Chueyee Yang

Ep. 105 – Merrill Dubrow, CEO of MARC

Today we are joined by Merrill Dubrow, CEO and President of MARC Research. Being a CEO of a full-service marketing research firm is not the only thing you’ve got going on. You serve on University boards, you’ve served as President of the AMA Boston, you have a blog, you and Steve Schlesinger put on CEO Summit. You’re not just a CEO, you’re a leader of CEOs.


[00:00:00]

Well, Merrill Dubrow. Thank you very much sir for joining me today for the Happy Market Research podcast. You are a busy guy, a CEO as I know firsthand is time is valuable but having said that you also spend a lot of time after hours on University boards. You’ve served as the president of AMA Boston. You’ve had a blog for a decade. Additionally, you and Steve Schlesinger put on that CEO summit that’s had major lift for you guys. As a leader of CEOs, what is the number one skill that you think CEOs bring to the table?

[00:00:43]

Wow. Well first of all, before I answer that question, Jamin, I want to thank you and Alexandra for inviting me to the podcast. I’m really looking forward to being part of it and what you’re doing here is really unique and I think beneficial to the entire research community. To answer your question, I don’t know if I can give you one answer. I don’t know if I can sit there and tell you what’s the number one skill that every C level employee could or should bring to the table. I think that really depends on the CEO. But I can answer it from my standpoint, which is you’ve got to be self-aware and you’ve got to be able to allow yourself to have a self-evaluation and trust people around you. So constantly when you have – I believe I’m never going to be the smartest guy in the room. I believe I’ve made the most of my skill set and the reality is I can say, hey I need to get better at blank. So the interesting thing, you mentioned my blog for 10 years which I did three times a week and I wrote everyone except for a few guest writers. I’m not a great writer. I have good idea, but I don’t have great punctuation or grammar and I was able to, through this self-aware and self-evaluation understand that, know that and surround myself with people who could help me through that. They didn’t re-write the stuff, they just made sure it made sense. So for me the number one skill is this self-awareness. Give yourself the self-evaluation to know that, hey I might not be great at finances or I might not be great at management or I might not be great at sales or I may not be great at something else and being able to surround yourself with the right people and also try to get better at something every day. So for me it’s what I’ll call jamming 900 seconds, 15 minutes a day I try to get better at something. Whether that’s be a better marketer, be a better executive, be a better son, be a better brother. It doesn’t really matter. That’s what I would say for me for where my career is right now. I would say to have that self-evaluation and really be self-aware of what my strengths are, but more important, what my weaknesses are and do something about it.

[00:02:49]

Yes, so it sounds like you’re doing two things there. One is you’re hiring people to support the blindspots or weaknesses.

[00:02:55]

Right.

[00:02:55]

The other part is you’re leaning into those in terms of intentional training. Do you think you spend, using your rule do you think your spend more time on improving your strengths or bolstering your weaknesses?

[00:03:10]

Yes, and there’s a lot of books on that. I actually try to improve my weaknesses. So I’ll go after some things that I might have some blind spots, to try to improve and look, I remember and you’ve seen me on stage a fair amount. The first time I presented which was in Nashville, Tennessee at Opryland Hotel, I did it – this will show everybody who’s listening how old I am. I did it on index cards and I was visibly shaking and my voice cracked when I presented and that was the first time. So in my 20s, in my early 20s I did that and knew that being a good communicator and trying to get your message across to attendees and colleagues and bosses was going to be important to my career. So I really worked hard at that over the years and I think I’ve done a good job and probably I’m an above average presenter at this point. Still trying to get better, but I go after my weaknesses. I go after the stuff that I know I need to improve. I think it’s helped me so far.

[00:04:12]

Yes, I think this idea that greatness is born, not made is completely bullshit and –

[00:04:18]

Yes.

