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Archive for March, 2011

Attention Marketing And Research Professionals What Is An Insight?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A few years back it seemed everyone loved the word ethnography. It seemed that everyone was discussing it and trying to integrate it into research projects. Since then I am not sure there is a hotter, more used word in research than insight.

  • We have lots of people who have the word in their title!
  • We have lots of people who are responsible for their company’s insight!
  • We have lots of people who use the word in presentations!
  • We have lots of people who have that as one of their objectives in research studies!

The question is simply this:


I look forward to reading your comments.

Why Can’t Researchers Have A Single Name Like Rock Stars?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I hope the title of my posting got you to read on. Think about rock stars and movie stars who are known by a single name. Think about it for 30 seconds and see who you can come up with. Here is my list:

  • Cher
  • Madonna
  • Sting
  • Prince
  • Beyonce
  • Jewel

I am sure your list is much longer than mine. But the question is why can’t the research industry have people with only one name? To me this great industry has tons of superstars and perhaps some of them could go by only one name.

Ok before I give you some of my favorites I have discounted any of the common names. So names like Steve, Todd, Amy, Lisa and Tom just won’t work. Second I will not put my name on the list either – sorry Merrill Shugoll. Ok here are some of my choices:

  • Fee Sepahi, Authentic Response……..becomes Fee – I think this is a PERFECT one name researcher!
  • Chuck Miller, USAMP……………….becomes Chuck – a strong informative researcher!
  • Lisa Joy Rosner, Netbase…………..becomes L-Joy – L-Joy as a researcher sounds great to me!
  • Clay Dethloff, M/A/R/C Research…….becomes Clay – a researcher who molds innovation into every project
  • Simon Chadwick, Cambiar……………becomes Simon – the researcher that knows all

Ok there are some of my choices.

Your turn:

  • What do you think of my 5 new one name research superstars?
  • Which one is your favorite?
  • Do you have any to add to the list?

I look forward to hearing from you.

The Marketing Research Ghost Town By Guest Writer Marshall Toplansky

Friday, March 25th, 2011

In the past 8 weeks, I have visited with more than 3 dozen marketing research departments across the United States. Every one of them has the same story. “2 years ago, there were 10 people in this department. Today, there are only two of us.”

When I ask them what areas of marketing are getting incremental funding, the answer is almost always this: “Data and analytics. Those departments have seen a lot of growth in people, data sources and technology spending.” When I probe on why this is, the typical response is, “Well, the business needs have changed. We are now focused on things that have a much faster rhythm to them than the old days. We can no longer afford to sit back and think about things that have happened in the past, and track long-term trends. We are now dealing with a “real time” world.”

What does this mean for the marketing research industry? These are the 2 important takeaways, from my perspective:

  • Research is perceived as being “old and slow”, operating at a different pace than the business itself. As such, it is perceived as being “disconnected” to the operating rhythm of the core business.
    • Here’s an interesting sidebar –- One of our marketing research partners was presenting a fabulous model they had created for forecasting the future penetration rate of new products. Years of work had gone into the model, and it was clearly a sound methodology. The prospective client responded by saying, “You look at the growth of a product over a 5 year life cycle. In OUR business, we are lucky if we get an 18 month life out of a new product concept. Your approach simply won’t work in today’s compressed time frames.”
  • Research is no longer thought of as being “strategic”. It may be necessary, but it is “outsourceable” to suppliers. Marketing research has been “downgraded” in importance within companies. By contrast, if companies are increasing their analytics staffs in an era of overall downsizing, they consider analysis of data to be more strategic to them. Not something they would want to outsource to the same degree.

This is a potentially fatal problem for the marketing research industry. There is an obvious answer: Redefine ourselves to INCLUDE the analytics function. Sounds simple, right?

Wrong. The problem is that marketing researchers are generally unwilling to redefine their own existence. They look at data-driven analytics as having to conform to the conceptual framework of research. They apply the same evaluative criteria to the methods used by the real-time analytics world as they do for traditional marketing research. Think of it this way. Imagine you were alive at the dawn of the automobile. Would you hire a veterinarian to analyze whether a car is operating correctly? The vet was the expert in understanding transportation methods (the horse) of the day. But, does he really “get” cars? The only touch point between the two worlds was the metric of “horsepower”, to measure relative power. Nothing else was the same.

We are our own worst enemy. We have generally been in denial that companies are being forced, by competition and the technology environment to operate at a near-real-time pace. We long for the “good old days” when we could take our time to analyze the longer-term trends.

