Monday, November 12, 2012

TMRE 2012: Hurdles, Accomplishments, and a Great First Day

Today's post comes from TMRE Guest Blogger, Katie Clark. She is also known as @InsightsGal on Twitter and a client-side market researcher, project manager, and social media maven.

Hello from Boca! TMRE started off bright and early this morning with a day of Summit sessions across such tracks as Business to Business, Ad & Media Research, Global Research and Insights, and more.

Because of my role at Diversified Business Communications (as a B2B research manager) it made natural sense that I attend all of the sessions in the Business to Business track today. I certainly learned some new things, validated some assumptions and also commiserated with other B2B researchers as we have some special and unique issues and hurdles to deal with.

In our first session of the day, John Dahl, Global Customer Insights Department Manager for 3M highlighted those hurdles in a case study specific to B2B value proposition research: "Fewer, bigger customers, smaller sample sizes, hard to find respondents." Yep, definitely some hurdles we contend with.  IN addition, B2B researchers may be struggling to contend with and move beyond "a poor market research tradition [in B2B] (smaller budgets, greater skepticism)."

How to overcome some of these hurdles? Find a champion - this was a theme that ran throughout the B2B sessions.  Eddie Accomando of Anthroconsulting, and the Global Semiconductor Research Program Manager for Texas Instruments highlighted: "You need a champion. Your [researcher's] courage to fight for quality must be paired with someone who has influence in the organization." In addition to finding an executive champion for research, it's also important to BE the internal champion for the research.  As Courtney Hallendy, Strategic Research Manager for Toyota Financial Services said: "Being an internal champion for the research is critical, to create a research brand both internally and externally."

It was refreshing today to hear that more B2B researchers are utilizing "newer" methodologies such as online communities and message boards.  Yes, B2C-ers, you've been using these for years, but B2B can sometimes lag behind in adoption.  Presentations in the B2B track today included online communities, message boards, customer panels, and more...and the case studies certainly highlighted some great successes:
  • -Using customer panels to conduct research, Texas Instruments is "saving 75% and producing better data."
  • -Based on a real need for the Voice of the Customer (in their case, dealership management and employees), Toyota created an online community that is providing great data and feedback already (it launched recently) and is providing much-needed nationwide data.
And what holds true for B2C holds true for B2B - if you have any sort of community or panel platform, remember to be transparent to the community as to who you are, and feed back to your community how the data is being used.  Those are key drivers for participation.

As we prepare for day two, I'll leave you with two final items:
  • -Kudos to Andrew Vranesic, Global Product Marketing Manager for GE Healthcare, who managed to work the word heteroskedasticity into his presentation. That is something you don't hear every day, or at just any conference!
  • -Some words of wisdom from Eddie Accomando, which are applicable to researchers in all industries: "Be responsible, but flexible. Do what you can, suffer what you must. Your provider is always going to want to stick to the rules, and your client is always going to want to bend the rules."

That's it for Day 1! Stay tuned for tomorrow's updates from TMRE in Boca Raton.

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More about Katie: Based in Portland, Maine, Katie manages the market research team at Diversified Business Communications. She has worked with companies large and small and in industries such as seafood, 3D laser imaging, software, fragrance, finance, and entertainment to help them move the business forward through actionable insights derived from market research. She is passionate about bringing the”Voice of the Customer” inside the organization. The opinions expressed here are her own and not those of her employer.



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