Friday, October 31, 2008

What Makes YOU Feel Good at Work?

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

According to my informal research people who feel good at work are more productive, like their jobs more, have better performance, are more likely to be creative, enjoy "going the extra mile," and have more energy at the end of the day when they go home to be with their families or pursue hobbies and outside activities.

Help me with my research - every body has their own "Feel Good At Work Factor" and Amanda Levy and I are writing about it. Please help us understand more about yours.

Please go to our comments section after this blog entry and finish this sentence. "I feel good at work when....."

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, and comment on this post, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Social media diary 31/10/2008 - Amex

Amex to launch online community for travel managers

One of the best examples I know of a brand using information they have to add a social layer to their site is the Members Know site from American Express. On this site Amex use the data from spending using their cards to highlight restaurants and hotels in certain cities that are popular with their members. Once you've signed up you can share your thoughts on these establishments and exchange travel tips with other business traveller. Today, they are launching a new online community, and this time it isn't aimed at the business travellers, but at the people who organise their travel for them.

Business Travel Connexion is aimed at corporate travel managers and will combine editorial from Amex and other suppliers with user-generated content. Amex hope to create a real-time resource for the members and also build a fairly homogeneous community of a group of people who would valuable to marketers. They will be able to share information and ideas with each other and also with Amex and other suppliers. The site includes a "Product Lab" area for feedback and co-creation.

So what can we learn from this?

Amex are a great example of how brands are adding social layers to their existing sites and products, delivering real value to people and making the most of the product and information they already have. With Members Know they took data that previously wasn't used externally (data on spending in hotels and restaurants) and repackaged this in a way that was both useful for members and encouraged them to interact and upload their own content. In the same way, Business Travel Connection, links a set of individual customers who are isolated (often working with no peers in their organisation) but who share a strong common bond (they all deal with the same problems). That they can be linked through the Amex brand is even more powerful.

When thinking about 'going social' - building online communities or using social media - too many firms build approaches that don't always address their unique position in the market or capitalise upon what they may have to offer. Amex have done things the right way. They've thought about their strategy and about why people would engage in an online community that they manage; and about what they have to offer that's different. These are important stages and ones that we at FreshNetworks spend a lot of time on with clients. Working out why people will engage and why they will engage on your site is a critical first step to any online community

From the FreshNetworks Blog

Read all our Social Media Diary entries

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Community 2.0 vs. Focus Group 2.0

This post from ZDNet raises the interesting question regarding the boundaries of community 2.0. Recently Intel and Asus requested user feedback for a dream PC. The concept was that users come together, talk about what they want, vote about it, then Asus will build it. No one would argue that this is a community effort, and that it is an online forum, but would it really be considered community 2.0? So the author of the ZDNet post, Joe Brockmeier asked the question

"What do you think? Community, or focus group 2.0?"

Do you have an answer to his question? What are your thoughts?

Top 3 Questions You Must Ask in Doing Market Research

One big reason why many businesses fail is because of the lack of market research. Many companies believe that you only need to locate a hot product and promote it on the internet. A business can not succeed far if this methodology is implemented, instead companies should find out the needs of the market before entering to ensure that it is the right product for the market.

Since we started this week with a couple of lists, I’d figured I would keep the trend going. Shawn Lim has listed the top 3 questions a business must ask in doing market research in this post. Enjoy!

1. Is your market profitable? You have to locate a profitable market, if your market is not profitable; people in your market are not willing to spend. And if your market is not willing to spend, you will be having hard times making sales. Therefore, make sure that your market is a profitable market where the people in your market are ready to buy from you. You can find out your market’s profitability by looking at the numbers of advertisers in your market. The more advertisers there are, the more profitable your market will be. .

2. Is your market highly competitive? If you are a beginner in internet marketing, I suggest that you start from a less competitive market. This is because it is always easier to dominate a less competitive market than a highly competitive one. Think about it, if you are still new and you have to compete with the big boys in the market, do you think you will have advantage over them? That is why it is always a wise choice to go for a less competitive market. Of course there are some exceptions for this, but do you think you are capable of doing this?

3. Is your market niche enough? In fact, niche marketing is the only marketing that works wonder in internet marketing. You have to focus your market very specifically in order to build much targeted prospects. Just like if you are targeting sport market, which sport are you targeting? Is it tennis? And even if it is tennis, you should still further focus your market, like woman’s tennis and so on.

What are some questions your company asks before entering a new market?

Are employees customers?

Satisfied customers are more loyal, spend more, refer other customers, and are overall more profitable than the average customer. But where does the satisfaction come from? Probably from a good interaction (experience) with an employee who was able to handle that encounter in a professional, accurate, and timely manner. So why is it that some companies don't invest enough time and money in employee satisfaction? Aren't all employees customers as well?

Employees have to be committed to the organization in order to deliver great service; they need to buy into the culture to sound authentic and share this authenticity with the end customers. Customer satisfaction does not happen by chance or simply because a manager tells his/her employees to treat customers well. Great customer service is a matter of attitude and this behavior is a direct result of how satisfied employees are with the organization they work for.

Keeping the workforce well informed of what's going on, providing timely and accurate feedback, and rewarding & recognizing superior performance are a few things that organizations can do to maintain a high level of employee satisfaction. At a deeper level employees must have meaningful and challenging work; a continuing learning environment and opportunities for growth will also go a long way in maintaining a healthy level of satisfaction.

