Jamin Brazil, CEO and Founder of Happy Market Research, writes his thoughts about the newest podcast episodes, market research trends, and gives tip to others in the industry.

Live at #IIeX Austin, Key Learnings from 21 Interviews

The Happy Market Research Mafia…er…I mean Podcast was live onsite at IIeX Austin this year! Below is a quick recap of some of the onsite interviews along with my big takeaways…

Casey Bernard – Nimble Modern Radio

A fellow PODCASTER! Casey is defining a new frontier, Podcasts for Market Research firms and Brands. I spoke about this as well at IIeX. 

Why podcasts? 

1. The listener feels like friends

2. Insight consumption in any context, e.g. on a flight, commuting, jogging, etc. 

3. Content recall is much higher than written, presentation, or video


Instead of a topline report, you get a journalistic podcast deliverable. Casey incorporates the actual voices of the customers and can include additional media formats including an interactive website with videos and images. 

Honestly, this is such an effective way to communicate high level insights that engage the entire company in a regular cadence. Listen to this episode and think creatively about how you can apply the learning to grow your business. 

Learn More:

David Paull – Engagious & Dialsmith 

We talk about audience engagement and podcasting. One of the biggest challenges we, as the market research industry, face is how to effectively market ourselves. While we are brilliant at the research, we have a hard time punching through to the actual buyer. 

Learn More:

Adriana Rocha – eCGlobal Solutions 

Perspectives on being a women in context of also being a software engineer, entrepreneur, and CEO. Based in LATAM and experiencing rapid growth globally, HBO is one of their marquee customers. She applied several hacks to create a ton of value for her HBO: 

1- Create an invitation only HBO Go Panel

2- Leverage trending shows, like Game of Thrones, increasing engagement 

3- Using non traditional incentives, like badges, to certify community members as content experts

Learn More:

Andy Greenawalt – Odin Answers

Rebranded Odin Text. They pivoted from “what goes in” to “what goes out”. Odin Answers is the intersection between the text and segments that produces a just-in-time business insight. They specialize in servicing large Digital first companies. 

Learn More:

David Wolfe – Inguo

Brands are continuing to narrow their targeting communications to impact sales. Inguo is a spinout from the AI laboratory of NEC Corporation. The leading-edge research into advanced algorithms led to the breakthrough in data science to provide automated Causal Discovery and Causality Analysis – a first for the data science industry.

Learn More:

Forrest Sallee – Invoke

Invoke has built a consumer-driven decision making software platform. They offer a unique real-time digital testing option that gets you to data tables in under 90 minutes. Crazy!!! They use both closed and open ended questions and support both synchronous and asynchronous data approaches. 

We have an honest conversation about IIeX’s new US location in Austin. 

Learn More:

Hannibal Brooks – Olson Zaltman 

This is the first time attending a market research event. It is interesting to hear his take on Greenbook’s main event, “I love the presentations. Tons of new application of AI. Loved the presentation of AI analytics of CPGs.”

A little about Olson Zaltman. As a founder in the System 1 framework, Olson Zaltman goes beyond traditional research to reveal deeper insight into your business issues — which leads to bigger and better results.

Learn More:

James Norman – is all about understanding your audience and using that understanding to make better decisions in a video context. Anyone who is creating content and needs feedback in real-time… is a great fit. 

They have an innovative framework James calls “signal comprehension.” Respondents are exposed to any length of video from seconds to hours. Their feedback is automatically processed, analyzed and delivered to customers streamlining the creative process. 

Learn More:

Jennifer Lauture – TD Ameritrade 

I was able to hear Jennifer’s presentation at IIeX in Austin and was lucky enough to have a few minutes with her on the Happy Market Research Podcast. She uses this event as a way to prescreen prospective venders. Believe me, this is a common thread among the other brands I talked with. 

Learn More:

Joaquim Bretcha – Netquest & ESOMAR 

May 2nd, 2019, was the first day of Market Research & Insights institutionalized by the UN. Obviously, this day has passed but please add it to your google calendar. The hashtag is #celebrateMR. This is a huge opportunity for us as an industry to celebrate our success and importance of being a unified front to both brands and legislative bodies. Market Research stands for full respect for the respondents and the insights that serves as a rudder of the brands we serve. 