[00:04:19]

It means the people that are successful and the value that we’ve built in our own lives by intentionally focusing on – I don’t know if your read the blog post that I did on the subject of procrastination, but I actually talked about one of the times that I completely failed as a speaker and for me, that was a big opportunity to just focus on anytime I can speak I take advantage of that. Even if I’m out of pocket, I’ll drive or fly if I have the opportunity to because I want to improve on that particular thing. People see me on stage and they’re like he’s OK, he’s pretty good, whatever. The point is that it’s something that I continue to work on and a craft I continue to hone. So I think that’s just such an important point. You’ve got to focus on those weaknesses and improve them if it’s something that is important to you.

[00:05:03]

Totally agree.

[00:05:05]

So what in market research is adding the most value right now to businesses?

[00:05:10]

Yes, I think – it’s a really good question. We’ve all been in sales meetings, we’ve all had client visits, capabilities, presentations and we’ve all looked over in the corner and there’s some beautiful bound research reports that are collecting dust and have never been used and have never been implemented, integrated within the enterprise. The most – where market research has really added the most value right now is a true partnership. Not a vender/client relationship. A true partnership where you can ask all the hard questions, you can deliver insight and what we try to teach our team is what are they doing with the research. How can we help integrate that within their enterprise. Are we going to get chances to talk to the brand manager, do we have C level interaction? Is the CMO going to be involved? What about the VP of marketing? Where does this report go after we deliver it to you? Who is in the room on the final presentation? So for us, whether it’s a tracking piece of business, whether it’s a quick study that we do, concept testing that’s in and out, we try to ask those other questions because we want to make sure that any research we deliver Jamin, doesn’t just collect dust. We want it to be used. They’re spending, clients are spending a lot of money on these tools and on these management reports and from our standpoint, the companies that really are adding the most – where research is adding the most value, use the research and it’s a funny bit but now clients do that. There is a lot of client turnover and a lot of stuff just gets lost in the shuffle. So I think that’s really where the most value is today, right now.

[00:06:57]

I remember, I had a – this is a true story. I did a qualitative study for a client who will be unnamed and delivered the report and it was just this really tight two page executive summary. Took me three months of flying around the world doing the qualitative and I handed it to him, he looked at me and said – and dropped it on the table and said, it’s too light.

[00:07:19]

Right.

[00:07:20]

True story. So I had to then pull an inch worth of content. By inch I mean in terms of the number of pages and then it was adequate. So it was a completely different measurement than today.

[00:07:33]

Yes, no that’s funny.

[00:07:35]

Hey listen you do a lot of work with young professionals. What do you look for when you’re going to hire someone who is starting out and what skills do you think they should be focusing on developing?

[00:07:46]

Yes. So it’s funny because everybody has this lunch test now. Do I want to have lunch with the person across from me and if I do then maybe I’ll hire them and if I don’t, get them out of here quick. For me, one of the things I look for is a thirst for knowledge and if you have a thirst for knowledge, you will ask questions and you’ll listen to the answers and hopefully you’ll be able to process that and hopefully you’ll be able to really think about it, what it means to you in your job. I like to surround myself once we’ve hired people. I don’t want people to do their job. That’s what everybody wants. I want people to think about doing their job. So I want those extra two words at the beginning of the sentence to really apply because let’s think about it for a second Jamin, if you think about doing your job, what happens? Chances are you do a better job, you gain efficiencies. Chances are you’ll have a little bit more fun. Chances are you’ll deliver a better product. Chances are you’ll make everybody around you look a little bit better and everything is a win-win. But too many people don’t. The other question I have to answer and mine isn’t about can I have lunch with this person, although I love to have lunch, is are they trainable. Because no matter who comes into your enterprise you have to train them. You may want to tell me you only have to train them for three weeks as opposed to three months or two years. But you have to train them and if they think they know everything and they’re not trainable then it’s a no-go for me and recently in the last 90 days or so, we’ve really – when you make a bad hire it costs you a lot. If you hire somebody for $100,000 and you hire them for upwards of 6 months, well now you waste $50,000 plus benefits. So 20% and now it’s $60,000 plus expenses, etc. but it’s also the cost of doing business and the opportunity cost. So the reality we use something called the AcuMax Index, which tests – which is a quick survey. It takes about three minutes to do it and basically it’s a tool that tells you how people are wired in the environment that they work well within. How they communicate and how they like to be integrated within a company and it’s been a lifesaver. Everybody in the company has taken it, everybody we’ve interviewed has taken it, anybody we’ve hired in the last 3 to 4 months has taken it. We use it with clients of ours to pick teams based on communication styles because as know, all clients are a little bit different and it’s been an unbelievable tool. Now there’s about 250 of these tools in the country, this is one of the few that has wiring as part of the metric and the algorithm and it’s really worked well for us and it’s unbelievable. It’s already saved us a lot of money.