Next time you get a customer survey showing that the satisfaction level is low or dropped from a previous high, don't go too far looking for answers. Look within your workforce and more often than not, you will understand what happened...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Education and Community 2.0

Community 2.0 has entered the Education space with ePals, which encourages collaboration between classrooms. Growth of this new community has been significant with over 16 million members, in conjunction with 5,000 new classroom joining in as mentioned here. Recently the company was awarded with the 2008 Education Software Review Award granted from the ComputEd Gazette. Edmund Fish, CEO of ePals had this to say regarding their growth:

"Increased awareness of safe and effective web-based learning tools, and ePals' decision to provide these services without cost to schools, are important factors in this unprecedented growth. Our members have told us they have chosen ePals because of a combination of a safe, purposeful learning environment; powerful communication tools enhanced for collaboration; meaningful learning opportunities designed to build reading, writing and problem-solving skills that are easily implemented in classrooms; and a large, diverse community of like-minded users so that classroom 'matches' can be global or local, but always productive. This combination makes ePals unique, satisfies user needs and delivers meaningful learning outcomes."

Using Social Media to Grow Customer Loyalty

If you have customers that are actively using social media, there is a potential to use that communication channel to deepen customer relationships. Social media tools are especially effective at building two-way conversations with customers, either consumers or businesses. There is certainly a lot of talk about marketing with social media!

I teach a class at UC San Diego called Marketing via New Media. We discussed the top reasons that businesses should consider using social media; I have summarized two of them for you here.

* Social media marketing strengthens customer relationships. Customers don’t want a relationship with a company or organization. They have relationships with the people that work for that company or organization. Social media tools such as blogs and Twitter allow customers to get to know the people inside the company. They get to see real people with real personalities. Tara de Nicolas from the Washington Humane Society shared with me that the most popular part of their website is the link to their Flickr photo stream! Their clients and donors love to see the faces behind the operations, and they seek them out when given a chance to attend a face-to-face event with them (such as a fundraising dinner). Friendships are formed online and brought into the offline arena! Customers that have positive interactions with the people in the company feel a stronger sense of trust with that organization, a key factor in building customer loyalty.

* Social media marketing is great at keeping customers informed and involved. While traditional media is also good at keeping customers informed, social media excels at getting customers involved. Nearly one year ago, we had devastating wildfires here in San Diego. One of my students this quarter works for the San Diego Zoo, and she shared that zoo members and other San Diegans greatly appreciated the zoo blog updates on how the fire had impacted the park. It allowed them a “look inside” to see how animals had been affected, and people’s passion for the animals drove additional public involvement to support the zoo’s efforts in caring for the wildlife. Customers that are more involved and engaged tend to have longer and stronger relationships with organizations.

Bottom line: In order to cement customer relationships, companies need to interact with them in more ways than simply advertising! If your customers are using social media, go and find out where they are interacting, listen to them there, then join the conversation!

Market Research on a Shoestring Budget

One of the major complexities in the business realm includes executing an efficient market research strategy, but what happens if your company is on a shoestring budget? I came across this post on LEADSExplorer that lists 9 methods for market research on no budget. As budgets are tightening up due to the financial mess we are currently in, it might be a good idea to minimize spending on your research. Here’s the list:

1. Spying your competitors
2. Investigating the market
3. Listen in to webinars
4. Spy your customers and leads on your website
5. Blogging for reactions
6. Search social media and blogs
7. Generate responses on social media
8. Use RRS feed filtered using Yahoo pipes
9. Do not spend on industry analyst reports

All of these methods involve the internet in some shape or form. For industry reports, if you are able to come across one online for free, then better yet!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who Owns What?

Check out this very interesting post over at Britopian about the ownership of social media. The poster doesn’t spend much time actually thinking about who owns the social media aspect of companies—but they do delve into the “why and how” aspect of ownership.

“…is it marketing, PR or the business units who are out there building community? I really don’t know and I really don’t care. Implementing social media within in an organization requires a paradigm shift. It requires employees at all levels – starting at the very top – to change their thinking and embrace online relationships; as well as the conversations that blossom. It requires those who touch social media to communicate and share what they are doing internally.”

Who owns the social media aspect of your organization?

Customer Service Basics

Have companies forgotten about how simple and effective thanking customers can be? This post on Get Elastic discusses how appreciated Philip Mikal felt after he received a hand-written thank you note from Rackspace hosting. He even mentions, “A handwritten note and cow bell to celebrate their recent IPO; Rackspace understands that customer service is the new marketing.”

Businesses will have to revert to basic principles this holiday season in order to keep customer loyalty high, especially because of our current economic situation.

When Money is Tight and Time is Short

Sorry for the delay for this post. But I wanted to be sure I had captured as much detail as possible. I had attended another workshop before the end of The Market Research Event 2008. Speakers, Tina Bronkhorst, Vice President Digitas and Jennifer Drolet, Vice President, iModerate gave a compelling story for the benefits of a hybrid research approach.

