CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Travis Miller – PureSpectrum

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Travis Miller, VP of Client Success at PureSpectrum.

Find Travis Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/travismiller09

Email: travis@purespectrum.com

Website: purespectrum.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. I am here at the illustrious… Actually, I don’t even know the name of the hotel. Travis, what’s the name of the hotel?

[00:40]

It’s the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida.

[00:43]

There you go. We are at CRC, which is the client or customer. Always forget what the first C stands for.

[00:49]

Corporate Researchers Conference.

[00:50]

Yep. Corporate Research and associated with the Insights Association, which is actually been one of my personal favorite shows. I’ve thought this quality of the speakers overall has been pretty good, has been good, not pretty good. Did you listen to Google this morning?

[01:06]

I did not get a chance to see Google this morning.

[01:08]

You missed out. So, what happens: (I just found this out), you can listen to the episodes on their app. So, make sure you download the app before you leave and then if you want to listen to it—which I definitely know you want to listen to cause I know you’re a thought leader—then you can pick up the key sessions that you wish you could have made, but you couldn’t because you drank too much tonight before.

[01:30]

There’s so many of the sessions here.

[01:31]

So many sessions here. So PureSpectrum is the name of the company. Travis Miller is the dude I’m talking to. How are you today?

[01:42]

Doing great.

[01:43]

Okay, good. So, tell me a little bit about PureSpectrum. Give everybody the background.

[01:46]

So PureSpectrum, we are a sample management platform. A do-it-yourself tool, API-integrated marketplace, whatever you might call it. But it’s a place for people to come in and buy online sample. We’re kind of like the expedia.com for sample providers. You can come in, set your sample criteria. You can choose from a number of different sample providers, see their pricing and feasibility and make a determination and launch your project.

[02:11]

We’ve been using PureSpectrum, FYI. And I will say one of the things that I really like about it is the ease of use of the gooey or the user interface. It’s like super easy to use, and it’s like sample on tap, which is great from a research ops perspective.

[02:29]

That’s one of the biggest compliments that I get from current customers and prospective customers when I show them the platform. They can’t believe how easy it is to use. When they do get to use it, we have a team of people that can help answer questions and help out on projects. So, it’s not just do-it-yourself, but it frees up a lot of time for a lot of researchers to get to what they need to do. And that’s the research, the analytics.

[02:50]

So, the show you’ve been walking around. You guys don’t have a booth here. What’s your take? What’s your takeaway? What are highlights?

[03:00]

Well, I think highlights of some of the sessions I have attended and I’ve heard a lot about the technology. I’ve heard a lot about different platforms and how that’s being applied in research, which is very exciting. I’m walking the floor. There’s a lot of great exhibitors here. It seems like there’s a good buzz around this conference. I wouldn’t say it’s the big conference; it’s not the small conference. But it’s that conference where you get to know everybody. The networking opportunities have been great. I feel like I’ve been talking straight for a day and a half and meeting with everybody. It’s been great.

[03:30]

So, there’s always this tension between do I get a booth or do I not get a booth cause it’s expensive, whatever, five some odd thousand dollars. Or do I just get a pass and attend? I think you can’t do every conference. Walking around here, (This is recorded) do you feel like it’s beneficial to have the booth or do you think you’re better off on this one to pass on the booth?

[03:58]

That’s a good question. Jamin. I’ve been walking around; obviously I don’t have a booth. I think for your business…

[04:03]

And a lot of people, a lot of people by the way have been walking around without having a booth, and I’ve done that and do that a lot. So, I’m not casting stones saying that’s a bad choice. I’m just wondering like, ‘cause your sales not marketing. And I’m wondering from that lens if you’re like, “Gosh, you know what? If we had a booth…” I’m not judging the ROI. I’m just saying if we had a booth, we would get more leads. Or is it, “I’m hitting capacity as a sales guy by just commingling”?

[04:33]

I don’t know what advice to give to that one.

[04:37]

I thought it would be interesting from that lens. I mean, so for us we’ve gotten about…new company, HubUx. I don’t know exactly, about 30 leads, quality leads, so far. And the booth provides that opportunity for people to be able to go meet at a spot and we’ve done it. But most of the homework that we did was like pre-bookings to demos to the booth, which, of course, helps quite a bit, especially ‘cause we’re not paying big premiums. You can see where our booth’s located right in the back by the bar, just perfect. So anyway, I think that it’s interesting. I won’t pick on other people, but there’s some people that are just flying in; they don’t even have conference registration, but they’ll just like hang out in the hallways and, literally…

[05:28]

I’m a fan of support the conference you’re at. Register. Of course, you want to support: I support Insights Association.

[05:36]

Well, you guys are members.

[05:37]

Members. I support Southern California, Northwest, Southwest.

[05:40]

You do your holiday party actually… You sponsor their party with your holiday party.

[05:46]

Of course.

[05:47]

Yeah, right. Yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. And so, it’s always that tension I find like, ‘cause nobody can afford to get a booth at every conference. So, you always have that tension of like, okay, “Is this one? Is it that one, is it this one?” I’ve been trying to hone it in like what is the right fit? If I only had five conferences, I could afford to put a booth at next year, three maybe, what are those conferences in North America alone? Not thinking about at an international level.

[06:14]

I think you have to look at the theme of the conference. For PureSpectrum, I think we’re a technology company, market research company. We’ll, I’m sure, be represented very well at IIeX again next year technology conference.

[06:25]

So, Austin, IIeX.

[06:27]

For sure, we’ll have a booth there. The Quirks Events tend to be great. We may consider CRC for next year. I think for us it’s what type of takeaways and what type of users are we getting. Who’s going to be there? And does it make sense for us to have a full booth where we can give demonstrations or can we have quick introductions and people that we’ve been talking to for six months through the summer to have some face to face time? So, for us, I think we’re here attending. It’s a great event. We’re shaking a lot of hands, meeting a lot of people. If we had a booth, maybe we’d have a little bit more, but at the same time, maybe it’s not the right fit. So, there’s other conferences that…

[07:05]

It’s a really interesting question and I do it, of course, both ways. So, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m just really curious like, “Gosh. It’s tough. It’s tough ‘cause you can’t go to everything. It’s just too much of an overhead and too expensive. It’s too much.” But there it does feel like this fear of missing out, FOMO, when you’re there, but you don’t have the…

[07:28]

It can be.

[07:29]

It can be.

[07:30]

Even think of the people who attend. Which conferences do you even attend?

[07:33]

I know there’s so many of them. It’s mind boggling!

[07:36]

And some of them have different budgets, different researchers. I think every conference as much as they have the same idea, they are all a little bit different.

[07:44]

Yeah, totally. But you don’t want to be talking to the same people over and over again. That’s the other challenge, anyway. So, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do it?

[07:53]

Reach out to Travis@purespectrum.com. You can also check out our new website at purespectrum.com. And feel free to reach out, learn a little bit more about what we do. Jamin can be a really good reference for us; he does use us and we appreciate the business.

[08:10]

Yeah, 100%. Yeah, of course, you’re very welcome. Travis, it’s been an honor having you on the podcast. Thanks. Enjoy the rest of the show. Let’s get a cocktail.

[08:15]

Thanks, Jamin.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Susan Griffith – Readex Research

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Susan Griffith, Ad Effectiveness Sales Manager at Readex Research.

Find Susan Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/susangriffithsalesandfitness

Email: sgriffith@readexresearch.com

Website: www.readexresearch.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. The show floor is being torn down. Exhibitors are packing up, looking forward to just getting to their cats, dogs, kids, whatevers. It’s going to be a pretty good time, and I have the pleasure of having Susan Griffith with Readex Research as my guest. How are you today?

[00:51]

I am terrific. Thank you for asking.

[00:53]

Tell me about Readex and that’s R E A D E X.

[00:57]

Correct. We are a company based out of beautiful Stillwater, Minnesota, which is just north of St. Paul. Our specialty is online and mail survey research, self-administered studies, which nobody’s prompting. Its participants are taking the survey sort of at their leisure. It’s timed but at their leisure. So, been in business since 1947, long before me. But I am a legacy employee. Back in the day the company was started by an ad agency executive and they were trying to determine…

[01:35]

I mean that’s like early days of research.

[01:37]

Exactly, whether ads were being read and impactful. So back in the day print, there are still mail surveys done this way but the survey is sent out with a copy of the publication and people put their remarks on it. It’s sent back to Readex. But my mom (getting back to my legacy), she was one of the housewives that would go to Readex, pick up a stack of magazines, bring them home, and in our basement, she would compile and organize the scoring of what happened. So, that was back in the day.

[02:10]

Love it, all manual process.

[02:11]

Exactly. In the basement. So fast forward to now, I would say about 75% of our business is online, but we still do a lot of mail surveys, which is why we are here.

[02:25]

National Research Corporation is a company that does patient satisfaction, and the government has required that a certain proportion of patient satisfaction still be done through mail. Why? Because there is a portion of the population that is not online, which is really interesting. And it’s almost like it’s the other way now, where we’re all in on online and digital. And I can’t think of the last time somebody has done a paper survey.

[02:54]

Exactly. Well, think about even your mailbox at home or at work; we tend to get less mail. So now, the mail survey isn’t part of a huge stack of ads and things you don’t need. It is not unique, but it isn’t in a big stack anymore. And you’re right. I think about industries where there’s an aging population. I think about remote populations. And then we do some work in human resources, employee satisfaction surveys. And one of the niches about that is the confidentiality factor. So, lots of DIY tools, I won’t mention the name, are not confidential.

[03:38]

That’s right, totally.

[03:39]

So, you go to a manufacturing plant where a large percentage of the employees are in a factory without email addresses. So that’s another place that people choose mail over online.

[03:53]

So interesting, isn’t it?

[03:54]

Plus, response rates are usually better.

[03:56]

Is that right?

[03:57]

That is true.

[03:58]

Do you do the $2 in the envelope thing?

[04:00]

It’s a dollar for most. Back in the day, it was a penny, but yes, inflation or otherwise, a dollar is really kind of the mainstream. However, in some tougher markets, I would say we have a few customers that will put in $10 checks, and I say tougher markets, I’m thinking physicians.

[04:21]

Still a very inexpensive cost per interview.

[04:24]

Yep, exactly.

[04:26]

What kind of response rates do you get with paper?

[04:29]

Paper? I would say it runs the gamut. There are factors that influence it. Longer questionnaires, you have to be mindful of response fatigue. So, a standard 20-question survey, 35% to 55%, especially if you’re asking questions that are really engaging the person taking it. Here’s an example: When we work with associations and they are being asked about member benefits and why are they here and what’s been important to their membership, those are high responding audiences because you’re asking them for their opinions, which could impact decisions that the organization makes.

[05:09]

Yeah, the response rate thing I think is really… It’d be fun to do an A-B test with online and paper just to see what the IR would be because my hunch is that there… You’re seeing IR continue to plummet online. So, now maybe it’s time to put the other shoe on the foot. Kind of fun. What kind of costs? What is the cost Delta there? How does that look?

[05:38]

Well, methodology, email versus mail; email is typically cheaper. We know we’re just swapping electrons. Determining factors would be the length of the questionnaire and how much data we’re going to be asking. Even formatting questions, structured questions require a check and this, and open ends require some transcription, potentially comment coding. But then on the back end, the deliverables: You just want an Excel file that’s pretty reasonable. But if you want us to put together a pretty presentation. “Ready. Here you go. Here’s your results.” Cost there, too.

[06:13]

If somebody wants to get in contact with you, Susan, how would they do that?

[06:16]

Very easily by phone (651) 439-8066 or email SGriffith@readexresearch.com.

[06:26]

Give us the phone number one more time.

[06:28]

(651) 439-8066.

[06:32]

And, of course, that will be in the show notes. What do you think about the show?

[06:35]

Love it. You know, I haven’t had a lot of in terms of volume conversations, but good quality ones. That’s what you come for.

[06:44]

Yeah, exactly. The ROI on these kinds of things is pretty straightforward, right? You get one customer and you’ve probably paid for the show.

[06:50]

Exactly. Plus, it’s just nice to be seen in the space that you’re good at and you’re involved in.

[06:58]

Absolutely. I totally agree with that point. That’s like exactly right. Well, it’s an honor having you on the podcast. Thanks so much. Everybody else, have a great rest of your day. I am signing out.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Philamena Dougherty – Virtual Incentives

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Philamena Dougherty, Director of Strategic Accounts at Virtual Incentives.

Find Philamena Online:

Email: pdougherty@virtualIncentives.com

Website: www.virtualincentives.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

My guest is Philamena Dougherty, Virtual Incentives. I’ve used Virtual Incentives for most of my career actually. For instance, in fulfillment. How are you?

[00:42]

I’m great. I’m great. I’m really happy to be here.

[00:46]

We are onsite at the drinking hour for Insights Association’s CRC event. You guys have a booth precariously located by the podcast.

[00:57]

Yes, we did that on purpose. We did do that on purpose actually. We really wanted to meet you.

[01:06]

You did not.

[01:08]

We did, yes.

[01:09]

I don’t believe you, but I appreciate it.

[01:11]

We actually wanted to learn more about HubUx.

[01:13]

Oh, my gosh, okay. This is not about me. This is about you. All right. So, we’ll definitely talk about that off air. So, it’s exciting to see the energy here on the floor all of a sudden. This is kind of neat.

[01:29]

It is, especially for me in my position. So, I have a lot of partners and a lot of clients here. So, just to see worlds colliding like this, it’s one of my favorite things about MR and this conference, in general.

[01:42]

It’s interesting in Virtual Incentives, which is, of course, an incentive fulfillment platform that you can both automate as well as bulk upload.

[01:50]

Sure, so when I say partners, I mean like our partners are survey software platform partners who are involved with our integrations. So that would be the automated process: the incentives directly in survey.

[02:07]

Maybe you should give us the elevator pitch or describe what it is that you guys do for the audience. I obviously know, but…

[02:15]

Okay, as far as market research is concerned, we incentivize respondents and community members. So, it helps build engagement with panels and helps build complete rates, keeps people involved in surveys and, really helps get valid reliable data and respondents into the surveys and completing the surveys.

[02:40]

Yeah, for sure. It gets to the motivation factor of the respondents. So that one of the nice things about it is you can tailor the incentive around.

[02:50]

And it kind of seems to me like it’s almost a forgotten, crucial last step.

[02:55]

Totally.

[02:56]

You don’t always hear about incentives when you’re talking about market research, but it really makes a difference in certain cases when you’re looking at trying to increase response rates or hit harder to reach quotas.

[03:09]

It’s interesting you say that and I actually remember there was this period of three-ish years where there was a bunch of analysis, research-on-research or R on R on how to motivate respondents. And it was like comparing different incentive levels: guaranteed versus sweepstakes versus abstract things versus knowledge sharing versus…

[03:35]

…point systems…

[03:36]

Yeah, exactly. But then there’s been this like ten-year period where there hasn’t been any research that I’ve seen anyway that’s been like professionalized and distributed. It feels like there’s a good opportunity there.

[03:50]

Definitely. And we’re seeing people start to do this now, market researchers with our integrations. You can have the same group of people going through a survey with an incentive at the end of the survey or none. And you can just use that control group to sort of look at the response rate…

[04:07]

So, you can A-B test the… That’s super interesting.

[04:09]

…within the same survey, within the same group of respondents to really look at how it’s affecting or not even how it’s affecting, but like what denoms are going to push people to complete a survey. Do you really need to offer them 10 or is 5 okay, too? So, there’s definitely a lot of focus on incentives in market research and… So, we’re just really happy to be here.

[04:37]

That’s awesome. I’m happy to be here, too. Somebody just handed me a beer, which is exciting. That’s never happened. We have two days left in the conference. Today is kind of set up, more like bonus day.

[04:50]

Today was mostly for the corporate researchers. So, there are a lot of sessions designated for corporate researchers.

[04:58]

So, it’s going to be a good event. I hope you have a great time.

[05:01]

Sounds great. Thank you so much.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Naira Musallam – SightX

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Naira Musallam, Co-Founder of SightX.

Find Naira Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/naira-musallam-36385592

Website: sightx.io

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Naira Musallam PhD and co-founder of SightX, one of my absolute favorite companies in the industry right now. Welcome to the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:47]

Thank you for having me and thanks for the shout-out.

[00:50]

Yeah, of course. Well, thanks for creating technology that is adding a ton of value to the market research space. Tell us a little bit about SightX.

[00:58]

Yes, So, SightX came about to solve for the problem that many in this space experience, and that is one for the fragmentation. The idea that you have to rely on multiple tools to be able to go from collection to cleaning, to formatting, to restructuring, to uploading into another platform. We thought we can do a little bit better by streamlining the process one. So, it is a technology that fits for the needs of 2019 and to also solve for the issue of expertise. The world that we live in really expect everybody nowadays in the space to be experts in what they’re doing, to get it right, to get it deep, to get it fast with the massive amount of data. And so, how do you do that? Like how do you deliver better, faster, deeper with outdated technology? So, we said we’re going to just develop a technology that enables people to deliver on these expectations.

[02:28]

I think that there’s a couple of points that I’ve separated out, right? One is the disparate number of tools that are required in order to do a research project. On a qualitative basis, there’s approximately six to eight tools that are used just to recruit people. It’s really funny… Between Excel. Anyway, that’s a different topic. But my point is that… Well, Stacey Walker, Head of Insights for Adobe told me, ”I’m sick of all the tools. I don’t want to hear about another new tool,” which is really interesting, right?

So, the ability to be able to consolidate your work into a single platform means that you’re getting consistent data structures, consistent ways of interacting with that data, analyzing that data. It should create a tremendous amount of velocity improvement.

[03:19]

Yeah, I fully agree and sympathize with the sentiment of not wanting to see one more tool. Look, I always tell people nowadays we have so many options, right? It’s more about how are you experiencing it and how are you getting there. So, to even take it out of market research, I say you want to go from New York to California. Do you want to ride on a bus or do you want to take a helicopter that is waiting outside of your home, right? Like for me, these are like the analogies, like these are the tradeoffs and these are like the solutions, quite frankly, that we have to continuously and think about. How do we do better? How do we make it a better experience? How do we get people there faster without compromising? And that’s really, really important without compromising on the depth.

[04:32]

So, you have a PhD. What’s a PhD in?

[04:34]

Statistics and psychology.

[04:36]

Okay. That’s like the perfect intersection for consumer insights, isn’t it?

[04:41]

You can argue so, you can argue so. I think about what we’re doing. I actually think in our lifetime, we’re going to see a revolution in education. I don’t think it’s going to… like PhDs don’t scale. It’s a great degree I’ve got, and if anything, I would say like the value out of it was setting me up to be open to learn and learn fast and figure it out. Now, I don’t think we would have the model of doing that for five to seven years. I think is going to change. I think is going to change, and I don’t think it scales. So, the more we can scale expertise and PhDs, I think like this is where we succeed as a society.

[05:35]

I love that. I think that’s so powerful. And you’re right that like while the PhD or the educational component doesn’t necessarily scale, the application of the knowledge and then into technology that does scale, which is, I think, one of the things I really like about SightX. So, on a practical basis, the type of projects that you’re doing are quantitative, right? So, it’s survey-based. Can you give us an example of what a soup-to-nuts project looks like? Like what would a user use you for?

[06:09]

Yes, our users tend to be from different industries, CPG, media and entertainment and everything tech, everything in between and the type of projects they run could, for example, they range obviously and it could be around trying to understand their consumer segment them, right? And this is what typically SightX enables them to do. So, you collect the data and let’s say you have 30 questions, and now you’re going to start segmenting. So, the users can go the traditional way of saying, “I want to segment this demographic group. I would like to add this age group and then see what the results look like.” And they user is able to do that with a few clicks. And so, you’re taking process that could take hours or days and you’re bringing it down to 30 seconds. And then, the user can start experimenting with this area of unsupervised learning. So, without having to have a PhD in statistics, what they could do is then click on this button that says, “Run segmentation for me that is not based on any assumptions of how I should segment the audience.” And what happens is actually pretty cool because now you’ll have accessibility. You have the time and accessibility to do it. Then the user clicks on this one button says, “Segment without any assumptions.” And what happens is one of two things. Sometimes the unsupervised segmentation aligns with the segments that the business leader intuitively thought of. And sometimes you end up with completely different personas. And that opens up like awesome conversation among consumer insights team to say, “Okay, how come we ended up with a little bit of different segmentation we didn’t think about?”

[08:22]

And so, I’ve done a little bit of segmentation work, and I call it one part – art, two parts – science. So, you’re always moving things around a little bit because what this histogram or however it is that you’re getting there, but it’s really helping you do is frame the discussion for who the persona is, right? And so, by your platform identifying set of optimal statistical tools to segment or come up with your segments, that’s really powerful. But then how are your users leveraging that if they don’t have the statistical knowledge? Is the information displayed in a way that a non-statistician would be able to understand and process and interact with?

[09:17]

Exactly. We built the tool in such a way that somebody who doesn’t have any background in statistics or analytics can actually understand it. And this was something really important for us to do and invest in: making sure that whatever we do on the platform is, doesn’t matter how complex the analytics part of it, is accessible to whoever is using it.

[09:49]

Are you in that process saying, “Okay, I want a five-factor solution”? Or you know what I mean? Is that six, three, that kind of thing?

[09:57]

Yes. We even adjusted the language. And so, factor, typically statisticians start associating it: are we doing latent analysis? Factor analysis? What are we doing here? And we even wanted to adjust the language in the sense to say, “Just speak personas.” And so, that user who’s there actually says, “I would like to create five personas. I would like to create seven personas. I would like to create three personas.” And then, it runs the unsupervised learning and creates them.

[10:36]

All right. So, last thing on a personal note: You are a mountain climber.

[10:41]

I am.

[10:42]

And you climb mountains. What is your favorite mountain climbing story?

[10:47]

My favorite mountain story is probably with my co-founder, Tim Lawton. And so, before starting our company, we went to climb Denali together. The first time, we were a part of a group, and we didn’t make it to the summit. We came down and then decided to go back up two weeks later and climb it again. And on the mountain, a lot of stories took place, but probably one of my favorite during that climb was when we were deciding on a summit day, whether we’re going to push to the summit or not because of weather conditions. And so, Tim and I have all of these conversations around whether we should play it by ear. Do we collect the data live? Or do we make a decision prior to that and then decide to push? So, we have like this debate, and we need to decide what is going to be the turning point. And I was more on the side of let’s just like watch and see what happens. But funny enough, we decided there was going to be a window. We go on the mountain and then there is a blizzard. And so, we decide it’s bad. So, we need to turn… Denali is not happening for us, I guess. And so, we started going down the mountain for three hours, and suddenly there was sun. And so, we stop and Tim goes—the guy who’s all about making decision prior—and says, “I think we should wait and watch what happens, and then decide if we were going back up.”

Long story short, we go back up, decide to turn back, and an eight-hour climb ended up being for us 21-hour climb because on the way we also had an accident. And so, it was a tough day, but we made it to the summit. I share that as one of my favorite story because it was failing and failing and failing and failing and debating and arguing. Different personalities bring in different points of view. But at the end of the day, it made us… The reason we made the summit because we were so different in our approaches to it.

[13:42]

I love that. And you’re right, yin and yang. And then if that exists in a spirit of cooperation and respect, then you’re able to actually find a more complete point of view or truth on what you should do. So, congratulations on finding a very good co-founder.

[13:58]

He’s the great, fantastic co-founder.

[14:01]

Great story. Oh, so, if someone wants to get in contact with you?

[14:04]

If somebody wants to contact me, they can either email me at Naira@SightX.io, or they can just reach us on our website: go to SightX.io, and there’s contact button there and that way they can get in touch.

[14:25]

Perfect. And, of course, we’ll include that information in the show notes. Thank you so much for your time today. Enjoy the rest of the show.

[14:29]

Thank you for having me, Jamin.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Mike Sawicz – Market Logic Software

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Mike Sawicz, Account Executive at Market Logic Software

Find Mike Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sawicz

Email: msa@marketlogicsoftware.com

Website: www.marketlogicsoftware.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. We are live today at CRC here in Orlando, Insights Association. Mike Sawicz, Market Logic Software is the name of the company. Mike, thanks so much for sitting down with me for a few minutes.

[00:46]

Oh, thank you for having me.

[00:47]

So, the show is in the third and final day. Break has just happened. So, the floor is starting to fill up; so, I won’t keep you too long, but I do have a couple of questions for you. Tell me, what do you think about the show?

[01:00]

It’s great. We’ve had a really good time here. I met tons of interesting people on both the client side and my research colleague side. Excellent conversations, really rich presentations. I’ve learned quite a bit. We’re seeing a lot about how AI is coming into play and how the technology in this space is really emerging and changing. But also, lots of great topics on storytelling and crafting insights for larger stakeholder audiences to really help them manage and run their business.

[01:41]

Yeah, I feel like there’s a tremendous number of client-side researchers here, right? I’ve been meeting a lot.

[01:49]

Yeah. This is certainly not vendor fest.

[01:52]

Yeah. That’s kind of a nice change.

[01:53]

It’s very nice.

[01:55]

Yeah, for sure. I think you gave a talk, didn’t you?

[01:58]

I did. We had a little chat about how our platform enables both AI and HI (Human Insights and Intelligence) to come together to help our customers create a very powerful asset base.

[02:16]

Okay, I love that asset base being the insights or the decision framework to make…

[02:22]

So, at Market Logic, we build insight platforms where at an ingestion layer our customers upload and take in all of their primary, secondary, syndicated, and structured data that can come in along with news feeds from the outside. So, in one source, you have all the information that you need to craft those stories about your customer base and the delivery mechanisms. So, when we talk about storytelling, we’re a little more on the telling side. So, our system has feeds, and it really is designed to push information to those key stakeholder bases. So, all that expert knowledge that our colleagues here are creating can be put into knowledge zone. So that’s the HI part. You craft that story; you have access to all the information; you can build it with videos and infographics—really compelling way of telling that story— and then have that pushed out to your stakeholders automatically. You don’t have to rely on emails; you don’t have to rely on roadshows. It’s available 24 hours a day. There’s a Q&A area in there so that expert can stay in touch with your stakeholder base. Stakeholder can subscribe to it, or the AI in the system based upon their role and what they’ve searched for and where they’re located will push that information. So, for our researcher community, they love to go to the information. So, having that broad base is super important. But for the stakeholders, they don’t always want to go. They need and we as an organization need to push that information. So, information goes to users.

[04:11]

Yeah, it’s much more of a push relationship, right? People don’t click or open, but if it’s in my inbox, I’ll read it, right?

[04:17]

If it’s in my inbox or it pops up on my phone in a news feed, then, “Yeah.”

[04:22]

That’s really interesting. So, you’re handling multiple, disparate data sources, types (structured, unstructured), not a lot of meta descriptive around some of them. Then you’re obviously applying AI in order to understand, process, etc. those feeds. I’m really interested in the origin story. Like you’re literally eating the elephant ‘cause not only that’s hard but then on the other side of it, you’ve got data or insights, accessibility and visibility, which is a really important leg of the stool. And then the third leg of the stool is the production of the insight and distribution of the insight, which again, is like a material kind of a lift. So, where did you guys start? What was your first bite?

[05:14]

I love your “How do you eat an elephant?” Well, one bite at a time. So, our first bite was around primary research. So, going back, the company’s about 11 years old, and it started with this kernel of knowledge that researchers get these “What do we know about” questions all the time. And it takes up a lot of their time. So, we built our system on understanding unstructured data in the primary realm, and being able to really, instead of just pointing you to documents, pulling out findings, standalone reusable pieces of information that had been thoughtfully extracted from your research. At the time it was done by humans; today that auto summarization is now done by the machine. But back 11 years ago, even a few years ago, that was really still not possible. So, our chops were built in primary and then as we grew and expanded, we moved into secondary.

So, we now have a technology layer that connects users to their subscription data while respecting their commercial relationship. So, we partnered with hundreds of different sources to index their content. So, you said, “Hey, you know, getting the metadata.” Well, we index everything that these secondary source providers have, and they let us share that, knowing that we respect the commercial relationship. So, when users click, they’ll see the article when they click on it; if they have access to great, they go in; If they don’t, they’re given a little message that says, speak to so-and-so about how you could have access to this. So, for the secondary source provider, we’re just a doorway into their system. For the client side, you don’t have to go to five sources now; you go to one place. And then we moved into bringing in RSS feeds and creating the ability for users to curate their news stories and edit news channels. So, now you can bring in RSS feeds; you have secondary sources; you’ve got primary.

[07:30]

So, you really built the platform first, it sounds like, for your own business at an execution level and then it became usable by the market. Is that right?

[07:44]

Well, we are purpose-built for insight. So, it is really about making insights the center point and the focal point of the business. So, our tagline is running insights-driven business. That’s always been the case.

[07:59]

Got it. I guess my point is that it sounds like you guys are researchers and, in that framework, you’ve built tools that enable you to do stuff that’s important, get to your core, or put insights at the core and the customer in the center. And in that framework, of course, the technology has built out over time as the world has evolved, which is to your origin story, which I really like. You can’t do everything at once, but as you said, as you expand and then the world… And it’s almost fortuitous that you were able to start when you did because it was early in social; it wasn’t playing as important of a role. Anyway, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[08:45]

Go to MarketLogicSoftware.com and look at our webpage. Look me up.

[08:52]

Cool. And I’ll include your contact information in the show notes. Mike, it’s a pleasure. Mike Sawicz, excuse me. I’m going to impose your face on Randy, and we’ll see how the macho man looks. So, anyway, it was a pleasure having you on the Happy Market Research Podcast. Thanks, man.

[09:07]

Oh, thank you.

[09:08]

Everybody else, have a great rest of your day. As always, screen capture, share a five-star review. I love you. Have a great day!

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Matt Lucas – GutCheck

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Matt Lucas, Senior Manager of Product Management at GutCheck.

Find Matt Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-lucas-73b2951a

Website: www.gutcheckit.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

I’m here with Matt Lucas, Head of Product for GutCheck. It’s actually one of my favorite companies right now.

[00:38]

Well, that’s very kind of you.

[00:40]

You guys’ve been around a long time.

[00:42]

About nine years, I believe.

[00:44]

Yep, that’s right. So, how long have you been part of the company?

[00:47]

I’ve been with the company for almost four years.

[00:49]

Okay, got it. So, Head of Product is actually one of the highest sought-after jobs, right? It is a very prestigious… There’s a lot of people that would like that kind of a role. Tell our audience what that job actually entails.

[1:04]

My role at GutCheck oversees a couple of different things. We focus on our technology development. So, our product team works with our engineering group to productize our research methodologies. I also work closely with the research science group to take client feedback or market feedback and turn that into new research methodologies to meet needs out in the market.

[01:27]

You guys, it’s nine years old?

[01:30]

Nine years. I’ve been there about four.

[01:32]

You’ve been there four. Okay. What is the thing that you’re the proudest of?

[01:35]

I think today the thing that I’m proudest of is the way GutCheck… I’d say that GutCheck was on the leading edge of agile market research, and we generally had applied that to quick-turn to mean fast and cost effective. But I think where the industry is heading today and where GutCheck is heading as well, is bringing that agility upstream to support foundational research to build the competitive edge with audience intelligence. I think it’s really critical that we bring the same level of agility that we brought to the tactical market research—creative testing, concept testing all the way back up to audience understanding— to deliver that in a way that can keep up with today’s marketing and product innovation cycles.

[02:17]

So, when you think about the current state of sample are you guys API-based? Is that whole process automated or…?

[02:26]

We have a few different techniques, somewhat automated. Rather than focus on specifically integrating with one partner, we have relationships set up with a variety of different partners. So not necessarily panel-based, but our reach is pretty broad to allow us to get to the standard consumer all the way down to specific B2B audiences. My favorite example is not everybody can reach Russian dermatologists, but we’ll try to for you.

[02:56]

So, I think that’s on point. The opportunity of reaching anybody is real right now through social and then also through just like being crafty.

[03:08]

Yeah, definitely, definitely.

[03:10]

I mean that’s the other side of it. For anybody you want to reach in a B2B, there is an association or there’s a linchpin relationship-holder in those environments. You just got to find them.

[03:20]

That’s right. And I think that what really is the linchpin on the supplier side there is having a really awesome sampling team, the team that knows how to go out and find those organizations or find those providers that can provide those niche audiences. And sometimes it’s more than just finding one. You’ve got to stitch them together just to get the reach.

[03:40]

A lot of times. So, are you finding that your team in-house, are they actually doing the procurement or are you leveraging key relationships to do that?

[03:50]

Generally, leveraging key relationships to do that. Yeah.

[03:53]

Okay, cool. So, the show: What do you think? Were you able to attend any of the sessions today?

[03:59]

I haven’t up to this point. So, a cocktail hour will be my first session.

[04:04]

Hey, you know what? I think that easing into it is exactly the right way. Matt, thanks very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[04:08]

Hey, appreciate it. Take it easy.

[04:10]

Bye.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Liz Moore – The Candor Company

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Liz Moore, Candorist and Partner of The Candor Company.

Find Liz Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/liz-moore-a54b452

Email: liz@thecandorcompany.com

Website: www.thecandorcompany.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hey, this is Jamin. We are live today at CRC at the exhibit floor here in beautiful Orlando. At least they tell me it’s beautiful. I haven’t been outside yet. I have the honor of chatting with Liz Moore, two words. She is one of the owners of The Candor Company, which is a qualitative-focused firm, and I’m looking forward to finding out more. Hi, how are you doing?

[01:05]

I’m terrific. How are you?

[01:07]

I thank you for asking. I think I’m doing okay. I do actually really want to get outside.

[01:12]

We were out earlier.

[01:14]

Oh, you’re such a show off.

[01:15]

I know. It’s swampy. It’s very humid. Yeah, it’s better in here.

[01:19]

It’s better inside. I don’t know. I feel like everything’s yellow now with the fluorescent lighting tint. It’s permanent. All right, so the show, how’s it been for you guys? You guys have, by the way, sorry about interrupting. Ask a question interrupt. That’s a terrible way to do it. You guys have the most bright and interactive booth on the show floor.

[01:41]

Thank you. Thank you.

[01:43]

Totally true.

[01:44]

It’s totally bad-ass, isn’t it?

[01:46]

Yeah, it is bad ass. You guys have just totally nailed the interactivity. For those that weren’t in here, it’s a ring light, which is something you use in photography to take a portrait photo. And it’s like super pro. Is it just like cell phone cameras? Oh, you even have a nice camera kit. Okay.