Learn More:

Kerry Edelstein – Research Narrative

Research Narrative is a full service research & insights agency. They offer services in custom market research, insights and analytics consulting, media & social impact evaluation, data journalism, and insights communication coaching for research and data-focused professionals. 

Kerry has a positive vibe that just pulls you in. Her deliverable is a combination of insights and storytelling. 

Learn More:

Laura Drews Freund – Cranbrook Search Consultants 

With all the consolidation over the past year, there are a ton of you who may be looking for someone to help you find your next big thing. Laura offers a deep network for both brands and prospective employees. 

Learn More:

Manish Mittal – Course5

I’ve known Manish for years. Course5 was initially known as CrossTabs. Course5 has evolved to include 3 pillars: 

1- Research AI 

2- Digital analytics 

3- Market intelligence

They have been a major player who has navigated the major pivots to stay relevant and help their customers find the key insights that move the organization closer to the customer.

Learn More:

Marc Macellaio – Fuel Cycle 

Fuel Cycle’s Market Research Cloud is the first insights platform to combine online communities, product exchanges, panels, and more to power real-time business decisions. They have been around for a long time and have a deep connection with SurveyGizmo (darn those guys…didn’t get on the show!). 🙁

Learn More:

Patricia Houston –

A startup within MMR Research in Atlanta. Their focus is on improving consumer experience and future proofing research. Here is the core question,

“How long until panel is no more and getting people to take a survey is too much?” 

This is a very important question for us to answer as we continue to see email open rates drop and consumer attention getting shorter. 

Learn More:

Ray Fischer – Aha! Online Research 

First off, he is the best voice in market research. For those that don’t know, Aha! Online is a Qual Platform used by many large brands to understand video. They support an asynchronous data collection approach including digital ethnography.  

Learn More:

Rick Kelly – Fuel Cycle

Founded as Passenger. Now Fuel Cycle is a research cloud that has their own set of qual and quant solutions in addition to integrating external tools. 

Learn More:

Rob Benson – Dwindle

“Dwindling it down” 

They are a new entrant into the market research space. For those of us who have been around the space a long time…don’t forget, learning market research is a lot like learning a new language and culture. Rob and his partner are doing a great job of helping designers A/B test in realtime. 

Learn More:

Sheila Akinnusi – Nedbank

A senior market research manager for one of the largest banks in Africa. She attended the IIeX event with the intent to find out what the rest of the world is doing and bring home best practices. One of my favorite parts of this interview was her assertion that the Market Research is an open community that welcomes all people and groups. 

Learn More:

Steve Mast – Methodify

These guys CRUSHED the event! Here are some trade show tips I learned from them: 

1 – Stickers are cool even for professionals 

2 – Have fun to maximize attraction 

3 – The big opportunity for us is to embed Market Research tech into MarTech

Learn More:

Tim Lawton – SightX

Solid company. This firm has the best UX for analytics of consumer data that I’ve seen. Their designers stay close to the customers ensuring their are getting from data collection to insights as fast as possible. 

Learn More:

Tom Anderson – Odin Answers 

This guy is the pioneer of text analytics. I’ve been a huge fan of his and his company. We even co-presented a few years ago at the CEO Summit. 

In this episode he talks about how important it is to triangulate truth through multiple data sources while including the customer voice. 

Learn More:

Vignesh Krishnan – SampleChain

SampleChain is a young startup. Vignesh brings a breath of relevant expertise to market research and technology. He was an early employee at Lucid. After leaving he started a DMP (Data Management Platform) that has tentacles into different parts of the industry including technology and sample with the intent of helping participants understand sample sources improving transparency and quality. 

Learn More:


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s IIeX in Austin. Thank you Greenbook along with my fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews at As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

It would mean a ton if you would share this article on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

#marketresearch #MRx #podcast #IIeX #userexperience

Power the Future of Insight Automation at MRMW

MRMW was a fun, informative and well attended show this year. Located in the heart of CPG land, Cincinnati Ohio, the speaker line up was amazing as were the exhibitors. The venue and space between speakers created a unique opportunities to have deep connections with partners. Dan Foreman (Zappi; Dalia; Bakamo; Veylinx; eYeka; MindProber; Haystack; Course5i; Voxpopme; Borderless Access; MRSS) & Baileigh Allen (ZigZag Research & Insights; Haystack, MindProber) kept things on track and fun!