"Current consumer demands and expectations for "real time" dialogue are changing the way we, as marketers, need to think about research", say Tina and Jen. Below is a bulleted summary of their reasoning:
  • It’s harder to be heard : 20 years ago, just 3 exposures created awareness, now it takes 150
  • Consumers have an amazing ability to multitask
  • Consumers aren’t as overwhelmed by information as they used to be
  • They trust their peers more than they trust marketers
  • Real time dialogue is everywhere (myspace, facebook, blogger)
  • They are coming together with common interests. One example of this is the Starbucks gossip site, which lets those who have a similar feeling toward the brand chat together.
  • And there are a host of others: blog, microblog, online chat, RSS, widgets, social networks, social bookmarks, message boards, podcasts, video sharing sites, photo sharing sites, virtual worlds, wikis...and the list will be greater as we move forward.
  • So, marketing doesn’t own the brand completely anymore
  • And, consumers trust their ability to make smart choices and they aren’t afraid to trust their instincts (Yankelovich Monitor 2004/2005)
  • Instead, they prefer to take a chance with a personal experience, instead of playing it safe
  • Thus, we need to focus on listening more instead of shouting louder (active branding)
  • Stop push marketing and start pull marketing
They gave practical examples of how to develop hybrid approaches, where qualitative and quantitative data are collected at the same time. These include conducting:
  • Online survey with IM-like chat intercept (iModerate)
  • Online focus group with closed ended, open ended, IM-like chat and redirects (Invoke)
  • Online communities (Communispace, Passenger)

Watch here where Tina and Jen give a few tips from their workshop. Thank you both for a great workshop!

April Bell

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Market Research Event 2008--What Participants Thought

As I've continued to receive feedback on the conference, I thought it would be appropriate to share a quick interview I conducted with one of the delegates. Jason Archambault, Director of Insights at Red Lobster and I had a chance to chat during the conference and he is one of many who have been attending the conference for several years. His comments reflected what I heard from several others.

Here's what he had to say:

April Bell

Market Research and Online Communities

Matt Rhodes recently posted on the FreshNetworks Blog that the market research industry should embrace online communities. One of the reasons why he believes communities should be taken advantage by market research professionals is because of the staggering numbers of online community adoption. According to the latest report form Gartner, more than 60% of large US firms will have built an online community used to engage with clients by the year 2010.

With the growing number of people turning to social media, the market research industry can use these communities as a great source of insight. Communities provide a great platform on collecting data on demographics as well as feedback and information on products directly from clients and the consumer.

Using Twitter for Customer Service

We’ve posted a while ago about how Twitter has made “customer service proactive rather than reactive.” This morning I came across this post from Search Engine Guide in which Paul Jahn reminds us that businesses, especially those who have e-commerce sites, should be using Twitter as a customer service tool.

Customer service reps can simply do a quick search on Twitter for their company to see what people are saying about them. The result, reps will find either good feedback or bad feedback. Representatives can go above and beyond by thanking happy customers and help unhappy customers using Twitter as a medium. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Frank at Comcast, and many others are just a few examples of people who have used Twitter to improve customer service practices within their company.

Social Media Reviews is the 2nd biggest Influence on Purchase Decisions

Matt Rhodes recently posted on socialmediatoday that for American adults, online reviews are only second to word of mouth in terms of influencing purchase decisions. The report was published by Rubicon Consulting, and it also goes into detail about how a consumer-to-consumer message is much stronger than a brand-to-consumer message.

That means that consumers are turning to blogs, social communities, peer reviews, forums, and other forms of social media to help them make an informed decision before they go out and spend money on a product or service. Some of the areas in which the web has a greater influence on purchase decisions is consumer electronics. Companies like BestBuy and Circuit City have incorporated customer reviews next to each product in order to aid potential customers in making the right decision.

Is your business using social media to help your customers make a more informed decision?

Friday, October 24, 2008

See you at Next Year’s Event!

I thought I’d leave you off this fair weekend on a light note. Make sure to check The Market Research Event homepage for clips on interviews with TMRE speakers, presentations from this year’s events, participant comments, and other spontaneous happenings. This year’s event was a great success and we look forward to seeing you nxt year on October 18-21, 2009 at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check back on the blog and The Market Research Event homepage for regular updates!

Customer Satisfaction at Verizon

In a recent study from J.D. Power and Associates, they announced that Verizon wireless ranked the highest in terms of retail customer satisfaction, as well as customer loyalty in comparison to the other top 5 wireless carriers. As reported here, the metrics for measurement included: sales staff, store display, store facility, and price along with promotion. In a statement from Jack Plating, COO of Verizon, he stated:

"Our leadership in retail customer satisfaction sets us apart from other wireless providers. At our 2,400 company-owned and -operated retail locations, our sales and service representatives are committed to delivering a rewarding retail experience for all who visit our stores looking for the latest phones on the nation's most reliable wireless network. This is especially important as we approach the holiday buying season since so many shoppers put Verizon Wireless at the top of their list."

Social Network Ad Spending: Still a Small Picture

Yesterday I posted some data on demographics of an online ad clicker; I figured I would end the weekend by leaving some more interesting data recently taken by eMarketer here. According to eMarketer, social network ad spending, which is a little over $1.4 billion, still represents a small percentage of total online ad spending which is estimated to reach $24.9 billion in 2008.

What does this mean for companies thinking a
bout investing in social network advertising? Now’s a great time to dive in and experiment with ads using social media. What’s important here is listening to feedback and fixing mistakes.

It will be interesting to see how social network ad
spending will change over the next couple of years.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TMRE 2008: Who Says Market Researchers Don't Know How to Have Fun

Vision Critical and iModerate both sponsors at The Market Research Event 2008 co-hosted an after-hour party for attendees showcasing this incredible breakdancing performance. Let me just say, having experienced it first-hand, Vision Critical and iModerate were great hosts, everyone had an excellent time, and we all certainly enjoyed the show. I can just imagine how much fun we'll have next year! Enjoy!

