Thursday, November 15, 2012

TMRE 2012: Storytelling, Creating a Research Brand, and Beer

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 mave

Well folks, we've made it to the end of another TMRE! I hope you all had a great time and took away some great learnings from the conference, I know I did. Two key themes I noticed today in the keynotes and breakout sessions: storytelling and actionable take-aways.

Without further ado, here’s the recap from the third and final day of TMRE:

One of the key themes of the conference, storytelling, was showcased to full effect by the first keynote speaker, Jonah Sachs, author of Winning the Story Wars and Co-Founder and Creative Director at Free Range Studios. Sachs feels we’re headed into a “digitoral” era - oral tradition by way of digital communication and connection. In this new era of storytelling, it will be important for brands to be able to easily and clearly describe what values the brand is aligned with…not just the features your product has...and market research can clearly help in that discovery process.

Keeping with the theme of storytelling, the first session I attended was PepsiCo’s Sara Bergson presenting “The Art of Storytelling: Getting Traction and Action.” Bergson highlighted the issue that pretty much every TMRE attendee has: how do you get your ideas across in the current business climate of short attention spans, constant interruptions, and increased complexity?

Bergson shared some great, actionable ideas about reporting the data by way of storytelling; stories can simplify complexity. Utilizing the traditional story structure (set the scene ->begin the journey->encounter obstacle->deliver resolution) Bergson creates a 1-page storyline and ghost decks (5 minute presentation, 10 minute, 30 minute and so on) at the beginning of a project which helps to create structure for the research delivery. She also brought up a theme I heard throughout the day – branding your research projects with a name, a logo, a template. This is inspiring to the research team and helps brand the department internally.

Key takeaway: “You can make ‘big thump decks’ and ‘little thump decks,’ but can you get your ideas across in one page?”


Next up was a session co-presented by Katy Mogul of Logitech and Jason Kramer of VitalFindings: “Bringing Research to Life Through Collaborative, Engaging, And Inspiring Work Sessions.” As you can tell from the title, this session focused on utilizing workshops to really bring the research to life for your internal clients: marketing, engineering/R&D, senior executives, and so on.  Kramer highlighted that workshops can unlock that highest level of learning: read, analyze, SYNTHESIZE. The session focused on using workshops during different phases of the project lifecycle: before research begins, between research phases, and after research is complete. Mogul then shared several case studies of how Logitech used workshops for product ideation and engaging R&D.

Key takeaway: Workshops can be utilized throughout the research process to engage your internal clients and go ‘beyond the PowerPoint.’

Genius moves by the presenters? Bringing the persona boards and staging them throughout the room, and providing a laminated deck of workshop cards with instructions as to how to run each type of workshop they discussed.


Finally, it was time to listen in on Florence Guesnet of Heineken’s presentation on “The Toughness of Soft Skills.” If the title is a bit vague, here’s the gist – the presentation was about building and branding the market research department within a large organization (240 total brands!).  Guesnet’s challenge was “applying marketing to the market research function, something we [researchers] are amazingly lousy at.”

She created a research brand within the company by clearly defining their key foci (foresight, intelligence, excellence, impactful talent), their selling line: “We Know, We Share, We Inspire,” and by building awareness throughout the company with impactful imagery, creative reporting, and relevant take-aways. Throughout the presentation, Guesnet brought the focus back to the internal customer, and highlighting that it’s “not good enough to be right,” you also have to address System 1 and System 2, and be able to deliver “what’s in it for them [senior management].”

Key takeaway: Treat the market research function as a brand and don’t be modest about it. Keep the relevance of research at the forefront, and pay major attention to execution (video, print, etc.).

Best quote of the day: "A consumer insight is to marketing what yeast is to beer!"

Day 3 finished up with a great keynote by Robert Kozinets, Professor of Marketing at York University and author of Netnography. For more information on the day’s final keynote ,other sessions that I didn't cover, and overall event chatter, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #TMRE on Twitter.

It’s been my pleasure to provide blog updates and tweets throughout the conference – thanks to TMRE for the opportunity. Please don’t hesitate to connect up on Twitter, LinkedIn, and at my blog. Safe travels everyone!

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More about Katie: Based in Portland, Maine, Katie leads 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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