[02:06]

Totally legit. You should check the lens out.

[02:07]

All right, I will. What kind of camera is it?

[02:09]

It’s a Canon. It’s our photographer’s setup.

[02:13]

5D Mark III. Something fancy?

[02:15]

Yes, yes.

[02:17]

85 prime. Okay, so, tell me about your business, Candor.

[02:22]

That’s right, Candor. We are qualitative researchers who don’t like to necessarily think about ourselves as qualitative researchers. I think qualitative research has kind of gotten a bad rap over the years: very staid, very conservative, very traditional. Call a bunch of people into a room, total strangers; tell them to ideate for 90 minutes and just come up with something great. That doesn’t work, does not work anymore. We noticed that trend.

We’ve been together about 20 years, and we started noticing the trend about 10 years ago that when we could take out of that environment and either go into their environment or bring them to a place that’s really creative and it’s fun and it’s different—not just taking a focus group facility and going away from the standard setup to a living room setup, but actually taking them somewhere where it feels safe and there are really no boundaries. We just find that we get so much better and richer learning from people.

[03:26]

All right. Give me a little more context. Give me a favorite project.

[03:30]

Oh, my gosh, there is a ton of them. Well, a recent project. We were working with probably the second largest consumer packaged goods company, and we were doing some work with them to understand how consumers clean. And we were looking at shoppers at two of their largest retailers. And so, we recruited folks from those primary shoppers from the stores and understood their behavior in home over the course of two months, using an online journal. And then we picked the best of the best. So, we really got to know these people by everyday with their posting videos and content and us asking them questions and them responding. We had a good handle on who these people really were. Then we went in-home with them and we saw how their behavior that we saw that they were recording mobile, how it translated online. And it was really cool. We really got to understand their behavior from everything from shopping behavior to actually how they use the products to purchase intent, how they learn about new things. If we had called nine consumers into a focus-group room and asked them to do this.

[04:47]

Totally different.

[04:48]

No. “Well I think, yeah, I think I have that product that has the green label on it.”

[04:55]

Yeah. They really wouldn’t have the… We know that the recall is… Like my recall, everyone’s recall just diminishes. But the in-the-moment stuff is really important and being able to garner that over time gives you a good point of view on the participant. But then also incorporating video that actually can start functioning as an audition for how articulate and expressive the individual is, and it sounds like you use that information to pick a subset of your group or your participants to do additional exploratory work. Was that exploratory work on site at a location or what was that like?

[05:32]

Well, actually, that approach we use for any number of projects. We’ve also used it for a women’s cosmetic brand where we had mobile journals and again picked the best of the best. And then we picked a host. And then she had agreed to open up her home to some of her friends for a dinner party. So, we had it catered. There was no end time on it. We served wine; we served a great meal; we had a wonderful conversation. I think it lasted about three and a half hours.

[06:02]

You’re kidding.

[06:03]

And the clients were actually involved at the table.

[06:06]

That is so awesome.

[06:08]

And we’ve had so many experiences with clients saying, “I’ve never been that close to my customers and able to ask them questions. Like I’m always sitting behind the glass, but now I can sit there And I can touch them on the shoulder; I can give them a hug at the end and say, ‘Thank you so much.’”

[06:24]

That is so interesting. I’ve recently interviewed the head of insights for Samsung and then also last year it was Estrella Lopez-Brea. She’s head of insights for a cereal partnership with General Mills and Nestlé, which is a big company, even though nobody knows the name, right? It’s still Cheerio’s. It’s just in 136 countries. So, both of them independently, when I asked them about future trends, say that the decision makers inside of the company are moving from behind the glass and boardrooms to interact with the customer at the point of sale. There’s this wall that has existed for our whole careers that is now dissolving, and it’s been disintermediated because now we’re creating that access to the consumer in virtual real time. So, it’s exciting to see that play out. I’d never heard of the dinner, but that’s so intimate and so exactly the way that we should be interacting with customers.

[07:30]

Oh, and we’ve used that with physicians. We’ve used that for stay-at-home. We’ve done it around a small dinner table with cartons of Chinese food. We’ve done it in a beautiful home with catered meals. So it really doesn’t matter who the audience is. You’re just putting them in an environment where they feel respected. Their time is respected. And you’re also not forcing them into doing something that is uncomfortable, which is, “Hey, you got 90 minutes. Let’s work through this. Let’s work through this.” And plus, also in the past, kind of also breaking down those barriers like with our clients and their customers… But in the past, moderators were trained to be a blank slate. And, “Let’s not tell them what we’re thinking about; we don’t want him to know who the sponsor is and we wouldn’t reveal any information about ourselves.” But we find the more we can open up and, obviously, not every client project we can divulge who it’s for, but when we can, I feel like we get so much better learning because they feel vested and they understand what is expected of them and then they feel a part of the process.

[08:34]

Because they are, and the journey is where the learning is ‘cause that’s the tangible feeling that empathy is created. It’s all about that as opposed to the processing of a bar chart or something along those lines in order to make a business decision. I gave a talk yesterday and one of my favorite things to do is think about the… So, surveys are really bad conversations at scale, basically.
And so, we try to reduce everything to a Likert scale or whatever. And you think about a date: you would never use an NPS score to post-assess. You know if a date went well or it didn’t go well by a function of being part of the date. And so, you have the same thing with consumer experience. So what you’re doing is really tearing down those walls and creating that. And then, subsequently, so doing it at scale is a slightly different topic. But I am really interested in what is your end deliverable look like for the customer?

[09:29]

Oh, gosh. We still are tasked with writing PowerPoints sometimes, but more often than not, we are asked to create something that is visually beautiful because our clients know that their end clients, which are typically the C-suite, are not going to have patience for something that is not well done, that’s not well produced. And plus, my client doesn’t want to put that in front of these people. So we create something that is visually appealing. Often we give a longer version to our end client. We edit down something that’s easily digestible for C-suite that says, “Look, this is exactly what we learned and this is what you have to do next.”

[10:11]

Like the 11 slides or something.

[10:13]

Except we have to boil it down. And plus, another thing we’ve also recently taken to doing the past couple of years is podcasts. Not too different than this. But what we’re trying to do is we’re basically taking our learning and we’re bringing it to life. And then we’re also bringing in in those cases some snippets from interviews of actual customers talking that are supporting some of those points. And then my client can share it with her senior execs, and then they can listen to it in the car. They can listen to it whenever it’s convenient ‘cause what’s the point of spending all the money on the research if no one’s going to be interested in seeing the results and reading the results.

[10:50]

I’ve been saying this forever. The biggest opportunity for insight consumption is (and really to create a big lever for change in an organization so it’s like maximizing your ROI) is ALL PODCAST. You should be able to reduce your report into a… It doesn’t even matter how long; it could be a 45-minute thing. It doesn’t really matter. You’re not constrained by the length. It’s the ability of creating a story that’s re-tellable. But if you do that in a podcast, which is passively consumed, now all of a sudden you have the opportunity to talk to people, literally, that are outside of who’s in the room or the commissioner of the research or the particular stakeholder and that can get shared and distributed and disseminated it inside the organization, creating a broader view of the customer and empathy connecting. So it’s getting to the “why” and starting to change that behavior.

[11:45]

Like you just said, the whole empathy and connecting and without hearing the customer’s voice… We talk all the time about voice of the customer. But we’re talking about voice of the customer. I want to hear the tone of their voice when they talk about their fears. I want to hear the tone of their voice when they talk about my product or their competitors or an experience they might’ve had, or, when in some instances, when we’re actually able to put our clients in the room… We did a study back in April for a fast food company that wanted to ideate on the future of drive through, and we rented this beautiful home in Los Angeles for three days, invited nine total strangers. They spent eight hours together. We had our storyteller come in. We worked as a large group and then we broke it in mini sessions. And then, once people had their story, had their core story about what this future looks like, we worked with them one on one to help them kind of pull out the real core nuggets, and then they all presented at the end.

And then, these nine total strangers, they were all embracing at the end of the night, and they were sad, and it was amazing. And our clients were in the room. We had four clients in the room working in the teams. It was amazing. And our clients like, “We’ve never done anything like that before.” I’m like, “We should all be doing more of this because that really is the voice and the face of the customer.”

[13:11]

Are you going to get to see any of the speakers?

[13:14]

I hope so. I hope so.

[13:16]

Have you identified any that you want to go see so far? Or are you just fairly tethered to the booth?

[13:21]

We are tethered to the booth, but ironically, literally 10 minutes before you walked by, Jonathan said, “We should go to some sessions.”

[13:27]

All right, there you go.

[13:28]

And I was like, “Well, I don’t know if I want to do that right now.” And then you walked along and if I didn’t meet you,

[13:32]

…we would’ve met later. It would have been fine.

[13:34]

Well, we met in the elevator earlier.

[13:36]

That’s true. This is sounding like a…

[13:38]

…clandestine meeting.

[13:40]

Exactly. Liz Moore, The Candor Company. Candor, how’d you come up with the name Candor?

[13:46]

Well, candor, if you look in the dictionary means honesty, openness.

[13:49]

Isn’t that candor, and I’m mispronouncing it?

[13:52]

Well, you’re kind of saying it like condor. It’s a bird.

[13:56]

Candor. Okay, sorry, everybody who’s listening to this. It’s candor, not condor. Dumb ass. Anyway, have a great rest of your show, Liz. Thanks for being on the podcast.

[14:06]

Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

[14:08]

Everybody else, I hope you enjoy my hilarious spelling. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Lana Babii – CoolTool

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Lana Babii, Head of Business Development at CoolTool.

Find Lana Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lana-babii-1296781a/?originalSubdomain=mx

Email: lana@cooltool.com

Website: cooltool.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. I am with Lana. CoolTool is the name of the company, and we are live at CRC in Orlando. Lana, how are you?

[00:43]

I’m super well, enjoying the event. Thank God, we’re not exhibiting. Sorry, boss. That I can communicate to everyone. I can talk to my peers, could listen to all the speeches and really, really enjoying everything happening over here. But, yeah, I miss you guys and I’m sending regards. It’s the Research-Results Congress where you are now.

[01:07]

Yeah, in Munich, right?

[01:09]

In Munich, yeah, exactly.

[01:09]

Yeah, that’s a big event. So, were you here yesterday?

[01:13]

Yes, I’ve been presenting basically for the corporate researchers regarding all our neuromarketing tools and so on. So, there is a great pleasure to talk directly to our customers, to see the feedback, to learn the questions they have, all these insights. It was really powerful. I really appreciate this opportunity.

[01:35]

Tell us about CoolTool.

[01:36]

Oh, basically it’s super fun. CoolTool is fun. What you do is just enjoy with CoolTool since we automate everything for our clients, for researchers of all the levels from the brands, from the agencies and so on. So CoolTool is a neuromarketing automation platform, which literally combines the very best from the traditional survey-based research and the non-conscious measurement tools. So, we give to our clients those techniques like eye tracking, the facial coding, implicit testing and so on but without any hardware and with the opportunity to get the results in the real time. And also, the great news of this year is that we finally, finally finalized the integrations with Dynata. We’re seeing all these biggest players in terms of online panels so that our clients, they have the direct reach out to their consumers of more than 50 million people around the world due to online panels, which are our official partners now.

[02:37]

That’s awesome. Congratulations.

[02:39]

Thank you very much.

[02:41]

This show is early Day 2, right? We have to tomorrow’s Day 3 and the final day. Are you staying through for tomorrow?

[02:52]

Of course.

[02:52]

What particular sessions are you looking forward to?

[02:57]

Well, basically, I have my list. The best thing about this list that I’m watching the agenda and they always have those, “Okay, should I go to this speech or that speech? Should they listen to this presentation or that presentation?” Basically today, the one I’m looking forward is the one from CMI and Pfizer. They are going to present the case. I really enjoyed the one that we had today in the morning from Google. Ed was super, super cool and engaging, but I think today I need to attend like… I am really interested in 14 presentations. But due to this intensive networking, I really hope I will attend at least five or seven. So yeah, that’s awesome. Especially I love the area that we have a mix of everything. We have presentations from the end clients, from the brands like they are case studies and so on, use cases. Also, this innovation stuff like we did for example, what presented my peers, it’s also amazing, right? All this like cutting-edge solutions as well as corporate presentations with the clients and agencies, which is tremendous, like to hear what problems they have, what they resolve, what are their pain points and so on, so something very alive.

[04:24]

Yeah, for sure. I love that. The cross-section here between client and vendors and technology is really interesting.

[04:33]

Absolutely, absolutely.

[04:35]

The exhibit floor is rocking.

[04:37]

Yeah. Basically, I was very surprised. I arrived yesterday early in the morning, and I saw no exhibitors. I was thinking, “Okay, maybe they will appear, you know, like 10 booths, 15 booths.” But this is so cool. And what I like about the organization part is that the organizing committee, they make us be here, and they stimulate the networking over here. And also, I love this game when you need to write to each booth to sign to win something. But this stimulates you to interact with the peers and so on. So, you cannot be like on your own, and suddenly you’re always in the mood. So, I’m really excited about that.

[05:15]

Totally, totally. CoolTool is the name of the company. If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[05:22]

Well, any means is fine. Just cooltool.com – ask for a demo, ask for a personal meeting, ask for a call, anything. By the way, this is a great opportunity to announce that our marketing team gave me like a super chic opportunity to give a code, which is CRC2019. Using this code, you’re registered on the website, or you ask for them, or you simply send an email using this call saying, “Hello, here is the code” and you get the benefit of 2.5K US dollars from CoolTool.

[05:55]

Wow, I love the value. So again, the code is CRC2019. Enter that, and then they’ll get free access.

[06:07]

Yes. You get the value equivalent to this amount of money. So, you could, basically, even complete the whole project for free.

[06:16]

I’ve seen the tool. The tool is really good. All right. I’m sure you’re going to have some people check that out. Now listen, I do have a question for you. Of these two stickers, which one is your favorite podcast sticker? One is a shark and the other is a mafia guy.

[06:34]

I would rather play for a mafia. I like these games from mafia.

[06:41]

Thank you very much for being on the podcast.

[06:44]

Wow. Thank you, Jamin.

[06:46]

You’re very welcome.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Kevin Lewis – Cint

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Kevin Lewis, VP of New Business and Strategy at Cint.

Find Kevin Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-lewis-b0bb001

Website: www.cint.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

Hi, this is Jamin, and you are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. We are live on the floor of CRC here in Orlando. I have the honor of having Kevin Lewis with Cint on the podcast. Kevin, how are you?

[00:46]

Doing great, Jamie. Appreciate the time.

[00:49]

Are you kidding me? I appreciate your time always. So, what is going on with Cint?

[00:55]

We’ve got a lot of great things going on. Obviously, with the recent announcements with the P2 acquisition, working tirelessly, Katie Gross, Jake Wolff, and the entire management staff. But we’re progressing at a great pace and excitement across the industry and our clients.

[01:15]

Yeah, I mean that was a big announcement. P2’s player, right? You guys are the mother of sample marketplaces.

[01:27]

Appreciate that.

[01:28]

No, it’s true. I mean 1998, 96 maybe, 98. So like, hold on. [to third party] Ann, I’ll talk to you in a little bit. Are you running around? [Ann answers in the background] You’re going… Okay, I’ll see up there. [to Kevin Lewis] Sorry. I love her.

[01:44]

She’s keeping it real.

[01:45]

Do you know Ann?

[01:46]

I do.

[01:47]

Okay, good. She buy from you?

[01:50]

Not directly through me though I’m not sure.

[01:52]

Well, I’d check that out, man. Anyways, so, now back to the podcast. All that’s gone. Sorry, Trudie. She’s going to be so pissed. “You make my job so hard.”

[02:07]

That’s part of being in a conference; it’s real time.

[02:09]

It is totally real time and I really dig it. So, you guys, P2 acquisition, the rationale for the acquisition: obviously more sample, right? We have a product problem in the industry, meaning a supply problem in the industry. There’s not enough people, respondents, or participants to deal with the growing demand of insights. So that has to be part of the investment or the acquisition thesis. Is that right?

[02:35]

Yeah, 100%. In today’s world, reach is important. Technology and scaling and what we’re trying to do is to provide our clients the opportunity to enable and empower them a more efficient way to collect and gather insights. And for us, it’s really identifying and discovering what their current business ecosystem is and figuring out what is the right solution. And sometimes for us, we’re trying to figure out—I always use the banking analogy in today’s world and it goes on the researcher side as well. You’ve got an area where traditionally people would walk into a bank and physically deposit a check. Then it evolved to being able to put that check inside of the ATM. And now it’s more programmatic: being able to take a picture. And depending on people’s lifestyles and how they work internally, traditionally, or if they’re trying to scale more towards technology, they’re in one of those stages. Are they still wanting to stand in line for 20 or 30 minutes on a Saturday to be able to deposit a check or do they walk into the bank and see that, “Oh, there’s 15 people in line, I know that I can deposit this check in the ATM.” Or do they know far in advance where they want to move and say, “Look, I don’t even want to go by to the bank. I’ve got two other things I need to do. I’m just going to take a picture and move on to my day.” And we’re trying to take the technology around our client’s needs and figure out what the viable solution is.

[04:11]

So frictionless.

[04:12]

Correct.

[04:14]

Yeah, when I think about market research in general, the biggest hindrance is not budget. The biggest hindrance is time and difficulty. So like market research in general is a complex discipline. And what technology is doing through creating ease of access and automating the different processes is it’s really addressing the logistical or the operational consideration of research so that it becomes easier to do stuff faster.

[04:42]

Correct. And for us, we just want to be the supply management platform of choice, and we want to understand, from the client’s perspective, their true needs and wants, and for us to find something that’s applicable in regards to whether it’s one department, two departments or three departments, but collectively them talking among each other to figure out their pain points and how potentially we can be a viable solution.

[05:07]

So what do you see then? ‘Cause there’s a couple of different platforms that are out there. You guys won a significant contract with Lightspeed, Kantar Lightspeed. That was a huge win for you. Congratulations.

[05:21]

Thank you.

[05:22]

That was last year, I believe. Or, was it this? Anyway, how are you guys differentiating yourselves in the marketplace?

[05:29]

For us, the differentiator is in regards to us being the engine or the hub because you can have a component of saying, “Look, we can take a marketplace and bring it to you.” But what we’re trying to show the industry is how to use our technology as an engine to do different facets across different business departments within that entity. And it’s a journey because it doesn’t happen overnight and depending on certain companies, they wait ‘til they get to a certain pain point to have those conversations. We’re trying to be proactive to have those conversations upfront now to say, “Look, you probably are in this state, but right now let’s avoid six months, nine months, 18 months from now and have an open dialogue of where you want to move to scale as a company.” And I feel that’s probably one of the biggest differentiators for us in regards to just talking about the simplified marketplace versus how we are going to be the technology backbone for that true client on our end.

[06:34]

So it sounds like when you’re talking about integration, it feels like it’s deeper or more than just the sample automation piece. It feels like what you’re talking about is opportunity growth in the potentially more full life cycle of data management. Is that…

[06:54]

Most definitely. And you hit that on the head because if we think about the P2 acquisition, we are trying to take our current technology along with the extreme background and research and technology acquisition that P2 has over what they bring to us to be able to take the integration to the next level for everybody that’s moving forward and to scalability. And to be a little more concise, it’s basically taking the technical aspect of it and really shore it in to be more, I guess you say, digestible to the industry because everybody fights change, but at the same time nobody wants to lose business to change. And I think people are starting to identify that and I think it’s resonating in some of the conversations and a lot of the presentations that are going around saying, “Look, how far can you take the traditional side and scalability?” And you can’t necessarily go one path or the other versus you’ve got to merge the two and to be able to evolve and we’re trying to work with clients on that solution.

[08:10]

The other leg of the stool here is quality. So one of the things that we’ve seen is there’s been a commoditization of sample in the space, right? Cause it’s definitely the case that price points have fallen. It’s really a degradation of the overall perceived state of quality—I’m not saying it’s real—I’m just saying that perceived state of quality. Now when you’re thinking about continuing to automate the processes, are you also thinking about addressing and creating quality stops or checks along those pathways?

[08:49]

100%. Quality is number one. Obviously, with scale and size you’ve got to understand across the different marketplace and within those individual panel owners of how we’re going to get a unified kind of “Did It” integrity and for that we tirelessly work right now GDPR compliancy. Obviously, like you said before, 20-year-old-plus company Stockholm base. You know, for us, we kind of went backwards from the Nordics to North America, stemming out in North America in 2010 and now with the P2 acquisition, it’s even more in front of us around quality. Because for us we want to make sure the consistency to be able to have the panels normalize and for our AI to take into effect at the respondent level, not the panel level, which is key, because at the respondent level we’re able to see the behavioral and the characteristics of that on how they do surveys.

And I think that helps us from the algorithm when it pushes out to the certain parameters that marketers and research are looking for in their research, that we’re giving them the right mix. And what I also think is the transparency that we bring. So, for example, if I have a client that says, “Hey, I’m doing N equals a thousand completes.” And they come back and say, “Hey Kevin, we have 25 open ends that are a little bit suspect. Can you look into that?” At certain companies they can only go so far into the layers. For us, we can know immediately where that respondent came. Have they been in am offender in the past? And we can have those relationships immediately with the panel owner to identify those needs and then correct it.

[10:35]

Got it. That’s huge. I mean, that’s huge. And I think what it does is it breaks the black box completely open, which is not being done right now. So what I mean by that is we’ve created on purpose these black boxes where you enter something in a request of a profile or whatever, and then you get an insight, right? So surveys, automated, etc., and insight and out on the other side. And we’ve subsequently lost the visibility that used to be part of just grinding and doing the process manually. Now what you’re talking about doing, which I think is really interesting as a differentiator in the market, is, as those gears become more transparent, then it becomes obvious when there is a bad player inside of the machine. And then you can start screening for that person or those behaviors subsequently, which just creates a continuing improving quality sample source.

[11:42]

Correct. And you hit it on the head, Jamin, because think about it like this. If you’re talking about a marketplace where you get your sample, you’ve got your N equals a thousand, being able to capture and the consistency of knowing where that came from and if you have any quality issues to be able to be transparent, to see it, to adjust it. And as you go from your first study to your fifth study to your tenth study, to be able to see how the market within that marketplace and the samples there from a consistency and a quality sample because there might be a panel that has a characteristic that might not be a good fit for that specific product, whether it’s B2B, whether it’s a behavioral purchasing study. If you see that difference, whether it be a scoring aspect of it or a norm, you can adjust that and say, “Okay, for this panel, this panel isn’t necessarily a good fit that’s looking for the quality of level that I’m looking for.” And to be able to have that transparency and identify that is key. Because the one thing I love about our marketplace is that, if a client isn’t aware of all the panels that are out there, there’s an information button for them to click to give all the history about that. So we try and be as transparent as possible and give them the opportunity to choose if this is something that fits their basic needs.

[13:03]

So this is kind of a on the spot and it’s going to be lengthy. So just bear with me. You don’t have to write it down. I just want to get your gut reaction. I’ve got a project. This is real life; N equals 1,000 by a few different countries: US, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Chile, Japan, Spain, Italy, Russia, Poland, Nordic countries, the whole lot of them, Saudi Arabia and Argentina. So was that 11? Did do that right? Or 16? 16.

[13:33]

That was over. I was going to say 15 or 16.

[13:37]

18 to 28 years old. A self-proclaimed gamer, whatever that means to them. They are a gamer. That’s it. LOI is like 10-ish minutes. So thinking about the breadth of countries there, is that feasible inside of your ecosystem?

[13:58]

That’s all in the wheelhouse. We’re talking about whether it be from certain countries that is heavily targeted from a profiling depth perspective or if we went from a natural fallout of gen pop where we assumed 15% to 35% of those age groups naturally filed and being gamers, that’s very achievable.

[14:17]

Got it.

[14:18]

And that’s what actually helps with the P2 acquisition because where we were at Cint where we could more than execute that project if we were to fall short near those countries, that’s where the partnership and the strategic scale that we’re doing with P2 takes us to the next level.

[14:33]

Forwarding the email to you right now for our RP hope you get me a bid back pretty soon.

[14:37]

Thank you, sir.

[14:38]

My guest has been Kevin Lewis; Cint is the name of the company. Kevin, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[14:46]

Yes, that’s easy. Just be able to get me at Kevin.Lewis@cint.com. I am the Vice President of the Western Region for New Business and Strategy.

[14:58]

Of course, I’ll include his contact information in the show notes. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

[15:02]

Thanks for your time.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Kaizer Mbongeni Dhliwayo – South African Tourism

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Kaizer Mbongeni Dhliwayo, Researcher at South African Tourism.

Find Kaizer Online:

Website: www.southafrica.net/us/en

Email: kaizerdm@southafrica.net

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

Hi, everybody, you are listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. I have the honor of Kaizer (and I apologize ahead of time) Dhliwayo; South Africa Tourism is the name of the company. We are at CRC. Sir, how are you?

[00:46]

I am well. And, how are you?

[00:48]

You know what? I am doing pretty good. I can’t complain, actually. We’re in Orlando. Where do you live?

[00:53]

No, this is my first time in Orlando. Second time in the US, and I’m here for this conference and I’m learning so much, meeting so many new people. And it’s just so interesting.

[01:06]

When did you arrive?

[01:04]

I landed on Sunday.

[01:07]

Got it. So, you’ve gotten a slightly acclimated.

[01:10]

A bit, but I’m still not sleeping properly.

[01:12]

No, of course. Nor will you.

[01:13]

But then on Monday, I really tired myself out ‘cause I went to Universal Studios. Oh, my goodness. Like you guys do things properly because we have theme parks, but they’re not as big and not the variety of options. It blew my mind.

[01:30]

Yeah. It’s crazy. Right? Yeah, it’s like next level. Well, anyway, since there’s a separate podcast talking about Orlando’s theme parks, which is a really great, great topic. Tell me a little bit about South African Tourism.

[01:43]

Okay. So South African Tourism is a state-owned entity that was created purely to market the destination, the destination brand that sits with us. And we have offices all over the world. Our office in the US is in New York, run by Jerry and the team. And we have offices in Europe, Asia, Australia. The Middle East is one of our newer markets that we’re working to develop. Southeast Asia as well is a new area that we’re trying to get tourists from.

[02:12]

You know who did a good job of this was Ireland back in the day. So, their tourism division rebranded and they like doubled the number of tourists in a very short time.

[02:24]

And that’s the challenge for South Africa going forward. So our president made an announcement that we’re going to be in the next 10 years doubling tourism. So currently we get about 10 million visitors and we’re trying to get to 21 million by 2030. So that’s the effort going forward.

[02:41]

Where are your visitors coming from?

[02:43]

We have people coming from all over the world, but three quarters of our visitors are from the African continent, and we have offices in East and West Africa, Central Africa as well. And then, obviously, we have domestic tourists in and around South Africa.

[02:58]

If go to South Africa, what do I have to see? I have a one week. Let’s say it’s one week.

[03:04]

Okay. If you have one week, the plan depends on what you’re interested in because we have wildlife; we have adventure.

[03:11]

What am I going to do?

[03:11]

I would suggest because you seem like a nice, energetic person that you have to do a lot of adventure activities.

[03:18]

You nailed it.

[03:19]

We have the highest bungee jump in the world, which is in Eastern Cape.

[03:22]

Oh, that just already made my stomach go up.

[03:24]

So that’s something I think you would have to do. And it’s right next to Cape Town, so it’s like an hour flight from Cape Town. So, you can then see Cape Town, Table Mountain, Robben Island, and then drive down the coast. We have the longest coastline and the highway right next to it. So, as you’re driving, you’re just looking at the beautiful views and then you get to this tallest bungee jump in the Eastern province.

[03:47]

There was a movie called Endless Summer, which featured the beaches there. And I think, God, that would be… It’s like amazing. Is there any surfing?

[03:58]

Yeah, you can surf anywhere. Like I’m saying to you that we have a very long coastline. We have the Indian ocean on the one side; we’ve got the Atlantic on this side. So cold water in Cape Town; warmer water in Durbin, which is on the eastern coast and you can surf practically anywhere. And the most beautiful place to actually see is where the two oceans meet. You can actually see the color of the water being very different and it doesn’t mix.

[04:25]

And they meet. You can actually see where they meet.

[04:28]

Yeah. You see where it meets and you can actually tell that that is the Atlantic Ocean. That’s the Indian ocean. And the waters kind of don’t mix. So, there’s like a line.

[04:36]

Really? 100% I’m going to check that out. That is really cool. I’ve never heard that at 48 years old.

[04:44]

You see but that’s the thing about South Africa that there’s so much going on. It’s difficult for us to have a single narrative about the destination. Everyone thinks of us as this high-end Safari destination, but there’s so much more to us than that.

[04:58]

The show. What do you think? What’s your opinion so far?

[05:02]

I love this show so much. I wish I could live here just in this environment because there’s so many different ideas. There’s so many cutting-edge things happening here, and we’re in a position right now in South African Tourism of restructuring our organization and insights becoming a leader. And this room of people is basically, that’s exactly what’s going on here. So I’m hoping to learn as much as I possibly can.

[05:25]

Perfect. Well, you’re in the right spot because there are some great minds and companies represented not just on the exhibit floor but also from the speakers.

[05:32]

The speakers, the presentations have been amazing. I’ve learned so much. I’m recording as much as I can so I can take it back to the team as well.

[05:40]

Kaizer, South Africa Tourism. Absolute pleasure having you on the podcast.

[05:45]

Thank you so much, Jamin.

[05:46]

Say your last name one more time.

[05:48]

Dhliwayo.

[05:48]

Dhliwayo. Oh, dang it. Alright, well, everybody else, hope you enjoyed this episode. Have a great rest of your day. And as always, take the time, check out South Africa Tourism. I will include a link to the show notes, not just to their website, but also to some pictures I find on the seas meeting on their coastline. Have a great rest of your day.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Jonathan Ephraim – IntelliSurvey

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Jonathan Ephraim, Preisdent of IntelliSurvey.

Find Jonathan Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-ephraim-a1715a

Email: jephraim@IntelliSurvey.com

Website: www.intellisurvey.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Jonathan Ephraim, IntelliSurvey founder, co-founder, excuse me, right?

[00:40]

Yes, that’s correct.

[00:41]

Longtime competitor and friend. Sir, thanks for being on Happy Market Research Podcast.

[00:46]

Thank you for having me.

[00:48]

So we are on the show. They’re getting ready to release the hounds. We’re by the food. We may be eaten alive. Hopefully, they don’t mistake us for chicken legs. How are you doing?

[00:58]

Oh, I’m doing very well, thanks. I’m doing very well. This is a one of our first conferences. It’s the first conference like this that we’ve presented at, and we have a display. So it’s been fun to see people. We ordinarily are sitting in the background, and it’s nice to be in front.

[01:13]

So, IntelliSurvey, this is my perception, not necessarily reality, but IntelliSurvey from a brand perspective is these really intelligent people that have built this great software and service. Probably the thing that has always stood out to me, and Jamie and I used to lament our org structure is that you guys built your platform instead of having like full-time employees to program all the surveys, you actually created a network of people that were able to use your platform. Is that accurate?

[01:51]

No, it’s funny after all these years…

[01:55]

Well, wait the smart people is accurate, but the network part isn’t. I love…

[2:00]

Yeah, the network part isn’t. Yeah, what we did that was, I think quite different from others was, obviously, we separated out development from project management, but we didn’t separate out project management from programming. We always thought of that as them as being one function that there was a project manager who was a programmer. And one of the things that we did quite differently was we hired people who were more liberal arts-ish. When I say liberal arts-ish, I mean that not necessarily they were…

[02:32]

like linguistic type framework or…

[02:35]

Well, just people who were creative and good with words and good with problems. And those were the people that, I think, in many other platforms are the project managers, who are then interfacing with someone who’s a little more engineeringy, who’s like actually doing the stuff.

[02:52]

So you have one in the same. So then you trained those people on how to use your platform.

[02:57]

That’s correct. That’s correct. And we built a programming language that basically is very close to plain English that people can then just affix what amounts to a programming attribute using basically something very close to plain English. It’s something like “randomized:why,” which tells the system that you have to please randomize this on my behalf. And because it’s relatively close to plain English, anyone can do it. There are a lot of capabilities in the system, so it’s not the sort of thing that someone picks up right away. We are expecting in the next, I’d say three to six months, to come out with something that’s a more gooey DIY and we’re excited about that.

[03:44]

The thing that I really like about not having a gooey is, if the programming language is structured in a simple way, you actually have a lot more flexibility and you don’t have the overhead of a gooey. So it gets really, really easy to create surveys quick. So we used to do, we called them John Henry. Do you know the reference? So there’s this little kid’s storybook where a slave with two hammers and a mechanized steam engine, both are drilling two tunnels for train tracks at the same time. And whoever gets through first wins, right? Human versus machine. And so we would call it… We would do like a scripted version. So like you’re describing versus the gooey version of the platform. And it was really interesting to always see that the scripting version always won by a little bit or a lot in some cases.

[04:41]

And we found that as well in that. But on the other hand, I would say that one of the learnings that we’ve had over the last four to five years is we’ve been getting ready to… We were pushing scripting versions for a long time. And invariably the person who’s like us, who we talk to when we demonstrate our system says some variety of this. He says, “Look, I know that what you’re doing works. And I know it’s faster to use scripting, but my people, they can’t.”

[05:09]

They don’t want to do it.

[05:09]

They don’t want to do it. And maybe they can’t do it. It’s just too much for them. A scripting language is just for whatever reason too much for them. And one of the things that we’ve found, as we’ve been optimizing our approach for the gooey, is that certain aspects, if you time in motion a gooey, the same way you time in motion scripting, you can actually get it pretty close, but you really need to think from a time in motion perspective. You also need to really constrain the functionalities so you hide the complexities from the garden variety users that really don’t need to be able to, let’s say, order things in sequential groups in a particularly funny way,

[05:45]

I want to get a license like just a demo license. I’m really intrigued on the programming language part of it. That seems like so fun to do that, anyways.

[05:58]

Well, you’re officially out of Decipher now, right?