Demographics of an Online Ad Clicker

Earlier this morning, I came across this post from eMarketer that displays some data on Online Ad Clicker Demographics. What’s interesting here is that nearly two-thirds of all users who click on online ads are daily visitors of the website in which the ad appeared. Fifteen percent of people who clicked on ads were first-time visitors and only 6% went to the site sporadically.

It also comes as no surprise that users that are most likely to click on video ads are below the age of 25; whereas users aged 45-54 tend to click on text links more frequently than others. It will be interesting to see how social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn will cater to different internet users. Here’s the survey conducted by iPerceptions Inc. below.

TMRE 2008: Some Final Interviews

Well a week has passed since this year's The Market Research Event, bringing together individuals from different professions and organizations throughout the industry. April has been a big help providing her updates that I hope gave you all an industry insider's perspective of the event as she attended many presentations. Overall I hope you were able to take away some interesting insights and going-ons at the event, the unique and excellent speakers that were on hand and the great information they discussed. I actually had a few more presenter interviews from the last day of the conference that I had not had the chance to prepare and post, so here are two interviews with presenters from TMRE 2008:

Jennifer Drolet, VP, Client and Moderating Services, of iModerate tells a little of her presentation at The Market Research Event 2008:

And then we sat down with both Tina Bronkhorst,Vice President, Group Director at Digitas and Jennifer Drolet of iModerate presented together at The Market Research Event 2008. Here they share some detail regarding their presentation.

Patrick Galloway, VP, Consulting Services, of Galloway Research Service, member of Group Net who also discuss some of what he presented on and discussed.

Without a doubt this year's The Market Research Event has been the largest so far. A great opportunity for everyone to network and participate in excellent presentations with some remarkable speakers. Planning for next year's event is already underway, and I hope to post soon a follow up interview with Krista Vazquez, Conference Director of TMRE 2008 about what she has learned coming out of this year's event, and what she is already thinking about doing for next year. Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is Blogging Being Replaced by Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr?

I came across this post on Wired in which Paul Boutin mentions that people should pull the plug on their blogs if they already have one, and stop considering launching one altogether if you were previously thinking about it.

Part of his reasoning here is that it is almost impossible now to get noticed because of cut-rate journalists who are now drowning out the voices of the few authentic amateur wordsmiths. He believes that you are better off investing your time with other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. The Technorati list of top 100 blogs includes some of the more professional blogs like the Huffington Post, TreeHugger, and others. Most of the personal blog sites have been shoved aside by these professional ones.

Audiences are slowly turning away from text-based sites and are instead turning to social media sites that incorporate pictures, audio, video clips, and other multimedia. It will be interesting to see how blogs will be affected over the next couple of years. Do you agree that blogs are going out of style and are being replaced by social multimedia sites?

Customer Training and Customer Satisfaction

MarketWatch reported here that Expertus in conjunction with Training Industry Inc. released an August 2008 report that suggests the top reason for organizations to have customer training was to improve customer satisfaction. The report titled "Optimizing Customer Training" found that 82% of organizations expected customer satisfaction to improve, and 93% said that they had results from training. In addition 53% stated they had "strong benefits" with 40% reporting moderate benefits. As Ramesh Ramani, CEO of Expertus said:

"Historically, customer satisfaction was viewed as an intangible activity that just happened when you delivered good products or services. It's a positive sign that so many organizations are realizing that there are immense customer satisfaction benefits from having well informed and well educated customers."

New Online Tool from MarketTools

MarketTools announced today that they've created an online platform,, that will bring together survey tools, online panels and communities into one place.

Mark Frost, EVP and general manager, had this to say about the new site:

"With, companies are now empowered to conduct the highest quality, professional research on their own and can also obtain support from our in-house team of leading research experts. Given the current state of the economy, we're delighted to provide our customers with an extremely efficient and cost-effective means of gaining an understanding of the needs of their customers or clients' customers."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Customer Service Expectations conducted a survey on customer expectations regarding customer support as reported here. One interesting point that the survey found, is that 60% of customers "expect" responses within 4 hours of initial contact. While many consumers complain frequently about a lack of customer service, it is apparent, that the expected level they set is still quite high. The full report can be found at Make sure to post any comments on interesting findings here!

SanDisk looks to target new musical market

Those who are time crunched will soon have a new way to buy music. Those who are now in a bind for time and are bogged down by putting music on their musical devices will have the new option of the slotMusic card. The slotMusic card is a card that will fit into adapters that are frequently appearing on phones and other digital music players. They've got a solution for an yet to be stated problem, but believe that the time consuming process of uploading music on to devices will prevail and find a market of its own. Find out more here at Mercury News.

The slotMusic card is a solution for an unknown problem. What other products have you seen companies bring to market before there's a problem?

Troubling Times Proves to be a Good Time for Blogging

According to this post on The Inquisitr, Six Apart CEO Chris Alden believes that the economic crisis might boost people to start blogging as they look for alternatives to work. The point seems logical since startup costs for blogging are lower and that most people will have excess time on their hands. Does this mean that businesses will also spend more time and energy reaching consumers on the blogosphere? I will leave you off with an interview with Wired in which Chris Alden used unemployment to support of his argument:

…a bad economy will probably lead to an overall uptick in blogging, Alden says. “When you don’t know where else to invest,” he explains, “you invest in yourself.”