[00:11:00]

When you guys are hiring you think about the – hiring is a lot like a sales funnel, right? So you’ve got a vast number of people hopefully that are applying for a job and that kind of whittles down to those that have great resumes, etc.

[00:11:12]

Sure.

[00:11:12]

How – what would you recommend – what are the key tools or what do you look for in that top of the funnel to help somebody get from an expressed interest into the job to actually get that interview?

[00:11:25]

Yes. I think – look for me, it’s a little bit about networking. I’m a big proponent as you know about LinkedIn. To me it’s the number one management tool out there that, oh by the way it’s free pretty much. In the world I don’t know how people – most people are doing their jobs without using all of that, utilizing LinkedIn. Now just level set, I do use it a time. I have almost 26,000 connections. So I think that for me and the people that we’ve hired, they’ve wrote a compelling quick email or they’ve referenced something in our business or they’ve referenced somebody in my inner circle or they come highly recommended. That will get my attention. That doesn’t mean it’s the sole purpose and the sole way you get my attention but you’re right. If I have 100 resumes that are coming in blind, it may only get five that get – but if I get ten resumes from Jaime or Steve Schlesinger, all ten will be reviewed, all ten will be talked about and all ten will be interviewed. Because I know that if you’re calling me or sending me an email or suggestion through a text that I need to interview Freddie or Sally, I know you’re thinking about the best interest of my company and I’m going to do that. That means you’ve seen something and that means a great deal to me. So that really is the number one thing.

[00:12:54]

Got it, networking critical.

[00:12:58]

Yes, it’s people plus having access to people like you and Kim Monston and Kathy Allen from Decision – Steve Schlesinger. All these executives who run companies who are all in different parts of the United States who come from different backgrounds who come across different resumes and different potential candidates. It really is another set or two or five of ten of eyes that really can help you move your business forward.

[00:13:34]

Right. Yes, that’s a good point. So when you started your career of course you were not a CEO of a major market research company. You entered the front door just like everybody else and now as you reflect back over that time, what is the biggest lesson that you learned?

[00:13:51]

Well I’ve got to tell you something. Being as old as me and being in the industry for 33, 34 years, there’s a lot of lessons. But I would say the biggest one is profits cover up problems and not too many years ago, we were flying high, couldn’t do anything wrong, it was unbelievable hitting. Every month was a new record. Whether it was revenue or profit, didn’t matter and I could sense that there were some things that were a little bit awry but when everything is going great, I didn’t react to a few things that I should have because they were covered up by profits and that’s been the biggest learning for me that will never happen again and it’s something that I think has been extremely valuable. So when things are going great, continue to make those strategy moves. When things are going great, continue to look at all your metrics. When things are going great, continue to improve on every single on them and continue to look for those efficiencies and don’t get complacent at all. So that’s what I would say.

[00:15:04]

There’s a lot of narrative around what is the role of market research in today’s world. Seems like it’s been evolving, maybe even displaced by some of the integration of what would be marketing research technologies inside of WordPress websites or what have you. What do you see as the biggest miss in the market research industry over the last five years?

[00:15:32]

Jamin, have you ever seen a – have your kids ever played or your niece or nephew ever played soccer? Right, as a –

[00:15:39]

Of course.

[00:15:40]

Seven or eight, nine year old? So the ball goes to the left and what happens?

[00:15:45]

Everybody goes to the left.

[00:15:46]

Right and then the ball kicks across the field and it goes to the right. Then what happens

[00:15:50]

Same thing, everybody follows the ball.