[06:00]

I’m 100% out. No interest or anything along those lines. That’d be really fun to do. I think it’d be interesting to do a blog post on—you could even co-write this— on the John Henry or time in motion. You know what I’m saying? And the trade offs that are involved when you start moving to a gooey, like a SurveyMonkey. I liked the tool and it has its place. It’s just like for me not my preferred way of doing stuff.

[06:34]

But I think one of the things that those of us who are… I still script surveys, and we have a team of 70 people that are scripting surveys. So we’re big believers in that ecology. But one of the things that we’ve found as we’ve scaled is that going to larger populations, you need things that are more gooey-ish. Not everyone’s going to be on the gooey. I think the power users are always going to have a preference for scripting. However, that’s not to say that the people who, if you think of the core workflows, if you can get people for whom scripting is too much to participate in the workflow so that they can sort of work together with the people who are scripting. And that requires a more, gooey-ish interface or a more iterative interface that can be exposed to people for whom scripting is too much.

[07:25]

One of the things that’s interesting about your story is you just basically said it a minute ago. You guys haven’t been at conferences. Like you and I have never, I don’t think, met face to face.

[07:36]

We have not.

[07:37]

Which is every one of the people that I have competed with, I’ve met for years.
at these conferences. And yet you’ve had tremendous success as an organization, in growth and brand. So like are you changing a behavior now? Is there something we should be looking for on the horizon with IntelliSurvey?

[07:56]

Yeah, I think we’re going to be significantly more forward than we have in the past. I think we’ve done very well within our market. We’ve grown by, we like to think, providing exceptional service. And so, every once in awhile some new substantive group comes along and finds us and that excites us. That’s been the approach we’ve had really for the first… I mean we’ve been doing this since 2001, so 17 years or so. And it’s really only in the last year or two that we’ve started to be more forward. In part, that’s because I think we want to expand to into populations a little bit more aggressively.

[08:32]

I think that’s really smart. I think the premise or mantra, “Do good work: get more work” in this industry has served you very, very well and will continue to be the bedrock of your organization. Now, that you start investing in the sales and marketing side of things, it’ll be interesting to see how you guys achieve your full potential, right? I mean there’s a limiter with word of mouth. So, as you get out there do presentations, like you are; be on the show floor, like you are; be on the podcast like you are right now; all of a sudden, there’s an elevation that starts happening with the brand that otherwise you just can’t get.

[09:10]

And I think at our core… I mean you guys were software guys, too, and I remember hearing that you guys had… It must’ve been about eight or ten years ago. The time is tricky for me, but I remember we started getting a lot of inquiries from your customers, from Decipher’s customers, and they said some variety of, “Hey, we used to have this code that worked and it doesn’t work anymore. Can you guys help us?” And we could tell that what you guys had really done was made a real commitment to being scalable. Cause as long as your custom, you’re just not that scalable. And that worked out very well for you guys. We’re dimmer than you were.

[09:51]

That’s not true.

[09:52]

But it’s taken us some time to learn that lesson. But I think from our side, we think we have a good set of code and, obviously, there are network effects and all. And so, if we’re really going to be valuable the way that someone like Qualtrics or someone like Decipher has been able to, we simply need to be out there and get more users, so that’s what we’re doing.

[10:11]

IntelliSurvey is the name of the company. Oh, really quick. I wanted to ask you, can you give us just the highlights of your talk?

[10:18]

Sure, the highlights of the talk we’re going to be presenting with our friends at Mondelēz with whom we’ve been working for a few years, and they have undertaken to bring some of the most complex research projects that are done anywhere in-house. Most of these kinds of projects, we understand, are done by agencies or consultancies, and they brought them in-house. They did so, in part, because they wanted to really acquire a sort of granular depth of knowledge about their market that was within their organization. And we’re talking together with Mondelēz about some of the hurdles that we had to surpass in order to help them be successful in that regard. So that’s what we’re talking about. Hopefully, it’ll be interesting for folks.

[11:06]

Yeah, that’ll be really fun. I’m looking forward to that. I’ll try to attend that. All right, great. IntelliSurvey is the name of the company. Jonathan Ephraim is the one of the cofounders and my guest at the Happy Market Research Podcast. Thank you very much for being on the show. It’s an honor to have you. Everybody else. I hope you found value here. Please take a screenshot, share five-star rating, Have a great rest of your day.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Joe Beier – GfK

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Joe Beier, EVP of Shopper and Retail Strategy at GfK.

Find Joe Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/joe-beier-2006545

Email: joe.beier@gfk.com

Website: www.gfk.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Joe. GfK is the name of the company. He’s been on a podcast already. He’s got a little bit of wine left in his cup. We are at CRC insights Association’s client-side event, and you gave a presentation today.

[00:48]

I did.

[00:49]

Give us a little bit of highlight.

[00:50]

We were talking about trust, the whole issue of consumer trust and how there are so many challenges to that space right now and how we’re really in a unique
era of trust just eroding very, very quickly and being challenged from so many different quarters. As dark of a journey as we knew it would be, we thought it was important to lay out what that landscape looks like today and some of the key factors and bring it home with a little more of an optimistic view in terms of some of the things that we extract from those learnings that we think can be good guidelines for folks that are trying to manage brands or create trusting relationships with consumers, rule rules of the road, if you will, to operate by. So, we laid out the challenges and then a little bit of what you might want to think about doing about it for some recommendations.

[01:41]

The audience can’t see this because it’s one of the slides that was presented today talking about optimism in the space. And I’ll include this in the show notes by the way. But how I really started connecting this is this issue of trust really is closely tied, in my opinion, to optimism and how people are feeling about the brands that they’re interacting with. So, my broader point is that it becomes really important for us as an industry to ensure that we’re garnering trust, especially among respondents, right? And that has to do with, I think again, the ethical context of how research is actually being done. I’m wondering, do you think that there’s going to be changes to the way that we do research over the next few years in line with maybe more, I don’t know what, either data privacy or transparency with sourcing sample.

[02:38]

Well, you’re probably not going to like this answer very well, but I think our presentation today took a very broad view of this whole issue, and I would assert that in the grand scheme of all the things coming at consumers and shoppers and respondents, which could all be the same person, of course ,depending on their state, but to me the incident of taking a survey or being interviewed is a pretty small speck on the landscape of all the things that they have to deal with. And so, I would expect some minor adjustments to be made there, but I don’t get the feeling that the industry has such a big impact on their total view of trust of the industry as a whole, that it’s due for major overhauls. I think we’re talking about some puts and takes kind of more at the edges of how we do things and not wholesale re-invention.

[03:31]

Yeah, for sure. It’s interesting to see… Picking on Facebook cause they’re, obviously, under the microscope right now with respect to a consumer privacy, I keep thinking that there’s this big opportunity in front of us to somehow connect consumer opinion (stated opinion) and transactional or behavioral data into that same data ecosystem in a cohesive way that makes the analytics part a lot easier, right? Traditionally, it has felt very arduous to try to integrate external data into a primary research data. So anyway, that’s…

[04:15]

I agree. It’s been messy, I think, historically. I think a lot of the things that were talked about at the conference today in terms of data science and AI and the computing power that is now available to us would certainly seem to hold the promise to make that whole integration process a lot less messy. I don’t think it’s going to be elegant tomorrow, but I think step one is less messy and then maybe we can get to elegant in time. And I think we get that. GfK has traditionally been more of a survey-based… You know, we’re a classic big, global research house that’s relied a lot like many of our peers on survey data. And we’re trying to get less reliant on that every year and work in more of the behavioral elements.

But I will say that I see a little bit of an overreaction in the industry against survey work. There’s a little bit of a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of people always make the point everything has to be behavioral. You got these almost philosophies or schools of thought. And the behavioralists are all like, “Don’t believe any of that data because, you know, people don’t do what they really say and everyone knows that and throw it all out.” And we’re like, “Well, not so fast because behavioral is great, but behavioral often stops short of telling you why things are happening.” I mean it’s great to frame up “the what,” this is the ground-level truth about what is happening transactionally many times.

But in terms of motivations and attitudes and all the things that go into that stew to get you to the point of that behavior, we think it’s vital to understand a lot of those things. And so, we were totally not ready to throw out survey work. And I think you have to be choiceful about how you use survey work, right? So, for example, we don’t usually ask questions about, you know, if you bought this category in the last three months, how much did you spend on your basket? That’s a terrible way to use survey data ‘cause no one’s going to remember that. Or what four websites did you go to last week when you were shopping for a smartphone? Bad. But things like we talked about today in our presentation a little bit: values. How do you feel about this value?

Is it important to you that someone acts in a way that’s responsible to the environment? How do you feel about shopping? Are you excited about it or is it a chore to you? There’re many things that are much more kind of lasting and salient to a respondent and much less prone to err that we think survey work is very well suited to measure. So, let’s use it there and not use it some other places where it’s more dangerous.

[06:59]

Okay. Last question on this subject. I could talk about this for a long time. I think it’s super relevant where you’re going with it, and I think it’s exactly on point by the way. The utilization of open-ended data or videos, how are you seeing that over the next couple of years?

[07:17]

We’re using it more and more. It’s great for texture and flavor and richness, if you will, of the finding. So that’s one reason we use it and also technologically what I just talked about in terms of integration of behavioral and survey data. There’s also a forefront obviously in terms of this open-ended data, classifying and reading it. And that’s all becoming much more automated too. So that’s much less labor intensive as well. So yes, we do it to enhance our insights, but one of the places we actually use it a lot is in the socialization of the study and of the findings. So, our stakeholders are typically the insights folks at various companies. We do all the work, a lot of work in consumer-packaged goods and other industries, tech and other places.

And our stakeholders at the end of a project have their own support network within the company to socialize the findings among. And the higher up you go up the corporate ladder, the less people want to read ironically, and they’d rather watch videos. And the videos have a lot of utility in encapsulating a lot of the findings that could be done in a sort of more sterile PowerPoint presentation. But our folks really like the extra topspin that they get of being able to make the point with some of the data, but then put a nice bow on it with a video that kind of reinforces it.

[08:47]

See, I think you’re right. It’s about humanizing the intangible in a way that creates repeatability. But it is about the humanization of that abstract data, which is quant, because nobody thinks in numbers. (Some people do, but most don’t.) And then it creates this like repeatable story inside of the organization.

[09:05]

Yeah. It’s humanization and putting a face on it and absolutely. That’s right.

[09:08]

Yeah, for sure. I love that. Last question: You sold the business to GfK.

[09:15]

I did.

[09:16]

Tell me a little bit about the business.

[09:19]

The business was called Interscope, and it was started by me and about five other colleagues that had spun out of another shop that we had all worked at called Meridian. Meridian was a place I went in about the year 2000, and they were more of a category management, a little bit of shopper organization. That’s kind of during the go-go days of category management as you may recall. And so, it was kind of a great place for me to get into consulting. I had been in brand for a few years before that on the marketing side. And we liked the kind of work that we were doing. We didn’t like the company that much, so we spun out and really took it… Interscope was, we called it a kind of a shopper marketing consultancy. We held on to some of that same category management capability, but morphed the business more towards shopper marketing strategy and consulting, a lot of go-to-market stuff, some retail re-invention stuff. So, we had kind of an interesting mix of things— all kind of related and revolving around the shopper. And GfK had a very well-established business in North America around a lot of consumer insights and consumer activation, but was candidly pretty weak in the shopper space. And so, they wanted to muscle up in shopper and we were kind of at the time an up and coming agency and conversations were had and they came calling. And we weren’t even really looking to sell the company at the time. We had been around for about five years, grown Interscope into a nice viable shopper company, but we decided we’d be an even better proposition if we could add all the rich research capabilities that GfK brought. I mean I was like a kid in a candy store.

I was having to beg, borrow and steal research insights before in a very entrepreneurial environment at Interscope and now was like, “Oh, my God, we do facial recognition. We do blah, blah; we do survey work. We do…” So, it’s been a really nice evolution to a really now a pretty full service. We managed to hang on to a lot of the consulting and a lot of the smart business thinking that we brought to our clients in the Interscope model, but now really flush it out with an ability to go out and get some really rich insights to work with.

[11:35]

And of course, I’m familiar with Interscope back in the day. So anyway, Joe, it is an honor having you on the podcast. I think we should do an extended episode at another time.

[11:44]

Sure. It’s been fun. Thanks for having me in.

[11:47]

Time for a drink too.

[11:49]

All right, sounds good.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Emily Palmer Brown – Wells Fargo

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Emily Palmer Brown, VP of Digital Manager at Wells Fargo.

Find Emily Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/emily-palmer-brown-5b76648

Email: emily.w.palmerbrown@wellsfargo.com

Website: www.wellsfargo.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

We are live today at the CRC, which is corporate research event in association with the Insights Association, and we are on the exhibit floor. Cocktails have been flowing. I’m one deep. Emily brought it to me. Emily Palmer Brown with Wells Fargo, thanks for being on the podcast.

[00:51]

It’s my pleasure.

[00:52]

So, tell me a little bit about what you’re going to give in the presentation.

[00:55]

So, my partner, Sharon, and I are going to be talking about bringing the human to life in market research. Oftentimes people will do quantitative research and develop market segments. And what we’re presenting on is how to illustrate and illuminate really the humans in there with retail personas or consumer personas or experienced personas and how people can create their own, how we care for and nurture and create ours, how we use them day to day.

[01:28]

So, personas in the context of like marketing or…?

[01:32]

Yeah, that’s a good question. So yes, in any context really. So, we primarily support the digital design experiences. So that’s product line of business as well as designers. And Marketing Wells Fargo is an enormous organization.

[01:50]

It is a big company.

[01:51]

It is a big house. And marketing tends to have their own research, what we’re very friendly with. They do different types of research. We use our personas, (See, this is a spoiler alert. If somebody listens to this before my talk tomorrow.) and we use our retail personas to truly understand the emotional drivers of user behavior to help inform strategies or design. So, really specifically where will somebody be using this and how will they be feeling when they’re using it?

[02:24]

Is that like sits next to customer experience or user experience?

[02:28]

We sit right in customer experience, user experience.

[02:32]

Got it.

[02:32]

We sit right in the experience design group.

[02:34]

Perfect. Okay, that makes a lot of sense to me. Give me a little bit about your background ‘cause we’ve just met, give me a little context.

[02:40]

We’re only one beer friendly. So, I started in social work actually.

[02:47]

Oh, you’re kidding.

[02:48]

No, I’m not. I am passionate about people and making sure that people can make choices to make changes or live the life they want to live. And social work, I think, is typically thought of with the downtrodden and the underprivileged. And that while that’s true, humans across the board, we all have aspirational lives that we want to live, and we all have things that get in our way. We get in our own way. And so, nine years ago, before I joined Wells Fargo, I was really excited about the intersection of finance and technology.

[03:22]

Interesting.

[03:22]

I thought it really would level the playing field. And it does, right? Information is so available. There’s tools readily available. And so, I get really excited. I don’t work in a bank by accident. I work at a bank because I come from a background in social work, and I’m all about informing people or making sure that information is available so that people can be empowered to live the life they want to live.

[03:45]

Think about WhatsApp, picking on them for a minute. India, for example, they’re leveraging WhatsApp to conduct financial transactions, which is the core of this micro-shopping environment, right? I don’t have enough information to be able to give you a real example without sounding like a jackass, but it allows you to transfer money, which is the big problem and conduct these activities that otherwise you would not be able to do with just cash.

[04:12]

You think about what is so exciting with finances today. So, my son… I have a collection of kids and one of them plays hockey and was going off with his hockey buddies. And I said that I would pay for his part of the house. So, he sent me a text, “Hey, could you send me 50 bucks for the house?” I accidentally touched the 50 in the text probably to say, “Oh, my goodness, $50! Where am I going to find $50?” But I touched the 50 and, in that moment, I was able to send him $50 without leaving the text message. Never mind the app, never mind opening another app, authenticating myself, picking an account, blah, blah, blah. Right? It was so seamless. It was frighteningly easy to give away my money.

[04:57]

I mean, it’s powerful.

[04:58]

I flushed my phone down the toilet immediately after.

[05:02]

You wish. I’m going to send you a text right after this. And it works the other way, right? I mean, nobody’s texting us money, but on the other side of it,

[05:11]

…but they could.

[05:11]

They could. You could.

[05:12]

You could. Let’s exchange numbers.

[05:13]

Insights Nation Look in the show notes for our numbers.

[05:17]

Support this podcast. Text money.

[05:21]

Yeah, that’s right. I feel like it’s turned to one those like telethons back in the day.

[05:25]

Oh, we could entertain. I mean, that’s what they did.

[05:28]

They did. That’s right. Unfortunately, not quite that. Who was the big telethon guy?

[05:33]

I know this. Jerry Lewis.

[05:35]

Jerry Lewis. That’s right. Sorry, folks. I’m not going be able to pull that off, so…

[05:40]

I’ll take credit.

[05:41]

Have you seen any interesting companies? I know you’ve been canvassing the place.

[05:45]

I, at my core, am still a goober, and so I gravitate to the people who have actual books because I love books. I love books, but there’s lots of exciting things here. And again, that intersection of technology and research, that’s one of the reasons that I’m here is because there’s so much happening out there, and there’s lots of ways to constantly be in touch with customers or prospects or just have your finger on the pulse. And it’s really all about staying connected to people, which rebuilds community, which technology is kind of maybe breaking down or maybe creating. It depends on the day how I feel about that one. But there’s a lot of really exciting things happening and there’s a lot of neat vendors here with terrific ideas doing things that I didn’t know were happening. So, I’m thrilled.

[06:34]

Yeah, it’s really cool. I would recommend… I don’t get paid for this. There’s a company over here…

[06:39]

But if you did, they could text it.

[06:40]

Yeah, that’s right, called SightX.

[06:43]

Wait, did I meet that person earlier?

[06:46]

I can’t remember.

[06:47]

This probably doesn’t need to go on the podcast.

[06:48]

But, anyway, they’re right over there. Emily Palmer Brown,

[06:53]

Palmer Brown, yes.

[06:54]

…with Wells Fargo. Thank you for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[06:58]

Thanks for having me.

[06:58]

What do you think about our stickers?

[07:00]

I love your stickers, but the podcast people can’t see them. So, I’ll visually describe this happy shark who’s sporting a lighthouse tattoo, or is that a Marlboro man tattoo. Oh, it’s a tattoo of the Happy Market Research.

[07:15]

It’s the Mafia.

[07:17]

Okay. All right, kids, well, I’m bringing you stickers. Don’t say I don’t bring you anything.

[07:21]

Have a great rest of your show. Good luck on your talk tomorrow.

[07:24]

Thank you very much.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – David Paull – Engagious

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews David Paull, Co-Founder and CEO of Engagious.

Find David Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/davidpaull

Email: david@dialsmith.com

Website: engagious.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today David Paull, Engagious. I remember when I had a hard time saying that. Engagious is the name of his company, and he is a fellow podcaster here on site doing Audible Insights.

[00:50]

Correct.

[00:51]

In association with the Insights Association. What do you think about the show on Day 2?

[00:55]

I love CRC. It’s always one of my favorites. Get to reconnect with a lot of industry colleagues. Caliber of speakers is always top-notch, both outsiders as well as the corporate researchers that they bring up on stage and all the suppliers who have so many interesting things to share. So, I always liked this one. It’s great.

[01:15]

Yeah. I really think the big hack here is there’s a ton of corporate researchers. So, it’s really incumbent if you want to punch through to figure out… It’s not about the shiny booth; it’s about how do you make a personal connection with that person. I’m getting that more and more and more. The corporate researchers have so many options today. It’s a highly competitive place; so, you’ve really got to figure out how you can grab their attention and then decide if it’s a good fit quick and then add value by steering them someplace else if it’s not.

[01:51]

Yeah. And like one of the speakers talked about this morning, at the end of the day, it’s all about the value that you deliver, and it’s about the “why,” not the “how” and the “what;” the “how” and the “what” is, of course, important. But that comes after the “why,” after clients are confident that the “why” can be met.

[02:09]

Right, exactly right.

[02:10]

It’s knowing how to lead with the solution. The challenge with trade shows is they’re geared to be all about here’s what we do. It’s splashed all over.

[02:23]

It’s like speed dating.

[02:24]

Yeah. So that’s a challenge with the model overall. And I’ve struggled with that myself when I’ve been on the other side of the booth. It’s challenging to try to have those more personal conversations when it really is kind of a drive-by.

[02:41]

Whenever I think about activation at a conference, I’m always like, I won’t exhibit at a conference if I’m not speaking. Do you have like rules of thumb?

[02:51]

I do. I rarely exhibit anyway because a lot of the work that we’re really trying to grow right now is consultative in nature. So, it’s a difficult thing for me to try to do from inside of a booth. It’s one of the reasons I got into podcasting like you and formed a relationship with Insights Association for theirs. For me, it gives me a new way in. So, I get to attend. Ideally, if I can speak, that’s great and if I can talk to people through a podcast, it’s a different way for me to make a connection with people than from the other side of a trade show booth. So, for me it’s just really trying to hack the system and figure out how can I add value, but also how can I get more value for myself for the time.

[03:39]

There’s a guy walking around with headphones on trying to talk to other people and that just makes me laugh.

[03:47]

I know. The headphones say leave me alone. But then trying to talk to people, it’s incongruent.

[03:51]

Like you’re walking around talking, eating and drinking. It’s epic. It’s like I only want to engage with… I am shut off unless I want to engage with you. And he just took his headphones off to talk to somebody. Do not approach me.

[04:02]

That’s trade show life, man. You see it all, right?

[04:05]

That’s epic. Anyway, sorry. So, tell me about your podcast. How, how’s it going? Audible Insights.

[04:11]

Yeah, Audible Insights is going really well. So, I recently took over as producer and host of that. Paul Kurtz took care of it for a good number of years, did a great job. And I’m thrilled to take the helm now. So, it’s great because I get to talk with market research leaders from both the client side and the supplier side and just try to bring good content to the industry. I think it’s a great value that the Insights Association brings to the whole research community, whether you’re a member or not. Just find it on iTunes or Google Play and listen. And so, you’re really just trying to deliver value, and I think it’s going great. It’s a lot of fun.

[04:45]

I see you’ve got two podcasts you’re running now.

[04:50]

Yeah, the Engagious podcast is the one that I’ve been doing now. We started about the same time early last year, and that one’s more focused on audience engagement, which is really what Engagious is all about. And then, the Audible Insights is really more strictly market research focused. So yeah, working on both of those.

[05:10]

Cool, man. And you actually have a day job too.

[05:12]

I have a day job and recently started a YouTube channel, so I’m a glutton for punishment, I think.

[05:16]

Oh, wow. Congratulations on all fronts.

[05:19]

Well, as long as it all works, I’ll take the congrats. We’ll wait and see.

[05:23]

If somebody wants to get in contact with you. How would they do that?

[05:25]

LinkedIn is great, David Paull, P A U L L. Same goes for Instagram, Twitter. Our website is Engagious, E N G A G I O U S.com. And always love to connect. So anytime.

[05:41]

David, it’s an honor having you on the podcast.

[05:42]

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

[05:43]

Everybody else, if you found value in this episode, screen capture, share. As always, your five-star ratings are my life blood. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Colson Steber – Communications for Research, Inc.

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Colson Steber, Co-CEO of Communications for Research, Inc.

Find Colson Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colsonsteber

Email: csteber@cfrinc.net

Website: www.cfrinc.net

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hey, everybody. This is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast. We are live at the Insights Association’s CRC event. What city are we in? I keep forgetting.

[00:42]

Orlando.

[00:43]

My guest today is Colson Steber; Communications for Research is the name of the company. Colson, thanks for being on the show.

[00:51]

Thanks.

[00:52]

You got to tell me something. This is the morning of Day Two. Did you go to any content yesterday?

[01:00]

I went to Steve August coaching.

[01:02]

Tell me what you thought.

[01:04]

I loved the tools he introduced to us in the session but did not engage a lot with the conversation during the session. Struck up a conversation with him afterwards and ended up taking up the entire afternoon getting free coaching for about two and a half hours.

[01:20]

I hope you bought him a drink or something.

[01:21]

Unfortunately, not. We got interrupted a lot since we sat in the lobby and lots of people walk past us that were arriving for the conference.

[01:27]

Does the ROI for him, does that pay off down the road, you think? Like good feelings?

[01:33]

For him?

[01:35]

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean he’s now in a coaching business. So potentially, right. I mean, I now know his story. He knows my story and by…

[01:44]

There could be work down the line. What was one of your big takeaways from the conversation? Because the ROI might be somebody listens to this show and then reaches out to Steve August for coaching.

[01:56]

We talked a lot about how to go deeper in my niche of agriculture sector research without abandoning everything else we can do and can service.

[02:14]

It’s the classic mile wide, inch deep versus go really deep in a single thing. And you’ve got to do both in a lot of cases.

[02:23]

So, as I was mentioning to you directly before this, I’m rethinking my marketing strategy for 2020 significantly and working to move entirely away from this list of services-based website to what outcome do we create for our customers?

[02:44]

Dude, I mean that’s a really… Okay, so, let’s back up. Give our audience a little context of Communications for Research. What is it you guys do?

[02:53]

We add value by helping to plan research, communicate that plan in terms of the sampling plan and field work and how it’s going to get executed and then providing services to do so. And I call that research logistics. The best example being working with researchers themselves, typically as third-party contractors to understand how they’re going to access the audience, help them with the screening criteria and what we’ll do, how we’ll reach them and going out and providing all of those data collection services and handing back something that they can actually use at the end rather than just a flat data file.

[03:36]

I love it. There is a trend in the last 12 months that I’ve seen towards the term research ops or research operations, but it’s actually research-ops one word. And there’s two different Slack channels that I have just been created that I’ll send to you if you’re interested. What’s happened is there’s this new generation of researchers, and they haven’t been schooled in research operations, but they’re primarily coming at it from UX and CX or user experience and customer experience versus traditional market research. So, as those areas are flourishing, there’s this like void of how do I… play in research. And that’s where, I think, to your point, there’s a really big market opportunity in order to help these companies and individuals grow and execute their research. So, they’re focusing more on the insight and less on the operational consideration.

[04:31]

Yes, absolutely. So, actually, being the research operation, being able to take the fact that I need to include research in my process and it is part of my process, but I need someone to manage and execute that process, we can come in and not be the order taker but actually work alongside of the team to understand the research outcome, set up the plan, communicate it, and iterate it as you go through research. I would say research is a gray area and if we knew the answer, we wouldn’t be researching it. Oftentimes we work in really difficult… All the … like the agriculture sector or heavy equipment or financial services where you have to get into the field, try to engage an audience, and then iterate based off of the actual outcome that you’re getting.

[05:20]

So, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[05:23]

Through my website CFRInc.net or directly to me at see C. Steber@CFRinc.net.

[05:32]

Perfect. I love the access right away to the head honcho.

[05:37]

Yes, having a new business development account manager that specializes in it, but I still make sure to have a personalized relationship with every single, potential, new customer that we have.

[05:51]

Hey listen. When I was CEO Focusvision, I did the same thing. Like if it was a customer I was going to get to know the customer, which is just how it, and that actually pays big dividends.

[06:01]

It’s my role in the business is a finance and vision. And so, I want to understand exactly who our customer is and discuss what that relationship could look like for us and how we can service it best back with my client services team when a new person comes and finds us.

[06:28]

The connectivity to the customer really creates this beautiful improved value proposition so that you are creating and evolving your business around what it is exactly that the current customer is looking for because we’re always in a state of evolution; we haven’t like figured it out. Like social recruiting is changing. And you nodded vigorously there, right? So, you see there’s all these different ways of communicating and connecting with perspective participants.

[06:59]

Correct.

[07:00]

And so, to that end, we’ve got to make sure that we’re recruiting the right people for our customers. And that’s where it gets really…

[07:08]

There is actual expertise in knowing how to engage the audience to get them to do research.

[07:13]

Exactly. It’s hard.

[07:15]

Right. And what unfortunately, the data collections field services role has been put down into this order, taking not an equal part of the team position. And that’s how I refuse to operate.

[07:32]

Yeah. That’s beautiful. I think that’s exactly right. It’s not a commodity.

[07:36]

So, I oftentimes am the guy that has our project manager or myself forced that discussion to say, what is the screening criteria? Does it actually meet the research outcome that they’re interested in? And looking at the logic based off of, are we including the people that will provide a relevant opinion to the research we’re working to conduct?

[08:05]

Perfect. Colson Steber, Communications for Research. Check them out. Everybody else, if found value in this episode. please take time: screen capture, share it on social media. You can find Colson’s information inside of the show notes. Have a great rest of your day.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Anil Damodaran – Course5 Intelligence

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Anil Damodaran, Vice President of Adomate at Course5 Intelligence.

Find Anil Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anildav/?originalSubdomain=in

Website: https://www.course5i.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:31]

Hi, this is Jamin. You are listening to Happy Market Research Podcast.
My guest today is Anil Damodaran, Course5 Intelligence. I’ve had you (not you, specifically), but somebody else, right, on the podcast.

[00:42]

That’s right. I believe you’ve spoken to Manish.

[00:45]

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, Manish. That’s right. I like him very much actually. So, how are things going at Course5?

[00:51]

Very good. We’re doing a lot of interesting new things and so, we’re really excited to see where this year pans out.

[00:59]

Tell us the audience, give a little context, what is Course5?

[01:03]

So, Course5 is a global, digital and analytics-based company. So, we focus on everything to do with digital AI and analytics and, basically, anything that you use data to make decisions that’s where you would bring in Course5.

[01:25]

Got it. Think about your favorite project. Describe that project for us.

[01:32]

Sure. So, I can talk about what we recently did with Microsoft.

[01:38]

Okay, good. I’ve heard of them.

[01:40]

So, my role at Course5 is that I manage a product called Adomate, and essentially, it’s an advertising intelligence system that allows you to analyze video creatives and ad testing data, and then really be able to identify variables that move and ad up or down in terms of engagement, provide meta-level analysis in terms of overall ads and things like that. So, we did this project with Microsoft recently, and we had some really interesting learnings in terms of what specific kind of variables were important. When you say look across the purchase funnel—all the way from awareness to perception to impact—what variables seem to be driving a campaign up or down. So, we had a really interesting project, and I just spoke about it at the event as well.

[02:43]

I apologize about missing it; I will pick it up though ‘cause they’re going to be releasing the speaking sessions on their app. So, I’ll definitely listen to it there. Thank you for giving me the heads up. Separating out a purchase decision based on a set of factors is hard to do and very powerful because then you start understanding exactly how you need and what you need to talk to to your customer personas in order to help connect with them on an emotional level. Are you doing anything in the qualitative space? Are you incorporating any qualitative type data into your analytics or reports?

[03:18]

Yes. So, for example, if you’re looking at open-ended coding data that’s coming in from your survey results, or if you’re looking at user-generated comments that are coming in from social data, all of that text analytics, that’s how we would bring in the qualitative piece of it. If you’re talking very specifically about other types of data, we haven’t moved into that yet. Our roadmap right now is centered around text images and video and audio. That’s where…

[03:57]

I love that. Images and video, that’s huge. So, are you analyzing video at scale?

[04:05]

Yes, ad creatives. And that’s what Adomate does: it goes into video creatives, analyzes it at a frame level, pulls out variables that are part of each of those frames, quantifies it. And then you’re able to then relate that back with all of the surveyed later data that you’ve picked up.

[04:26]

So see, that’s actually really powerful. This is what I’d like you to do. Send me some links with examples, and we’ll include it in the show notes. If you’re listening to this episode, I can’t underscore enough the power of leveraging video and analyzing video. Let me put it this way. I recently have been doing a lot of Facebook ads and I do a ton of AB testing. I don’t exactly know what ads going to work, but what I do know is that if it’s video versus picture, it outperforms six to one. It is insane; it’s crazy So, if you’re not using video in your paid advertising or regular organic drops, then you’re really missing a material opportunity. It’s harder. It’s more expensive to do it. I get that. But what you’re talking about is really being able to analyze, write videos in order to put the right stuff up.

[05:21]

That’s right; that’s right.

[05:22]

That’s very impactful. So send me those links. I’ll include in the show notes. Everybody else, take the time, check out the links. If somebody wants to get in contact with you, how would they do that?

[05:32]

You can write to me on my Twitter handle. It’s ANILDAV. So, I’m on Twitter, or you could write to me at Anil.Damodaran@Course5i.com

[05:45]

Anil Damodaran, Course5. Check them out. Sir, it’s been an honor to have you on the podcast. Thanks very much.

[05:51]

Thank you so much, Jamin.

[05:53]

Everybody else, have a great rest of your day. Thank you so much for tuning in. We’re back to the beverages.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

2019 CRC Series – Angela Pack – Askia

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Angela Pack, Business Development Manager at Askia.

Find Angela Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/angela-lebedis-pack-3186b01

Website: www.askia.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

I have Angela Pack with Askia. We are at the Insights Association’s big event. What is it called?

[00:41]

Corporate Researchers Conference.

[00:42]

Thank you. CRC for short. Yes, that’s right. We are on the exhibit floor. There is the promise of alcohol over your right shoulder, which I’m super excited about. How about yourself?

[00:52]

I am eyeing those little EOS lip balms and the tiny little things of mints, so…

[00:58]

You’re such a good human being.

[00:59]

I’m going to be a little lurker later and maybe grab a few things to take home.

[01:03]

You already grabbed one of my stickers.

[01:05]

I did.

[01:05]

The shark one, I think.

[01:07]

Shark. I love shark week.

[01:08]

Yeah. What was your point about sharks?

[01:09]

They have to keep moving or they will drown.

[01:12]

I kind of feel like that sometimes.

[01:14]

I feel more like the turkey that if I stand outside with my mouth open, I’m going to drown.

[01:18]

I didn’t know that was a thing.

[01:20]

That’s a thing.

[01:21]

Really. Okay, well, there you go, Insights Nation. We did not know that that is a thing.

[01:28]

All sorts of color.

[01:29]

Yeah, that’s great.

[01:30]

So Askia, you guys, I hear really good things. Richard Collins, of course, a dear friend of mine over the years, worked for me at another company, and he’s based out of London right now, I believe.

[01:41]

He is based out of London, and he brought me on in July.

[01:44]

Okay, good. So, where were you before?

[01:47]

I was actually on the qual side of things. And then prior to that, I was in the panel world for a very long time.

[01:56]

That’s been an interesting space with… I’d love to talk to you more about that, but I want to like, first I want to dive in: tell me what is going on with Askia. And then we’re going to shift gears and talk about the conference.