Which is kind of a slick way of saying that when you get laid off or your company goes under, it’s a good time to build your personal brand by blogging. Or, for that matter, if you suddenly find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, you might blog to fill the empty spaces. “You look for a way to reassert control,” Alden points out. “That’s a reason blogging surges in down times.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Call Centers and Pop Culture

Washington Post recently discussed the lighthearted side of call centers. India is known for their call centers, which are outsourced from the U.S. and is estimated to be an approximately $64 billion dollar Industry. In a new movie from Bollywood titled "Hello", the makers of the film define in pop culture terms what it means to be one of the 2 million call center workers in a comedic light. As this editor from India Today eloquently stated:

"It was bound to happen. The glitz of globalization provides its own cultural cliches. The call center is the most widely shared temptation among the chroniclers of new India. For the metaphor hunters of Indian popular culture and fiction, the call center has replaced the old snake charmer."

Numbers from the spirits market

In 2007, 18.3 billion liters of spirits were sold throughout the world. The largest market was China, who sold 3.7 of those liters alone. Euromonitor International came out with these figures, and they were detailed in this article at Business Week. The most popular spirits around the world were vodka and whiskey. Vodka sold 3.7 billion liters world wide and whiskey sold 2.1 billion liters world wide.

There is also a huge push for western spirits in the emerging middle class of developing countries such as Eastern Europe, Russia and China. Scottish whiskey is the lead seller around the world now, however, in Great Britain and the United States, where vodka and rum are on the rise due to the current cocktail phase.

Building Communities for Insight and Consumer Advocacy

One of our sister events Voice of the Customer has put together a free webinar which I thought I’d pass along on this blog. Aliza Freud, the Founder and CEO of SheSpeaks will be presenting Building Communities for Insight and Consumer Advocacy on Thursday, November 6, 2008 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST. Mention priority code G1M2039W1BL when you register. Here’s a brief recap of the webinar:

The SheSpeaks platform creates community and connects brands to our members to capture consumer insights, build word-of-mouth recommendations and brand advocates. SheSpeaks has developed an expertise in building community among women that inspires them to become brand ambassadors.

This presentation will describe the four components that are required to create a strong community and how each component functions in that process. We will provide examples of how brands have used these components to achieve success and how we integrate each component in our process at SheSpeaks.

What you will learn by attending:
- What is SheSpeaks and how does it work?
- Why should a brand build a community?
- What are the four components of creating a strong community?
- How can you build community for your brand?

As always, check back regularly as we will be posting community related webinars here. Register for this webinar here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Restaurant Concept

I was able to attend several incredible workshops last Wednesday at The Market Research Event and will be posting about those over the next few days.

One workshop, “Finding Billion Dollar New Opportunities” was presented by Roger Thompson, Senior Vice President of Darden Restaurants. He took us through his story of how they developed their restaurant concept, Seasons 52.

The majority of the presentation focused on Darden’s strategy of finding a new opportunity. With over 90,000 brands in the restaurant business, he mentioned it was one of their greatest challenges to find something that had not been done before. "What that means," he said, "is that you have to look around the corners. This gives you better peripheral vision, which helps you anticipate and lead to new opportunities.” Roger shared one approach they found to help them shift their perspective at Darden. By focusing on the “high potential arenas,” they began to determine where the possibilities lay. You can see by the slide below that mapping their brands against consumer needs created one area to pop, “Fresh and Healthy.”

Darden Restaurants (which used to be a part of the General Mills group until 1995) has a 8% share of the “Casual Dining” business. Some of these concepts include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Long Horn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze. And through their recent acquisition, The Capital Grille, they recently entered the “Fine Dining” business.

After developing 3 food positionings, then 9 healthful restaurant concepts, a new concept was developed, Seasons 52. I can’t wait until they open one in Dallas! Here's a small clip about the concept:


Check out a few highlights below from Roger Thompson, Senior VP of Darden Restaurants.


Friday, October 17, 2008

After the Fact

I made it back home to Texas late Thursday night and have had a chance to ponder a bit about my first Market Research Event conference. In a nutshell, it was great! I definitely enjoyed helping the IIR staff blog about the event. It was similar to an ethnography project about market researchers, and as a moderator/qualitative consultant, that's my favorite thing to do!

I came to the conference wanting to learn more about the industry, including the wants, needs, desires, and frustrations of those in market research.

And I left the conference learning so much.

So, for the next several days I will be posting snippets of my what I learned (including photos and videos) onto this site as well as my own blog at:

And I hope you’ll join me in an online discussion— feel free to respond, ask questions, post comments. I think we NEED to start an online dialogue and continue to stay connected virtually. And this is the reason: One of my biggest takeaways is that the industry as a whole is wanting to understand more about “virtual connectedness.” In almost every workshop I attended, there was reference to it in some way: online communities, social networking, digital innovation, and the list goes on and on. How better to understand what many of our consumers want than to jump in and be a part of it! It's great that the conference had started the LinkedIn group as way for us to interact online throughout the year. Coming away from the event, I think it'll help many of us continue our discussions that began at the event.

Stay posted….

April Bell

Outsourcing Call Center Operations

I came across this article that explains how the outsourcing of customer service functions is not only seen as a short term cost cutting tool, but it is also a strategy for long term competitive advantage.

In order to get closer to your customers, you must engage a fully functional center that supports telephone, e-mail, the web, and social media (which was not mentioned by the article). Companies are always looking to reduce costs to increase revenue, but the reduction of costs should not affect the quality of customer service.