[00:15:53]

So I just described to you the market research industry and the problem is that sentiment analysis, everybody go. Biometrics, go. itracking, go. Bid data, go. What’s next, artificial intelligence? Yes and the problem is that everybody gravitates, every single company out there gravitates to the next biggest thing and I think that’s a huge miss for a lot of companies and what I mean by that is you’ve got to have the right technology for your company, for your staff and for your clients and oh by the way, you’ve got to make money at it and if you can’t, do go after that piece of technology. I’m not saying don’t take technology and integrate it in your enterprise. I’m saying take the right technology that makes the most sense for your company. Don’t chase everything because if you chase everything, it’s going to be costly, you’re not going to understand what the deliverable is, you’re not going to be a guru in thing and it’s going to cost you money I guarantee it.

[00:17:03]

The lack of focus, big problem.

[00:17:06]

Yes. Well I think so.

[00:17:09]

Yes. Good. So looking forward now, what are you seeing as the major change and continuing your analogy of the grammar school soccer team, where is the – to Wayne Gretzky now, which is his famous quote I think is, I don’t go to where the puck is, I go to where it’s going.

[00:17:30]

Yes.

[00:17:31]

Where is the puck going?

[00:17:32]

I think the companies that are going to have the most success are the companies that build products and services that are very quick, that are – probably have some type of automated or do it yourself platform that clients can react to quickly. What we as researcher probably all don’t understand or want to understand is that our clients are getting asked from the CMO or VP of marketing of brands, I need an answer to this problem now and now means yesterday. We don’t have the luxury anymore of 6 months or 8 months or 9 months. It’s now and the products and services that can meet those challenges, and I think there’s a lot out there but not as many as there could or should be, are really where the future is going to be and I think that my sense is that corporate departments are going to continue. I don’t see them growing a ton. I think some will but I think a lot of them are going to continue to streamline as they work through these product mix that’s going to be quicker delivery and be able to allow them to really move their business forward. So I think that’s what’s going to happen as well.

[00:18:59]

So kind of piggybacking on that, is there – are there specific products that M/A/R/C is pushing to help meet that demand?

[00:19:11]

Yes, I think – yes. We introduced a new product on the Zappi platform about 17 months ago. Actually Monday was our 17th month anniversary.

[00:19:21]

Congratulations.

[00:19:23]

Thank you, thank you and we had our first client on day five, after we established a product and went live with the service. So we had our first client day five. I think we had three clients in the first three weeks. We had almost – we had a little shy of $100,000 revenue in the first month. So – and we’ve been on our way since. So I think for us it’s continuing to build some additional do it yourself, automated platforms that clients can really benefit from quickly, that are priced reasonably. Then that allow clients to get the insight that they need in their enterprise to move it forward right away. So we’ve got a couple more coming out in the next couple of months. So be on the lookout for them and I think that back in the day Jamin, we would all build products and not have a revenue stream for what, maybe 8 months, a year. You can’t do that anymore. I don’t have time, you don’t have time. We need to have revenue streams pretty quickly.

[00:20:28]

So are you building out technology internally or are you leveraging other providers that build out the tech?

[00:20:35]

Most of it is externally. We’ve done some – with Zappi we had a very successful hackathon that we were able to figure out a way which was very, very interesting because we did about 7 or 8 months of work in 6 days. We’re into the middle of nowhere in Texas and 21 people, 14 from them and 7 from us from I think – I don’t know, 12 different countries got together really in 9 miles past the middle of nowhere in Texas where internet didn’t really work and the phones didn’t work half the time and we built a product and were able to do that. So some is internal, a lot of it is external and it’s making sure that we’re picking the right partners to move our business forward.

[00:21:21]

Awesome. That’s all my questions, Merrill. Is there anything else you wanted to cover?

[00:21:25]

No. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This has been great, hopefully the answers will help some folks and I appreciate you having me as a guest today and we’ll talk to you soon.

[00:21:36]

All right, Merrill. Thank you very much and thank you everyone who is listening, hope you have a fantastic day. Bye-bye.