What is required here is a major attitude adjustment on OUR part. We need to learn an entirely new set of concepts . . . not just add a few new tricks to our current magic show. We need to do our own ethnographies and live inside of the shoes of the top management of our client companies, and grow beyond the marketing research department.

  • Are you noticing the same trend?
  • Are you hearing the same thing from your clients?
  • What do think of my opinion?

I really look forward to reading your comments.

Marshall Toplansky is President of WiseWindow

Why Hasn’t Reality TV Found The Research Industry?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Reality TV is huge. Yes I watched Survivor the other night and yes many of my friends won’t miss an episode of their favorite reality show. And yes it will probably be only a month before Charlie Sheen has his own reality show. I don’t to talk about that but I do want to talk about reality TV in the research industry.

Hey TV writers and producers what about these future reality TV hits:

  • The Life of An Interviewer! Most of us are chuckling at this point because we started as an interviewer and most of us including myself did crazy things and interviewed some “crazy” people but you don’t think Hollywood can make The Life of An interviewer a hit!
  • The Birth of A Product! This show could be a classic highlighting the importance of research and how much we have saved big business over the years by not moving forward with products.
  • The Art of Mystery Shopping – I guess they sort of do this with Undercover Boss – so perhaps one of the networks borrowed my idea.

And of course the classic…….

  • My Life As A Moderator! – This show would be an instant hit and we could incorporate all the travel woes, preparing to be a rock star, handling unruly respondents, the client debriefing and much, much more!

Ok your turn – after you stop laughing please let me know

  • What do you think of my choices?
  • What reality research shows would be a hit?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

I Love When Companies Listen To Their Customers – Way To Go Einstein Bagels!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Yes just another beautiful sunny day in Dallas and one that included a morning trip to Einstein Bagels. Of course I got my usual a toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese and yes a 20 ounce Coke. As I took my first sip of soda I quickly noticed that it tasted off, ok bad, ok actually I hated it! I thought I had grabbed a diet soda by mistake but I didn’t it was a regular Coke. As I looked at it a little closer the expiration date had expired three months earlier.

I decided to go back to the refrigerator and swap it out with a different one but unfortunately all the Coke had expired dates on them. I mentioned this to Shannon (the person who waited on me) and much to her surprise (she didn’t know that soda has an expiration date on it) she apologized and offered to give me a fountain drink instead. Shannon was terrific, very customer friendly and then she did something great. She looked at all of the soda in the refrigerator and saw that all of it had expired and proceeded to take it out and NOT sell it.

I thought that was great. She wanted to make sure that no one else had a bad experience in her restaurant. Her decision made me feel great as a customer that she was more worried about the next customer experience and not short term revenue.

  • What do you think of what Shannon did?
  • Do you think she should have done something else?
  • Have you recently had a similar customer service experience?

I look forward to reading your comments.


How Is Your Freshness Index? By Guest Blogger Tom Harrison

Friday, March 18th, 2011

So, I had a recent client meeting with a few very senior level marketing directors. It is a CPG client. It is a client for whom we’ve done an Imagine Session that has resulted in business and a full AOR assignment. I clearly wish to keep this relationship fresh. I’ll get back to “fresh”.

Yes…I asked how we are doing and I got the answer I had hoped to get; all our agencies are doing fine. They are happy, will most likely reward our AOR agency more business, and that’s a good thing.

Then came a message. Your agencies are really good, they seem to collaborate on certain levels, but “we can’t help but think that greater collaboration like you showed in our Imagine Session would allow your people to bring us EVEN BIGGER IDEAS”. They went on to say that they’d prefer paying more for the bigger idea than for the execution of the idea. Implementation is commoditized in their world, and why can’t we consolidate our back end delivery so they are not paying for 5 creative directors, 5 digital leads, 5 of this and 5 of that. The answer is they are right! In a new world where simplification is king, where larger ideas based upon clear vision and insights into consumer wants and behaviors are stepping stones to differentiation, why can’t we move toward doing this. Now, we need not go all the way to start, but back-of-office consolidation or just choosing which team will implement might go a long way to satisfying this client’s – and others I’m certain – needs. After all, it is our client’s needs that need to be recognized and addressed. So, I urge us all to look at this with great attention where we enjoy shared client responsibilities.

Now, back to “freshness”. What do I mean?