Flip flop at Twitter

In recent news at Twitter, the CEO and Chairman of the Board will be switching places. Jack Dorsey, the current Chairman of the Board, and Evan Williams, the current CEO of Twitter will be switching positions. Read more here.

They had this to say in a recent posting at Twitter:

"We're entering a new phase now and there are new kinds of challenges ahead. Healthy companies acknowledge the need for change even during the best of times. As Twitter grows both internally and externally, we took a good look at our path forward and saw the need for a focused approach from a single leader."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Parents get their own social network

DePaul has created one of the first social networks for parents of their university students. Read the press release here. This is unique, because it allows parents to connect to other parents. The Quad features everything from participating in a live question-and-answer session with a financial aid officer, to discussing plans for family weekend, to making connections with other DePaul parents from the same state, region or hometown.

Dara Crowfoot, director of marketing strategy at DePaul, had this to say about their new social network:

“Studies show that more than 70 percent of parents are very active in their student’s college search process. Roughly half of them want new technology to access information about their student’s college, so the Quad addresses the important role parents play in their students’ selection of a college and their lives once they arrive on campus. One of the goals of this community is to provide parents with resources to connect with one another to get the most out of their educational experience at DePaul.”

Social Media Wake-Up Call

I came across this post on ReadWriteWeb that discusses how a recent study published by Opinion Research Corporation for Cone shows us that contrary to popular belief that social media is simply a fad, 85% of Americans who use social media believe that companies should have a presence in the social media environment. Also, the findings show that users want companies to interact with them via social media.

Here’s some interesting data provided by the study:

This desire for business-to-consumer interaction goes beyond simply offering customer service via Twitter. Although 43% would like to see companies offering customer service through social media, 41% would like companies to solicit feedback and 37% would like companies to provide new ways to interact with the brand via social media. These numbers could not be more clear: these consumers are practically begging for businesses to get involved in social media.

Is your company going above and beyond expectations by using social media? What are some networks, other than Twitter, that your company has used to improve customer service?

Day 2: More keynotes, More Networking

We had another great with some excellent speakers, presentations, and opportunities to network and interact with everyone. Yesterday was our first day of keynotes, and we had diverse perspectives that challenged attendees to consider how they consider trends, demographic segments and how consumers communicate their perspective.

The morning began with E. Kinney Zalesne, Co-Author, Microtrends, The Small Forces behind tomorrow’s big changes who gave her overview of the different microtrends that while not of the size of larger trends and segments, are clearly defined and influencing the expectations of these consumers. She did a great job by framing the discussion around the concept of a 'Starbucks Economy' vs a 'Ford Economy,' where the expectations today are framed by the ability of consumers to receive, even expect to receive, every premutation of a product, today it is consumer-determined vs. manufacturer-determined. I had a chance to record a few minutes of her presentations, you can listen to it here.

Then this presentation was followed by Simon Uwins, Chief Marketing Officer, Fresh & Easy, who discussed Uncovering New Opportunities in Retail Through Research, as he outlined his experience in first taking the role of CMO of Fresh & Easy, moving to the United States and worked on developing plans to enter different markets in the US. I also had a chance to record some great insights from him, you can listen to here.

Next up, Lindsay Zaltman, Author, Marketing Metaphoria who discussed the different levels of meaning to consider as respondents use metaphors that can be capture for profound persepectives depending on how they are used. I had a chance to meet with him afterwards and speak to him about his work and some of the highlights of his presentations.

Then the morning concluded with Billy Beane, General Manager, Oakland A’s, who presented Transforming America's Pastime – and What You Can Learn From It. It was actually very fascinating as you consider how the amount of statistics that is captured in every aspect of the game for every individual playing on the field, and yet so many management decisions that are made regarding these players do not use that data to influence their decision-making process. It really was surprising, and I think it left everyone considering how critical it is to get that their research data to senior management.
Overall a great morning of keynote presentations. Later today, you'll see more updates from April as she gives her highlights of some of the presentations from yesterday. Now I'm off to cover today's great presentations.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Salaries by region of online community

In a recent study done by the Online Community Report, they took a look at the compensation for those working with online community members. I found these two facts to be particularly interesting:

• The highest average / median annual salary in the USA comes from the research participants located in the northwest region. The average salary for the northwest region was $90k with a median of $90k.
• The lowest average / median annual salary in the USA comes from the research participants located in the southeast region. The average salary for the southeast region was $72k and the median was only $67k.

They also provided this graph:

Live-Blogging at NACCM

Live-blogging is becoming more and more popular at events because of the constant updates bloggers are able to provide the general public. It’s a great way for attendees to recap on sessions and also a great way for those who could not make it to learn a couple of key points from presentations. For this year’s event, Becky Carroll from Customers Rock! will be live-blogging at the NACCM event, bringing us up-to-date information on speakers, presentations, and other gatherings from the event as they occur.

We look forward to reading Becky’s posts in November, and take advantage of the discount being offered to Customers 1st readers. Register for the event and save 15% off the standard pricing. We’ll see you in Disneyland!

Who's Drinking the Wine?

As you can imagine, the workshop about wine filled up quickly! Although we didn’t get sample tastings, this presentation proved to be quite satisfying!

Chris Bacon, Director of Consumer Insights & Strategy at E&J Gallo Winery led us through their occasion-based segmentation workshop.