Ep. 101 – Developing Software that Works

Today we are talking about tech and software. We are investigating the ways that market research should help to drive business decisions about app development. Here are the questions we answer:

  1. What are some simple do’s and don’ts that you can share?
  2. What makes software work?
  3. How do you determine value? Or, how do you figure out what people need and how to fill that gap?
  4. What are some ways that market research can be deployed to maximize what many companies are doing, especially in the app or web app space?
  5. Let’s say someone has the idea for the next big app. What sort of market research should they do before they even get started?
  6. What would you say to a company that has already created the app and they’re ready to take it to market? What are some key points to research as they prepare a launch strategy?
  7. And finally, what about for a company that has an app or web app for years. What can market research do for them, you know, with the ship fully out to sea?

Ep. 102 – How to Fail Small

This is a lesson I (Alexandra) learned from Jamin, a few years I started the Happy Market Research Podcast. At my previous job, you were advising a company about a product they were working on, which didn’t end up panning out. From there you taught us how to fail small on the next product they followed up with.

    1. What does it mean to “fail small”?
    2. What are some action steps that people can put into practice now to start learning about what works and what doesn’t today?
    3. What does “failing small” look like in the context of market research?

Ep. 103 – Nihal Advani, CEO of Georama

Today we are joined by Nihal Advani, CEO of Georama. Here are just a few of the topics we covered.

  1. Tell us a little bit about Georama, your product and what problem it addresses.
  2. Who is the ideal customer of Georama? Is it a brand or a market research agency?
  3. At its core, market research answers business questions. How is Georama improving that answer over the competition? Who do you see as your competitors?
  4. You have an impressive background. You’ve been at Google, at Microsoft. What are some of the biggest takeaways from your professional development that empowered you to launch your own business?
  5. Coming from the tech industry, what is your perspective on market research and the value it brings to your business?
  6. I understand that you had to a do a big pivot at Georama. Tell us about that transition. How did you determine when to make the change?
  7. What advice would you give entrepreneurs on when to make a pivot?
  8. How does MRx inform your product roadmap?
  9. What’s the biggest roadblock to new customers?

[00:00:00] All right, welcome back to the Happy Market Research podcast. Today we are joined by Nihal Advani. Did I get that last name correct, sir?

[00:00:11] Yes, you did.

[00:00:12] He is the CEO of a funly named company, Georama. Welcome sir and thank you very much for being our guest.

[00:00:20] Thanks for having me.

[00:00:23] I’ve just got a couple of questions for you. First of all, it’s an honor to be able to interview someone who’s in the beginning parts of their startup so to speak, entering into the market research space. I know it’s like a terrifying – [LAUGHTER] right? Yes, exactly a terrifying point and so I’m excited about this conversation. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your company, your products and what problems you’re addressing.

[00:00:47] Sure. So the company’s name is Georama and what we do is we’re all about qualitative insights in real time. What we’re doing differently is that we’re helping researchers, whether that be brands or agencies remotely gather qualitative insights while people are in the moment. But doing that all live in that part of sense. Anywhere in the world can be using either smartphones, smart glass or even a 360 camera to share their perspective when they’re completely mobile in their natural environment. Whether that’s indoors doing an in-home activity or outdoors doing shopping and it allows the researchers to not just watch them live but actually interact in real time to probe them, essentially providing the only true digital parallel to be there in person. So that’s what we do in a nutshell. It’s all about deeper insights at global scale, faster and cheaper.

[00:01:30] Got it. So normally when you think about a buyer in market research there is qualitative buyers and there is quantitative buyers. So people that are doing the surveys and then there’s a group that’s wanting to do perhaps even both. What is your ideal customers?

[00:01:45] So for us of course it’s all qualitative. They may mix and match us with quantitative studies but we’re focused on the qualitative side of things and we actually work equally with brands and agencies. So there is many market research agencies we work with. We also work with design firms, we work with ad agencies as well at times. But we also work directly with brands. Whether that be CBG brands, retail brands, [INAUDIBLE] or even some pharma. The end result is anyone who is looking to get qualitative insights. Sometimes what happens with the brand is they want to do quick projects just themselves and our technology makes it more scalable so they can do that in-house if they want to, but many a times they are partnering with brands, whether our client is the agency and bringing the brand on board or our client is the brand and then bringing their agency of choice on board. It works either way.