[02:06]

All sorts of things are going on with Askia. We have products in development. We’ve got new partnerships that are bringing us things like platforms, charting. So a relationship with ETABS and so just bigger and better, and we’re expanding our US capabilities and that’s where I came on. So we have a completely female, US sales team, which is me. We’re 100%.

[01:36]

I was super excited. So, is it expanding? Like are you hiring? What’s going on?

[02:42]

We are looking for people in the US.

[02:43]

Okay, perfect. And if they want to contact you, I will get your card and include that information in the show notes.

[02:49]

Perfect. It’s very easy, Angela@Askia.com

[02:53]

That is really easy.

[02:54]

It’s super… Although people keep calling me “Anskia,” yeah.

[02:57]

‘Cause it feels like it needs to be fancier. Anytime you’re from Paris, I feel like it needs to be turned up a little bit.

[03:04]

I’m definitely not cool enough to hang out with our Paris office people.

[03:07]

Oh, whatever. Yes, you are. Yes, you are. You know, about shark week. So, first day of the conference – what’s your highlight?

[03:13]

My highlight, I would say, I attended a breakout session earlier about creating the ideal client, and what drew me to that was the language in the title “creating” because I think a lot of sales people make the mistake of sell, sell, sell, try to fit a square peg into a round hole and with something more niche like what Askia is doing, not everyone is going to be your client. You have to find the exact sort of secret sauce as to what their pain points might be, what we have to sell. And so, creating those opportunities versus just sending out spam emails saying, “Do you want software?” because that’s never going to work.

[03:51]

I actually think this is a really important point. It’d be fun to do a full episode on this at some point. But you’re right: It’s easy to follow a script and we’re kind of getting conditioned to like that with tools like Drip and others where it’s like I’ve got my sequence of 16 emails I’m going to send with the intention of building a relationship with you. But the reality is, at least from my experience, and I’ve been using Drip now for three months, Eric Santos and myself. And we’re doing an AB test, our Drip campaign versus the same content but slightly altered, a little more context, and individually sent.

So, the Drip is underperforming at a 20 to one. So for every lead that we’ll get on Drip, we’re getting less volume out. So it’s kind of interesting how, in my opinion, if you can just take the time to make the connection and you’re quickly screening out if this is not a good fit. And you can even do one better if you say I know who is a good fit for your particular need. Even though you don’t get a piece of that transaction, that builds value over time.

[04:54]

Absolutely.

[04:55]

Yeah, for sure. So, Steve August, I think, was giving that presentation.

[04:58]

He was giving that presentation.

[04:59]

Anything else?

[05:02]

Well, I got to be on a podcast for the first time. That’s weird, but also very fun.

[05:08]

Awesome. Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Angela, thanks so much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[05:12]

Thank you.

[05:13]

Enjoy your rest of the time at CRC. And I hope you get some mints.

[06:17]

I’m going right now.

[05:18]

All right.

CRC 2019 Podcast Series

Ep. 238 – 2019 CRC Series – Aaron Hill – Sawtooth Software, Inc.

Welcome to the 2019 CRC Series. Recorded live in Orlando, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Aaron Hill, Vice President of Client Services at Sawtooth Software, Inc.

Find Aaron Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaronhill1

Website: www.sawtoothsoftware.com

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 


[00:00]

Hi, this is Jamin. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. The next set of episodes are conversations I had at this year’s Corporate Researchers Conference or CRC. This is put on by the Insights Association in Orlando, Florida. I had quite a few interesting conversations highlighting specific companies that exhibited this year as well as a couple of speakers, Wells Fargo, IBM, etc. I hope you have a really good rest of your day and enjoy these short episodes.

[00:32]

I’ve got Aaron Hill with Sawtooth Software. We are live today, Happy Market Research Podcast. CRC is the name of the conference. This is day one. Aaron, it is an absolute honor to have you on the pod.

[00:45]

Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.

[00:46]

I’ve used Sawtooth for, it feels like a hundred years, but it was really, my first experience was 1996. It was a summer; it was sultry. Bryan Orme was the guy… How do you say his last name?

[01:00]

Orm.

[01:01]

Sorry. Orm. I don’t know why I say Orm-e. Anyway, we were doing models. Jamie Plunkett actually was primary with him. Dick McCullough of Macro Consulting was the guy that we worked for—pretty well, respected in the space from an advanced analytics perspective. Tremendous respect for him personally. Anyway, so tell me a little bit about what the Sawtooth is doing these days.

[01:21]

So, Sawtooth right now, we’re always working on new conjoint stuff, working on faster algorithms, easier access to the algorithms and the programs that we’re working on, trying to make it so that we can streamline the processes that people use to analyze their conjoint data.

[01:45]

So, you guys are renowned for your advanced analytics capabilities, right? You’re basically the inventors of ACH, is that right? Or no, no, adaptive conjoint.

[01:56]

Yeah, we developed the adaptive choice-based conjoint algorithms and adaptive conjoint analysis. Most of what we do though isn’t really all that proprietary. So, we rely heavily on amazingly gifted academics and other practitioners. We’ve got a fantastic community of people that help us along. So, we look at it; all we really do is take what other people have done and then make it available for researchers.

[02:24]

The accessibility, I think, is what’s so interesting about your technology. In fact, you do exactly that: Creating partial factorial designs used to be really, really hard. I know that’s a long time ago, but you guys made that really, really easy. And anyway, so essentially, we’re hearing about how you’re focusing more and more on automating the bits and pieces, the process, the research operation consideration.

[02:47]

We’ve taken our online stimulator now. The simulator, they used to have to be an installed piece of software. We put it online; we’ve made it so that you can share it easily with your clients. So that’s the type of development that we’re working on now.

[03:01]

Are you guys doing an event?

[03:03]

Yeah, we just barely held our Sawtooth Software Conference. We do it every 18 months. It was down in San Diego, it is fantastic event. We had about 220-230 people there.

[03:13]

Smart people by the way, folks. So, if you’re looking for somebody to help you with something complex, like a segmentation or optimal pricing or whatever, this is a really good place to be able to network and meet some of the brightest actually, I would say, some of the brightest minds in our field.

[03:33]

Yeah, I think so. Definitely smarter than me.

[03:35]

Oh, everybody’s smarter than me. So, that’s a low bar. Sidebar: I was surprised or am surprised that Qualtrics hasn’t bought you, given you guys are like neighbors. It’s crazy. It just seems like such a perfect fit to me. But anyway, maybe that’s a separate subject.

[03:53]

We’ll just have to partner with you on something.

[03:55]

Oh, I’d love that. That would be really fun. Let’s do that. All right. That’s it. Okay. So, do you attend many conferences?

[04:02]

Personally, I probably go to about six or seven a year.

[04:06]

ROI on conferences. Favorable, works well?

[04:11]

Yeah. Conferences are still a great place to interact with people and reach out. And you’ve got new people coming in. Corporate Researchers is great because it puts us face-to-face with the people that are actually doing the research that need the data. And so, it’s a great time for us to talk to them and see what their needs are. And so, eventually, we can produce products that meet those needs.

[04:35]

Yeah. Market-driven product, right? That’s exactly how you guys have always operated: building from the customer centricity aspect of it. Your pricing model, now I’m really interested in that. So, it used to be a really big heavy load upfront price point. What does that look like now? Is it more of a SaaS model?

[04:51]

So we’ve gone to a subscription model now; so, you pay for it per year. The most popular one includes all of our suite of tools. We’ve been kind of dropping the price point a little bit. So, you can get into all of our stuff for south of $10,000 now.

[05:06]

Guys, just to give you like a point of reference: There was a company called Web TV, which was acquired by Microsoft for $500 million. We used Sawtooth Software to identify their optimal price point. They were at a $200. This is a particular product and software solution for internet access; it goes back more than a few years. So there are a couple of hundred dollars. I want to say it was $300 off the shelf. And by leveraging your software, we identified the optimal price point, which was a $90 set top-box out-of-pocket and then a $40 monthly fee. The break even point for them was around six months, if I can remember correctly, which I’m probably not. But at that point they were making money. So, as soon as they reframed the product price points, then they actually had a material supply problem or a demand problem or, sorry, a supply problem. So they went from not being able to sell anything to, they just didn’t have anything left to sell. Right? It was off the shelf and that’s when Microsoft swooped in. So it was a less than a two-year journey for them. As soon as they did, we leveraged your software, identifying the prop in order to move units and also maximize shareholder value or profit per unit. That model was realized and then it was just like gangbusters and then that Microsoft acquisition. Like there is not enough people doing sophisticated pricing research that should be doing sophisticated pricing research because I see in a lot of cases that people are not charging nearly enough. They could charge two, three, four, ten times more than the are right now. But because they haven’t taken the time to analyze optimal price point for their market, they are literally stealing from themselves.

[07:00]

Yeah, and they’re not meeting the customer needs. So the nice thing about conjoint analysis, not only do you figure out what price people are willing to pay for your product, but you figure out which features they need you to include in the product. So, once you get the features right and the price right, both parties win. The consumers win because they’re getting the actual features that they need. You’re winning because you’re selling it at a price that you can make money off of and everybody’s better off. Everybody’s happier.

[07:25]

It’s called product market fit. Basically, you don’t accidentally happen to get into it or you don’t have to AB test yourself to it. You can literally scientifically in a study identify the features that go into your product that you need to talk about in order to drive your optimal pricing in order to achieve your full potential as a company. So, if you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, but if you do, contact Sawtooth Software. I’m a huge fan. It’s been an honor having you on the podcast. Thank you so much.

[07:55]

Well, thanks seriously so much. It’s great spending time with you.

[07:57]

Yeah. Honestly, this is a highlight for me. His contact information is going to be in the show notes. If you found value in this episode, please take the time to screen capture, share it on social media, tag myself. I’ll repost it. Really appreciate your time and attention. Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

EP. 237 – Zontziry “Z” Johnson; Microsoft – Understand the Impact of Converting from Traditional to Digital Consumer Insights: Online Communities, Focus Groups, In-depth Interviews, Sampling

My guest today is Zontziry “Z” Johnson, VP of Customer Transformation at Zappi. Zappi helps global brands make better decisions to drive business growth, shape product development, and enhance their advertising and branding efforts.

Prior to joining Zappi, Z has been a market research manager at Microsoft, a director at Ipsos, an independent consultant, and worked at various market research firms. Additionally, she has a storied long-form blog called MRxplorer and has recently added a podcast to her thought leadership. 

Find Zontziry Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/zontziry 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/zontziry

Website: www.zappi.io/web

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.


[00:00]

On episode 237, I’m interviewing Z. Johnson, VP of Customer Transformation at Zappi, but first a word from our sponsor.

[00:10]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com       

[01:35]  

Hi. I’m Jamin, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Z. Johnson, VP of Customer Transformation at Zappi. Zappi is a marketplace for consumer insights and research automation. Prior to joining Zappi, Z. has been a marketing research manager at Microsoft, a director at Ipsos, an independent consultant and worked at various market research companies. Additionally, she has a storied long-form blog called MRXplorer and has recently added a podcast, which really drives her thought leadership. It is actually one of my go-to podcasts. I love the fact that they’re really these micro-episodes. I highly recommend you add it to your list. Z, thanks very much for joining me today. I really want to start the conversation a little bit differently than I normally do. Let’s talk a little bit about this point that you’ve raised: thinking about new technologies that have been entering the marketplace in the last, I’ll even call it 10 years, right? So, we know that the online survey, big difference. In fact, I think I saw a statistic recently: something like 70% of surveys are now online or have an online component to them, quantitative surveys. 

[02:48]

OK, OK, that even sounds low. 

[02:50]

Yeah, I thought so too actually. But Caddy still exists or phone-based surveys still exist as well as there’s definitely a place for in-mall intercepts, although I feel like that’s basically completely gone away less the Nielsen. 

[03:04]

There’s even paper surveys.

[03:07]

There are still some paper surveys, but most companies have digitized even the paper surveys aspects of it now are… There might be a portion that’s paper, but it gets scanned and then processed.

[03:19]

Automatically read. Yeah. 

[03:21]

Exactly. So it’s almost like the digital process. It starts to digitally and then it goes paper and then it goes back digital. But anyway, so what has been one of the more disruptive technologies that has entered the space?

[03:33]

So, I’m going to caveat this with it’s the most disruptive and actually useful. And I don’t mean to sound totally contrarian, but there is disruptive, and then there is disruptive and “We’ve found a way to actually use it for research.” And that is the online communities. I think the fact that we now have in the past few years taken more advantage of the fact that people have an online presence. They are comfortable in forums, talking to each other online, talking to complete strangers online. I think being able to leverage that has allowed us to get a lot closer to doing a qualitative research at scale. It also has modified some of how we can serve up some of our quantitative information, right? So now instead of just having to have someone come into a focus group area, focus group building, or a conference room to show them a particular idea, now you can actually serve that up online. They can have a real-time reaction to it. I saw one company Greenberg a couple of years ago. They did this super fascinating thing by combining focus groups with a digital presence. So what they did is they had two sets of people, and they had what they called their experienced IT professionals and then they had their younger IT professionals, so more experienced and less experience. And what they did is they had, for example, the first group that they had in the focus room was going to be the more experienced IT professionals. Well, while that focus group was running, they actually had the younger IT pros online watching that focus group, and so it was like you were doing a double focus group where they were reacting in real time, the younger IT pros, we’re reacting in real time to what they were seeing and hearing from their peers who are more experienced. And then they swapped that. And just the fact that using that technology and that’s an extension of that online community, I think that is just, it’s so powerful and it’s so amazing. And I think what’s so amazing is that it works, and it’s actually opening ideas and doors for us to get richer content, faster content, and be able to reach more people at one time and at a global scale instead of just these tiny regional scales. There’s more disruptive stuff out there, but as far as disruptive and something that we have actually been able to take into our suite of tools and use well I would have to say that online communities piece. 

[06:33]

That’s so interesting. The focus group on a focus group, it’s beautifully meta because I’m thinking about like… I’m going to pick on Remesh. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the technology, but in full disclosure, I’ve done some consulting for them. They fit in this qualitative, quantitative space because basically it’s qualitative at scale, which is something we’re seeing more and more, whether it’s video chat or whatever. And their use case, they don’t have the yellow taxi. Uber is my favorite to example because it’s so obvious. There’s billions of dollars or whatever that are spent in the taxi space or were historically and for Uber as they introduced their product, it was just a transference of those dollars, right? So there was no new dollar that was being created and it was the same experience or outcome for the consumer, whereas most market research technology companies are delivering a different or augmented solution. And that’s as opposed to a transference of, “OK, I don’t have to do a survey. I can do this, right? I don’t have to do a telephone survey. I could do an online survey. It’s the same outcome.” It’s all augmented onto the budget. It’s like bolt on to the budget. This is an interesting concept because what you’re describing is a real clear use case inside of an existing focus group, which is not going to be displaced, at least not anytime soon. Most people aren’t going to say, “Oh, I’m not going to do the focus group.” The reason they want the focus group is that bio-rhythms or comfortability or what have you. Right. But what this layers on top of it in a chat context or in whatever platform you decided to use, it enables this mixed modal experience where you could have a productive conversation and really understand the impact of what the lens that you’re hearing (bad metaphor), but viewing the focus group and then interacting with the peer groups and ultimately the stakeholders inside of the company. 

[08:39]

Yes, and the output has been so incredibly powerful. Greenberg did this as a way of exploring the difference between the millennial IT pro and the non-millennial IT pro. And I will tell you that the information that they walked away with… You know you have heard about, “Oh, they’re more likely to use Amazon” and some of those general things, but the fact that they were able to get that as an on-the-spot-reaction to them listening to their peers and actually show how different their worlds are and the way that they approach things, it actually created this link between the two because you could see this, “Oh, so that’s where I’m going to end up” as they’re watching their more experienced peers and there’s this whole like, “Well, we’re here because we want to be solving problems and we want to break stuff and fix it and just be there to be involved with all this new technology whereas their more experienced peers, they’re like, “Yeah, seen it, done it. We’re just trying to keep the lights on.” But the story that came out of that, I think because of the fact that you were able to get such a quick gut response from both groups to how the other group was responding to the same questions, I think landed that message so much better, so incredibly beautifully well and it provided so much more weight to a lot of the information that had already been circulating. But there’s something about that qualitative, hearing it from a person, seeing a reaction in real time that just ends up landing so much better. 

[10:35]

What is your view on traditional focus groups: recruit nine to twelve people for a session in-person versus online equivalent? 

[10:45]

Honestly, I think that the in-person focus group, part of the problem with that that I have seen in the past—and I should say most of my past is B2B market research;
so, I can’t speak to this experience with B2C, but I would imagine it might hold true—

is you get a lot of the same people who are participating in these same regions. If you’re going to do an in-person focus group and you’re going to be tech, you’re going to go to the Silicon Valley; you’re going to go to Chicago; you’re going to go to New York. And those are going to be your three places because they each have their own quirks about them that capture pieces that you want to have. That is SO limiting, I think, in terms of being able to capture a broader swath of an audience. Whether it’s B to B or B to C, I don’t care which one of those it is, you’re not capturing a true audience if you’re just keeping it centrally local to that nine to twelve people that you can find within that particular area. Transfer that to the online experience. As long as someone is available during the time that you’re having your thing and they have met the criteria, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. And I think that is super important because there is that cultural element that ends up being almost over-weighted, I think, when you’re doing this in an in-person environment. And it’s over-weighted but it’s also you’re trying to mitigate by having it in these central locations, whereas online it’s already mitigated. You don’t have to worry about making sure that while Silicon Valley is going to be the super tech forward, Chicago is going to be probably more the mainstream. You can have those same people in the same “room” when you’re doing it online. And you’re still going to have the issues of “Hey, is someone going to be dominating the conversation. Do you have a good moderator? Do you have good questions?” But I think the representation that you can get using an online community is it’s richer; it’s deeper; it’s broader; it’s more what I think we try to achieve in those in-person focus groups. 

[13:05]

So, are you seeing online communities really through a longitudinal lens or are you seeing it as the short-term kind of one-and-done? 

[13:15]

No, I think I’m seeing it more through the longitudinal lens. 

[13:18]
OK, so it’s about recruiting a sample frame or a group of people that look a certain way, whether it’s buying habits or demographics or what have you and then just touching them on a regular basis. Got it. Got it. But also, is that asynchronous or synchronous feedback or some combination? 

[13:37]

I think a combination: the synchronous and asynchronous feedback. I think that part of the beauty of having the online community is that you can have both types of feedback in this same group.

[13:51]

Who do you think is doing a particularly good job from a technology empowerment level in the online community space?

[13:57]

I don’t know that I have a good answer for that. I want to say FocusVsion is the one that comes closest to mind and you can cheer. Most of the work that I have done with online communities has been done through agencies that are then reaching out to other agencies to try to get that work done. So I really am not sure who is really forging the path for that. 

[14:27]

So the way that you see that it’s… And this is consistent, incidentally, with other market research professionals in brands that I interact with. You’re really contracting with an agency that is dealing with the technology, implementation, etc., etc. as opposed to that being an internal function inside of, in this case, Microsoft. 

[14:47]

Yup, we rely heavily on the agency partnerships that we have. We go to them; we tell them what is it that we would like to have done; and we rely heavily on them to come back with, “OK, here’s how we can achieve that. Here’s some thought leadership on our part. You want this, but we think it could be even better if you tried this new technology. Here are some use cases where we’ve already used it. Would you be interested in trying it out now?” And we really rely on them to have those relationships with the technology providers to be able to present those experiences. An example is Voxpopme. They had a lot of relationships with agencies and I had seen them but it’s almost like we don’t use them. We didn’t use them at least directly. We use them as kind of that bolt-on feature to a survey, and then eventually over time there surfaced an ability to actually deal directly with them. But that’s, I think, generally speaking, the majority of how we end up interacting with technology companies. It’s like three steps removed from where we are sitting doing our research.

[16:01]

Shifting gears a little bit, you have, I think, since September at least what I’ve found, September of 2015, hosted a long-form blog on MRXplorer.com. Some of your early stuff I found really interesting. The one that I actually tethered myself to was a webinar recap. The subject doesn’t matter. The fact that it was a webinar recap I find it really interesting in that same month because recently this year, 2018, you pivoted to a podcast. I’d like to really understand why you started the blog first, and then I want to talk about, explore why you started the podcast. 

[16:47]

You and me both. No, in all honesty, I started the blog after I left QuestionPro. I was working for a market research agency, doing project management and one of the things that I had done at QuestionPro was blog on behalf of QuestionPro. And that meant that I had a lot of opportunity to explore, to write. And I love writing; I’ve always loved writing. When I switched roles and I no longer had that daily outlet or even daily deadline of having a blog post that I needed to write about some topic on market research, I found that I really missed that and I felt so disengaged from the rest of the market research community. And so, I actually started the blog more as a personal outlet for me to be able to explore ideas, topics that were taking place in the market research industry.

I was really making a point of following a lot of people on Twitter. A lot of the thought leaders, Annie Pettit and Jeffrey Henning and Ray Poynter, were the earliest ones that I started to follow. And they were saying some really, really interesting things that were making me step back and think and I wanted to just kind of pitch my voice in if you will. But more it was a personal outlet for me to keep exercising that exploration part of my brain and learning ‘cause it’s something I’ve always loved to do is just learn, learn what’s new and see how it integrates with what I have right now. This last year I actually started the podcast in part because I was inspired by your podcast, and it seemed my boss’s podcast because it was something that has been on my mind for a few years. I’ve been a podcaster or not podcaster. I’ve been listening to podcasts for three years, four years. And ever since I started listening to podcasts like “This American Life” or any of the NPR podcasts really, I was thinking, “Gosh, this sounds so fun. This would be such a great way for me to actually take the same thing that I’m doing in my blog and put it in an audio format. And I naively thought that it was going to be a lot easier to do a podcast than a blog post. I thought, “Oh, I can just have my phone; I can just turn on a recording. And then “Boda bing, Boda boom! It’s published. It’s done. Little did I know that talking into a microphone is so different, especially when it’s just you and you’re trying to self-edit while you’re talking because I just didn’t realize that when you’re typing out something, you read it; you can immediately go back. And it’s not audio, so you’re not having to be like “eh, huh, um, no. OK, let me try that again.” I remember the first time, my very first podcast episode, I ended up doing that waiting for my family to come home from visiting family in Eastern Washington. I was just sitting there at the window kind of like, you know, and in Cat in the Hat where they had the kids sitting in the chairs, looking outside, wishing that they could play, but it’s raining so they can’t. I totally felt like that was me sitting at the window just waiting for the car to drive up. It wasn’t driving up and it wasn’t driving up and I’m like, “You know this would be a good time while I’m doing absolutely nothing to just record a podcast.” So, there was stuff going through my mind. I decided to download an app and just start recording and see what happened. 

[20:43]

So, I got to play this for you. Sorry about the pause. I wanted to find it. “Test, test, test, test, test, test, test, test, test-t-t-t-t-t-t-.” Right. I mean that’s the very beginning of your first episode. For me, it’s an iconic go-to moment in podcasting. You’re capturing a lot of stuff with that. The point about the self-moderating and editing: podcasting happens, even though there’s a post-processing element, it happens in real-time. And like you, I love long-form blogging. And when I made the transition to… I’m literally like terrified. I won’t even listen to the first ten episodes that I produced because they’re just so bad, at least from my lens. And we have to have that honesty with ourselves too, is that all of our stuff and including our voices aren’t terrible. But the degree of, I’m going to say we’re probably self-critical and our biggest critics, but the way that the market views us is very different than that internal voice. And one of the things you talk about, and I think it was in the second episode, you actually use the word self-doubt as one of the reasons that it was delayed in getting published. And that just struck me right in the middle of my ego, which is exactly the problem that moving from a blog or written form to a real-time form that impacts. How did you conquer this self-doubt?

[22:32]

Oh, I still haven’t, honestly. That’s one of the reasons that it has taken me a while to record a fourth episode is, gosh, we have this book that I bought for my son and by “for my son,” I meant for myself. It was called The Whatif Monster. And it’s this little book, and it’s basically talking about this little boy who wants to go do all these things, but the Whatif Monster comes to pay a visit and says, “Well, what if you fail? What if you don’t like it? What if no one likes what you do?” And I just feel like that is such a constant voice that goes on in my head of what if you record something that is just stupid? What if you record something that no one wants to listen to? No one agrees with. No one cares. And then I have to go back to but this really has pivoted for me from my early days of blogging of “This is just for me to have a voice.” It changed dramatically for me when I realized people were reading what I was writing because then I felt obligated to create content that people would want to read and for a podcast that people want to hear. And so, I found myself doing this thing and I had this idea for the podcast that I was going to go back to basics, right? And I think I say that in the first episode and then I go into my next two episodes. But the thing that excites me about market research isn’t necessarily going back to basics and teaching basics; it’s exploring all the new ideas. That’s why I came up with a name for the blog, MRXplorer, because it’s so core to who I am. 

But that self-doubt, man, it totally is that Whatif Monster. It’s the but “What if you say something wrong? What if you put something out there that gets shot down because it turns out you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about really.” So I still wrestle with that on a regular basis, and I just have to remind myself, “You know what? All of us are in that space. All of us are trying to explore this together. None of us have all the answers. It’s okay to trip every once in a while.” And, for crying out loud, it’s a podcast. You can edit the hell out of that thing, and it can sound amazing when you’re done and no one knows that you tripped 500 times over the name of your own damn blog called MRXplorer. No one else would know that you did that because you can just edit all of that bad stuff out, and you sound like the most genius person in the world. But then I still have that self doubt: “Yeah, do I really sound like a genius or am I just slow and rambling?”

[25:32] 

I’ve actually struggled with the editing portion of it not because I hate listening to myself. (I definitely do.) But the bigger reason why is I feel like there’s a disingenuousness. The way that the podcast is consumed, in my opinion, it’s intimate. It’s very unique. It’s a lot like the written word, except for the fact that the written word happens in this dedicated period of time where you’re extremely focused. In other words, there’s not a lot of other stuff going on around you. The podcast is consumed oftentimes in a passive way. So you’re almost always doing something else: commonly, commuting, for example. When you’re doing these drudgery-type tasks (Like for me, I was doing some yard work this weekend when I re-listened to your episodes) and when you’re doing these drudgery-ish tasks, there’s this relationship that develops with the host that is very, very unique because… I don’t know the psychology about it. I’m not trying to pretend to, but I’m just interpreting my own sort of connections, and it’s like I feel like I know you, even though you and I never met in person and this is the first time we’ve ever spoken, right? Right. So, there’s this connection, and it’s way different than me reading your blog posts. It’s totally different. And, honestly, it’s more, in my opinion anyway, it’s way more human, maybe one-sided ‘cause it’s not reciprocated but anyway. So was that part of the reason why you decided to venture into podcasts, was this alternate way of connecting to the audience? 

[27:11]

Totally, it was. So one of my favorite podcasters (is this what you call them?) is Sarah Koenig, right? The one who is the voice for the Serial podcast. And it’s just
you listen to her and you feel like you are sitting in her living room, and she’s just telling you about this stuff that she just happened to learn the other day. And just that intimacy behind it, it became so human like you said. And there was a part of me that wanted to actually put a voice to my voice as weird as that might sound. You know I had the typing and I had the blogging and that was fantastic. And I’ll still go back to that every once in a while. But similar to how—I’m going to go meta here—but similar to how in market research you have qualitative information; you want to support it with quantitative. Oftentimes it goes the other way though: you have quantitative information and you want to humanize it with that voice of the customer, the actual voice. And there was a part of me that really wanted to put my voice out there and connect better, connect deeper with the people who I feel like are part of my tribe, this whole market research community. And I think that’s part of where I got a little stuck at first is because one of the things that I was going to do with my blog was actually make it a how-to for small- to medium-sized business, DIY market research stuff. And so, I kind of had that mindset when I was starting the podcast, but really it’s all about just someone hearing me and my ideation as opposed to someone just reading what I have to write. It pivots in such a unique way, I think. And I think that ends up… It’s like walking into a party and hoping that you’re interesting enough to meet a few people. That’s kind of the podcast world, right? You’re like, “All right, I am sending my voice out into the wild yonder, and I’m hoping that someone finds it interesting enough to listen. 

[29:53]

Yeah, it’s all about this value exchange, right? And you definitely get that with long-form and it happens completely differently, but also, I think, impactfully in the podcast. Webinars are, and this is why I picked up on your webinar piece… Webinars had played a similar role in thought leadership where you’ll have this live event; you’ll present a case study. An agency and a brand will usually present a case study or just the agency on behalf of the brand. And then, people would chime in with live questions. Facebook live, there’s a lot of different platforms; Periscope that now enables similar sort of interaction maybe not to the degree of like a WebEx or GoToMeeting or what have you. But do you think that podcasts are going to assume a similar type role? The difference I see is webinars are not very frequently re-listened to, whereas podcasts tend to be this evergreen piece of content that are… I’m still getting downloads on my very first podcast. 

[31:01]

So I used to do webinars for QuestionPro, and you’re right about their shelf life, so to speak. I had a rotating set of four that I would do and it was mainly geared towards people who were new to the platform. And the first week could be just an intro to QuestionPro. The second week was going to be how to do some of the more advanced stuff. But I had to repeat that every month. So every four weeks or it was like there was a reset. And it was always, if you’re just joining us for the first time and it’s week three, you’re going to want to join us in week one. But your right podcast is totally different. It’s like I can put it out there and who knows? In three years time someone is going to be discovering this and listening to the very first episode. It becomes more fluid, I think, in the content and the delivery. 

[31:55]

We did a podcast specifically for SurveyMonkey prior to them going public and then it launched shortly afterwards. Watching the downloads on that for me has been very interesting because you actually see—even though it’s a one-and-done investment, it wasn’t very expensive comparable to a webinar—there are people today that are going to download the episode. Incidentally, that episode is not on the Happy MR Podcast. But in that framework, I found it really enlightening in terms of the power and uniqueness of a podcast versus a webinar. I think one of the things that we will see in the next two years are onsite podcasts at events, in market research events where you’re seeing sort of a post-interview with the keynote speaker and maybe select other speakers and then that get wrapped into a—we’ll call it a season—and then the democratization of access to information that happens at the brand level is really powerful because right now it’s somebody higher up, they get to go to TMRE or whatever and then they come back and they maybe write a PowerPoint or something, but in this case it would actually give access to all that information to the larger group of researchers. 

[33:21]

Yeah. You know, what I would love to see is the ESOMAR. They had the ESOMAR TV. I would love to see that as ESOMAR podcasts instead.

[33:27]

Totally. 100% there by the way. 

[33:29]

Because TV, which means I still have to dedicated ate time and screen space and all that, but podcasts, I can listen to that while I’m driving into work or back from work. 

[33:40]

And it’s such rich content. There’s so much value there. You’ve been long-form blogging for just about what? Four or five years or actually more than that since QuestionPro, but at a personal level with MRXplorer for about four to five years. You’ve been developing and maturing your personal brand. What role do you see impact of personal brand on an individual and then subsequently their career?

[34:08]

So, one of the things that I have seen was something that Annie Pettit actually told me. She and I connected via Twitter. I finally met her last year at IIeX North America. She actually had reached out to me a few years ago when I started with my Twitter presence and started developing this personal brand of mine and just giving encouragement and telling me that in her experience her using her voice in the market research community via social media had opened doors for her that she otherwise likely would never have seen open. And I have seen that. I know that the fact that I am so passionate about this space that I am willing to share my voice about it either via my podcast or via the blog, that tells people a lot, right? That just immediately right there says, “Whoa, she’s invested in this!” And that has already opened doors for me that I otherwise don’t believe I would have seen open whether it’s getting to talk to the likes of Annie Pettit and exchange emails and meet Jeffrey Henning in person and feel like I had known him for years. It has basically meant that my perspective and my ability to connect has gone global instead of being limited to my little sphere that might exist at Microsoft or wherever I happen to be. 

I have a much broader set of people that I can draw on, that I can ask advice from, that I can connect with. And that alone has really helped me in my career because if I need to, I know that I can send a note to a bunch of people and say, “Hey, can I just get some advice from you on this? I’m really struggling with like a methodology question or even a career question.” And that has been incredibly valuable. Just having that network up at my disposal, it’s something that I do not take for granted at all because I know how incredibly precious that is, how much work that has taken, and at times some courage to get out there and actually engage with the community and expand beyond my comfy little sphere here that I have going. It has been, I think, far more impactful in ways that I did not even imagine when I started.

[37:03]

Annie Pettit, Jake Pryszlak, I think, Research Geek on Twitter. Big, big influencers of course, Ray as well. Big influencers for me, Kristin Luck, of course. On that point in terms of speaking of the influencers of our space, are there other voices that are punching through right now in market research that we should be listening to? 

[37:29]

I love following Lucy Davison. Her voice assignment Chadwick, I feel like that is another voice that I love going to. Someone that I met at IIeX that I have been following. He is working more in the AI space right now.  But Patricio Pagani, the stuff that he is bringing forth in terms of just keeping on top of what’s happening with AI and digitization of so much stuff globally and he is taking a look at it as “Now how does this apply in market research?” His stuff, I have been following him more on LinkedIn and it has been so eye-opening because at least in market research. I joke that we just finally woke up to the fact that people use cell phones on a regular basis. But so AI seems so distant, but the stuff that he publishes that he shares with what he’s seeing happen in the world with AI, it makes it so real and so present and so right now. And almost to me it gives an urgency behind needing to understand it better and figure out how we can include that or learn about it and how to include it in our tool set. 

[38:58]

Kind of pulling back, talking about the importance of value in your thinking about the role of podcasts, the competitors set to podcasts are traditional media, right? So it’s a high bar and we have to frame it like that because this is interrupting their Spotify playlist. And so that means the value and as much as I like to think I’m a good singer, actually I don’t think I am, but we’ve got to bring value because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to gain and retain an audience. I want to talk a little bit and we’ll probably end on this with respect to MRXplorer. Recently, in fact this month, November 2018, I believe you posted to your blog after a while. What do you see as the future going into 2019 from a communication strategy perspective with your personal brand? Is it Twitter? Is it blogging? Is it going to be more podcasts? What can we look forward to? 