As he discussed the segments that most consumers fall into, I began to worry that I identified with them ALL! A few of the segments he referenced include: “The Night is Young”, “Gather ‘Round the Table”, “You’re Invited”, “Unwind”, “Dinner for Two” and a few more….sound familiar to anyone?

He tells a little more about a couple of these segments here:

Great workshop!

It's a Small World

It’s a small world here at The Market Research Event. During Tuesday’s lunch, I reconnected with an old friend! As I was introducing myself to folks around the table, I did a double take. A friend I had not seen in over 2 years , Brooke Fagley, Vice President of Client Service at Directions Research, Inc. was sitting across from me! The last time we were together we were trying to make our way through Italian lessons at a mutual friend's house!

Here she is with a couple of other folks at our table, Beth Daush of Directions Research and John Delgado of Eastern Research:

We chatted for a few minutes catching up until the keynote speaker began his presentation. Marc Dresner, Executive Editor of RFL Communications, gave a compelling speech regarding their work to help improve data quality issues across the market research industry. Their publication, Platforms for Data Progress: The Client’s Guide to Rapid Improvement of Online Research, was distributed. His presentation gave a lively account regarding the history of its development.

Here are a few highlights of the speech.

For those of you who were unable to make it, he mentioned that the publication has been approved and is being distributed by the American Marketing Association. It can be found at

Really Cool Research Deliverables

We all want to learn more more about how to communicate research findings succinctly and with a flair so key stakeholders can easily grasp and “buy-in” to the learnings.

So, this workshop, Design-Driven Deliverables: Adding Dimension to Your Research, was not only relevant but also insightful because it gave useful tips and examples of how to expand reporting beyond the Power Point presentation. Speakers, Steve Kulp and Lisa Broome, discussed creating shadowboxes , murals and inspiration stations to pull together “experiential” learnings.

By using a variety of unusual deliverables, the broader audience will have the ability to learn more through all of their senses. Some examples of these are shown below:

It was a great session of questions, answers and idea sharing. One interesting thought brought up by Dean Macko of Hyundai was the possibility of using actual respondents at the end of a segmentation study to better personify the segment learnings. Cool stuff!

Entertainment Redefined

Betsy Frank, Chief Research & Insights Officer of Time Inc. gave an extremely compelling presentation in yesterday’s Media Research track, Multi-Platform Storytelling. As the workshop progressed, my perception of “entertainment” shifted a bit. In their research at Time, Inc., they have discovered that entertainment for most consumers includes “anything I’m not obliged to do.” In fact, 77% agree “I can find entertainment value in almost anything.”

She went further to say that the more stressed you are, the more important entertainment becomes. The benefits? To relax, feel less stress. It’s an escape. Entertainment is the antidote to anxiety.

However, they have discovered that entertainment is not only about escape, it also fulfills three other emotional needs, to: Connect, Create, and Share. She shared rich insights from a study of 30 (non-entertainment) brands. Here is an example of the model they developed as a result.

They found certain brands resonated on some of the spectrums while at least one brand (Target was the example given) was able to connect on all 4.

Betsy was kind enough to visit with me for a few minutes after the workshop. Here are a few highlights of the presentation:

What Women Want

“Tahiti is sexier than selling toilet paper.” Graceann Bennett from Ogilvy Chicago grabbed everyone’s attention in one of the early morning sessions yesterday. She, along with Debbie Solomon of MindShare and Beth Uyenco of Microsoft led an incredible workshop: From Dull to Delightful: Digital Paths to Filling the Shopping Cart! In their work for Kimberly-Clark, they knew consumers felt that shopping for toilet paper is the #1 most annoying thing to shop for. They wanted to know, "how do you create and build true brand management with a product that is annoying?"

Well, you guessed it, they conducted a LOT of research! It included 62 media diaries, 12 insight group discussions, ethnographies, idea stations (an online chat room), mindshare omnibus study, digital domain, digital trend analysis, and cultural deep dive. And they did this with women across all life stages. Whew!

They conducted the research with women across life stages…and they learned a lot about women, especially what women want in the “digital” arena.

During the workshop, they gave us a little quiz to test our female I.Q. Let’s see how you do…

• How many words does the average woman speak per day vs. men? (answer: 7000 vs. 2000)

• How many women have smart phones? (answer: 10 million and this number doubled in the past year)
• How many women are gamers? (answer: 59% of women are gamers and 70% of women played a PC game in the last month)

Through their research with these women, they found 3 distinct “digital segments: Digital Outliers (9%), Mainstream Users (75%) and Digital Divas (16%). And while they cited many life stage differences across the segments, they also noted several commonalities. Primarily, women like real content by real people. Women are not only trusting friends for advice on products, they are also using “advice from strangers” as a source for help. YouTube has become a primary source for getting “product advice” because of the high touch content it provides. This YouTube video was cited as a touching example of a father explaining to his daughter how to cut a mango. You can view it here.

Good example of online content women want.

It was interesting to note that when you’re selling products that are “annoying” such as toilet paper, you don’t necessarily have to be top of mind, you just have to make it easy for her and it is becoming critical to do that online. One consumer quote they gave says it best, “I actually have a subscription for my paper products and detergent on”

So Many Presentations, So Little Time

April will certainly write up more about what a whirlwind TMRE can be. There is such an abundance of information and presentation, great speakers that focus on valuable content rather than simple sales-pitches. Unfortunately, there's just not enough time to meet with everyone and see their presentations. So I've tried to meet with a few and have them describe what their presenting on. I think you'll find each very fascinating.