The speaker lineup was among the best I’ve experienced. MRMW started with Kirti Singh, P&G’s Chief Analytics & Insights Officer and Gayle Fuguitt, Foursquare’s Chief of Customer Insight and Innovation who both gave inspirational and informative talks about the current and future state of the market research industry. Some of the other speakers included:

  • Jeffrey Hamilton, BMW
  • Rama Mallika, PayPal
  • David ludica, Facebook
  • Hetal Thaker Patel, iHeartMedia
  • Tia Maurer, Procter & Gamble

As the official podcast of MRMW, Happy Market Research had the honor of doing onsite interviews. Here are 14 of my favorite…

1. Brian Lamar, EMI Research Solutions 

For those that don’t know Brian is the best kind of people…fun, smart and humble. In this interview we talk about the role podcasting should play in your businesses along with the genius of my friend David Buttler’s recent creation, the viral Mars video:

Have a listen to Intellicast, Brian and Adam Jolley’s podcast, which offers a fresh perspective on the market research industry, sports, life and joviality.

2. Carol Shea, Olivetree Insights

In my conversation with Carol Shea, Olivetree Insights, we discussed one of today’s most important topics, “How can research move from a support function to a growth function?” The place to start is to understand what your Key Performance Indicator (KPI) will be for the research as it is often hard (*cough* impossible) to track to Revenue. For example, a KPI could be,

“How many times is the voice of the customer integrated into the business plan?” 

We also discuss tips and techniques for managing our next generation of researchers:

  1. Context vs checkbox management styles
  2. Collaboration 
  3. Get to the “Why” of the research 

You can find more information about Olive Tree Insights at

3. Courtney Akel, Georgia Pacific

Take the time to listen to this episode. Courtney talks about how market research is evolving and how that impacts us all in two ways: 

Firstly, partnerships are evolving. For example, instead of a wholesale outsource of the entire project, brands may opt to program the survey internally and then use their partners for the analytics.

Over the last 23 years in the space, we’ve seen in times of economic retraction that firms will move their cost basis outside. Over times of economic growth, firms invest internally on systems and people. The good news is regardless of the economic state, partnerships play a key role in delivering and activating insights. 

Secondly, we need to stay current with our skills. This is something I continue to hear as we are seeing more and more emphasis on data science. For her, this means learning both… 

  1. Python
  2. R

Learning to program is a lot like learning a new language. The good news is there are a ton of resources to help you. Courtney is using Codecademy

4. Gus Valen – Curator Video 

Research is a continuous process vs an event. This is picked up straight away by Gus in this insightful interview. His point of view of how market research is moving along w/the evolving customer journey is refreshing. We have all felt the tension between Observation vs Stated behavior. While Stated is easier to get, Observed can be more accurate outcome. But, is the juice worth the squeeze?

Curator Video is an end-to-end video management technology. If you have not seen them, I’d highly recommend checking them out.

5. Guy White – Catalyx

Founder Market Fit is a real thing and exactly how I started Decipher. Guy walks us through his founder journey and provides tips for early stage firms. With a background at P&G, Guy fell in love with the pain not the solution. This is key to successful innovation. If you are a technology looking for a problem…you will fail. 

Catalyx helps brands persuade more consumers to buy more, more often. They sit right in the middle of the innovation process. Find out more at

6. Jill Kushner Bishop – Multilingual Connections 

Think translation and transcription are not innovating? Think again! Jill founded Multilingual Connections and has been applying technology to streamline internal work flows for faster and better deliverables. Jill tackles her business from the point of view of a seasoned expert in the field. 

Find them online at:

7. Justin Coates – Eastman Chemical Company 

Justin has been doing consumer research for over a decade and was recruited by Eastman to build the consumer insights function. As a manufacturer of chemicals, consumer insights is a new function that sits in corporate innovation.

Most of the industry is looking at the Qualtric’s acquisition by SAP for $8B as an insane multiplier. But! I’d think we are at the beginning of the J curve. Why?

When you look at the top performers in the SMP 500, you see Consumer Insights playing a key role in the decision-making process. Conversely, under performers don’t.  

The impact? As companies seek to become consumer centric, our industry is poised to crush it! Eastman Chemical Company is a perfect example of a massive firm that has historically done little to no consumer research but is right now making the shift.

8. Ludovic Depoortere – Haystack 

Ludovic had the best presentation of all time! Sorry to everyone else. 🙂

Ludovic did an experiment with the entire audience where we ate chocolate while listening to different types of music and how the music set a mood which impacted the taste. I hope he links the deck in the comment section. 