[40:04]

Definitely more podcasts. I was actually talking with my husband, who is my sound editor, my podcast editor. He’s fantastic and I think I’m going to be doing many episodes. Just when things come up and they’re top of mind, I’m probably just going to take some time, pull out my phone, record a few minutes and publish, but also working somewhere on the long-form episodes. I don’t know to what degree the blog will play a part in what I do moving forward. It’s still going to be there, but probably more on an ad hoc basis, so to speak. Twitter is going to still continue, especially as I go to conferences. That’s going to be where I end up sharing out a lot from what I’m learning and connecting with people at those conferences. But yeah, 2019 I think is going to be more, in terms of my communication strategy, it’s going to be very podcast heavy and I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. 

[41:10]

We are excited about consuming it. Jake Pryszlak or Research Geek on Twitter and myself are going to be rolling out a scheduled Twitter chat for MRX. It’ll be a… 

[41:22]

No way! That would be awesome. 

[41:24]

I think it would be helpful for a lot of experienced stakeholders or influencers in the space to be able to talk about specific subjects, and then, at the same time, it’ll provide other people that maybe are new to the platform or not using the platform to start engaging and adding value. Right. The idea is that it feels like there’s a lot of the same voices, but it’d be great if we could start expanding those voices so we have a core choir. 

[41:56]

Yeah, absolutely. Similar to how Kristin and Annie, they have been working so tirelessly to get new speakers. I especially appreciate the fact that they’re trying to get more of the women to step up and submit proposals to speak at conferences and just join the conversation. It’s been fantastic.

[42:18]

Exactly right. It’s exactly right. Yeah, that diversity is our strength. My guest today has been Z. Johnson. Z, thank you very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[42:31]

Thank you. It’s been such a delight. 

 [42:34]

And thank you, everyone who’s been tuning in. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please take a moment, provide a rating. If you have questions, you can look me up on any of the social media channels. Jamin Brazil, that’s @Jamin Brazil, Have a great rest of your day. 

[42:55]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com. Have a great rest of your day.      

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 236 – Ray Poynter on How Understanding the Business Stakeholder’s “Why,” Creates More Actionable Research

My guest today is Ray Poynter, ESOMAR Council Member and Founder of NewMR. Founded in May 2010, NewMR organizes online events and the LinkedIn NewMR group. NewMR is managed by Ray Poynter and Sue York, Research Strategist and Chief Curator.

Ray has spent the last 40 years at the intersection of research, innovation, and business, having been involved in the development of CAPI, online systems, online surveys, and social media research. 

Find Ray Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/raypoynter/?originalSubdomain=uk 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/RayPoynter

Website: www.newmr.org

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.


[00:00]

On Episode 236 I’m interviewing Ray Poynter, ESOMAR council member and founder of NewMR. But first a word from our sponsor. 

[00:11]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com   

[01:35]

Hi, I’m Jamie Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Ray Poynter, ESOMAR Council Member and founder of NewMR. Founded in May, 2010, NewMR organizes online events and the LinkedIn NewMR group. NewMR is managed by Ray Poynter and research strategist and chief curator, Sue York. Ray has spent the last 40 years at the intersection of research, innovation and business, having been involved in the development of CAPI, online systems, online surveys, and social media research. Ray, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today. 

[02:12]

Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me. 

[02:14]

You are an industry sage is how I would cast you, right? Anytime I see you pop up on my LinkedIn feed, I always click on it, read it, whatever, digest it. And you’re prolific in terms of your visibility in the marketplace. I’m really interested. Tell us about the young Ray. Like where did you grow up? What’d your parents do? How has that impacted your career? 

[02:42]

So, I’m from Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and I grew up in a mining village. My father worked at the local coal mine. He was first a lorry driver, then later a manual worker on the surface. And my mother by the time that I was born was a full-time mother and a part-time cleaner. And so, that’s where I hail from in the UK.

[03:05]

I love the humble beginnings aspect of that. It’s interesting like the juxtaposition because ESOMAR Council, at least from a branch perspective, is fancy, right? You’re the face of the industry to the governance of the world. What lessons did you learn growing up in that environment that you now have applied and help propel your career? 

[03:33]

I guess the most important one is that most people are not like market researchers. So, in the UK, amongst younger people, nearly half go to university. So we need to remember that across the whole country the majority don’t if we take the older groups. The vast majority do not look at advertising and marketing and think the way we think about things. So coming from a background and a culture where most people did not go to university, (I think three people in my class at high school went to university). It’s a useful reminder that there are lots and lots of different things and it’s one of the reasons why you need market research. You can’t understand people if you start thinking they’re like you. 

[04:28]

One of the things that I found interesting when I started learning about sampling is that about 30% of the U.S. population lives in 90% of the land. And it really put a finer point on where we need to make sure that we have representative sample. So if we have all of our sample coming from a specific geography or a large proportion, then we could be missing out on a meaningful point of view because there’s massive differences both psychologically: the way that they view the world from their upbringing perspective. And then, also socioeconomically and that has such a big impact on whether it’s new product adoption or ad resonance or what have you. I think it is a really important point that it’s easy to kind of get into our silos. When you think about like market-research focus group locations and forget about, I’ll call it, the common man. 

[05:20]

Yeah, Main Street or whatever you want to call it, absolutely. 

[05:25]

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome either personally or professionally?

[05:29]

Well, actually, it is related to that issue, and it was understanding that other people are not necessarily the same as me. So, as an employer or as a team leader in my early years, I would create environments that I would have wanted if I were them. And for some of them that really was quite distressing. So I would change the layout of the office two to three times a year because people like change. No, Ray likes change interests. People generally don’t. And it was applying my research skills to the people around me as opposed to just when I was being paid to use them. That really was quite a breakthrough. 

[06:12]

How long did that take? That isn’t an overnight discovery.

[06:17]

No, no. As the people who’ve ever been in my teams would attest, I’d been to my thirties before I really got ahold of that. 

[06:27]

So the thirties are this interesting point in a lot of people’s that I’ve interviewed  career where it’s a decade of… (This is broadly speaking.) It feels like it’s a decade of self-discovery and then that tends to be the point of inflection where their careers move up directly after that. The thing that I’ve seen is that people that decide not to develop the self-awareness, oftentimes will wind up all the time, we’ll wind up doing it at their own expense long term. But going through that process, actually, it can be a really uncomfortable situation at least from my vantage point. I realized that when I first did the… Do you remember Uber conference, they provide a percentage of time a speaker speaks? And for like six months, I just start analyzing how much time I was speaking, and I worked consciously on decreasing that amount of time to be 40% was my goal, which was a big epic challenge for me. And it still is, which is why I’m still talking. OK. So, tell me a little bit about the research project that you’re most proud of.

[07:42]

Well, this is kind of a curious one. I don’t use the word “proud.” Blame it on my Methodist upbringing. I lost my faith in my teens, but I’ve kept most of the habits: so, sort of a distrust of gambling and alcohol and an avoidance of the word “proud” being in that. So let’s think about “pleased.” Most times, I’m most “pleased” with the project I have just done. I’m most looking forward to my next one. So characteristics: if it’s solved a problem. So I’m quite often these days if I’m brought in on a project, is because the project has gone wrong. I don’t do normal projects where they’re set up. People contact me and say, “Ray, this has gone adrift. Can you come and help us?” And I’m just doing one at the moment, which was a really nice piece of work by an agency for a large international company, but they’d got some crossed wires between them, and they just needed to put a few things straight, and then that unfolds. And when you see it coming together, that’s fantastic, or when you discover something that the client didn’t know and that you’ve got this new facets. I can remember one many, many years ago, so I can talk about it now – Project for Whirlpool in Europe. And we did a multi-country, conjoint study of the white goods market, and we identified that what they thought was the structure, wasn’t the structure and what they needed to do was this. And that was really useful and I should add, it’s only really pleasing when they accept your advice. I can think of a project for a candy manufacturer where we found out something that was really useful. We were able to give them a warning: “If you do this, the product will fail.” They ignored it. They did it, the product failed, and they’ve never asked me for advice again. 

[09:39]

Oh, that’s funny. What kind of tips could you give our audience on how you can help the client turn their insights into action?

[09:49]

Find out what the business problem is. We focus too much on the research problem, and you can answer the research problem without helping the business. So if you’ve been told, “Can you test these three ads?” find out why they want to test and what action are they thinking of taking when they’ve got the results. Why are they testing them now and not previously or later? Why the three are not more? How do they think these ads are going to perform? With whom are they going to be successful? So the more you can find out about what the stakeholders further up the chain, further up from the insight manager really need to do, then you can help them more. Now, when sometimes when you do that, you end up telling them, “You know what? I don’t think you need this research because actually either way you’re going to have to do this, or either way it isn’t going to work, or we’ve done something similar before and we can show you what the likely outcomes are.” So the more you understand, the more likely it is that you will be able to give advice that results in action as opposed to describing the data that you’ve collected. 

[11:03]

So, I started my career in the nineties, mid-nineties. Do you feel like there’s been a trend of moving more towards like actual intent of discovery and actionability in research as opposed to maybe a few decades ago? It seemed from my vantage point— but I’m not casting it across the world—it seemed to be a little bit more about just supporting an existing decision that had already been made. 

[11:32]

No. I go back to the seventies and quite often then you’d have massive discovery because new products, new categories. I remember when the cooking sauces were launched and one of the brands in the UK spent more on advertising than the sector took in revenue because it was all about, “Can we create a sector which is fundamentally different?” And they were able to, and they used research to plot their way through that process and guided things that were going on. There was a difference in how research was done then to how it’s done now. And more decisions probably had to be made with that research. It was more expensive, and it was more time-consuming, and it took longer time in terms of a lapse. So somebody would write you a letter saying, “Can we have a meeting?” And you would write back and say, “Yes, how about this date?” because we didn’t all have telephones on every desk. You had telephones in every office but certainly not on every desk. And then you would start to arrange the meeting, and you’d find out they wanted to test something, and then you would agree a price, and then you would start printing questionnaires and posting questionnaires around the country. And that elapsed time allowed you to get a much broader understanding of the context for the research. So I think that there has probably always been a mix of validation research, discovery research, innovation research. People like Peter Cooper, who was such an innovator in qualitative research into the nineties… You’d go for Wendy Gordon and Colleen Ryan, enormously important qualitative researchers, who were doing fantastic discovery about what do people want, what are the real motivations and the drivers. Things like needs states were developed in the nineties as a method of understanding people. So I think we’ve always had that mix. What one is exposed to in any particular period of time changes, but the whole industry has got most of this going on somewhere. 

[13:45]

That’s actually really interesting when you think about the speed of discovery that’s happening or the speed to insight right now. And we’ve gone from (again, my framework is the nineties) so CATI and in-mall intercepts were the primary two data collection methods that we used. And so, in that framework a project would take at fastest scenario would be three weeks, maybe six, three to six weeks, pretty normal for ad hoc research. And now it’s gone down to literally days; Zappi is a great example of hours. Right? How is that changing the decision-making process? Does it mean that the researcher is subsequently just being cut out more and more from the decision-making process and the integration into that decision-making process? Or do you think it’s maybe they’re still involved in that for the important stuff, but the internal brand manager or whoever’s commissioning, conducting the research at speed is doing sheer volumes more. 

[14:44]

There is certainly sheer volumes more. There are some interesting patterns around that. When I talked to insight managers who are pretty comfortable at their future, which is not all of them by any means, they are mostly switching from being order takers to being planners. So they’re going around the business saying, “We think you need to look at this. We think we’ve got an answer to your problem.” “I don’t have a problem.” “You do.” “Let me tell you what the problem is and then I’ll tell you what the answer is.” So there’s that sort of pro-action going on with client-side insight managers in the best organizations: the shift from order takers to planners. Along with that, there is the facilitation of really quick answers. We need to know how many people drink cappuccinos in the afternoon in the major metropolitan areas. You don’t want to wait a week for them. 

Ideally, you Google it and you find out whether that information already exists or you use your KnowledgeHound and your information system. And if you don’t, then you want some way of getting that answer quickly. And you don’t care whether that is a piece of data analytics, whether that’s like a super fast survey, whatever it is providing, it provides a sensible answer to the process. And then the next step is to use that speed and those lower costs to allow iterative development. So rather than telling somebody to develop an ad or develop a concept, and at the end of it, we will tell you “pass” or “fail,” we will sit alongside you as you go through, allow you to test more ideas quickly so you can keep changing the product through to something that’s actually going to fly and is going to win. 

So we can reduce the risk of failure by working alongside people all the way through. And that sort of iterative process is growing. And the other thing which is happening, and it’s most obvious where people are using online insight communities is that every single project is fast. But if you’re working with the same team of researchers and client-success managers for year after year, they start to really understand your business, and you can go back to this community of people and ask additional short questions and then build those answers back into the bigger picture. So the way that we gather the information is increasingly between the projects, not during the project. 

[17:19]

I really like this point that you’re making. I think it’s vital that we, as researchers, understand this. And the other part that supports a methodology is a human being just can’t take 15 minutes of solid focus on completing a project. It’s really, really hard to get that kind of attention in context of a survey, I do think it works in video-based IDIs, that sort of thing. But the benefit of touching people over time and then building out that respondent record, almost creating a longitudinal point of view on the human, it definitely turns that one-off into an ongoing asset for further leveragability. Are you seeing companies leverage technology like combining community management and knowledge-management platforms like KnowledgeHound? Is that becoming part of the arsenal of the internal brand researcher? 

[18:22]

It is. It’s coming in. It’s still got quite a way to go so more data goes into the system than comes out. And so, there is more work to do this. KnowledgeHound is another good example. There are plenty of platforms out there. We are going to see, I think, some good developments in those over the next few years so that your first port of call will be to ask, “Do we already know the answers to that?” And if we don’t, what additional thing do we need to know? Cause it’s unlikely that we’re going to need to know a full-survey’s worth because we should already know quite a bit about that. 

[19:07]

Yeah, data visibility and accessibility across your organization is probably one of the biggest problems that we have because data really is not a renewable resource inside of the organization. It’s largely treated as a one-off. The big problem with it is that every platform—and there’s, according to Lenny Murphy, over 600 now— has its own data schema. So we don’t have the common language across research platforms (data-collection platforms) to— and I’m including qual and quant there by the way—to systematically know that this question is a gender question, for example, or age or diagnostic. Do you think that’s one of the big white spaces that exists in the space?

[19:54]

It is. And it’s not just in the research space. So, Tim Berners-Lee Semantic Web, he thought that was going to be the next big breakthrough because it would make the web so much more useful if every piece of data told you what it was. The difficulty is it would have required people who are putting the data in to describe it for the benefit of people later on who would use it, which is a bit like timesheets requires the people putting the data in to do it for the benefit of other people who will use the information because it didn’t happen. So what we’re beginning to see are AI tools that are being used for the tagging and the coding and that will make sense of that data. But we will need to see market researchers move away from their preferred data structures because their preferred data structures tend to be rectangles, tables of data.

And if you look at the way the world is changing, it’s mostly JSum. It’s to do with strings of information where you have a lot of information from one person, not very much from another. And it’s lots of different things. So we’re going to have some interesting work probably over the next 20 to 30 years in creating structure that unifies unstructured information and then uses appropriate analytical techniques. Because once you get near the marketing scientists, they try to cram the data back into their rectangles of data where everybody’s answered the same questions on the same format, and it’s just not going to be available in that format.

[21:38]

It’s fascinating when you think of it like that, especially with the timeframe that you’ve created, which is pretty long, but you’re seeing it now with NLP machine learning, supporting the structure of unstructured data, helping with social listening, for example. One of the things that you’ve done is made it come out pretty strongly with respect to surveys decreasing from a methodology perspective relative to global market research turnover and then at the same time qualitative increasing. How have you seen that play out over the last, what it’s been, I guess four-ish years?

[22:20]

Probably slightly more. The decline in surveys has been a little bit slower than I thought it would be. It’s been of quite a clear decline but it’s been slow. And I think that is because the panel companies have done an awesome good job at driving down price, driving up the flexibility, the speed, the convenience, the targetability, and so on. So, surveys are what you do when there isn’t a better option, a better, faster, cheaper option. And so, their decline is because other things are coming in. Now the most obvious one is that the passive data that has come through really, really strongly where we want to know what did you watch and when did you watch it and all of that sort of thing and that where did you travel and how many journeys have you had. That is increasingly being collected with passive information as it should be.

 We’re seeing all sorts of quite interesting things with facial recognition where poster boards are looking at people as they pass them to see how many people look at the poster board. Because in the old world we do a survey to say, did you notice that poster board? Well, it’s not a great methodology. You’re going to give that methodology up as soon as you’ve got a better alternative. So that’s the survey side. The qual side is really interesting. Initially, it was a hypothesis, but we’re seeing this come about. Qual has traditionally been about 15% of all market research spend, but if you look at the people who fill in the GRIT survey, who are not a representative sample of the industry—they tend to be at the front end of the industry—they have a much bigger proportion of their time being devoted to qual. If you go to a data analytics conference, you will find an amazing amount of the conversation is around this understanding qualitative issue because the more data you have about what people do, the more you scratch your head and you say, “Why? Why on earth are they doing that? ” They are buying electric cars and then they’re not using them very much, and the car is depreciating. They’d be better off doing this. They’re financially looking after this, but they’re not looking after that. Why? How would we create that message? And for that you need qualitative tools. So, I saw a fantastic presentation in ESOMAR APac last week in Macau and a British researcher, Crawford Hollywood, had been working with the Australians because every time there is a big typhoon or something, there’s an outpouring of sympathy and lots of wonderful people send tangible things: beds, tents, buckets, Teddy bears. And the problem with that is they clog the airports. They then have to be contained; somebody has to pay to put them into containers; and then they usually end up in landfill. They’ve got lots of data about who did it and why they did it and so on.

But to understand how to create a message that was going to say, “Send cash, not stuff.” They needed to use qualitative research and behavioral economics to get that insight. So the data told them what the problem was. The data told them what triggered the problem, how to recognize the problem. And that was relatively inexpensive and relatively straightforward. But what was more (It would have been more expensive, but I think there was a lot of pro bono in it.) more difficult was the qualitative assessment. And so, we will see good qualitative; we will see semiotics and ethnography and this real understanding develop. And I was talking to someone recently about what is the AI analysis of video going to do for qualitative researchers. And I said it’s going to be fantastic cause what will happen is you will get thousands of hours of video and you will ask the AI, “OK, I want you to do some unsupervised topic modeling to find out the main types of breakfast eating situations that exist.” “OK, boss, I’ve done that.” “Right, OK, now I want you to show me some clips, which are absolutely typical of each of those.” And I will then work out what they mean because that’s the division of labor between the machine and the human.

[26:55]

When we’re seeing this emerge right now… I’ll be at the Insights Association’s next conference in Chicago in a few weeks. And one of the speakers, and I’ve recently interviewed, actually talked about this issue. AI-empowered insights, actually, it’s like the Google algorithm, where it can start self-reinforcing bad behavior, which,  fortunately, is part of the dialogue now as it relates with machine learning, thinking about what’s important and what you should show, what insights should be taken out of a vast amount of data based on user behaviors. In the Google example, it’s, obviously, clicks rate. And so, there’s a famous white paper that was done where it’s illustrated that there was a clear bias towards men CEOs versus women CEOs. So anyways, and it was just a function of that algorithm reinforcing what user behavior was illustrating as important as opposed to what actually is important, which is truth, Anyway, I think this is a very fascinating point of view. Besides AI machine learning, do you think there’s… How is voice moving going to play in the market? When I think about voice, I actually mean Alexa and Google Home. 

[28:17]

I think there are probably a few unknowns. The first one is: Are people going to get freaked out? Is it listening to stuff that it shouldn’t be listening to? So that has got to be reconciled. The really nice use that one could envisage of it, if we get all the trusts in place, is a question about… So, when I go to bed I say, “Hey, Google, turn off the lights,” and it’s just actually turned on. 

[28:51]

I know. It’s awesome. 

[28:52]

It will know what time I go to bed normally. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a voice-activated question in there that says and I’ve signed up to have a certain number of these in return for some sort of benefit. “Why are you up later today?” “Or why are we turning the lights out earlier today?” Or my temperature control is connected to my internet of things; so is the carbon monoxide leaks. We can envisage putting in really single simple questions like that. Not too many per person. You know I would probably be tolerant of a question most days, but I wouldn’t want to get several questions each day like “Did you have a cappuccino today, Ray?” And if so, “Where did you get it from?” But those questions are going to be super short; so they will have to be part of a program of collecting data from people through their devices, through some surveys, through some voice activation. So it is going to probably only be a small part of the existing mix. I know that some people think surveys are going to be voice-activated. That only works for… We have an English expression called “Billy no mates,” which is somebody who is on their own. So if you’re in a family setting, you are not going to sit there and talk to Google home and answer a four-minute survey. You are not going to do it necessarily when you’re watching TV. Yes, you might do it when you’re eating so it’s going to be a marginal piece. We’ll probably see it as an option. 

Where I have seen it produce something that’s quite interesting is where you are looking for open-ended texts. Getting people to speak it into the right sort of device at the right sort of time gives you more and quite interesting text, but the right time is not when you’re on the train. If you look at the time of day when most surveys are completed, they’re completed during the working day. People are cyber loafing, so that is not amenable to voice data collection. So it’s going to be a useful addition. I don’t think it’s going to be a mainstream game changer. 

[31:26]

It’s interesting how as you’re casting it, it really becomes a part of this whole micro survey or data collection point of view where you’re building out that respondent record because done in context of a one-off is a lot less interesting in context of a thousand data points and this is just a few more that we’re appending to that particular respondent record. 

[31:49]

That’s right. If you imagine you get a compliant person who is happy to take part in this, and every time they listen, they leave a restaurant, they get a beep and they speak into their phone very quickly. “Yeah, I’d give that a five out of seven. The food was good, but the service was lousy.” And you build that up over time so that you find out, “OK, this guy always says the service was lousy.” So that’s pretty irrelevant to how we get to the advice we’re going to give the management, but this was really good.

[32:28]

I mean that’s really interesting. 

[32:29]

One of the things that we tend to get wrong when we oversimplify quant research is that everybody’s opinion is equally valuable. But, actually, think about when you look at TripAdvisor and you see somebody who has been really negative. You have a look at a couple of other places they’ve reviewed to see whether they are just a negative person. Or are they normally positive and they thought this was really bad, in which case that’s a really strong warning. And I will often say to people when they’re looking at customer satisfaction data, if you’ve got somebody that thinks you are terrible at everything, ignore that data pretty much because you can’t learn from it. You want people that say “This was OK, this was OK, that was terrible and that was terrible” because now you’ve got something you can work with because you can conceivably make those happy people by getting it right. People are thinking everything is terrible. You are not going to make happy and what’s more, you’re going to spend money on something that nearly everybody else thinks is OK.

[33:30]

I mean you’re circling around the same point, and a lot of data privacy actually becomes like part of it, right? So, when you think about… I’ve said this on the podcast numerous times, so I apologize. But you are still asking gender in surveys. And on some anecdotal research that I’ve done, when a respondent qualifies for a survey, they’ve probably been asked gender six times in that one instance because they’ll get screened out or over quota, whatever, and then they’ll again get shown a set of screening questions, so on and so forth. And really what you’re talking about is that longitudinal point of view with the respondent. How does data privacy GDRP start playing into that? Does it then become limited to controlled communities or do you think we’ll be able to have a broader point of view at the respondent level through companies like Dynata? 

[34:27]

I think there’s a fascinating battle to be had about whether we get to see it through companies like Dynata, whether we get to see it through companies like the banks leveraging their information. Or do we get to see it through databases accumulated by clients? So will Proctor & Gamble, so Unilever, for example, want to have a connection, a digital connection with 1 billion, that’s B for Bertie, 1 billion of their customers? So that is one heck of a walled garden. And every one of those 1 billion will have their privacy settings and some of them will be set, “So yeah, you can use all of my data, but I want 1% off the price at the stuff I buy,” through to people who are totally locked down and sharing almost nothing. So it is going to be about asking additional questions. And that is why it’s so important for the Dynatas; it’s why it’s so important for the Experians and people like this who hold data. The credit card companies, the retailers all want to turn their data into an asset and they’re trying to work together in collectives. And then companies are trying to create those. So, today’s online communities, typically 5,000 to 50,000 people, and it’s used exclusively for market research—in the future, if for a big brand, it’s more likely to be a million to 5 million to a 100 million people. And it will be used for all the communication purposes of the organization, not just for research. 

[36:11]

So, you’re seeing this like Venn diagram of marketing research converging into marketing, or even brand, so at a big B level. You know, I did some research for Intuit a long time ago, and it was basically just a count of how many times each person in their database had been solicited for research. It was remarkable the volume because Intuit, being a consumer-centric organization, they were hitting their people a lot for ad hoc research. There was one guy that in a week, I think it was 16 times he’d been solicited for research by all the disparate stakeholders within the company. He was just checking all the boxes, I guess. And so, all of a sudden, you as a brand need to become very cognizant of the mechanisms or the experience that you’re creating through the research to the end consumer because that has an overarching… He was being contacted more for research than he was for upgrade or buy or whatever, right? So the value piece wasn’t necessarily there. 

[37:18]

And Scott Miller, at Vision Critical, spoke quite eloquently on this. So many of these as he calls them spam surveys are… You’re not sending these out to the general public. You’re sending them to your customers. They are part of the customer experience. And if they are not good, they’re a very negative part of the customer experience. 

[37:39]

When you think about market research today and you’re exposed to most tech and then also at an ESOMAR Council Member level and then from your brand exposure, what do you see as the biggest issue that we are facing as an industry? 

[37:56]

The difficulty of knowing whether research is good research or not has been growing, and probably underlying that is the decline in in rigor. We’ve got a lot of things out there like facial coding, which has very little good validation and may or may not work. Now, if it works, it’s fantastic, and maybe it works in some circumstances. We saw an attempt in the early days of neuroscience: The ARF did some side-by-side research, but there hasn’t been much since that. Some of the biometrics where people are looking at galvanic skin response. Well, if you show me a baby playing around with a razor blade, you are going to get a psychophysical response that’s really straightforward to measure. But if you show me a slightly different color for the floor detergent, you’ll be lucky if you’re going to get a physical response even if you are generating a response big enough for me to buy, make a purchase choice, that’s differently. So I think we need a lot more rigor in that process. But I’m not sure anybody is brave enough to do it. I don’t think the Insights Association or ESOMAR or any of these bodies are going to come in and say, “This piece of research from company A, uh, it’s rubbish. We’d suggest you don’t buy it.” And it’s really hard now for clients because people are coming along and they’re saying, “Nobel prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, recommended this or Daniel prize winner, Nick McFadden generated this type of conjoint analysis.” And it’s really hard for clients to know what the true value of that is, and things are moving so fast that it’s going to get more and more difficult.

[40:03]

I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me—one just yesterday interested in moving careers, so jumping into market research. If you were interested (kind of rewind the clock and context of today) in entering into market research/user experience, what would you do in order to bridge that gap? The problem that this individual was she didn’t have direct primary research experience that she could point to, which just basically opted her out even though she did have a clear desire and interest in the category. 

[40:39]

You want to find a place where your skill is relevant. So if you are a linguist, you would use that as your entry point. Use or find an area like customer-success management, which doesn’t require a research background, but it does require a background in working with clients, developing markets and so on. You might find that usability testing was a relatively straightforward point. If you’re a data scientist, then you’d come in through the data science route. So you want to find out what is your strength because when you’re in the industry, the phrase that’s become fashionable over the last few years is the T-shaped employee. So the most important thing about being a T-shaped employee is having that specialty, the stick that sticks out. Once you’ve got your feet under the table, you then want to make sure that you’ve got the regular skills, the flat part of the T: So you know about the research industry; you know what qual adds to the picture; you know why we don’t ask leading questions, how to recognize bias data and things like that. But you want to come in via your specialty.

[41:54]

Yeah, that’s interesting. Do you see the role of social media like LinkedIn, etc. playing a material part in that transition? In other words, do you think somebody could start blogging on that platform and then connecting? So at almost a very tactical level, leveraging whatever sort of overlap their existing talent may have with market research and then trying to really overreach but not in an inappropriate way.

[42:22]

I have seen individuals do it. Most people who try it can’t actually keep up that level of material. It’s hard work for most people to generate a lot of social media presence. It’s a little bit like keeping a diary. Lots of people want to keep a diary, but they can’t. Lots of people thought they were going to blog but they didn’t and it’s similar to do that. So I have seen people who have helped move careers, helped develop, become more aware. It may not be the easiest way unless you are a native to social media; that is where you want to be. So it is a possible route, but I wouldn’t think it’s the easiest. 

[43:11]

My first blog I had one post. I can’t think; it was like I was going to commit to a weekly post and then six months later, it was my second post. “Sorry, I haven’t posted in a long time.” It was just really perfectly described as you did. It is a major commitment, but one of the things that we’re seeing is within the LinkedIn platform itself, it’s almost like there’s this mix of Facebook content getting intermingled with business-related content. Are you seeing that on your feed or is it just unique to the people that I’m following? 

[43:46]

I actually don’t see much of it in my feed. I see people complaining about it in my feed, but I don’t really see much of the puppies and “Here is me running up a mountain. Here is the celebration of my anniversary.” I have a Facebook feed and I can see some really important things in people’s lives happening in Facebook. And I’m connected with the same people in LinkedIn. And what they are talking about in LinkedIn is different. So whether the algorithm is working better for me, whether my cross-section is different, I’m not sure. 

[44:29]

Interesting. Gosh, I tell you it’d be nice to see behind the curtain in terms of how it prioritizes what it is that we’re seeing and if we could help inform that content. But anyway, that’s another subject. How do you see the role of social media playing at a corporate level in order to advance the companies—and I’m talking about market research companies in this case—their individual agendas? How’s that going to evolve over the next couple of years? What should they be paying attention to?

[44:59]

They should be part of their broad strategy. So, there are two things that you want to do with your brand image. If you’re a market research company, then you want to establish the right image with clients, and you want us establish the right image with current and future employees. So part of what you’re doing the social media for is to get the right sort of people to apply, for people to want to work for you, and for people who do work for you to understand what your mission is because most people who work for a medium- to large-sized company have no idea what the mission of the company is. So you need to try to get that message across on posters in the bathrooms, on messages on their computer, and in social media and in what you say to the press, just at every possible opportunity. 

So social media is one part of that. And then you have the same thing when you’re talking to clients. So when somebody like Tom Ewing does a very thoughtful piece in LinkedIn, that is part of the message that says System1Group is going to give you this level of thoughtfulness. It also is a sub-message: “We’re not that cheap. So don’t bother yourself; only come to us if you’re looking for something extra.” You’ll see a lot of the stuff from InSites Consulting, the Belgium company, which again talks about some of the really exciting things they’ve done with clients. And one of them recently I saw Thomas talking about, Tom De Ruyck, sorry. Done a project with a transport company, and he’d insisted that they all travel by bus for the few days before the debrief because most of them didn’t travel by bus. Some had got drivers, they were so senior, and he wanted them to do that. 

So when he came to make the presentation, people would go, “Oh yeah, I recognize that. Yes, I recognize that.” Well, there’s a level of chutzpah or arrogance if you as a brand are telling your senior stakeholder clients to do something. And so, when you say that in social media, you are creating that expectation. Don’t come to us if you’re looking for a really cheap quick service because actually that’s not the sort of business you are. And similarly, if that is the sort of business you are, then you will message that through social media. But nothing in social media should be unique. It should simply be part of your broader communication plan. 

[47:43]

Got it. Are you seeing it as an increased… I’m thinking now about the new entrants into market research, the new buyers. Are you seeing it playing an increasing role in their buying decision? 

[47:58]

So, we’re talking about brands buying research from agencies or people buying agencies. Right. 

[48:05]

Right. Yeah, in this case, it’d be part of that $46 billion market research turnover piece.

[48:12]

Most clients are not active in social media. So there is a section who will be very aware, and they will be aware when for those situations where they have a different problem. So somebody comes along and says, “We really want to do some form of implicit association testing.” That’s when they’re going to say, “Well, yeah, I saw that nice presentation at the conference, and these people have been talking; decision-making talking about that in social media. I better give them a call.” That, of course, is something that doesn’t happen every year for that particular insight manager. They may not get any questions from their team that fall outside of their regular suppliers. So it is in use. It’s part of the communication strategy, but it’s not a major force for most people. 

[49:12]

One of the things I’ve been trying to wrestle with is I heard a podcast where Brian Halligan, one of the founders andCEO of HubSpot, was talking. He actually claims that telesales is net negative for a company’s brand if you’re selling into enterprises or B2B. This is his point of view and he gave a reason why, which, of course, all of us know, right? Nobody likes that person on the other end of the phone. However, on the other side of it, is exactly what you’re describing, which is you have this specific need in context of time and it isn’t regular. How are you finding companies building that brand so that they are top of mind when the buyer has the specific itch to scratch?

[50:02]

It depends what you’re selling, but my experience of telesales is that the companies that use it well do better than other companies. Now that maybe isn’t just because of telesales because maybe they’re doing lots of other things well too. But if you think about how telesales work, somebody rings you up and it’s a complete nuisance and somebody rings you up and it’s a complete nuisance. Somebody in your company says, “We’ve got to do a project with chatbots.” And 20 minutes later somebody rings you up and talks about chatbots. It’s brilliant. So that telesales has an immense amount of throwaway. But if it falls in at the right time, it’s like fly fishing; then it’s successful. And I think that is part of what is happening. It is different in different markets. So telesales is much less effective in Asia Pacific than it is in North America.

But generally speaking, the research industry I think should be using more telesales in the mix. Europeans, in particular, are very squeamish. They think, “Oh, people don’t want to receive those calls.” Look at the companies: people like Matrix Consulting and so on, a matrix lab who have done really well using telesales as an important part of the process. Otherwise, you very, very rarely breakout of whichever circle you’re in. If you look at the people who’ve done the social media mapping, what you notice is that everybody’s in groups and they’re in echo chambers, and we all talk to each other. If your marketing is going to break out of there, you have to do cold calling. Now that cold calling can be knocking on doors. It can be going up to people at conferences, but for a lot of clients it has to be telephone. There isn’t another method that we have today of cold calling. You can’t email people you don’t know. Geographically, it’s too time-consuming to knock on the door on the off chance, they’ll let you in. So, telesales cold calling is terrible, but better than all the other cold calling options.