[00:02:24] So can you give me or and the audience a specific use case? I’m actually really interested in one of the demos I saw where you had the glasses, the camera imbedded inside of the glasses. Maybe walk through what that project looks like from inception to final delivery.

[00:02:41] Sure. Think of let’s say a shopper study and I’ll give you the flow both for a smartphone as well as a smart glass, where someone can use our platform to create a project, set up what we call sessions. Which is essentially a live or recorded media interaction with participants and that session can be done through either smart phones, smart glasses or 360 cameras. Smartphones is of course the easiest logistically because they can simply download our app and go live. Smart glasses requires an additional step where we take care of it in that we ship the smart glasses and we get them back, but it allows you to be even more natural and hands free. Especially for certain types of activities. So in a shopper scenario you may have some pre-set tasks and questions. Things like please enter the store, please go to XYZ aisle, lease start shopping and talk aloud. What did you notice first and any few fundamental questions, just giving the participant some structure as to what to do and the flow of things. But the value of watching it live with our platform is that you can probe them and so on average what we’re finding is clients will set up 10 to 12 pre-set tasks and questions but then when watching live ask 60 to 90 additional questions, based on what the people are doing, saying, seeing, even they have maybe missing and therefore just getting really deep with these participants and when it’s with the smart glass it’s all done through audio. So they’re not looking at their phone, everything is done through voice where you can send voice message or any text messages as you send are converted to speech and heard by them and they can of course respond verbally versus with a smart phone they’re seeing these things on their screen. They even have the ability to tap on their screen if you want to throw in a small amount of quant. stuff in there as well. But yes, that’s how it works.

[00:04:12] Perfect. So getting all that data and video format, super exciting. The ability to be able to interact in real time also – this synchronous sort of qualitative is unique. But the other thing I thought was interesting about your platform is the reporting tool. So how you consolidate that data. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

[00:04:34] Yes, actually I should have mentioned earlier so thanks for bringing it up. One of the equally important things we do apart from helping with data capture is actually the AI. So as part of our vision of making quant. more scalable, one part of it is making it easy to capture natural data from anywhere, anytime. But the other part of it is to help analyze that data faster and present it faster. So everything we do automatically of course is recorded. Everything is automatically transcribed through a machine transcription and we have really custom modeled a whole bunch of stuff. So we have a very high accuracy in terms of translation and transcription. But beyond just that we are analyzing the text, analyzing what was said and seen and showing key words and themes and topics that were generated based on what was said, providing sentiment. Not just overall sentiment and emotions, just not overall but at the entity or at the moment level and also providing visual object and seeing recognition where you can actually just skip to the moment where in that same shopping scenario you could skip to when somebody was outdoors, indoors, at the shelf, considering the product and same thing with all your keywords. If you want to go to the moment maybe if they talk about price or they talk about problem of choice or whatever it may be, you could actually skip to those moments. It’s all culled for you automatically, very, very quickly so that you can skip to the moments that matter and once you do that you can actually drag and drop these moments into a visual presentation type tool that essentially lets you just drag and drop and create a video montage for each team. A bucket that you made for it. You just hit a button to generate a report and hit another button if you wanted to download it onto PowerPoint. So the end result is you’re getting from recruit to capture, to analyze, to present, much much faster with our platform.

[00:06:12] Yes, that’s perfect. I love the getting to moments that matter in qualitative. I’ve done qualitative for 2 decades. It’s just catastrophic in terms of the impact on time. If I do an hour worth of IDIs it’s probably two that I’m pouring back into it. Just trying to take out the pieces that are interesting. So yes, that’s a –

[00:06:33] Yes and a lot of the people we’re talking that sometimes they say it’s one to four. One hour of video is four and we’re now making one hour video less than one hour for it, because of our tool. Much less in fact.

[00:06:45] I’m just that much better than all those other – I’m just kidding.

[00:06:51] That is true, you are.

[00:06:52] Before starting Georama, you were at both Google and Microsoft. Which are big deals. So what are some of the big take aways you had while working at those companies that enabled you or empowered you to start Georama?

