Blank.

Friday, April 25th, 2008

I know I have blogged about this before, but the problem seems to be getting much worse…so I thought I would write about it again.

In a public bathroom — I am still amazed that people will be in the bathroom and think nothing about being on a cell phone. Yes I love to multi task but please that’s a bit much!

In the elevator — are you really that important that you can’t call a friend back to tell them what you are doing tonight? Here is a thought: Chances are, you will get disconnected as you go up 30 floors. Why not say to the person, “I will call you back in two minutes.” Besides…no one needs to listen to your call when you are in a 5×5 area.

In a rental car bus — last year I actually overheard a guy yelling at a staff member for five minutes while the Hertz bus was taking me to the airport. That five minute trip seemed like an hour.

In the movies — to me pretty obvious. We are paying to watch a movie, not listen to you. Yes I have witnessed on a few occasions heated discussions that I thought would be elevated to a punch being thrown.

I realize emergencies happen. And yes, doctors need to be close to a pager or cell phone 24/7.

Your turn……

I wish people wouldn’t be on their cell phone ____________?

I look forward to reading your comments.

P.S. Very soon, there will be “turn your cell phones off” in most public places including some of the ones I mentioned.

What Bothers You In Sports? Here Are A Few Things That Bother Me!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

As you know, I love sports. When I was younger I went to a sports camp, lived at Fenway Park and loved playing catch with my dad. In addition, after school I would always be outside playing baseball, football, or hockey. It never mattered as long as we were laughing and playing a sport.

I am very lucky and have the opportunity to attend lots of sporting events. I still love going, but certain things really bother me about sports:

  • Ticket prices are ridiculous. The average fan can’t go to more than a handful of games a year. I realize that teams need to make a profit but there have to be other ways than continuing to raise ticket prices and forcing the average fan to stay at home and watch the game on TV.
  • The World Series needs to start earlier. Yes, I hope the Red Sox are playing in late October…but not at 8:30 EST. That’s too late. Start the games earlier so the next generation of fans can watch and love the game as much as I do. Since it is the World Series, you can still charge premium dollars for commercials.
  • Get rid of the violence of hockey. Yes I am old school and will admit I like a fight. But not a cheap shot! Not a stick to the head or a hit to the back near the boards. Cheap shots should be evaluated very closely and dealt with very strictly. ALL SECOND TIME OFFENDERS ARE BANNED FROM THE SPORT! No exceptions.
  • Have a salary cap in baseball–ok I said it. Yes it pains me since it would hurt my Red Sox but let’s even the playing field a little bit. The NFL, NBA and NHL all have something that makes sense and appears to work. Let’s do the same thing in baseball. Let’s allow the smaller market teams a chance to win.
  • Stop the rising salaries in sports…now! The economy isn’t great and these athletes are paid a ridiculous amount of money. I don’t have as much issue with the superstars getting paid but I do have an issue with mediocre players getting a ton of money. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Those are a few things that bother me.

  • Do you agree/disagree of the things that bother me?
  • What’s on your list?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Which Of These Public Market Research Companies Are You Going To Buy Stock In?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Recently I was reading a chart with US Public Market Research Companies and their 2007 results vs. their 2006 performance.  Here are the results:

Arbitron  -4.3%
Brainjuicer  +8.2
Comscore  +45.6
Confirmit  +5.3
GFK Group  -16.7
Greenfield Online  +.2.2
Harris Interactive  -15.5
IMS Health  -16.2
Intage Inc  -8.7
Ipsos Group  -28.7
Macromill  -50.7
National Research Corp  +18.9
Research Now PLC.  -25.7
Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC  +3.2
Toluna PLC  -10.1

See a trend? Of the sixteen companies, six had an increase from 2006. Only two of those companies had double digit increase in their stock price. Of the ten companies whose stock price went down in 2007, eight of them lost over 10%. That to me was pretty amazing. Based on this graph there are lots of questions:

  • What is going on?
  • Will this trend continue?
  • Once you get to a certain level, can you really grow the company to have success year over year?
  • Is this an opportunity to buy a stock at a good value?

What do you think? What does this graph tell you about our industry?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Now Is Your Chance To Tell Me: Am I Right Or Wrong In Your Eyes And What Do You Do?

Friday, April 18th, 2008
  1. When I have a really bad meal at a restaurant, I typically won’t send the food back or ask the server to credit the check. Am I right or wrong and what do you do?
  2. Periodically I will get stickers that have my address on them from organizations looking for donations. I don’t always send in a donation but always use the stickers. Am I right or wrong and what do you do?
  3. Sometimes when I am shopping in a store I will see a kid (total stranger) acting up, I will NEVER reprimand someone else’s child. The only thing I might do is mention it to a sales clerk. Am I right or wrong and what do you do?
  4. I will never park in a handicapped parking spot but will use a handicapped bathroom stall. Am I right or wrong and what do you do?
  5. I am dripping sweet every time I check into a hotel or airline. One of the reasons I do this is I am trying to get upgraded to a better room or seat. Am I right or wrong and what do you do?