[52:29]

Qualtrics is another example. They’re rumored to have had a phone room of over 400 people, just dialing. And I know that I actually lost one project to Qualtrics and the reason given to me was they just keep calling me, so I feel like I have to use them. Which I thought was really interesting.

[52:49]

And it is. And there will be lots and lots of people who will not respond to those calls, but it’s still giving them a mechanism to break out into somewhere else. And generally speaking, this comes back to my point about other people a lot like you. I could not be a telesales person, but it forces me to realize that there are people who can be.

[53:12]

That’s funny. Yeah, my previous chairman, Dennis Malamatinas, he got a telesale from Richard Branson. He was the CEO of Burger King Global, and they were reaching out to global CEOs to solicit utilization of Virgin airlines. So it was a really interesting thing. The billionaire is doing cold calling. Anyway, there you go. There you go. Last question: What is your personal motto?

[53:49]

Have fun, keep learning, help people and, hopefully, make some money along the way. 

[53:54]

My guest today has been Ray Poynter, ESOMAR Council Member and founder of new NewMR. Thank you, Ray, so much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.

[54:03]

Pleasure.

[54:04]

Everyone else, if you found value in this, as I certainly did, I hope that you’ll take the time to screenshot this episode, share it on social media. Your feedback as always helps other people like you find this content. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

[54:22]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com.   Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 235 – Morgan Molnar – How SurveyMonkey is Viewing Insights’ Ecosystem

My guest today is Morgan Molnar, who leads marketing for SurveyMonkey Audience. Established in 1999, SurveyMonkey is a DIY global survey software and panel company. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and has over 17 million active users. 

Prior to joining SurveyMonkey, Morgan was a client manager at Nielsen working in the marketing effectiveness practice supporting Procter and Gamble. She also worked with P&G’s Consumer and Market Knowledge center of excellence, developing new predictive modeling techniques to determine macro drivers of marketing ROI across their global brands. 

Find Morgan Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/morganmolnar 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/morganmlehmann

Website: www.surveymonkey.com 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.


[00:00]

On Episode 235 I’m interviewing Morgan Molnar, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at SurveyMonkey Audience. But first a word from our sponsor.

[00:12]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com   

[01:36]

We are at Happy Market Research today. Thanks very much for joining us. I am live at SurveyMonkey. Morgan, thank you very much for hosting me. 

[01:45]

Thank you. Thank you for coming and thank you for having me on the show. 

[01:49]

Morgan Molnar—I believe I got the name right—responsible for leading marketing for SurveyMonkey Audience. SurveyMonkey was established in 1999. They are a global leading survey and consumer platform (a sampling platform, excuse me) for marketing research based in San Mateo, California with over 17 million active users, which puts you in first place from an active user perspective in the space?

[02:17]

I would assume so. I don’t know. I haven’t fact checked that. But yeah, it’s a lot of users.

[02:22]

It’s absolutely a massive amount of users. So, prior to joining SurveyMonkey, you maintained leadership roles at both Nielsen and Proctor & Gamble in marketing. 

[02:33]

Yeah, I was at Nielsen focusing with my main client being Proctor & Gamble. 

[02:38]

Got it. There you go. So, you can fact check that then. Before we dive in talking about SurveyMonkey, I’d really like to set some context for the audience. Maybe you can tell us, Morgan, a little bit about your background, your parents, what they did and how that’s informed what you’re doing today. 

[02:54]

Sure. So, I was born in Maryland, grew up in Avon, Connecticut, outside of Hartford. It’s so fun to talk about because it was not the typical upbringing. My mother was the breadwinner. She was a career-long business woman in sales and marketing. So the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. So she led sales and marketing for various companies, mostly in marketing services and technology, and even had a CEO post for over five years. So she was definitely an inspiration from a career standpoint. And then my father was pharmaceutical sales by day but actor by night. So yeah, for a lot of my childhood where my mom was focusing on her career, he was a stay-at-home dad and pursuing his passion for acting, which was really fun too. 

[03:47]

Yeah, sounds like a hand in glove for your parents. 

[03:50]

Yeah, and I did a lot of acting with my father as a child too, so have a little bit of a knack for performing in me as well, which is probably why I love the conference circuit and going on shows like this. 

[04:03]

Have you done much like improv or is it just theater or…? 

[04:07]

Oh, my gosh, no, but I would love to. And it’s funny you say that. I was actually at a barbecue for Labor Day just a couple of weekends ago and was asking friends about improv because there was someone there who was doing it and I was like, I got to get into that. It is so for me, but no, just more acting here and there. Mostly, when I was younger, I did a little in grad school. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I didn’t really think about marketing or business. I was actually, I’m much more interested in science. And so, I actually applied to colleges as a physics major and very quickly decided that wasn’t for me. But, at the time, I was thinking I would be a professor or just really fascinated with the way that the world around us works. And I think that’s what drew me to market research. It’s a little bit more of a… I guess it’s a less technical application of science, like physics. But it’s still how do you figure out the psychology of consumers? How do you figure out the way that people think or feel or react or behave and then marketing is then that extension of how do you actually make decisions off of that knowledge. 

[05:23]

And coming from more of a quant background, marketing measured has better ROI just because you’re continually improving both the velocity and the subsequent return. The problem though, the tension, I think, that exists there is we start losing the traction or the justification for the creative part of marketing, right? So you’ve got that. How do you guys manage that kind of, “OK, I’m measuring this; I get it; my cost per acquisition is X, yada, yada, yada.” But then kind of like going all in on big bets relative to ad creative campaigns. 

[06:02]

Yeah, so my function technically is product marketing, but I work really closely with our growth marketing partners, and part of it is around goaling and part of it is around really setting aside budget and resources for those big creative campaigns. So, for example, you mentioned we were founded in 1999. We are this month celebrating our 20th anniversary.

[06:26]

Congratulations.

[06:26]

Thank you. I have not been at SurveyMonkey for 20 years, about a quarter of that. So what we are doing is a big splash campaign around that, which isn’t really to drive any specific business goal but more awareness and getting people involved in the brand. And so, you set aside for things like that and where I focus my time on audience, which is our market research panel. When we think about marketing, we definitely segment, “OK, this is a bucket of money that’s meant for awareness, and the goaling there is more around impressions and in the right target.” And then if we have more direct response marketing, then you’re looking at conversions and click-throughs and all of that. 

[07:14]

When you think about the relative spend and, like you said, you have a growth team. It’s been interesting… Airbnb is a good example of a company that started lean and then started getting traction. And I don’t even know how many… It’s got to be well over a hundred people now in their growth team. I really curious about this. Does the growth team sit like this group of ninjas and just kind of analyzes every aspect of the business or are they more compartmentalized relative to the business lines? 

[07:43]

A little bit of both. So we have two growth teams at SurveyMonkey. There’s a product growth team and a marketing growth team, and they work very closely together. But even the marketing side, we’ve got folks who are focusing more on engagement versus working on digital advertising and acquisition. And so, even with that distinction, you’ve got people working on different parts of the customer journey and funnel. And then, once marketing hands it off to product, then we were working really closely with those partners as well. I’d say we run lean as well, but there is definitely a big focus on growth here at SurveyMonkey. 

[08:21]

And when you think about the other part of it that’s interesting is this attention that companies are now paying towards different social good, and even beyond that, even more sometimes polarizing subjects—Nike being one of the quintessential brands, but then SurveyMonkey, of course, changing your logo during a gay pride.

[08:42]

Yeah, we definitely have a big focus on corporate social responsibility. We launched an entire division called SurveyMonkey for Good, which focuses on a lot of different initiatives, either local in the community or national. And part of that is also our SurveyMonkey Contribute program. So that’s actually one of our main panel sources. And then United States is SurveyMonkey Contribute. And that’s our unique proprietary panel source from the 2 million folks taking surveys on SurveyMonkey every day. And what we do is a pretty unique model where it’s all charitable incentives. And so, what’s really great and I’m really proud of that program for is we’ve donated over $15 million to charitable organizations in the U.S. since opening that. So, yeah, I think we definitely have a strong focus there. One of our core business values and company values is prioritize health. But that’s not just personal health; it’s also community health. So we definitely focus there. 

[09:41]

So by community health you mean at a global level or…?

[09:46]

Part of it is just how are we giving back to the communities and we have global offices.  

[09:54]

The community where you guys are located. 

[09:55]

Where we’re located. Even coming up in early October, we’re doing a week of service where there’s opportunities in all of the communities around all of our global offices to participate in some charitable work or volunteering activity. 

[10:14]

The tension has always been like this… So, you have maximum shareholder for value or maximized shareholder value has been historically the mantra of especially publicly traded companies but, I think, most companies. This altruistic perspective lends almost this unmeasurable ROI, right? And that’s getting to the point of you have these investment dollars that are being made at the corporate level now that are funding things that aren’t necessarily attributable to a revenue line, but they’re doing other things. Maybe it’s a retention of staff or… 

[10:52]

Sure. Part of it is getting SurveyMonkey out there in the community. It’s giving back to organizations by offering usage of our platform. It’s getting our employees engaged in the community. Yeah, and I think that there’s a lot of benefits that are maybe not monetary. 

[11:10]

Yeah, for sure. I’m just curious.  So, when growing up, your father was the primary caregiver, it sounds like.  Did you guys do things like rescue mission or anything like that service-related or did that develop later in life? 

[11:26]

It’s developed later for me. We were active in the community from a theater standpoint, giving art to the community. 

[11:35]

I would’ve argued that it could be it.

[11:38]

Yeah. So for me it was a little bit later in life, but definitely heavily involved with SurveyMonkey and outside in other organizations in the area too.

[11:47]

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. It’s kind of like following our normal roadmap, which allowed me to get to know guests in a different way. I call it the over-a-beer kind of a way, even though it’s a little too earlier this morning for that. Tell me about one of the biggest challenges and how you overcame that.

[12:09]

Yeah. For me what comes to mind is… Well, actually right before I started my role here at SurveyMonkey, I was living in New York, working at Nielsen. I was doing the New York to Connecticut headquarters commute, which was fine at the time. But my husband wasn’t (gosh, he was my boyfriend at the time) wasn’t thrilled with his job, was looking around and got an amazing opportunity here in the Bay area. So born and raised East Coast, never had been to California. 

[12:42]

It’s a big cultural shift.

[12:44]

Yeah. And so that was a crazy couple of months in early 2014. No, we got engaged in January. He got the job in February. We moved out to California in March.

[12:57]

That was 14. 

[12:58]

Yeah, 2014. So, Nielsen was great; they let me work from home. It was a very flexible role. My client was in Cincinnati, so I was already remote for them. So that was great. But you know, I moved across the country where I had really little support network, didn’t really know anyone, was in a job that I was working from home. So I wasn’t going into an office meeting coworkers. And I just realized that it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t in a great place. I was like I need to get out there more. And actually, what pulled me out of it…

[13:30]

‘Cause you were working from home too. So it’s like this whole isolation. 

[13:32]

Right. It’s a completely new place. Didn’t know anyone and was kind of stuck in an apartment all day. Yeah, there are worse things, right. I was in Southern California. But yeah, for me, spending my eight-hour workday without anyone, it was challenging. So, what actually pulled me out of it was finding SurveyMonkey. So, I was part of our Contribute panel, actually. And I got a survey invitation email and saw the Palo Alto address in the footer and was like, “Oh, I should check those guys out.” And the rest is history. But for me, I realized I need an office; I need a fast-paced environment. I need coworkers to stimulate me throughout the day. And I definitely found that here. 

[14:23]

Yeah, I’m the same way. I’ve had a couple of things in my life that it didn’t go great. But the darkest point for me was at after I exited FocusVision because I had a team of people, right. And I was around all this kind of enthusiasm and driving and taking the hill. It has challenges and it’s difficult, but there’s people. And then all of a sudden like in my little home office for days on end, I just started losing the will to live, not   in the literal sense, but yeah, it was just really tiring.  

[14:52]

I understand that. Like my husband would come home and be like tired from a day of work, wanting to put his feet up on the couch. And I’m like, “I want to go out; I want to go.” I mean it was bad. I would go days without showering.  

[15:13]

I had this robe. My wife threatened—I won’t let her do it—but she’s threatened to burn it ‘cause I would do that where I would just like put my robe on, and then I would go to bed at night and take it off, and I put it back onto the day. 

[15:21]

I would do the same thing, but it was my blanket cape. And so, it’d be my blanket cape. This was before virtual conferencing was really… 

[15:30]

So you could pull it off. 

[15:31]

So, it was mostly phone calls and maybe sharing your screen, but it wasn’t like people were seeing my messy bun and my… 

[15:37]

Have you seen the Dilbert cartoon where it’s like the evolution of working at home? So for video conference. Oh, it’s classic. There’s three frames. It’s basically him in a suit and tie and then him in a suit and tie without pants. And then it degrades. Ultimately, it’s a puppet of him on the other side. 

[15:53]

What are the kids saying? It’s too me in real life for me in real life, right. Oh, that hits too close to home.  

[16:04]

So you broke out by getting a job. Did you try meetups? 

[16:09]

I did a little bit of that. I didn’t find my people though. So I think it was I just needed that. 

[16:19]

Have you looked into marketing research or user-experience-type meetups locally? I’m just curious. 

[16:27]

You know, I haven’t. I’ve been doing more women in leadership or women in tech type things than I have been more on the functional side but… 

[16:36]

Yeah, the women… There was a thread I responded to in LinkedIn recently, and it was a concern that a leader has (I won’t say who it is, but it’s public) inside of the market research industry. He needs to staff salespeople, and he’s frustrated with the lack of female talent that has been coming in.  That’s where I think you really have to be… We have to be, as organizations, intentional with how we manage our pipeline, and we can’t just look about, “Oh, I’ve got a need right now.” You’ve got to start that networking farther, more upstream if you’re going to be able to staff and help support, whether it’s gender or some other type of inequality. 

[17:20]

Sure. And I have gone to a couple of the WIRe Women in Research events too. And I think that’s a great organization, especially for finding women talent in this space.

[17:31]

Yeah, for sure. Kristin Luck did a great… Michelle Andre is helping support that. But that’s, I think, the premier women. 

[17:39]

It’s the only one I know about. So they’re doing great job. Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah. 

[17:44]

But they are quite literally everywhere. Gosh, yeah, and that’s like 10 years old or more now. It’s amazing. So, you’ve done a lot of research, been involved in research anyway, right?

[17:57]

Yes. Analytics research. Yep, yep. 

[17:59]

Yep, for sure. So what is the project that you’re most proud of? 

[18:03]

Yeah, so the research that I did at Nielsen was really fascinating. Started my career in marketing mix modeling. So that was almost like the precursor to attribution modeling in a way. And really great for especially big brands who are doing more traditional advertising like TV, print, radio, email, coupons, et cetera.

[18:22]

And that is identifying the optimal sort of channel spend? 

[18:25]

It is. So it’s identifying the independent contributions or impact of all of your media to sales volume, and then, therefore, calculating a marketing ROI on all of your campaigns. So you would have a total brand ROI for… I was working for Proctor & Gamble: so Tide or Crest or Pampers, etcetera. 

[18:47]

Very B to C consumer products.

[18:48]

But you would then go down to the campaign level and say, “OK, this specific commercial that ran during this time had an ROI of X.” And so, that was really great work. It established the foundation that I would need to go on to more research to work with CPG firms to then be a marketer myself. But the research that I did in my last couple of years there was developing predictive modeling techniques. I’m going to get a little technical too, predictive modeling techniques to assess macro- and micro-drivers of ROI across all of P&G’s brands and markets. So it was essentially taking the output of all of their marketing mix modeling and combining that with other data sources around things like how long had the brand been around, what country were they in, how fragmented was the category, all of that: so the macro level things with then the micro level things; so things that the brand had a little bit more control of; and things that we could measure; so like their copy scores or their spend levels and all of that. And so, what essentially came out of that was a mindset shift where if you’re doing marketing on a brand like Tide in the United States, you have a different expectation on the return on that investment than you would a small beauty brand in France or fragrance brand in France. So they’re up against different market factors. And so, doing a lot of that work was able to… 

[20:24]

help set expectations so you’re not anchored to this false…

[20:28]

Exactly. And working with the data that we had at Nielsen and the brands in just spread that they had at P&G, we were able to do that kind of research, which was really cool. It was a finalist in their CMK Insights Rewards back in the day. I’m definitely proud of that because it was new; it was innovative. I’m a little bit more removed from the client research here at SurveyMonkey although, as I mentioned before, super proud of the work that we do, especially with our Contribute panel on giving back and all of that. And then, now in my role in product marketing, I get to do my own research for SurveyMonkey brands and products. So, I just finished up a name test for a new line of products that we’re going to be rolling out. 

[21:14]

No hint?

[21:15]

Well, we are moving into the realm of more automated research for specific market research use cases. So that it’s been a really fun…

[21:30]

It’s an interesting space. Yeah, for sure. Do you think there’s like…? There’s been this, I call it the three-legged stool: So you’ve got like brands and you got agencies and then you got technologies inside of market research. And the technologies have really been kind of feeding both agencies and brands directly, which definitionally has been like competing with agencies to some degree because of the fact that an agency, all of a sudden. can do certain types of projects as opposed to spending $2,000 with an agency to do that same sort of thing. 

[22:04]

We find that to be true. When we were doing some research earlier this year and we find a lot more insights brought in-house at brands and so…

[22:14]

And I’ve seen that with both… I’m not suggesting where we are on the global economic cycle. Granted, I’m not that smart, but historically what I’ve seen back in 89 and 90 and in 2000, because brands had so much money, they were bringing that function in-house and then once there was a major correction, then they moved to a different framework where it’s better off kind of like getting the expense structure off the P & L and then moving more towards the ad hoc. Even though it’s more expensive, they weren’t penalized as much. So it’s going to be interesting, coming into another election cycle. There’s just a million different things that are taking place right now for us. It’s nice, I think, as a technologist, to be able to sit there and as long as you are providing value for everybody, then you’re poised to win. 

[23:06]

I like to think so. We’re definitely in a good spot right now, especially with the trend of more insights moving in-house, the need for expertise that becomes much more real. And if you’re not getting that from an expensive agency, then how are we as technology providers embedding more of that methodology and expertise into the products? 

[23:27]

Do you think there’s a room for services or you to come along other services-related organizations to help? 

[23:34]

Certainly, and actually I, having lived through a couple of business model changes here at SurveyMonkey, it’s definitely a need. So, we had a big sales and services team one point we then tried to focus much more on the self-serve and DIY model for market research, which has been great. What we’re realizing is, especially when we want to break into larger enterprises and we’re not just working with the scrappier, mid-market marketing or insights teams, the folks who are used to working with services vendors or full service research firms need a little bit of extra help to get their DIY or their self-service ad hoc research going. And so, SurveyMonkey audience being our market research panel, we’ve launched SurveyMonkey Audience Premium, which bundles in a little bit of extra premium support and services. So you’ve got product experts, research experts that can help onboard you and get you going when you are trying to make that transition from doing everything outside with vendors and services to more in-house. 

[24:37]

So really what I’m trying to say is surveys, in general but not just surveys, research is becoming more and more democratized and used throughout organizations and is the use case ‘cause not everybody is a researcher. So just ‘cause you have a scalpel doesn’t make you a surgeon. In fact, there’s a couple of companies that are… I was just at a, as I mentioned as we’re setting up this morning, I was at Google, their San Francisco campus, moderating a panel, and I had some of the panelists, Head of Insights for ServiceNow and also LinkedIn, and both of them during our conversation we’re talking about how there’s a problem with everybody doing research because you wind up with conflicting or best-case-scenario is redundant, but worst-case-scenario is conflicting kind of insights. Now what’s interesting about automation is by creating a tool that asks a question in the right way and connecting it to an audience that is vetted, you actually can start solving a lot of the problems that are innate with just kind of the ad hoc, “Oh, I’m going to go do a copy test.” Right?

[25:47]

Sure. I think that’s true. It starts to normalize or centralize the methodology because everyone’s using consistent questions and things like that. And, also, if you go beyond just piecemeal use cases and to more of a platform, then you’re starting to bring research together. And one thing that we’re trying to do more and more is enable teams and larger departments and organizations to work together and collaborate. And so, what you’ll see more and more from SurveyMonkey are features that make even your individual account with your surveys, etc. not so siloed, but have those insights shareable across the organization. 

[26:31]

And I do pay for my professional license, by the way.

[26:34]

We thank you for your being a customer, but there’s something else that you mentioned that I thought was interesting, which was just that trend of teams outside of insights doing more and more research. And I find that to be another big trend that we’re seeing and actually for SurveyMonkey Audience especially, insights professionals only make up about 10% to 15% of our customers. It’s people in marketing, Ux, product strategy, startup founders, etc., who are using our product. So where I see insights being needed more and more is that center of excellence where you’re enabling other departments in your organization to do the kind of research that maybe you’re too strapped to handle for everyone. Especially I think about, I’m doing a session with Julia Levine who’s runs insights at Cuisinart. She’s got a two-person insights team, supporting their entire line of business. And so, when you think about something like a creative test or a message test or something that really a marketer should be able to handle, then the insights team can be that center of excellence, get them off and running, train them a little bit, and then other departments can go off and do that. 

[27:47]

Yeah, I definitely think that it’s the right point. It’s the right question. How can we enable access to consumer insights across the organization? One of the things that, talking about going back to the project you’re most proud of, just consolidating the data and getting it formatted in such a way where it can be combined, that’s not a trivial… That’s like a big part. What percentage of the work was that? 

[28:15]

Oh, well, gosh, across marketing mix modeling and this work, you think about say an eight- or nine-month project timeline. Almost six months of that is data collection and cleansing. So that’s huge. And that brings up another initiative that I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot more is creating what folks are calling data lakes, but essentially bringing out all of their data sources together in-house, accessible to people who need to pull whatever combination or filter of data that they need.

[28:50]

Data accessibility and visibility across a corporation is absolutely vital; otherwise, you just run so many… I worked on a small task force for the previous CMO of Visa, and that was the whole data best practices around data handling at a global level. It’s really, really hard because—while you have the sages, which I call it the market researchers—you got the mass populous, which needs the insight in like a week ‘cause they got to make it or a day ‘cause they got to make a decision. 

[29:17]

Right. And you run that same risk of conflicting stories coming out of that data if people are interpreting it the wrong way. 

[29:28]

Or ask the wrong question. It’s just terrifying. 

[29:31]

Yes, yes. But you know part of what is fun about working at a technology company is that these are the kinds of problems that we get to think about and try to solve. 

[29:40]

Especially in market research. I keep going back to Estrella Lopez Brea; she was one of my favorite guests on the Happy Market Research. She’s the Head of Insights for a joint partnership with Nestlé and General Mills. It’s a cereal partnership, 136 countries. Anyway, it’s a really big deal. Anyway, so, she says the most exciting time for market research, and she’s been in the industry as long as I have. We’ve had some great times. Like it is trending right now in a very exciting way, and you guys are sitting in the right spot. So it’s kind of fun. So I want to talk a little bit about SurveyMonkey Audience. I am unaware of what that is. 

[30:17]

What it is. So, SurveyMonkey Audience is SurveyMonkey is market research solution.

[30:24]

So, is it a combined…? Is it a…? Oh sorry, go ahead. I was jumping ahead. I’m like…

[30:29]

Oh yeah, it’s good you’re excited. I love that. So, it’s essentially our global panel for market research products. So it’s embedded right into the SurveyMonkey platform. So no matter your plan type you can access and tap into your survey takers. 

[30:46]

Got it. And how many countries are you guys in? 

[30:49]

Over 100 and really, so I mentioned Contribute a few times, we have our own proprietary panels in SurveyMonkey Contribute and are relatively new. We launched last year, mobile app SurveyMonkey Rewards. And so, those are our two sources that we cultivate and grow and manage. And then we also integrate with a lot of the panel companies out there and panel marketplaces out there. And so, it’s one cohesive user experience within the SurveyMonkey platform just to reach whoever and target whoever you need. 

[31:22]

So you’ve built functionally a router that enables you access to your own proprietary sample. But then in addition to that, whether it’s connected to existing like a center Lucid or what have you and then versus the other, like even Dynata, major players out there. Is that right? 

[31:38]

Yeah, exactly. 

[31:40]

OK, got it. Building that is really hard. 

[31:42]

Yes, we started in 2011. Even now, we’ve been over the last couple of years really focused on that routing infrastructure, which you don’t really, as a user, all you’re doing is selecting all of your criteria. You’re looking… Right. 

[32:04]

I’ve actually used it, by the way. So, you get 100 free people. 

[32:09]

So, yeah. So, as a SurveyMonkey user, the free plan allows you to collect up to 100 responses. 

[32:17]

Oh yeah, you’re right. 

[32:17]

But then the panel is extra. 

[32:20]

But, gosh, I want to say maybe it was a short-term thing, but I know I… This was on the paid plan, and I got I think it was 100. I might be misremembering. I got a certain number of people free from the panel. 

[32:35]

So that we were doing some credits, giveaways. So, yeah, credits are… It’s essentially a wallet or gift card scenario where you can load it up and use it to purchase. 

[32:45]

Totally. Yeah, right, exactly. So what was impressive is the integration. Well, there’s two things. One was the speed. So it was really fast. And the second thing it was really, really easy. I think there’s a big opportunity, and I’m wondering how you guys are addressing this, especially with your mixed modal recruiting approach. We’re still asking gender and screening questions, right? We haven’t standardized the whole meta framework from a respondent profile perspective so that if I only want to talk to females and, unless I can go in and separate them out prescreen in the database, going out to all the different panels, a lot of cases we’re still asking that information from respondents. 

[33:28]

So, the way at least it works with our panel and the partners that we have, there are over a hundred maybe pre-profiled attributes. And so when folks are joining a panel, they’re being asked a series of profiling surveys and then we do then allow that option to have your own custom screening questions. Or especially we sometimes still recommend this for lower incidence groups, but to double check the profiling with your screening questions, especially for things that might change for a person pretty frequently. So, there’s definitely the two options there, but it’s different than other sources out there like mobile apps or publisher networks where maybe you’re either blind to that or are inferring it in some way. At least with this type of methodology, it’s very explicit and you know exactly who you’re talking to. 

[34:23]

Do you think we’ll get to the spot where you can pipe in those hundred variables into the self-reported data?

[34:30]

So we do, in the backend or with your results, give five metrics. Especially as we partner with more data providers and more panel companies, we’ll probably get to a point where you’re getting much richer profiling information coming with your results, which would be great.  

[34:51]

Yeah, I think know what I really like that Google launched is this whole concept of a microsurvey where it’s one to two questions, but you get a million people to take it and you have a full profile, right? The problem with that is it’s a million people with that many data points. So I think the better scenario is just building an ongoing record at the respondent level so that you’re able to understand who that person is and then pipe that data back as it makes sense in the context of the projects. 

[35:21]

Right. And then making sure that it’s regularly refreshed, especially for those kinds of things. I mean it’s unlikely that your gender will change too drastically, very frequently.

[35:31]

But like marital status, etc., but all that can be systematized so that, to your point, they may not have to get asked that every single time. 

[35:41]

Which is how it works currently with SurveyMonkey. Depending on the attribute, it’s refreshed anywhere from every three months to years. So… 

[35:51]

So, you guys are publicly traded? 

[35:52]

We are, yeah. Last September, so we’re going on a year.

[35:56]

Yeah, I was going to say it’s coming up. You know, Nielsen, of course, publicly traded. So you had experience in both the agency side and on the technology side now, I guess. So I say that because I’m going to ask some question about the crystal ball. All the disclaimers like this is not on behalf of SurveyMonkey. This is just your point of view. Right? So what is the role of insights inside of the organization and how is that going to evolve over the next three to five years? 

[36:24]

Yeah. We’ve talked about some of the trends that we’ve been seeing: things like insights getting brought in-house. That to me signals you’re not just a team that requires business acumen, the ability to tell stories like managed vendors, but also a lot more of that analytics chops is being brought in-house. I think the role of insights, especially as more companies are converging on technology… You see this even with the larger full-service players with their acquisitions and how they’re restructuring, the role of insights will be a little bit more centered around building out that market research technology stack within the company. And so, part of it is doing the research and enabling others to do the research but also being that tech-forward, tech-minded person to bring all of the sources together and build the technology in the company that will basically be housing all of your data and research. 

[37:20]

So, Nielsen had this for years where it was your brand performance. The CMOs subscribed to it and you’d get it on Monday morning. I never actually have seen the tool by the way. But on my last board of directors, my chairman, Dennis Malamatinas, previous CEO of Burger King Global, and before that he was the CMO. He said, “Every Monday morning I would walk in and the first thing I would do is check out my Nielsen scores to see how we had performed.” Do you think that you know in role of insights moves more up chain? So…

[37:54]

Sure, and especially at SurveyMonkey, our CMO is very involved in our brand studies and things like that. And, even if it’s the insights team carrying them out, that the way of getting those results out into the rest of the organization, how you share those results, how you present them, I think, is much wider than it used to be. So maybe you would do a PowerPoint presentation to a few key stakeholders. Now it’s public on Tableau where executives are going in and checking it. So I think that’s very much the case, and then we’re seeing that too. 

[38:33]

This is where I think podcasting has a really big opportunity because you can create  a five- or 30-minute podcast that’s distributed (Maybe it’s monthly, hypothetically), and then produced and managed by the internal insights division of an organization like pick on LinkedIn, for example. And then, all of a sudden, not just the C-level executives, but the whole organization could get access to hear about what they’re seeing in consumer trends. And so, I had this organization called Watermark. They’re a small consultancy. Have you heard of them? It would surprise me if you had. So, they do analytics on the S&P 500 over-performers and under-performers. This point by the way aligns with Gartner and Forrester reports that have similar outcomes, and that is that companies that are customer-experience-centric, they outperformed by 45 points over a 10-year period. And companies that aren’t (and this is a really remarkable part) are underperforming by 75 points. Yeah. So now, all of a sudden, the question becomes, “Are we customer-centric?” In other words, “Are we using customer insight to drive decisions?” And the answer is “no,” that’s a big problem. But it isn’t just necessarily binary, right? So, again, looking forward and where you guys are sitting is really interesting for me because the frequency and quality of the insights becomes a KPI or key performance indicator for the organization. So, in other words, if they’re not using insights or using it less frequently, then that should be a warning at least so that people are starting to ask “Why?” So, all of a sudden, the meta becomes a little bit different from my ad hoc or brand tracker to overall frequency and type of research that’s being done in the organization just to make sure that it’s part of the DNA and we’re not losing traction on leveraging consumers. 

[40:35]

Yeah, and I see that a lot too, especially if folks are looking at their sales data on a weekly basis. Why are they not looking at their brand metrics on a weekly basis? And so that moved to always on is also really important in it. And it’s interesting you bring up customer experience because I’d say two of the largest pillars at SurveyMonkey, one being market research, the other being customer experience. And you see our focus in that given the two recent acquisitions that we just had. We find the same thing. Companies need to be tapping into that customer voice continuously. And so, all of the solutions that we’re offering have a frequency element built into them.

[41:20]

Oh, smart. I love that. And that’s something I think we’re going to see companies like SurveyMonkey talk a lot more about: just the frequency by which. Then, when you think about like the newsworthiness of this article that I haven’t seen written yet—but you’d be great to write it [Morgan laughs].  Because you guys have fingers in every organization… So the frequency by which top performers are actually leveraging insights or conducting projects or whatever that (I don’t know what the exact thing is), but is it increasing or decreasing relative to the overall performance of the organization? I think that kind of thing would be really interesting. If I’m (1) an investor, but (2) if I’m at the C-level or board level inside of an organization, I care a lot about that or shareholder.

[42:09]

Sure. Yeah. That’s a really great point. I love the meta research on research. Yeah.

[42:18]

You’ve been at two big organizations. What are three characteristics of an All-Star employee?

[42:23]

Well, first off you can’t knock just the true grit and benefit of hard, hard work. Really, If you’re putting in hard work, you will get performance out of that ‘cause a lot of things can be trained or taught, but that drive is something that is pretty innate or it comes with. And then outside of hard work, really this is similar, but we talk a lot about growth mindset at SurveyMonkey. In fact, we had Carol Dweck come and speak recently. And it’s just something that I love the whole idea of taking every project or opportunity, whether it’s even an interaction with someone or something that you might deem as a failure, but seeing that as a learning opportunity and how you can grow from that or how you can better yourself. So someone who works really hard and then sees everything as a learning opportunity I think is really important, especially when you are more of an entry-level employee where you’re needing to soak in everything about an industry or a function. When you get into marketing, I’d say what’s interesting especially is you need this balance of left brain, right brain balance. So you need that creativity. You can’t lose that spark of creativity and injecting new ideas and innovating and testing. But you also need to have an analytical mindset: so that measurement side of you. So, that balance I always look for, especially when I’m hiring on the marketing side.

[43:58]

So just so I understand the last point: It’s like qualitative and quantitative?

[44:04]

Yeah. you could call it that, especially put in research terms, but, yeah, it’s the balance of creativity and analytics. So you need to have both. I mean, obviously, there are functions like design that would err more towards creativity or growth that would err more towards analytics. But really having that balance, I think, makes a really great marketer. 

[44:26]

Yeah, for sure. Are there tools that you’ve seen companies use that help pre-screen employees to that end? Because you’re right, different job functions are going to require different proportion of those skills.

[44:38]

You know, I haven’t, but if folks have, I would love to hear about them.  We move a great recruiting team here at SurveyMonkey that take a lot of that work off of hiring managers’ plates. But I’m curious. I’m not even sure what they’re using, I’m sure there’s something out there. 

[44:59]

All right, last question. You ready? 

[45:01]

Sure. Yeah, let’s go for it. 

[45:04]

What is your personal motto? 

[45:06]

Oh gosh. I would say my personal motto is all about spreading positivity, and you can do that in a lot of ways. I don’t even know who said this, but there is a quote out there about leaving the world a better place than you found it. But I love leaving interactions or situations in a happier place than I found it. So that positivity and making sure that you’re always bringing that to everything you do. Back to your first question around making a great employee: it’s always someone that you want to work with, you want to spend time with, being at meetings all day with. And so, if that person is a Negative Nancy, it’s not going to be fun. So spread positivity, smile, laugh. We’re all human at work. So that would be my motto. 

[45:57]

My guest today has been Morgan Molnar, leading marketing here at SurveyMonkey’s Audience, right? Morgan, thanks for much for being on the show. 