[00:07:06] Yes, you know I started off at both those companies and learned a ton as to how to deal with customers, how to manage customers, manage relationships. I was also in product roles by the end of it. Strategy roles, analysts. So I was in a bunch of roles all those years and kind of allowed me to deal with different types, manage people, understand how to deal with developers, cross country teams and so I took all of that when I was launching my company. That said no matter what you learn at a big company when you go to a small company, as I’m sure you’re aware of now, it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s just, you don’t have the budgets, you don’t have any planned equity. You’re just starting from ground zero and so a lot of stuff you learn in a big company actually just goes. It doesn’t really help in that environment because you’re building things from the ground up. So although you take some of those things and many of them help a lot, there’s a whole bunch of other things and a whole bunch of other challenges that you’ve never ever faced remotely even faced at a large company that you start to deal with in the small company and that’s really the hard part.

[00:08:06] Yes. You know, market research is interesting because obviously you’re servicing that industry. Did you apply market research in starting, as you started your business? Maybe you could walk us through really that journey.

[00:08:18] You know, I did but probably not enough for the first time around and we did make a big pivot in between and when did make that pivot, we made sure to do a whole bunch of research to make sure we pivoted the right way. But when we started we were doing a whole bunch of things wrong. Live video and the platform was used across things like inspections, education, from campus tours to virtual field trips to a whole bunch of different scenarios within mobile, live environments and although we had some success, things were not necessarily having the hockey stick goal that we were hoping for. So last year we sort of hit the reset button because we always had great technology, we probably perhaps just hadn’t found the right market yet and that’s when we did a whole bunch of research to figure out that, just turned out that research or customer insights was where our technology was most fit. Because previously we were helping people explore places remotely and now it’s all about helping people understand people remotely and so that’s sort of that pivot that we made.

[00:09:14] What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is just starting out?

[00:09:18] First, do your research so that you can try. Your business of course is always going to change, so do as much research as you can. Don’t waste too much time though because many a time it’s all about iterating and having that late start up mentality. But beyond that, pick something you love because this thing is not going to be easy. It’s going to be more stringent than you could have ever imagined, but as long as you have that passion, you have that persistence and then you have the ability to pivot, I think you’ll be in good shape. I call it the three piece of a startup and so that’s really what I think it takes.

[00:09:51] So being new to the marketing research – or relatively new I should say to the marketing research space, what were some of your early roadblocks to getting into customers and how did you address them, how did you know them down or how are you knocking them down now?

[00:10:05] Yes, I think one of the key things for any start up in any new space is just how you raise awareness and we’ve actually – we still have a long way to go but we’ve done a pretty good job in that we’ve used a couple different techniques. One is of course showing up at industrial conferences and we’re now going to start a whole thought leadership aspect of things. I think that’s one of the opportunities for us, but we actually use AI because we think of AI all the time to find a way to actually do sales of skill. Because we do have a small team we utilize especially on the business side. We have a much larger technical team than our business team and so we’re like, how can we reach more of these clients in a very personalized way even though we don’t have as many people who can be sending an email or making a phone call and so we’ve used AI based tools to actually reach out to a whole bunch of people and get our names out there and I’d say honestly over 90% of our clients or our pipeline come from very strategic email marketing through AI. So that’s been one of the things we’ve done really, really well that has helped us kind of get known but there is still a long way to go and getting your name out there, being in a space, having some nice clients that you can show in case studies you can show of course goes a long way.

[00:11:14] Do you have a head of marketing?

[00:11:17] We currently don’t. We actually just, going through a transition on that. So I’ve been closely involved on the marketing side. I do have a marketing background myself, but yes. We did recently, actually earlier this week hire somebody in the marketing department but we will having a head on top person as well.

[00:11:34] What do you see is the role of social media as it specifically applied to selling into marketing research?