You just need to look at client relationships like a marriage…if you don’t keep them fresh, they’ll end in separation! What are we doing to bring new, fresh ideas to our clients proactively? Before they ask and BEFORE they EXPECT them? If we’re doing nothing, then there’s another suitor who’s just around the corner or uptown who will steal our client. We need to start thinking everyday in terms of our “Freshness Index”. What new ideas are we offering today or this week that’s relevant, new, breakthrough (as opposed to innovative which has now become a trite word just like integration), and unexpected. You know, like taking your spouse out to dinner just for the fun of it–not because it’s an obligation.

Why is it that great new ideas come only at the pitch and then the re-pitch to keep the business?  They should come routinely.

So I ask you:

  • How is your Freshness Index?
  • What are you doing to keep your client relationships fresh?
  • Have you given any training to your client facing teams regarding this subject?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Tom Harrison, LH. D. is Chairman & CEO of Diversified Agency Services, an Omnicom Group company. He is the author of Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals and his own blog entitled “Entrepreneurial Insight”

I Am Looking For My Next Book To Read And Need Your Help And Yes I Am Willing To Pay For Your Opinion!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Yes I am looking for my next book to read and yes there is a way for you to help me! As most of you are aware I am very passionate about business, sports and the research industry. I enjoy reading books about those topics so that might give you a little idea of what I might enjoy. In a perfect world I would love the book to be less than 350 pages which makes it a little easier to carry around.

So here is what I am asking for …… a referral.

Post a book and the author and anything you want to tell me about the book and if I pick your book to read I will send you a $50 American Express gift card. I will only be picking one book which I will do on April 4. Feel free to list up to 5 books. If there is a duplicate choice then the first person who posted on the blog will be credited with that book.

So I ask you:


I look forward to reading your choices.

2011 Is Almost Over? Are You Kidding Me?

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Yes January and February are over. Before you know it a few more months will go by and the summer will be upon us. The summer will be over in the blink of an eye and then it is almost Thanksgiving and a few weeks later you will find yourself buying gifts for the holidays. In reality 2011 is almost over! Ok maybe that is a little bit of an embellishment but certainly the year is flying by and will continue to do so. To be exact the year is 20% over!

The reality is don’t wait too long to start and work on things you want to accomplish in 2011. I am not talking solely about business goals but also personal one. If you want to read more, run a marathon, start to fish, improve your computer skills or have a better understanding of social networking the time to start is yesterday! Start right away – remember the quicker you start and make it part of your routine the quicker it will be part of your routine!

So I ask you:

  • What are you going to start and do right away?
  • What are you going to change tomorrow?
  • What are you going to get better at?
  • What would you like to accomplish in 2011?

I look forward to reading your comments.

How About Some Quick Friday Fun Looking At Some Beautiful Photos

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I received an email a few weeks ago that contained at least 20 amazing pictures. I actually picked out my favorite ones and thought I would share them. I think the raccoon in the pants is hysterical while the picture of Niagara Falls at night is simply amazing. The picture of the leopard sleeping is funny while the one of the Grand Canyon takes my breath away!

Which picture is your favorite?

I look forward to reading your comments.

You Sat Next To Who On A Recent Plane Flight? Are You Kidding Me?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

No this wasn’t going to be just another flight. Most of the time I will work or listen to some music and don’t talk to anyone. I knew this flight was going to be different and yes I was excited to see who I was sitting next to on a recent flight.

Yes it was a baseball player, yes it was a pitcher, yes he is in the hall of Fame, yes he is still involved in baseball and yes he is none other than Nolan Ryan! Yes Nolan Ryan with his blazing fastball and yes the same Nolan Ryan who won a World Series with the Amazing Mets in 1969!

We spoke non-stop for hours and I listened to every word he said. He is a terrific person with a tremendous passion for life just not baseball. Some of our discussions were around:

  • Baseball – no surprise there
  • Work ethic
  • Being a talent evaluator
  • Family
  • Being a rancher
  • Business

And numerous other topics – I must admit I have been fortunate to meet and have lengthy discussions with a number of prominent people but he was at the top of the list for sure. He was intelligent, articulate, competitive and so passionate.

  • Who would you like to sit next to on a plane?

The reason I ask is wouldn’t it be cool if American Airlines would grant me a wish and will allow one of you to sit next to whoever you want on your next flight.

  • So I ask you – who are the top three people you would like to sit next to on a plane?

I look forward to reading your comments.