[46:07]

Thank you so much for having me. 

[46:08]

Everybody else, if you please do me a kindness. If you found value in this, she’s taken a lot of time out of her day and preparation. Obviously, the amount of hours that go against this are pretty substantial. Be great if you took the time: screenshot, share it, tag us. We will retweet our reposts on LinkedIn. Have a great rest of your day. 

[46:30]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com  Have a great rest of your day.

Articles

Ways Companies are Using NPS to Grow Business

Guest Writer: Bhavika Sharma, Survey Designer at SurveySparrow

Customer is the king.

Your brand’s success is dependent on how the people consuming your brand see it, and that’s where Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes in.

The NPS is used to measure how happy customers are with a particular brand. NPS asks customers how likely they are to recommend a business to other people on a scale of 0 to 10. 

What is a Good NPS Score?

Customers are rated on a 10 point scale:
-Detractors are customers who give a score from 0 to 6. They might provide negative feedback about the brand.
-Passives are customers who score 7 or 8 who don’t have set views about the brand.
-Promoters are customers who score 9 or 10. These are satisfied clients who are likely to promote the brand through word of mouth advertising.

The NPS is the difference between the percentage of promoters and the percentage of detractors.

NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors

The best NPS score is 100 – but this is realistically impossible. Any positive number is considered to be a good NPS, while any number above 50 means your brand is being perceived very well by customers.

NPS can be a handy tool to use in your business in its various facets:

In Service and Operations
NPS scores can be used to gauge the service of the employees as the customers perceive it. Here’s a case study of how Taylor & Hart, a jeweler, customizing in bespoke engagement rings, used NPS to measure customer satisfaction of the services. The customer receives a ‘service NPS’ email survey where the customer has to rate their satisfaction with the level of services up to that point, and also add comments about it. 

Asking the customers about the NPS question just after the order is placed means the order is fresh in the customer’s mind. The answers help improve the level of service at Taylor and Hart. 

They also send an NPS survey 40 days after the purchase of jewelry from their website. Since the jewelry takes 22 days to be delivered to the customer, the customer can rate their satisfaction with the product after this period. 

In Human Resource Management
When an employee is happy with your brand, he will voluntarily become your spokesperson. 

A great case study for NPS used in human resource management is clothing company Zappos using it to gauge the satisfaction of their employees. A “Five Second Happiness Survey,” every month helped access the job satisfaction among the employees. The results were sent to employees, and the internal policies were amended taking into consideration these results. 

Zappos is now considered one of the best places to work, next to Google and Facebook. 

In Marketing Campaigns
Since marketing campaigns are about focusing on the aspect of your brand that attracts customers, NPS can be very useful. NPS can help understand if the brand’s customers will promote it via word of mouth.

Bill Macaitis, the CMO for Slack, a workplace messaging app, finds NPS very useful. Slack used NPS to figure out not just if customers will use the paid version of the work messaging app, but if they would recommend this tool to other people. 

In Sales
Customers who rank as promoters in your NPS scale are also more likely to come back for a purchase. Airbnb started using NPS in 2013. To test the effectiveness of NPS, Airbnb conducted a research study. The research involved feedback from guests who booked a stay with Airbnb. Out of the sample size, two-thirds of the guests who submitted the feedback were promoters who awarded Airbnb a score of 10, while only less than 5% were detractors. The research study found that promoters were statistically more likely to book a stay with Airbnb in the future. What was more surprising is that at least a quarter of the detractors were still promoters of Airbnb, they were just not satisfied with their particular stay. 

NPS can be really beneficial since it helps you get into the mind of the customer and gives you the exact information you need to make your brand more appealing. 

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 234 – Piotr Szymski – Key Differences Between Old School and New School Insights Pro, and What We All Need to Pay Attention to

My guest today is Piotr Szymski, Vice President of Catalog and Business Intelligence at Sony Music. Established in 1929, Sony Music is among the “Big Three,” record companies, including Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Prior to joining Sony Music, Piotr served as head of insights for both SABMiller and Procter & Gamble. 

Find Piotr Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/piotrszymski 

Twitter: www.sonymusic.com 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.


[00:00]

In Episode 234 I’m interviewing Piotr Szymski, Vice President of Catalog and Business Intelligence at Sony music, but first a word from our sponsor.

 [00:11]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com   

[01:35]

Hi, I’m Jamin and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Piotr Szymski, Vice President of Catalog and Business Intelligence at Sony Music. Established in 1929, Sony Music is among the big three recording companies including Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Prior to joining Sony Music, Piotr served as head of insights for both SAB Miller and Proctor & Gamble. Piotr, thanks for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today. 

[02:12]

Thank you for having me. 

[02:13]

So, tell me a little bit about where you grew up and what your parents did and how that has informed what you’re doing today. 

[02:23]

That’s a very interesting question. You know I usually like to think that I’m my own creation and I decide what I do. But, as a researcher and a sociologist and psychologist, I know that context does have a major impact on all what we are doing and who we grow up to be. I was born and raised and spent most of my formative years in Poland. My parents and my family definitely had an impact on where I ended up in life both in terms of professional and personal development. My parents were and still are quite an odd couple. My mom is quite well-educated, sophisticated, art-loving librarian. She studied art history but ended up a school librarian with really high intellectual aspirations. And you can trace back my love for literature and appreciation for knowledge that to her clearly. Frankly speaking, I was reading before I was walking, which I don’t know if it’s a good testament for my walking skills or my reading skills, but that was the actual truth. And my father was very much a physical guy. He was a former soccer player. I could say professional soccer player, but given that we grew up… We lived in a communist country in Poland, the professional part wasn’t really turning into any benefits, but he played football or how is it called?, soccer for a living. And then after retiring from sports, he was a policeman. And from him, I picked up a couple of things. One is definitely love for sports, but I tried to be a little bit original. So while he put me through all the different types of sports activities, including soccer, of course, I fell in love with basketball, which was the only sport that he wasn’t good at. So I wanted to be little bit more original. And apart from the sports activities, I think what I picked up from him is his blue-collar work ethics and the appreciation of competition and challenge and really putting your best effort. But frankly speaking, what I think more impacted me in life was rather than what they did, was who they were. 

My family was struck by quite a difficult challenge just about when I was born. My sister, who was three at that time, was diagnosed with cancer, with bone cancer. She barely survived. And the life of our family was very much centered around first making sure that she survived and then that her life here has as good quality as possible. She definitely has done the most inspirational figure in my life. She not only survived this horrible, horrible illness, going through more than 20 surgeries that were first lifesaving and then also trying to improve her quality of life. She survived, but it dramatically impacted her quality of life. She lost an eye. She had a very invasive type of treatment that left her disfigured and very vulnerable to any infections and struggling health-wise with life but thriving in everything else. She became an excellent lawyer. She’s actually one of the youngest judges in Poland ever becoming a judge with a lifetime nomination from a president of the country and really my life inspiration. So I’m sure that that impacted my life choices as well. One impact was that, apart from psychology and sociology, I started law, but they decided not to become a lawyer because I didn’t want to compete with her. I knew that I never had the chance to be as good as her. So I didn’t want to create that competition for her. It was a life mission for me. It was one of the options. But it also taught me to never put myself in a first place.

 My family, this life was around what we had to deal with. So it was a very, I think, humbling and a good experience that brought me to really appreciate the servitude-type of leadership in life and work, trying to be useful and thinking about how I can make others’ life better rather than being obsessed with my own challenges. Because, when you see someone overcoming challenges that I, despite being close, cannot fully comprehend, it’s very, very easy to not focus on some small issues, some tribulations that you might be going through. You really don’t have an excuse not to achieve things in life. No, you don’t have an excuse for complaining when you see someone overcoming so much more than you on a daily basis.

[08:17]

I’m really interested in, as a father, understanding… Your parents that came obviously from (I am saying “obvious” from my vantage point) librarians, you don’t go into that field because it pays a lot of money and, similarly, professional football player, again, especially in that context and that time in that place, wasn’t just a big wealth machine. What do you attribute the success…? You’ve held very senior jobs at top at today’s top brands, and your sister, obviously, with all that she’s overcome on top of it with her success. What do you attribute…? What does your parents do that the rest of us can hope to emulate in raising you and your sister? 

[09:07]

I have in mind that your podcast is called Happy Market Research. So I don’t want to go too dark because my parents are wonderful people that love me and my sister unconditionally and then knowing that was something that definitely impacted me positively, but our life wasn’t easy. And I wouldn’t apply “happy” to that and I don’t necessarily have advice of what to do based on how my parents raised me. My mom is struggling with mental illness; my father is an alcoholic. So I don’t necessarily would derive much of their behaviors and them as an inspiration for how to raise kids. They tried to do their best. I always knew that they loved me, but my life lessons was rather formed through overcoming things that my family had to deal with. And because of the challenges with my parents, specifically from a young age, I was trying to understand people’s motivations and their behaviors, which you can draw very, very straight line to becoming sociologist, psychologist and then focusing on understanding of human behavior, which probably at the earliest stages was a survival mechanism when I wanted to understand was what was going on around me and what to expect from my parents, from my family. Then dealing with that environment, you wanted to understand why people behaved the way they do and try to get the heads up by understanding the patterns and the expectations around it.

[10:46]

Super interesting. I think the framework of happy can’t really just be cast in all happy, right? There’s a contrast that’s necessary, and I really think it’s like understanding black and white, for example, from a color.  You need that contrast in order to really understand all the spaces in between as well. And the more absolute either end of that is the better you can understand the other point of view. I’ve heard that a lot actually from people that have had to undergo tremendous adversity in life early on and then, subsequently, navigate that successfully that that actually is one of the keys to their overall life success and later whether it’s financial success or career success and, subsequently, their overall happiness levels. Thanks for sharing that. So, switching gears a little bit, but not very much. What do you see as one of the biggest challenges that you have overcome either personally or professionally? 

[11:51]

There is a couple that I could pick from, but I think all of us have the challenges that we need to overcome to be who we are. And I don’t think that I really overcame anything, but there are things that I had to and still have to deal with that impact who I am and also professionally. One aspect of my life is… I mentioned about my family situation: my mother, the illness that my sister dealt with. Unfortunately, I also have quite severe health issues I’m dealing with. I was born with a genetic disorder that causes morbid obesity, and my whole life I had to deal with. So, I’m right now doing well, but it requires tons of effort. It requires really extremely strict and always evolving diet and then massive amount of exercise. Right now, I’m probably working out around three hours every day. So this is something that needs to… Either you have to accommodate toward your lifestyle and still be able to work 10 hours a day and still put the work in. So that definitely… While it’s not something that anyone would choose to, but it definitely teaches you discipline, organization, and make you stronger willed because you cannot really slip up. You have to work on yourself, not only from the intellectual perspective, but also physically. The other thing that I wouldn’t say that I overcame but is, unfortunately, something that I had to live through. Three years ago, my wife passed after quite a long period of illness. And that dramatically impacted my life, destroying everything that I built and forced me to re-evaluate everything and go through the whole grieving process that I don’t think we’ll ever really be over. But right now, three years later, I can say that I maybe not overcame it, but I survived. I’m still here, and I’m still finding a way to be useful in life and find some resemblance of joy and happiness. So, I wouldn’t say it’s overcoming challenges. It’s more the circumstances that you deal with that impact who you are and what you’re doing. 

[14:49]

I appreciate you sharing that. I have only almost cried on one other podcast. So, it’s the emotional devastation, the wake that that could leave I can only imagine in your life. But then thinking about, like you said, the recovery process from that, it feels to me like that would be something that would just be with you forever. I had a similar instance with a child actually, And going through that you, it just becomes part of who you are: You wake up to it and you go to sleep to it and it’s just like the on… But over time it, I wouldn’t say that it diminishes, but I’d say it just becomes part of the fabric of our beings. 

[15:51]

It changes you and it changes over time. Like you’re saying, it doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t diminish, but it’s with you in a different way. I would say forever I expect. 

[16:09]

One of the things that I’ve adopted since that dark time is this: I try to take mental pictures. Everyone’s memory is fleeting. I think we only actually see and then subsequently retained a very small fraction of what’s going on around us or in our field of vision. So, I’ll have these moments in my life with my family or people that mean something to me, friends. And I just try to like pause and take a mental picture knowing that and just be completely present in that particular moment, knowing that I’ll—and not feeling bad about the fact—probably forget about it minutes later or whatever. And then that helps cement for me, this grounding of, and just making sure that I’m completely right there at that particular point. That seems probably trivial or not important but might be a moment when like my child had grabbed my hand or something and leave me someplace or what have you.

[17:09]

I’m really sorry that you have to deal with that. And I can relate to using those mental pictures too. Definitely, what I am able now more than ever is to appreciate the nature of time and how everything can disappear and how big of an importance is to be able to be in a moment, appreciate that moment and appreciate the beautiful moments that all of us experience. And often we don’t have enough distance to appreciate that. You know we often focus on the negatives; we often focus on things that are not perfect. And we don’t always… are able to fully enjoy the great things that we have when they are happening. So being in the moment is definitely something that I’m trying to do.

[18:12]

So, as you articulated, Happy Market Research… We covered Happy, I think. Market Research is the other side of it. Tell me about the market research project you’re most proud of.

 [18:24]

Too many, too many. Really it’s like choosing your favorite child. There are too many of them. I will try to a little bit bundle them up. The research part that usually gives me the greatest satisfaction and joy are the big foundational, usually segmentation, studies and I was blessed in working in multiple companies on a global level to do segmentation and big foundational consumer-understanding studies across different categories. And each of them, apart from being able to fully understand the category of products and the big groups of consumers, how they interact with the category, what they think, what they want, what they think about—it always brings some insights with a capital I, things that you wouldn’t expect.

 So each of those projects brought something like that for me. One that right now stands in my mind was when I worked for Proctor & Gamble. I was one of the first people in Proctor & Gamble that worked with Gillette brands after the acquisition or merger with Gillette. And on top of heading the consumer market knowledge department in central Europe, I had the global responsibility for Braun, the study that I ran also had the regional scope and focused on kitchen appliances. Braun is an inventory of hand blenders. And then I had the pleasure to work on the cooking side related to kitchen appliances with studies done across the region. So I interviewed and run the big quantitative study in Poland, Russia, Turkey and Middle East in Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and especially the last part was really eye-opening. It was the first time that they really had to deal with such a big cultural difference that impacted the research technology. The first very simple thing is I could never in Saudi Arabia, I could never meet in person or even see on video the women that they would interview because that was illegal. So I had to conduct a lot of the work, especially the qualitative work over the phone, using the translators and trying to overcome that distance. But what helped me to get closer to the consumers despite those restrictions in United Arab Emirates, especially in Dubai… While the culture was similar, the norms were not as strict. 

So I was able to actually live in the house with the consumers, interact with them, using the translator and then with some boundaries. And, of course, we have a huge dose of respect for their privacy. But I was able to become for a couple of days a part of the household and interact and become a part of the cooking, food preparation and then everything that was related to category but that was core to that family’s lives and things that really, really changed my way of thinking about the products and the brands that I’ve learned and from that were really, really amazing. Being in the house actually and being able to observe was a major game changer because some of the things you couldn’t really comprehend if you would just read from it from the quantitative reports. One of the most interesting things were habits related to cooking during Ramadan when the family would cook for a lot of other people, for the needy people, poor people from the neighborhood. And they were basically putting up the feast. So I was trying to figure it out what is the role of the handling of the cooking appliances in this context. And the first big thing was that the average household had multiple house servants, multiple maids. So the whole aspect of electrical equipment making cooking more convenient wasn’t critical ‘cause when you had 5, 10, sometimes 15 people helping you with cooking, the benefit of having a blender wasn’t as big. But one of the funniest things that happened: I really thought that we had a translation issue because when I was asking about the appliances that they were using, I kept hearing about a concrete mixer or a cement mixer, which I was pretty sure that it was a challenge of the translator and not really speaking English well enough because we were talking about cooking and food preparation. She was coming back with this with the cement mixer, which is construction equipment. And then finally they were annoyed with me not being able to understand; they showed me how they were mixing meat. And it was actually a construction-site big cement mixer. A very nice one: silver-plated, really, really nice one. But, yes, when you are cooking for 40 people, you don’t use a hand-blender. You use a shovel; you use a shovel and the cement mixer to mix your meat. So I quickly understood that money was not an issue to spend on a blender; the functionality of it wasn’t really, really there. But also understanding other aspects of a regular life of how we called it at that time in Proctor & Gamble — female head of household,  showed us the opportunity to still find the place for the brand in consumers’ lives.

The women in Saudi Arabia and in the United Arab Emirates would spend most of their time at home on the phone with their friends watching TV because in Saudi Arabia they couldn’t drive. They wouldn’t work. You couldn’t always visit other people, your friends and family. So a lot of that would be watching TV for 10, 12 hours a day and talking on the phone. And very often the subjects of your conversations are around what you are watching and some of the most popular shows were the cooking shows. And the conversations were very often focused about that. And the interesting thing was very often the commentaries of those women were around the presenters of the show, the chefs, also in the context of their attractiveness, which was quite a weird thing because often they were 50-year-old, overweight masters, not a very attractive men, but these were the ones that they looked at and those men taught cooking and showing the passion with the food. They were the Middle Eastern versions of Jamie Oliver or Barefoot Contessa. I’m cutting the long story a little bit short, but we ended up with understanding that if we put our products in that context, we can create the emotional bond with for the brand. So even if the product was not a necessity for them because you could still cut and not always the best application for that, you could definitely find the role of the Braun brand in the life if you would find a way to the household through for the cooking show, which led me to another challenge because the best partnership that we could come up with was with one of the most popular chefs in the region. And I had quite a big challenge to convince my bosses in Cincinnati to invest thousands of dollars for partnership with chef Asma after 9/11. So, Osama is a popular name in the region. Nothing wrong with that, but I remember presenting the slides and convincing P&G that we should partner with chef Asma was a difficult task, but what we did, and we found this way of moving away from a product, which for a company like Braun that is really proud of the engineering and design part, but really working on a brand level and using communication and emotional connection and connection with the image of the product and those rather than going on the product side was quite an interesting thing. And those type of projects where you go beyond the product itself and you understand the emotional connection and the place in life that the brand can play, usually, were the ones that I took the most and had the most satisfaction with. Similarly, on another segmentation protocol for Proctor & Gamble at this as the stage on fabric softeners, I also went on a journey that they showed me this dual aspect of the offering that you have for the consumer, that the product and the brand and the emotional connection versus physical usefulness are two different things often very connected. On the fabric softener, the major discovery that I had came through observing the shoppers making a purchase at the store.

 One of the most surprising things that we observed was that people buying the fabric softener very often would smell, would sniff the product itself. And at this stage, the scent of the product had nothing to do with the scent of the clothes after washing. So the scent was just… We only make sure that the product doesn’t smell bad, but it makes no sense for us as the producers that someone would choose a product based on how the formulation smells while the scent on the clothes will be very, very different. But that led us to go deeper and deeper. We understood that one of the big needs states in this category, especially in the developing countries, where women didn’t necessarily have money to buy, to invest in perfumes in things that were in the higher-level cosmetics, this basic fabric softener product was treated as a perfume of the laundry world. So, they were buying those products to have the family with something functional, but they were also engaging with this category more on a beauty level. And after a long collaboration, understanding how it really works, we make a big revolution in the category and develop the whole new lineup with fabric softeners that were focused not on the softness of the product and not on the family aspect of it, but really going into the higher world of perfumes and the indulgence, which  we never expected to have and that changed the category for it forever. And now when you go into the store, you will see that you have still family-focused softeners related, very functional communication products. But you will also have this highly indulgent, beautiful products that we would advertise later on in fashion magazines because it was the perfumes for the clothes and the emotional connection of a very different kind. 

[30:37]

I love both of those examples. They’re so visceral and tangible and such a great example of how it can be really hard to decode the insights if you’re just reading a transcript versus the experience of in-home ethnography. When you think about the last five years, there’s been a material migration from traditional like in-home, in-person, in depth interviews and focus groups to more digital-based research.  One – is that actually a trend that you’re seeing? ‘because I can’t actually quantify it except that I can see the ESOMAR report on the amount of money that’s being spent in the digital space. And then, the second part is what other trends are…? What else have you been seeing in the space that’s been changing? And, if you look forward, where do you see us as researchers spending more and more time? 

[31:49]

I will approach that from a little bit different angle not necessarily from what I always observe or what I believe it should be going. I strongly believe that the consumer insights and market research is a tool for making a better business decision based on understanding three things: how people, consumers, customers, shoppers, audience, whoever it is a specific category, how they feel, think and what they do. And all the methodological aspects of it are about best understanding how they feel, think and do. I think historically we’re talking about thinking, feeling and doing. Probably, right now with better understanding of system one and two and the whole neurology decision-making, we probably should start with doing then feeling and last thinking, but all those three aspects need to be captured in a proper way. And they think where we are going, sometimes slower than I would expect, is that there are different ways of capturing that best. So the feeling and everything that is that is unconscious (some feelings are conscious; some feelings are not) but everything that is unconscious should be measured. It shouldn’t be really asked about; it should be measured. It’s difficult to observe it, but it’s that the measurement comes into play. So that’s the whole world of neuroscience. That’s that I think we’re starting to be in a place that it stops being treated as a voodoo solution. There were some things you could easily question; there are some that are tried and true and not anymore considered as an aberration but they are proper scientific tools.

 So you can go into understanding of people’s feelings either by asking them when the feelings are conscious and easy to verbalize or by measurement. In terms of doing, what you want to do is raise rather observe; you don’t really want to want to ask. And technology gives us the opportunity right now with digitalization of a lot of processes and often the consumption and communication and purchase leaves the digital trace. So a lot of that you could observe either in a digital way or in person… And then you have the whole asking aspect when you still can ask about what people think if they are conscious about their thinking. So in today’s world, you have those three aspects that you need to measure. And you have the whole toolbox of measurement, observational, and techniques where Big Data comes into place more and more. And you still have the role for qualitative, quantitative, quantitative research. But I think the biggest change comes through market research being part of the insight tool box versus being the goal on its own. There’s still a role for market research in the explanation of “why,” but their ability to dig into a huge amount of behavioral, observational digital data and Big Data changes the name of the game. Now, if right now I would give advice to young people joining the industry, I would advise them to focus more on SQL than on question-building. It’s more about questioning data than questioning people anymore or in different way, which sounds quite negative, especially for old school researchers like myself. But, actually, this is a very positive thing that you can focus a lot more on what you’re getting out of the data and lot less on how to make the data available because the data becomes available a lot more. So 80%, 90%, 95% of cases you don’t really need the dedicated market research. You can properly draw the conclusion based on the data that is generated. And then this additional 5%, 10% of smart market research, applying the proper questioning when it’s a conscious thing that people actually can talk about, but also applying the co-creation techniques and all of that creates a better engagement with responders and consumers. 

Those two elements together can provide a holistic picture. The other part that changes from a different angle. I don’t think it’s necessarily from the perspective of the quality of the data, but more from the perspective of the role of the research and the processes, all that do-it-yourself tools that are becoming available, which, once again, you could feel threatened by it. But I actually believe that it’s a wonderful development that once again moves away from the burden of spending most of the money and time of the insights people on generating the data and creating more space for consumer connection and empathy and drawing the right conclusions and influencing the right business decisions.

So I think that started a long time ago, but this move from being market researcher and then later on inside person focused on market research into being an insightful decision-influencer based on data that explains how consumers feel, think and do is something that’s happening. What I’m still surprised is that they still, style of thinking and those roles often are separated. You still have analysts that work with a data, without often having the proper understanding of how the data represent consumer needs, attitudes and behaviors. And then you have market researchers that sometimes they think that if they didn’t create the data, if the data didn’t start from a questionnaire or a qualitative interview, it’s not the job to leverage it fully. So I think that’s where the future, and it’s already happening today. That will be marriage. You will not care that much about where the data is coming from and what tools brought them to you. It will be more about integrating the data, analyzing it properly and drawing the right business conclusions and having the right business impact with consumer being the center of it, an explanation of what they want, what they do, and how the components offering can impact that. That’s where the future lies. 

[39:16]

It’s an interesting point you’re making. The current org structure of most corporations that I’ve been exposed to actually has market research as a specific function that usually sits outside of the business units. And then you have like UX that is sitting alongside product and you have whether it’s in data science, which is I think the number one job right now and that usually sits inside of the R&D side of the business. And there isn’t like on the Venn diagram, there really isn’t any corporate. Like it isn’t a matrix structure where the market researcher can help inform best practices for the types of work that the UX is doing or potentially the “why” of the Big Data analysts. It’s an interesting how it’s all evolving organically outside of these functions inside of the business. But it’s not necessarily coming at all from market research.

 [40:16] 

It’s not necessarily the case. And this is one of the biggest challenges because it’s dangerous for both market research and for the components. If you don’t go with the smarter organization integration, it’s really, really difficult. I’m right now in an interesting position because in my role, I am my own client, the way I’m trying to explain usually how my realm works with being the Head of Catalog and Business Intelligence and Audience Insights at the same time. I have the opportunity to work on both sides. The catalog is the business unit. So I’m on this site. It’s a startup-type of operation. When the business intelligence provides the think tank by the operations. So it’s a think tank plus startup. On the think tank side on the Business Intelligence and Insights, we really understand the audiences and our consumers. We develop the solution, the strategy. And then I switch to my second hat and I apply it to the catalog business. So I’m actually my own best client. And then after we execute, it goes back to the think tank. We evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, what we could do better. And we do a rinse and repeat. So there’s an experimental type of structure – one of the ways of overcoming the challenge. So everything that is data- and strategy-related sits together, but we also have not full integration with the business, but we have a part of the business that the company feels comfortable with experimenting with, which is in music industry catalog. It’s the music that was released at least 18 months ago. 

So it’s the music that’s not under so much pressure for the daily performance. It’s not the music that you see on the charts necessarily. So we have a little bit of more leeway of being more strategic in what we are doing and also allowing ourselves a little bit more failure, which is a necessary part of innovation. I’m not saying this is necessarily the organizational type of solution that they would apply broadly. I’m bringing that up because it’s really necessary for the components to experiment and figure it out how you integrate data and usage of the data and how you create the proper interfaces that impact the business because in most of the cases, I see this disconnect and the industry is divided as well. It’s not only within the companies, it’s also within the industry. The conversations that are between the data people, the data scientists, business analytics, and the conversation that market researchers have are very different.  You and me, we met on the conference in Cincinnati recently, and I was quite surprised, after having a little bit of a break of participating in the insights and research conferences, how different those conversations are versus the data for conferences. It’s almost like two different words. One is not better than the other, but both are half blind. And the differences between those conversations, the subjects, the challenges that those groups see, the little overlap that there is is quite shocking for me. I understand where it’s coming from, but I would expect that at this stage we would already move past that, that we would already figured out a little bit more how the consumer-centric, data-driven organization can deal with different data sources. The integration and making that useful with people with different profiles, working together. Right now. also, from the capabilities and capacity perspective, it’s very divided. You have people that are good with data either they have the data curation of the data analytics, but they lack the psychological aspect and the ability to link that data back with the consumer behavior and have no consumer empathy or limited one. And then you have market researchers that are great psychologists, but they got terrified when they have to have to leverage the data with a hundred thousand or a hundred million records and that skill is not part of the skill set. 

So way of bridging that and the new insight that will come, that should come, to be able to deal in this complex but extremely exciting way is something that they really look forward and an organization that I worked for tried to try to build and develop because the opportunity was never bigger to impact the business, leveraging that unprecedented amount of consumer-related data. But the hurdles that we create on our own either because we are scared to learn new things or the organizations are not yet capable of overcoming the silo structures and disconnect internally. It’s surprising how far we are from making reasonable adjustments, I would say. 

[45:38]

Yeah, I was just last week in Las Vegas doing onsite interviews with Predictive Analytics World, which is a large conference, and it encompasses predominantly like Big Data that is used to drive outsized opportunities through just an ongoing informing the business. And so, it’s all about advanced analytics, like you said, SQL, Python, R, etc. And, it was interesting to me to see, in my opinion, the void of consumer-based data, market research specifically, being present in that ecosystem. Even to the point of vendors that you saw and I saw exhibit at in Cincinnati, they could have been selling directly into this audience I believe. But it’s just funny how there’s this separation; we see it as almost a church in state scenario. And I don’t exactly understand—maybe it has to do with the origin stories—why that chasm exists.

  [46:46]

I think you’re 100% right. And I think it is about the genesis of different function, different companies. And it doesn’t respond to the challenges of the day and it’s not functional. Now for me, good example is where still social listening is, which for me it’s a basic and core market research tool and usually it’s not the way it is being perceived. It’s often hijacked by customer satisfaction people; it’s sometimes highjacked by the IT people it’s sometimes owned by the PR people that use it for the reputational things. The main purpose of social listening is to have a nice dashboard and do it on the repetitive level. And usually the social listening as a research tool, either doesn’t come at all or come as a last resort, and it is coming because the origin of the tool is not market research. 

When you look at it, this is America’s research dream come true: That instead of asking questions, people just talk to you and you only have to listen. For me, this is the tool that I used every day. I couldn’t imagine any researcher to not use it, but very often that’s not the case. Very often it is plugged and played to other functions. Customer service people that pick up a phone on unsatisfied customers; you have PR people that want to avoid the crisis situation; you have the salespeople that use it for leads; and you have analytics with nice dashboarding. And, occasionally, some market researcher will dab into it. Well, we should own that because the data curation that we are skilled, the ability to understand how to listen to consumers, which is exactly what we are doing, is critical for leveraging the tool. Technology is great on its own, but it’s only fully leveraged when it’s applied properly with someone that knows how to use it. And there’s a couple of both sides. As researchers, we don’t necessarily know how to do it, so we don’t claim the ownership. And then, other functions do not know the extra benefit that it would bring. So it lies somewhere in the middle.

[49:18]

It’s really interesting – so, even down to the name of this show, Happy Market Research Podcast. So, I’ve been in a spot recently where I’m getting invited to other events that are in UX. In fact, I was presenting at Facebook about a month ago and the majority of the audience, a couple hundred people there, were Ux professionals, user-experience researchers and not market researchers. Actually, the number of market researchers was relatively small. And so, I’m thinking about how do I more correctly name the show based on who I believe the listenership is, which is trending more and more towards this larger audience that is outside of where I have traditionally lived in market research, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what the right name is. Because as soon as I say, “user-experience researchers,” now I’ve all of a sudden cut off the other people. 

[50:17]

It’s very difficult. I’m gradually moving into always using insights and analytics as a descriptor and always trying to bring back that this is about the comprehensive understanding of consumers, users, audiences, shoppers, customers, whoever is your “B2” and dive into that ‘cause labeling it from the data origin, it’s just perpetuating the issues that we are trying to tackle. You have really sometimes very polarizing reactions because I’ve already met business partners that wouldn’t like to listen about market research at all because they consider market research not credible compared to the behavioral data that they’re getting from their systems. And the other way around that you have more traditional marketeers that are used to consuming market research, they don’t want to use the other types of data too because they don’t feel comfortable when they don’t necessarily understand the where the data is coming from. You have the whole challenge of, and we often talk about that the probably I think more often than we should about all the forms and boards and that affects both worlds, that affect both market research and the data that we pull from social media or from different types of digital platforms. So if we don’t turn it around and we focus on what is the end product, which is, I strongly believe, about insights and analytics that explain your customer, whatever you call them, and using the analytical expertise to draw those insights—if we don’t start to refer to that, you will always struggle with this old school “where your data came from” type of labeling. 

[52:35] 

Yeah, totally. It’s almost like I need to come up with a brand like Switzerland, right? So you have this framework of like we can all talk about data-driven insights or business decisions that are driven by insights. And you think about a pie chart and consumer data plays a piece in that. If you want a comprehensive point of view, as does data analytics and user experience and so on and so forth. So anyways, maybe I should throw it up to the audience on how it should get renamed. I don’t know, but I got to figure that part out. I like your idea of analytics and insights. But so when we fast forward this space in three to five years, how are we going to be different?

[53:27] 

I really hope that we’ll address some of those challenges. So I believe one big change will be that more people in the organization will be empowered and provided with the tools to use the data on the analytic side: the tailored dashboards that will pull out the data so that people can consume it a lot more directly without that much of interface and tailor-made solutions coming from the market researcher or analyst and do-it-yourself research tools that that will be that will be available for anyone on the organization. So this is a part of my plan to make myself replaceable as much as possible so that you create those tools and give power to the people.  I really believe that the truth will make you free. And the more access to the data and insights directly to people will be… Technology already makes it reasonably easy. So we don’t have to be the gatekeepers; we can be those enablers. So that will create a space for the insights experts to be more on the strategic level and be able to swim in those massive data lakes and to discover things that… to ask the questions that they wouldn’t be asked or why not asked. So that is that part that is exciting for me: The data scientist will help us to create the data integration and really the advantage that will lie either in specific people in the organizations or in the  organization themselves will be about asking the right questions and getting the right answers for those questions rather than having the data, having the access and then over competing on this underspend of data acquisition or research itself because it’s always been like that, but we have limitations because usually they end up… In the past, if we wanted to learn something, we had to literally go out and ask about it. There will be less and less of it. I’m not that focused on trying to figure it out how much you should spend on online focus groups versus personal focus groups. I strongly believe that consumer connection, empathy, and the personal interaction will be important in the future as well. And we’ll have to find the ways to do it, to find the compromise between being over-reliant on technology in that, but also not trying to force everyone in the organization like I used to in my old P&G times, literally spend days and sleep at consumers’ house because… You don’t always need that, but you have to have this well-developed empathy so when you are interacting with Big Data, you can use that to create a realistic portrait of the audience or consumers that you want to address. But the switch of us as being the reports’ creators and the developers of insights and the gatekeepers to the knowledge versus creators of the tools and being the source of empowerment of everyone interacting with the same data in a very easy way, I think, that’s where we are going. And that is achievable within five years to see a very different, different picture and very different role of data and organization, how it is being used. 

[57:35]

I really liked that framework. I think that’s spot on and is, like you said, not just aspirational. It’s definitely that, but it is something that we can change. And I think that the framework difference of being the gatekeepers, which we have historically have been as market researchers, to being the enablers that is such a different, and I think also a very important point of view for modern businesses that are going to incorporate consumer voice in their disciplines. So, my last question is what is your personal motto? 