[00:11:41] It’s interesting, they’re still speaking aloud in our past iteration of the company we did use social media quite a bit and did fairly well at it. Now we’ve started – yes, we’re kind of resetting our strategy but one thing I think is a good avenue is kind of using thought leadership [INAUDIBLE sounds like: or quick nuggets]. In fact, one interesting plan we have is leveraging our own technology to do quick qual research for hot topics interesting insights and actually using social and of course skewing more business social but any kind of social to kind of put out those insights there to not just give people some interesting things to think about so subtly promote how we did this so quickly through Georama. So that’s one of our strategies we’re about to put into place soon. I think social can be interesting, it just has to be done right considering it’s B2B and not just pure B2C.

[00:12:25] Yes, I think that’s a really interesting point that you’re making. When you move into social, the thing that I am finding is resonating is how the sausage is made as opposed to the actual sausage itself. So the behind the scenes application of your technology and how you gather that information is part of the narrative beyond just the Britney Spears did this silly thing or whatever the trending topic is. So certainly you can hack through and get some followers that way and eyeballs. That’s fantastic. I completely agree, but the other side of it that I think is interesting is as you narrate your story in social media while you guys are actually doing your projects, then internal then it starts giving the consumer an opportunity or a script to then follow and apply to their own workflows. Anyway that’s cool. I’m glad to hear you guys are thinking about that. That’s all I’ve got. Do you guys have any technology you want to highlight or anything coming up?

[00:13:23] Sure, yes one of the things is so far we’ve been focused on in the moment projects and that’s been great, but what we’ve realized is there’s so much more to qual. and so actually over the next month we’re about to very rapidly ramp up our capabilities and offer sort of across the gamut all kinds of qual groups and so a company, whether it’s a brand or an agency can now come to Georama starting next month for any type of qual. project. Whether that be an IDI, focus group type project or in the moment or a diary type study. So that’s a thing we have, the most exciting update that’s coming from Georama.

[00:13:55] Yes, perfect and I’ll go ahead and link all that in the show notes. So be sure to, if you’re listening to check out Georama and the appropriate links in the show notes. Sir, that is it for the Happy Market Research. I really appreciate your time today.

[00:14:10] Same here. Thank you so much.

[00:14:11] Have a great day.

Ep. 104 – An Interview with Jamin

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Jamin grew up on a farm in Visalia which taught him the grit of working hard. His father had the foresight to know that tech was going to set the future of industry and bought an Apple 2 for the family. He gave Jamin the opportunity to learn programming and tech, which he parlayed into a small web development business.

How did you end up in the market research space?

From the web dev jobs, Jamin was hired as a market researcher at a boutique firm where he met Jayme Plunkett. It was there that Jamin first realized that using the internet to distribute surveys would cut research time (and therefore cost) into a fraction of what it was before.

Why did you start Decipher?

Jamin is always looking for ways that tech can reduce time, difficulty, friction in daily lives. That first test of web delivered surveys was the seed of Decipher.

What does happiness mean to you? Why is the podcast titled Happy Market Research?

Jamin loves to have fun, and one of his favorite ways to spread joy is to provide that “aha” moment for clients. When they really understand what the data means for their business, they are able to make the right decisions.

What core belief is most essential to your worldview?

During a father-daughter dinner in Sacramento, Jamin noticed homeless people setting up camp for the night on the lawn in front of the capitol building. He pointed this out to his daughter and asked her, “Which would be better, to spend our money protecting and bettering our family or on the people out there?” Her response was that to spend it on the people out there is to spend it protecting their family. Making the world around you better, makes it better for oneself in the process.

What does market research really do for businesses? Why should businesses pay attention to it?

At core, market research facilitates answering a question. Businesses want to ask questions of their consumers. If you have millions, hearing them clearly becomes very difficult. That’s where market research comes in.

What is one of the biggest opportunities for market research?

Market research isn’t merely about finding the data and delivering it to the businesses. It’s also about interpreting it. As tech progresses, businesses have more, faster, and easier tools to directly access customer data. But market researchers have the training and background to deliver big insights — to be the “keepers of why”. We should continue to provide that and do it even better in the future.

Where are you now? What are you looking to do in the future?

Obviously Happy Market Research which has this podcast as well as MRx News. Happy Market Research also has a consulting arm. Jamin is also doing small tech and market research investments through Vine Venture Capital.