So where to begin, well I had a chance to chat with Robert Miner, President, Sachs Insights, who was on hand to present on their recent study: The Arrival of the Milleni-Adults. He was good enough to share some detail about the study, all of which you can find detail here. Here is an opening clip to that study.


Here he is speaking with us and describing this remarkable study.

Then I had a chance to sit down and chat with Heather Kluter, Manager of Marketing Research & Consumer Insights with Hyundai, who was presenting on 'Learning to See and Finding Our Voice: Creating a Customer-Centric Product Development Process at Hyundai America.' She gave us some background on her presentation she'll be giving Thursday morning.

Finally, I was speaking with Brendan Light, SVP, Research & Development, of BuzzBack Market Research. He'll be presenting on 'Award-Winning Techniques for Gaining Deeper Insights Via The Internet.' Recently, he gave presented their unique eCollaging technique in a webinar presentation. We've archived it and have it available for you all here. I think once you see this archive, you'll be very interested in seeing Brendan's presentation on Thursday afternoon.

As you can see, even from just these few speakers, there are some great presentations at TMRE this year. I hope those of you who are here, will be able to share their impressions about the speakers and presenters. I'll meet with as many more speakers as possible so we can share for everyone some detail of the great information available. Check back soon!

What a First Day

I can't begin to tell you what a great day yesterday was. It was a busy day filled with excellent presentations, a lot of networking with familiar faces and new friends. It was a busy day filled with preparations and a day filled with constant activity. I spent most of the time watching everything come together until our big kick-off last night with Kelly Styring, Author, In Your Car: Road Trip Through the American Automobile who spoke on Hitting the Road to Uncover Innovation.

Kelley is an excellent speaker, warm, humorous, and very grounded in the goal of seeking valuable insights into consumer perspective that can help companies innovate their product offerings. In considering just how much consumer product goods have not met consumer needs, just some highlights from her research:

  • 250 million vehicles in the United States - an almost 1:1 ration to American adults

  • in reviewing all of the material people have in their vehicles, at least 25 consumer product groups represented

The problem she points out is how companies have not innovated their products to meet these consumers expectations when they use or store it in their cars. I had a chance to take an audio recording of a few minutes of her presentation. You can listen to it here.

Afterwards I spent a few minutes with Kelly to have discuss with April Bell and I some more background and detail into her recent ethnographic study. I thought I'd share it with you all here:

From there of course it was time to network. If you haven't seen the photos I've been uploading to our Flickr group on the event site as the exhibit hall came together, I thought I'd share with you some before and after

coming together

time for cocktails!

As Krista had mentioned leading up to this year's great event, we have over 800 attendees, over 90 exhibitors. It's great to see it all come together and everyone interacting, learning, and enjoying themselves. Stay tuned, we'll continue to keep you updated throughout the event.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Could Twitter be the next big marketplace

Shel Israel recently brought up an interesting topic on his blog. Although the web is known as a marketplace with eBay and Craigslist leading the way, Twitter is up and coming. eBay and Craigslist are forums where buying and selling go on, but Twitter is a true community of members. Israel shares several stories about how people have heard through items through Twitter, and it's resulted in new jobs and the purchasing of homes. Although Twitter is not intended to become a marketplace, it may set the stage for community members to interact and connect consumers to the products they need.

How do you Create a Remarkable Customer Experience?

Eric Brown founder and Owner of Urbane Apartments recently guest posted on Customers Rock! in which he gives us some perspectives on key ingredients of a Remarkable Customer Experience. He starts off with a definition of the term “remarkable” from none other than the marketing guru Seth Godin:
  • Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it?
  • Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.
Now here are some examples of how this small boutique apartment management company has created remarkable experiences for their residents.
  1. The company does not send out paper leases. They give out all the lease information in a thumb drive in which residents can carry in their pockets and also use to store additional information. This wouldn’t work well with seniors, but because of their demographic it resonates well.
  2. The company has embraced this motto, “Urbane Loves Pets”. Their method of thinking is that great residents will have great pets, and so they own the segment of pet lovers in their locale.
  3. Urbane has created “Freedom Lease” which allows for greater living flexibility. The company has realized that many residents are consultants, and so the standard one year leasing contract does not work for them. This added flexibility creates a greater experience for the resident.

Tomorrow's Agenda

I have a full agenda tomorrow with an early start at 8:15 a.m. for the first workshop. Still trying to decide on some of the workshop choices.

I will certainly be at Kelley Styring’s kick-off keynote at 5:15 p.m. where she will talk about her ethnographic journey learning about the “Archaeology of the American Handbag,” And I wouldn’t miss the cocktail reception at 6:00 so if you are also in attendance please keep an eye out for me and introduce yourself—I’ll be curious about your day here at The Market Research Event!

Shoot me a note at if you want to give me a tip on what I should cover while here at the conference.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day One Workshop Holistic Research Strategies

I was able to pop into another very cool workshop this afternoon.

And while the room was chilly, the speakers were more than warm when I entered their workshop. Presented by David Lundahl, President and CEO, and Greg Stucky, Vice President, of Insights Now were on hand to walk everyone through the material. One of the most interesting elements of the workshop was their in-depth explanation of quantifying free association. Here's just a small taste of the workshop here:


If you are in attendance, be sure and get some more information and a detailed map of their qual-quant mixed research strategy approach, by visiting them at their booth #315/317 in the Exhibit Hall.