You tell me. Am I right or wrong?

What do you do in these situations?

Is there something you do that you would like our opinion on?

Attention Managers: What Questions Are You Asking Yourselves?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

As you read this posting, the first quarter of 2008 is in the record books! Whatever you did or didn’t accomplish is over! You can’t get that time back! Here are nine questions that are going through my mind:

  1. Is our revenue/profit on budget for the year?
  2. Which new business development staff are ahead/behind on their goals?
  3. What accounts are behind year to date?
  4. What do our customer satisfaction scores look like?
  5. Are our fixed costs in line with our budget?
  6. How do our utilization rates look?
  7. How is morale in the company?
  8. How does our pipeline look for the next nine months?
  9. How is our new strategy doing compared to plan?

What questions are you searching for answers to?

What questions should we all be thinking about?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Salespeople: Have You Made These Mistakes?

Monday, April 14th, 2008

During the course of a month, I get plenty of sales calls. Frankly, I wish I had $1.00 for each one I receive. I think I could have retired five times already! I do meet with a number of salespeople during the course of the week and I still am amazed at some of the basic mistakes that salespeople make. Here are a quick five (in no particular order) that come to mind:

  • They don’t listen. If they are there to stress a certain product, they do it even though we might have no need for it or are doing it internally. No matter what happens they are very robotic and can’t deviate no matter what happens.
  • They don’t have an agenda! For me this really is a problem. I like to know what we are going to cover and how long it will take. The buttoned up salespeople will not only have an agenda but will ask for input.
  • They have given no thought to how they can help our business! Some of the salespeople are really good at getting a meeting but once they are in front of you they tend to go page by page in a presentation and can’t draw a compelling reason as to why we should be doing business with them. The goal of a salesperson is to BUILD A BRIDGE FROM THEIR PRODUCT OR SERVICE TO OUR COMPANY! For me it’s as simple as that.
  • Next steps? To me if you have a meeting, you should always have an idea of what the next steps are and absolutely confirm them with your client/prospect. I find very few people who do this consistently
  • And my number one favorite is no follow up. A few years ago I was at a joint MRA/AMA meeting and I was introduced to someone who asked me to volunteer some time for a program she was involved with. I was very excited about the program and helping her out. It involved children and I enjoy giving something back to the community. Guess what? She never called, never followed up and I never saw her again. All successful salespeople follow up and if they don’t it speaks volumes about who they are and the service you would get if you ever did business with them.

Have you ever had any of the ones I mentioned happen to you?

What are some of your favorite mistakes done by salespeople?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Frequent Travelers: Rule 240 Is Something You Want To Know About…It Just Might Help You Out!

Friday, April 11th, 2008

There are lots of things we can count on during the course of a year. Springtime is almost upon us and the baseball season is about to start. Most weeks we will work 5 days, and yes there will be flight delays on airlines on the horizon…in fact…many of them. Yes, some will be weather-related, but others will be because of the airline.

I don’t recall exactly where I found this out but I was reading an article and it mentioned Rule 240. Since I never heard about it I decided to do some research. Basically, Rule 240 deals with the obligations that an airline has to a passenger when his/her flights cancel or delay, or connecting flights are missed due to the actions of the airline.

Years ago, Rule 240 was a U.S. federal requirement prior to airline deregulation in 1978, and has remained in existence since that time. Lots of people who work for the airlines are unaware of Rule 240, as are many passengers.

So what does it really mean? Rule 240 means the airlines owe you something if you are delayed because of:

  1. Mechanical issues
  2. Late arrival of an incoming aircraft
  3. Pilots or other crew that are not at the aircraft on time

What the airline can give you is:

  1. Meal Vouchers
  2. Confirmation on the airline’s next flight
  3. Option not to travel
  4. Hotel
  5. Ground Transportation

Typically I just try to be nice, in fact very nice, when I am delayed or my flight is cancelled. I have been known to beg and promise anything within reason if someone would help me out. Now it is nice to know I have something else to bring up. On my next few flights I will be asking the counter staff at American Airlines about this rule.

  • Does it really work?
  • What do you need to say?

Hopefully this has just made traveling a little easier at least once in awhile.

  • Has anyone heard of this rule?
  • Have you used it?

I look forward to your comments.

What REALLY, REALLY Excites Me In Business!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about M/A/R/C Research and ways to move the company forward. I do a lot of my best thinking while I am driving–just looking around and having my mind wander in lots of different directions.

Recently I had a thought of what really, really excites me in business!

What gets me going!

What puts a smile on my face!

What makes me scream, "yes we did it!"

What makes me feel proud!

I thought I would share with you a few items on my list:

  • Exceeding client expectations
  • Developing a strategy and actually having it work out
  • Watching the progress of a person develop and professionally mature over the years
  • Doing what you say you are going to do!
  • Finding more efficient ways to do something
  • Really having a partnership with another company

And number one on my list is:

Having a client say THANK YOU!

There probably is nothing more special than that.

  • What really excites you in business?
  • What have I left off my list?

I look forward to reading your comments.