[58:16]

That’s a good one. I’m afraid I for a long time and I still keep it close to my heart. I have a very corny one and a very commercial one. I try to live by sneaker mottoes and actually two of the selling lines. So Adidas “Impossible is nothing” and Nike’s “Just do it.” It’s really what I try to… Whenever I don’t feel like doing something or I feel the size of the challenge, I just remind myself those wise words of sneaker marketeers. But the other motto that I think in one of the postcards you actually relate to that one. I strongly believe there is one motto, adage or rule that I disagree with and I approach a bit differently. 

The golden rule about treating people the way you want to be treated, which I think was one of the biggest personal insights when I realized that this is not true and not helpful. So, I really try and live by the rule to treat people the way THEY want to be treated versus the way I want to be treated. It’s a small, small difference, but I think so many issues in life and the work comes from us projecting ourselves onto others versus really being empathetic. At the beginning of my career, I treated people the way I wanted to be treated, and that really didn’t work out because not everyone is like me—actually, no one is like anyone else. So, to give you one small example: I don’t like to be praised. I don’t need to be given credit for something when I do something right. So when I was a very young manager, I didn’t do it often enough. I didn’t praise my people. I was proud of them. I was really happy with them but because I didn’t… I never felt comfortable being recognized I didn’t do it for others. And then someone, someone wise, one of my early bosses, told me, “You cannot do that cause it’s, you know, you cannot assume that people operate like your that you cannot assume that people think and feel like, like you,” which is obvious. It should be obvious for market research person. But it really changed my life. So, so now I really spend a lot of time, trying to be empathetic, understand what people want, how they want to be treated and treat people with if, of course, with the respect and, of course, not doing them. Something that I wouldn’t like to do, be done to me, but not just having a-one-size-fits-all approach to everybody, but really trying to treat them the way they want to be treated. So every time I hear the golden rule being repeated, I kind of cringe because it’s close, but no cigar. It’s helpful. It’s better. It’s better to treat people the way you are treated, but it doesn’t really doesn’t go far enough.

[01:01:27]

My guest today has been Piotr Szymski, Vice President of Catalog and Business Intelligence at Sony Music. Thank you so much for joining me today on the Happy Market Research Podcast. 

[01:01:40]

Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure. 

[01:01:42]

We’ll work later on the renaming of it. Thank you, everybody else who has taken time out of your day to tune into this episode. If you’ve found value in it as much as I did, I hope you’ll take 10 seconds, screenshot and another couple minutes just to share it on social media. Have a wonderful rest of your day. 

[01:02:03]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com   Have a great rest of your day.

Happy MR Podcast Podcast Series

Ep. 233 – Rian van der Merwe – How Successful Companies will be Built on Ethics, and the Impact on Consumer Research

My guest today is Rian van der Merwe, speaker, writer and responsible for Product at Postmark, which is part of Wildbit. Wildbit is an 18-year-old technology company whose software centers around taking the pain out of the development process and is used by over 100,000 companies globally. Prior to joining Wildbit, Rian has served senior product roles at top firms including eBay, Naspers, Jive Software, HealthSparq. Additionally, he is the creator and actively contributes to Elezea, a blog, and a newsletter for people who create technology products.

Find Rian Online:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rianvdm 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/RianVDM 

Website: www.wildbit.com 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by HubUx. HubUx reduces project management costs by 90%. Think of HubUx as your personal AI project manager, taking care of all your recruitment and interview coordination needs in the background. The platform connects you with the right providers and sample based on your research and project needs. For more information, please visit HubUx.com.


[00:00]

On Episode 233, I’m interviewing Rian van der Merwe, responsible for product at Postmark, but first a word from our sponsor. 

[00:10]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com   

[01:35]

Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Rian van der Merwe, a speaker, writer and responsible for product at Postmark, which is part of Wildbit. Rian, thank you very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.

[01:54]

Thanks, Jamin. Good to talk to you again after about a decade. 

[01:58]

It has literally been a decade since I’ve seen your face. I have been following you on social. You had a book release a couple of years ago, which got a lot of publicity, and I just ordered a copy of it, another copy of that actually. Lost my other one. Before we jump into that, I’d like to start a little bit with your background. Tell us about your parents and how they have informed your career. 

[02:22]

Sure. So, I grew up in South Africa. I live in Portland now, but I’ve lived in a bunch of places up to this point. So, I grew up in a little town called Stellenbosch, which is about 45 minutes outside of Cape Town. It’s in wine country. I’ve lived in many places and I still believe that’s the most beautiful town in the world. And I don’t think that’s even remotely biased. We should put a photo in the show notes so people can decide. So I grew up there, went to school there, went to university there. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. My dad was an academic. He worked at the University of Stellenbosch his entire career. So you could imagine how weird it was for him when I would move from jobs every four or five years. It was a really strange thing. Someone who worked in the same place for 40 years. His field of study was geography and particular urbanization, and he grew up on a farm. So his main academic focus (And this is relevant, I promise. We won’t go too deep into urbanization, but it’s relevant to your question.) His main area of focus was particularly with small towns and why people move from small towns to cities and particularly why those small towns still exist. So it’s coming at it from a different perspective. Instead of understanding city life, he was trying to understand how small towns continue to exist after most people have left or after its reasons for existence have gone away. So, the consulting you did was like he would go to small towns and they would say, “Look, agriculture isn’t a thing here anymore. What do we do? Like how do we turn this into a tourist town? Or what other reason could there be for this?” And the reason is relevant here is that it really generated in me an intense curiosity for human behavior and how people live and work. I went on many of these trips with him to the smallest places in the country. And he always talks about the sense of place and understanding a sense of place. And I think that curiosity along with his academic journey has really instilled in me this idea of curiosity and a thirst for constant learning, particularly as it relates to how people live and how they want to live and the meaning that they search for in how they live. So he definitely had an enormous impact. I didn’t become a geographer, [chuckling] but the ways that he did his work definitely still impacts me. 

[04:57]

Well, I think that particular topic for me is one of tremendous passion. So, as you know, when I started Decipher in Palo Alto, I relocated back to my hometown, Fresno, which is about two, two and half hours away from Silicon Valley. And it is exactly…  They call it brain drain here. So, you’ve got people that are whatever, and then they get recruited and then they’re gone. As a byproduct of that, you have the job creators, this sort of like vicious cycle. It’s really hard for a local economy to be able to break out of an ag-based or whatever was the old way of growing to support a half million people.

[05:42]

Yeah. That’s particularly pronounced in South Africa, but I see it here too. Even in Oregon, I think about a town like Bend, which is in eastern Oregon, a little ski town where when I visited everyone said that you move to Bend and then you figure out what you want to do. People move there because they want to be in that specific area. But then towns like that, like Fresno and maybe Bend, have this weird identity crisis where they’re like, “We don’t know why we’re here sometimes.” And that’s very interesting to then uncover why they are actually there and how they can make a living. And particularly now like for us as a remote company, for example, and as we see more people work starting to move that way and, finally, Silicon Valley becoming less important in terms of hiring talent, I think we are going to see that even more and more with people staying in their hometowns. I still feel like that’s a way to save cities in a way and save towns because those people staying means that they bring additional culture and additional reasons for being into that town. I know we’re off topic now, but it’s a really interesting discussion for me around the way that we work and the future of work. 

[07:01]

Yeah. It’s something that I’ve seen. Actually, there’s a number of different companies that I follow that are talking about this a lot. One of them is a Survey Monkey and they’ve been posting… You know, Silicon Valley as an ecosystem, feels a lot like (and you’ll appreciate this, I think, given your tenure there) feels a lot like 1999 and 2000. I mean the congestion is just insane. There’s an industry report that’s done with the Bay Area Council for Economic Development. Over 30% of Bay Area employees are actively looking to move outside of the Bay Area and the reasons why are negative reasons as opposed to positive. But the broader point is companies as they wake up are going to identify or empower their employees to work wherever they so choose. But for me, the big question is it’s really hard to be in business. You can only do so many things well. And I think managing a remote culture could be one of the things you have to be disciplined and say, “OK, this is going to be a priority for us,” which then creates almost this like trade-off scenario of what things aren’t we going to do. 

[08:15]

Right. Yes, “trade-off” is the right word because I think in that trade-off you don’t need facilities management, you save other things. We’re a company of 30 people now. I’ve haven’t been there for 12 years, but I’ve been remote for 12 years and we have someone on staff whose title is Team Happiness and Operations and that’s what you’re talking about, right? But we don’t need a facilities manager or someone that figures out how to expand office space. And I think you’re right in that there’s a lot more companies talking about that. Base Camp obviously talks about it a lot, but then there’s Buffer and there’s Zapier, all these companies that are remote only, that are doing this more and more. And we’re seeing that, like you said, a lot of people prefer that. I don’t know how I would ever go back to not working remotely. It’s not for everyone, but I think that the way that it’s structured and the way that it allows me and the way I work to have uninterrupted hours of deep work and communicate asynchronously to my team has been invaluable for the way that I work. 

[09:23]

So, this is particularly interesting for me cause we’re like in the early stages of building a company. And one of my big challenges is I’m based in Fresno. So you have like this talent access issue. So part of our question that we’re answering right now is it OK to hire outside of the area? Are you finding that that almost like infringes on your family time, I guess is the, the concern around it? 

[09:44]

Not for us. So we have a very interesting culture where we’re currently experimenting with four-day work weeks where we work. So we work 32 hours a week, so Monday through Thursday. And since a lot of the team is in the East coast, I actually schedule my hours so that I work East coast hours. I work 6 to 3 every day. I like that. Not everyone wants to get up at 5:30 but I like that. So it doesn’t infringe on that at all. In fact, I get to go pick up my kids from school every day. And the important thing, I think, is that you have a space. Whenever we hire someone, we ask them where are you going to work? They were like “Coffee shops or a couch.” They’re like, “No, you need to have a space. We’re going to give you the furniture. You can’t just work wherever.” Like this is my office and I can close the door and I can work here. The sign on the door that says, “Dad is on a call” isn’t always as effective as I want it to be, but, for the most part, it works OK.

And so you have that. And the other thing I will say is I think why a lot of people are scared of this is that they try to recreate an office experience in a remote environment. So there’s a lot of synchronous work and that’s where it would infringe with family time, especially if you’re across time zones. Whereas for us, we have very few meetings during the week and we optimize for asynchronous communication. So we post something in paper, in Dropbox paper, and we say, “Let me know what you’re thinking within the next two days.” And then when someone else is, needs a break from coding and they want to do something else for an hour, they come out of that and this is a good break for them to then give feedback on that thing. And once you look at it that way: You’re not recreating an office environment; you’re actually optimizing for what remote work is good for. Like, let’s say you record a podcast, you don’t need to edit it with someone in person. They can work on it when they are ready. You can give feedback that way. So I would encourage it, I would say. 

[11:53] 

So, what tool… This could probably be very relevant for our listeners. What tools do you recommend companies look at when they’re thinking about in creating a remote culture? 

[12:02]

I’m not going to say Slack. We’re actually very, very anti-Slack. We have very strict rules around Slack. A lot of remote companies would say when you’re working, you’re in Slack. We don’t have that rule. We don’t make any decisions in Slack. You’re not required to come back after you were away and read through a thread and understand what just happened. We try to use Slack for troubleshooting and real-time issues on the site or making some announcements, but no real time work actually happens there. Our work happens in Dropbox Paper, which is like a Google Docs competitor, but it just feels less permanent. And then we use Basecamp for a more permanent communication. And then this is going to sound weird, but we like email. We like email better than Slack. Before we send someone a direct message in Slack, we would say, “Well, do I need to interrupt them right now or can this be an email that they get back to?” In fact, one of the people that work with us, Derek, built a Slack app called PigeonBot that you can download that let you email someone from within Slack. So instead of sending them a DM, you would type “/email” and it would send them an email instead of interrupting them at that particular time. 

[13:13]

I am 100% going to use that app. 

[13:15]

It’s fantastic. Yeah, it’s really good.  

[13:17]

Yeah, for sure. Let’s shift gears a little bit and get back on track. I’m really excited about hearing your perspective on this. Tell me about a time you had a difficult experience in life and came out of it.  How you managed that? 

[13:33]

Yeah, as I thought about this, ‘cause I knew this question was coming, it was really hard one to think about. But I think the one I want to settle on that’s maybe particularly relevant here is, and for your listeners, is just me, as a foreigner, breaking into technology in Silicon Valley, That was super hard because I finished my studies in Australia. I just studied for seven and a half years and didn’t stop. So by the end of it, I had a PhD, but I had zero from a foreign university and I had zero work experience and I met my wife in Australia and followed her to the U.S. and started looking for jobs and I realized it was completely impossible. Like I don’t have a visa. I was here legally, but as a tourist. I couldn’t work, but I wanted to stay here. We decided at that point that we wanted to stay here. So, I remember I spent the Christmas of 2003 on Monster.com. Does anyone remember Monster? 

[14:32]

Totally. Epic Superbowl ad company, right? 

[14:36]

Yes. We’re both aging ourselves a little bit here. But for the young ones, that’s how we used to find jobs. It’s on a website called Monster.com. Spent eight hours a day on there and, eventually, found a job at a market research firm, which is where I first encountered Decipher at Survey.com. And it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it was the only thing that I could pull off. And that part was really hard: just to convince someone that with taking a chance on it. I’m really glad that they did that. And then after that I moved to eBay and Decipher moved over with me and that’s why we’re still friends.

[15:17]

I’d like to think there’s more to it. But, yeah, good point. 

[15:19]

But yeah, yeah, yeah. But that was really hard. I remember at eBay, in particular, whenever my badge opened the door, I never got used to it. Like when I swiped my badge, I always wanted to call my mom and said, you’d never guess what just happened. They let me in again. I think of all my experiences in the U.S. 

[15:39]

The badge swiping at eBay is… You probably don’t know this. I smuggle out…  You know how you have to return the badges when you visited… OK, so I literally will hide the badge and I will lie and tell them I’ve lost it because for me this is like this… It’s a really… These are the companies that are impacting our world. It’s such a neat thing to be able to literally put them into my— it’s not really a scrapbook per se—but it’s my notebook, notes relevant for that particular day in the meeting. So anyway, it’s a big deal! 

[16:12]

I never got used to it. When they printed to thing. And I wondered if everyone was like me also lying in bed, just staring at it at night. And I don’t think they were. But, for someone who grew up in a small town that just like this was never on my radar and the ability to eventually make it there. And I know I came at this whole experience with a ton of privilege, but being able to get into America and be in that environment and just feel like I’m getting smarter through osmosis. I don’t even have to do anything. I just go to lunch with people who are so incredibly smart and I never forget that. Still to this day is the thankfulness around being able to do that is why I still love what I do what I do because it’s that again, that constant learning and that thirst for  knowledge and that curiosity that comes from my dad and his work is still with me in that challenge. And I don’t know how far you want to go into the challenge, but we did move to Silicon Valley with a blow-up mattress and a coffee maker and that’s it. We had nothing. And I remember I walked. I didn’t have a car, so I got an apartment right across from work so I could get to work. And lucky for us, there was a Blockbuster in a Safeway across the road too. Well, we didn’t have a TV, but there was a Blockbuster for eventually. I walked down to the Salvation Army and bought a chair for $20, but I didn’t have a way to get it back to my apartment. So I walked back, got my passport, gave them my passport and then they lent me a dolly so that I can push the thing. And then, I went back and picked up my passport and then I wanted a TV to it. So I took the bus to Best Buy and I bought a TV and lugged it in the bus (people thought I was crazy) back to the apartment. Didn’t have anything to put it on. So it sat on the box it came in for six months. And that’s how we started. 

[18:10]

God, what a great story.

[18:13]

But I just think about the ability to start like that and just keep going and eventually keep going and going and then be here in Portland now in this wonderful place that we’re at is such a testament for what is possible still here. I know we’re not going to talk about politics, but I know it’s weird here right now, but it’s still like I hang on to that memory of what is possible and how that challenge shaped us and my relationship with my wife and how we’re thinking about these things. 

[18:45]

Yeah, it is. I love this story you’re telling. My best friend has a very similar story. He literally grew up in a mud hut in Transylvania, transplanted here in seventh grade, and had a tremendous amount of difficulty fitting in. Right? And yet now he has beautiful family, makes way more money than I ever have, tremendously successful, happy, happy guy. And it’s interesting to me that America still is a land of opportunity and you can in a lot of ways if you take responsibility and have the humility. That’s the other part of it, right? I mean you have to be willing to check your humility at the door, or sorry yourself at the door in order to attain and grow. And like you said, take the bus with the TV or the dolly with the chair. I love that picture. That would be something worth putting on your mantle, right? 

[19:46]

Yeah, eventually we had to get rid of the chair and I was really sad about that because, as awful and bug-infested as I’m sure it was, it was super comfortable. And also, just this memory of that I don’t want us to forget; I don’t want to forget where that came from. 

[20:05]

Over the last 10 years we have seen a bunch of new roles emerge in the insights space. Data science, as you know, Python, R usurped old school SPSS, user-experience research, customer experience research. How are these different than market research? 

[20:25]

Yeah, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, particularly when I was at eBay. So my background is in research and market research and when I moved to eBay I was in the user-experience design team, specifically on quantitative user-experience research. So I thought about this a lot. It’s very fashionable even back then to bad-mouth focus groups. And so, I was trying to understand where does all this come from? But where I’ve settled, particularly with market research and user-experience research, is that I’ve always felt like market research seeks to understand the needs of a market in general. It’s concerned with brand equity, marketing position, attitudes. So attitudinal surveys and focus groups help you a lot with that. But I think the reason some of these other roles have come in is that it’s, particularly with digital products, hard to use those methods in the design of those products themselves. So I still think market research is incredibly important for understanding those kinds of things. Like what are my customers like? How do I position this product? But when it comes to figuring out interactions with a product, that’s where user research comes in. It’s concerned with how people interact with technology, human-computer interaction and what we can learn from their wants, needs and frustrations. So that combination of those two have always been really important to me: first, understanding the market we’re in, but then building a product that actually serves that market, I think, is more the role of user research. 

[21:49]

Methodologically speaking, it feels like we’re doing a lot of the same (I know there’s some differences too.) a lot of the same types of work. Do you think part of user experience is the place that it sits in the org structure like that job function sits in the org structure? In other words, is it more of like a just-in-time insight, which market research historically has not been able to facilitate ‘cause it usually sits outside of it? It’s kind of at its own thing. 

[22:20]

That’s a really interesting question. I think you might be right and I think one of the shifts we’re seeing too is that it’s becoming more and more important for people to understand the company they’re engaged with, not just the product. The most obvious example is Facebook. No one is just interested in Facebook, the product, anymore. They’re super interested in Facebook, the company, and all these ethical questions around it and the same with even Google and all these other big companies. We’re getting to a point where market research and user research need to…  We’ll talk about this a little bit later, but I think particularly around ethical questions and helping people understand the company they’re doing business with. I think those things need to be more connected and possibly, like you said, the issue is that they’re in different orgs right now. User research is always set in the design function whereas an interaction with the company is also user research and so that overlap I think is becoming more and more prevalent but our organizations aren’t structured for that yet. 

[23:22]

Yeah, for technology companies, this gets to, from my vantage point, one of the really important issues, especially for newer firms: how, when, and where should they be using consumer insights? And even in a little bit more context – Y Combinator has this fairly new product that they’ve brought to market called startup school, and it’s like a 10-week program free. This last cohort that they had, they have, I believe, 23,000 companies globally that are participating in it, which is a fricking gigantic number of startups. So I guess the full frame there is consumer insights definitely has a role and a place, and I think it’s really interesting for technology companies to have that framework of the how, when and where should they use those insights. 

[24:14]

Yeah, so my view on this has shifted a little bit over the years as well. Back in the day when I was at eBay, we had a user-experience research team of about 15 people and a market research team of about 10 or something like that. And that’s all they did. But it was among over 10,000 employees. Where I’m at now, which is a small 30-person company, I always like to say that research is something and talking to customers is something we are; it’s not something we do. This is something that permeates everything we do. Everyone’s involved. Our developers often get involved in first-line support when there’s a technical issue. Since my background is in research, even though I’m product manager now, I still talk to customers a lot. I sometimes handle sales calls if our sales person is on vacation or something. Our designers do usability testing and user research. Like everyone talks to customers and that relates to another product concept that a woman named Teresa Torres talks about a lot, which is continuous discovery, which is this idea that we need to talk to customers every week on a continuous basis so that research isn’t a project we do and then it informs our product. It’s something we do continuously. We build up our knowledge and our base knowledge about our customers. As we do this continuous discovery with customers, we build up a backlog of insights about them so that when it’s time to work on something new, we don’t necessarily have to go and you do a new project. We know so much already because we talked to them every week. So I’m a big proponent of that. I’m not moving away from this idea that research is a project as opposed to research is just a thing we continuously do so that we understand our customers because that informs everything we do. 

[26:03]  

So when you think about the differences of qualitative and quantitative research, do you think leveraging qualitative on a week…? I’m thinking about your weekly cycle framework. Is that more centric to IDI type? 

[26:17]

Yeah, yeah. It’s definitely more in-depth interviews. We have moved away from NPS. I don’t know how you guys feel about NPS these days. I know on the product side it’s kind of fallen out of fashion. We replaced NPS with… So the company Superhuman (I forget the name of the CEO) but they wrote an article in first round, which I can find for you about it. The survey they used basically says how disappointed you be if this product went away. 

[26:45]

Yeah, I’ve seen that. 

[26:46]

And then, why? So, we replaced NPS with that and we look at that consistently as to how many people would be extremely dissatisfied if we went away and why. So we try to summarize that about once a month. So, that’s the only ongoing quantitative work we do. The rest is ongoing qualitative work, and we use a product called productboard, which is product management software. We use that to collect all our insights in one place. I really like the way they’re set up in terms of gathering insights from a bunch of different places and then categorizing them and tagging them so that when it becomes time to work on something, we can actually do a search and go back and understand all the people we’ve talked to in the past about different things. 

[27:32]

I’ll definitely check them out. I haven’t heard of them before. Yeah, that CEO also has a strong point of view. I can’t remember the article title, but, if I remember correctly, it was like it was product market fit is a lagging indicator and you…  

[27:46]

That’s where this is from. It was a very long article as they usually are in the first round. So yeah, that’s where we got that from. 

[27:55]

Yeah. And so he actually had some methodology, ultimately, trying to get it to be a leading indicator, which is, obviously, a very different framework. Actually, I just saw that like two weeks ago. So it’s real interesting that you’re bringing it up right now on the podcast. The how, when and where parts, I want to dig in just a tiny bit. I guess the “where” that you’re talking about is really everywhere, right? Do you use your…? I can’t remember his NPS replacement question, which I really like. How upset would you be if, anyway, your product’s no longer available to use? But anyway, whatever that is and I’ll include the link to that, by the way, in the show notes. Is that sent every time because the way that your customers interact with you on is on a SAS basis, right? Are you guys doing that on annual basis per customer or is it quarterly? 

[28:49]

We do it 30 days after they become a paying customer. 

[28:54]

Got it. And then that cycle repeats every 12 months? 

[28:57]

So, every day we send to whoever became a paying customer 30 days ago. So they come in consistently. They actually go straight to HelpScout. Every response goes into our support queue. And then where they either get filed away or if there’s something serious or, what often happens is someone will say, cause one of the questions is what would you add to Postmark if you could like what’s one thing you would change? And often someone would say something we already have or they would say something that we have planned and then our support team would actually respond to them and help them out. So we look at every response before it then gets filed away. And then we try to do some kind of summary later on every month.

[29:41]

This is such a big opportunity for companies to employ a methodology like that. And if you’re systematic with it… One of the things that I learned in Decipher was… We had a similar kind of sequencing. We’re project-based for about half the revenue as opposed to SAS. So that created more opportunity to touch the customer. But when we would have a detractor, if in the following three months we could convert them to a promoter, using the NPS vernacular, then that was our number one word-of-mouth legion. I’m not suggesting that we should create a bad experience, turn it into a great experience, but I mean it was… 

[30:16]

That’s one way to go

[30:17]

Again, no. That would be a lot of pain. 

[30:21]

You should post that on medium. I’m sure people will love it. 

[30:26]

You know what. That actually would be a fun… I feel like I’d be a fool, but… Anyway, all right, so what is the biggest issue that’s facing today’s technology product creators?

[30:38]

I don’t want to be weird about it, but I really think it is taking responsibility for the ethical implications of the things that we make. I think that it’s too long that we talk about product design and user interface design. We talk about how things work and what they look like. We don’t talk about why they exist, and we’ve seen what happens when we don’t talk about why things exist and if things should exist. I don’t even have to give examples. Everyone knows, I think, what I’m talking about from Uber through Facebook, through all the Google stuff, all of that. And I think that we have for too long said, “Well, we just do the thing; we just make the thing; technology’s neutral.” The point is that it’s not, and I think that everything we make has a systemic bias in it. And I think our biggest challenge is, first of all, convincing people that this is an important part of our jobs. And then, second of all, asking the right questions when we make things to make sure that we build in ways to prevent the products that we make to be used for harm. And I know what that sounds like. I feel like it sounded like such a pretty answer, but I’m serious about that. I feel like we messed up, and we have to do better. 

[31:54]

So, there’s two distinct areas that I think you’re getting a lot of focus right now. One is privacy and the way that companies can use our behavioral data in order to market to us to create. Like, for example, probably Amazon knows what I’m going to buy next month whereas I have no idea what I’m going to buy this afternoon. That kind of a perspective is just unfair to me as a consumer. The other obvious example to me is like social media is just so good as a tool. I have countless examples of people almost dying because their prefer… It’s like that that need for the endorphin, the dopamine, is so great. So is that what you’re alluding to? 

[32:41]

Yeah, I think I’m referring to a couple of things. I think one of the things that is really popular in Silicon Valley right now is the idea of habit-forming products. And there’s books written about how to basically hack people’s psychology to get them addicted to your product. And I just think that’s not good. We shouldn’t be doing that. And on the other side of that, I also think that there’s a systemic bias in the things that we make. There’s lots of examples of this. When you train AIs just using a certain kind of face, it doesn’t recognize a different kind of face that might be a different color or different ethnicity because no one thinks about that because we just don’t have enough diversity in the people who make the products that we make. And we also don’t take responsibility for that. So I think that there’s the ethical implications. There’s the recognition of the bias that is inherent in every product that we make because algorithms don’t make decisions. People who make algorithms make decisions. And if that is not acknowledged, we get ourselves into trouble. Twitter is another great example. The abuse on Twitter that almost, I don’t want to say easily, but that could be avoided if there are people on staff who understand how abuse works. But there’s probably not because that’s not the type of people who are making Twitter right now. And I don’t want to get emails from people, but…

[34:10]

It sounds like it’s more like in alignment with Wall Street, right? Like the expectations of shareholders and what’s going to drive an investment of millions of dollars into… Abuse prevention is not necessarily something that’s probably not at all going to increase unless—you know what I’m saying—unless that has the other side, that of user gains.

[34:31]

For the longest time, it’s been growth above all else, and then figure out monetization later. So when you have growth above all else, that’s how things like growth hacking get started, which has a bunch of unethical practices in it. I’m not saying VC money is bad and we shouldn’t have it, but I’m saying your priorities change and your users aren’t your most important people anymore. As an example, at Postmark, we send email. We’re a transactional email service. It sounds boring, but it’s really exciting. I’m very fun at parties if you want to talk about email. We send email, but one of the things that we talk about a lot is we make a tool for developers, but we also want to understand how can we actually be good for people’s inboxes as well. So how do we get developers to send fewer emails? If they trigger a transactional email, a trigger email, right? So they’re like password resets but also often notifications. Say someone comments on a post. How can we encourage them to not send ten emails and make a digestive one instead? We’ll make less money, but we will save a person’s inbox. We’re not saving the world here. We do email, but that’s the kind of thing that I would love for us to think about more and that you CAN do if you’re not beholden to growth above all else… is how do we actually improve people’s lives and not just go for growth at all costs. Paul Jarvis has a great book that I just finished reading called Company of One that is great read for not just freelancers but for anyone who works in any company about sustainable growth and how that’s possible. 

Again, I’m not sure if we are running away from things, but I think that is our challenge: how do we get away from growth at all costs because we are losing so much of our humanity when we do growth at all costs. 

[36:33]

What is your personal motto? 

[36:35]

I don’t have one. I thought about this question a lot. I have a few rules and I think the most important one is when I see something in an email or in a post, particularly at work, that I get emotional about and I start typing, I stop and I go, “Give it eight hours,” and I set a timer and I don’t respond for eight hours because things need time and I don’t want to respond from a place of emotion. Particularly when you’re a remote company, that’s really easy to do to not see that the meaning behind the words and to get offended or whatever. And after that eight hours, I usually have an amazing, excellent response that is not emotional. But I think that’s the big thing. And then my dad just always talks about we cross that bridge when we get there. And I know that’s not a new thing but, as a product manager, there’s lots of things that you might want to cross before the bridge is there. And we should just wait sometimes. Just give it eight hours. 

[37:37]

Ah, that distance between the emotional reaction and the output of that—whether it’s words or actions—I think that’s something all of us could do maybe a little bit better job of. It’s funny how… 

[37:50]

I’m still learning. Sometimes I ignore my own advice, but for the most part, I give it eight hours.

[37:54]

For me, that’s really good in marriage, by the way. So like that and raising kids… 

[38:00]

You don’t always have eight hours, but if you take five minutes…

[38:04]

Going to put a pin in that just for a minute. Before we close out, I do want to talk a little bit about your blog. So you’ve had a longstanding blog on product and a newsletter. I love your newsletter, by the way. I really do. I read it every time it comes through more of like a bullet depending on my time, but it’s very insightful. I was pull something out. I love the references to other people’s work. That is also great. And you’re active on Twitter pushing the same, similar, obviously, in a Twitter context, but maybe you talk to us a little bit about that work. Where it spawned from? And your inspiration, I think, would be really interesting, and then what you cover. 

[38:42]

Yeah, so I’m coming up on ten years on the Elezea blog. The first post was in August, 2009. And I remember it because it was just after I resigned at eBay and we decided to move back to South Africa. And back to that original, initial discussion we had of getting smarter by osmosis is that I felt like I was in this incredible environment surrounded by people, and I was moving back to South Africa that has less developed technology culture and I was so scared of losing that that I decided to start this blog (at that point it was just a blog) as a way to force myself to keep learning—back to the keep learning thing, just to keep myself honest so that I don’t lose that. And that ended up being the best decision I ever made for my career. That led to publishing on Smashing Magazine; it led to the book; it led to multiple jobs. I have one regret and that is not choosing a better domain name. If I have one recommendation, it’s don’t choose a domain name that no one can remember or pronounce or spell. That is a bad thing. But now ten years later, there’s nothing I can do about it. Like it’s built up all this stuff in Google and I can’t change it, but I thought I was being smart. I wanted five letters and it has this great meaning. It’s a Swahili word that means “to elucidate, to clarify.” That’s this great thing and a great logo, but no one can ever remember it and no one wants to pronounce it. It’s E-le-ze-a, but no one ever wants to say that. 

[40:15]

Elezea. Yeah, I was wondering about that.  I was a little bit hesitant to botch that as well. 

[40:19]

No one wants to say it. 

[40:21]

But it is a fantastic source and by the way, Insights Nation, it is 100% free, which is also remarkable. Have you thought about a paid structure for that content? 

[40:33]

I do have that now more as a patronage setup. As I’m going on ten years, I did the math and the site cost me quite a bit every month in hosting and time and I pay for MailChimp like this. All these things that I just pay for and a have for a very long time and just realized I’m entering the second decade of this thing. And as I did that I thought, what do I really want to do? And I was like, I just want to keep writing. So there’s a patronage thing that’s like three bucks a month or something. There’s nothing special about it. If people find value in it… I just want to break even with it at some point where it’s not actually costing me anything every month. That’s all I want. So we’re not quite there yet. I’m not surprised you don’t know about it because it’s not something I push very hard. It’s just like I want to eventually, if I’m lucky, break even. 

[41:29]

We will definitely jump on that wagon. Listen, so I will make one recommendation that I’ve seen work really well in that on the paid side. And that is stickers. It’s stupid, right? So it costs a couple bucks to manufacture. But, if somebody jumps on the bandwagon for like a 12 month or whatever kind of thing and they get a sticker and then they can put you know, laptop sticker and it has this almost like “I’m part of this thing that’s cool” connection to it. 

[41:57]

Yeah, I’ve definitely thought about… I’d love to do a run of T-shirts. Not that I’m doing firewall, but I’d love to do that at some point. I was linked once eight years ago, but that’s a different story. But I do send people a PDF copy of the book if they sign up for that. But, yeah, stickers is a better idea, I think. 

[42:20]

My guest today has been Rian van der Merwe. How’d I do? 

[42:25]

Excellent, man. So good. Don’t put that video in the show notes, please.  

[42:32]

I’m going to have. I won’t. Don’t worry. I’ll put your improvement. Speaker, writer and responsible for product at Postmark. It has been an absolute pleasure to reconnect with you. Thank you so much Rian, for being on the show today. 

[42:45]

Thanks, Jamin. That was great. 

[42:47]

Everyone else, if you’d please take the time to screenshot, share this on social media, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, your five-star ratings mean that other people like you will be able to find this show. If you have any feedback, content you would like added to it or just stuff that you hate about me, feel free to email me at Jamin@happymr.com. Have a wonderful rest of your day. 

[43:21]

This episode is brought to you by HubUx.  HubUx is a productivity tool for qualitative research.  It creates a seamless workflow across your tools and team.  Originally, came up with the idea as I was listening to research professionals in both the quant and qual space complain about and articulate the pain, I guess more succinctly, around managing qualitative research.  The one big problem with qualitative is it’s synchronous in nature, and it requires 100% of the attention of the respondent. This creates a big barrier, and, I believe, a tremendous opportunity inside of the marketplace.  So what we do is we take the tools that you use; we integrate them into a work flow so that, ultimately, you enter in your project details, that is, who it is that you want to talk to, when you want to talk to them, whether it’s a focus group, in-person, or virtual or IDI’s or ethnos; and we connect you to those right people in the times that you want to have those conversations or connections – Push-Button Qualitative Insights, HubUx.  If you have any questions, reach out to me directly. I would appreciate it. Jamin@HubUx.com. Have a great rest of your day.