So, what does Haystack do? It is a multi-sensory research consultancy that focuses on multi-sensory, implicit, emotive, and contextual research. Creating an emotional connection to your brand is paramount. Haystack can help.

Check them out!

9. Maryana Stepanova – Borderless Access

A vet of MRMW, I couldn’t agree more with her about the value MRMW gives to participants and speakers. Maryana’s company is a full-service agency that has a proprietary invite only panel in 34 countries that validates respondents via social media. 

Yup! They have a website too:

10. Nihal Advani – QualSights 

Getting to “why” is vital. I believe we are at the beginning of a new era in market research where qualitative will play an increasingly dominant role in the insights function. 

Why? Research is basically a conversation at scale. You really don’t need to do quantitative research when you are a small firm…because you are already talking to your customers. But, as you grow that just isn’t feasible. 

With the rise of AI and Machine Learning, now qualitative tools like QualSights and Remesh give researchers the opportunity to have a conversation at scale… 

…which provides the quant perspective you’d get from a survey, e.g. “This is bigger than that” along with understanding the consumer’s “Why”. 

For more information on QualSights, please visit

11. Niklas Anzinger – Dalia Research 

Dalia is a primary research firm with a proprietary mobile technology that emphasizes quality and depth of data. They uniquely enable organizations to feel the pulse of people around the world specializing in highly niche sub groups. 

As brands continue to tailor communication to niche customer segments and even to individuals, Dalia helps firms understand and successfully connect to their targets. 

Find out more:

12. Rob Pascale – MAi Research

MAi Research develops custom market research solutions to address important challenges. They focus on 4 areas. Our chat centered more around their Text analytics platform which delivers broad concepts vs straight definitions. They uncover the true product and service consumption drivers. 

As an example, Rob talked about diapers (a topic I can relate to having 5 kids)… 

“People didn’t just care about leak protection but also absorbent jell. This pivoted the brand’s communication to protection from diaper rash yielding an oversized return for the company.”  

This is something every brand should checkout:

13. Rudy Bublitz – Digital Taxonomy

Digital Taxonomy has created an application that combines AI and human judgement to transform unstructured text into actionable insights. Their app is uniquely designed to be usable by literally anyone in the consumer insights ecosystem. They also have a set of open APIs. This is a neat company that is in the hyper growth stage.

Find them at:

14. Will Krieger – Research America

Will has been a long-standing employee with Research America. He talks about how they have successfully managed their M&A strategy (16 acquisitions in 5 years). It all starts with employee “Fit”. For Research America, they have collaboration & integrity that helps them mesh together as a team. So rarely do you hear this from acquired firms…tons of positive energy in this episode.

Research America focuses on delivering high touch solutions to their customers for consistently delivering best in class consumer insights. 

And, finally:


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s MRMW NA. Thank you Merlien Institute along with the fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews at As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

It would mean a ton if you would share this article on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

#marketresearch #MRx #podcast #MRMW

8 Essential Tips For CEOs in 2019

All CEOs face significant challenges regardless of their tenure in the post. As the market evolves, so too does our objectives along w/our methodology.

Here are some tips to remember if you’re a CEO or someone responsible for a product or book of business.


We already know that our success is predicated on the success of our team. But, how do you give staff just the right amount of responsibility?

Michael J Vigeant, CEO of GreatBlue Research, has this practical advice…

I ask my staff this question, “When do I get in your way and how can I get out of your way?”

These simple questions put both autonomy and accountability squarely on the shoulders of your team.

By asking, “When do I get in your way?”, you are removing any outcome-based excuses. And by asking, “How can I get out of your way?”, you are creating a solutions-oriented conversation that requires any performance-based issues or blind spots to be addressed.

This will create a clear set of steps towards transferring work from you to them.


If you are playing the long game, add value. It is as simple as that. Founded in 1998, Cint was the first player in the sample market place. Mike Misel, SVP of Americas says,

“It is our job to make our customers’ lives easier. We think about ourselves as in the supply chain management space. We are adding value by taking their antiquated processes and bringing them into a modern place.”

By viewing your product or service through the eyes of your customer you will do 2 things:

  1. Understand their real pain points
  2. See how your solution helps them

This framework gives you a clear basis for doing business and changes the conversation from one of sales to helping. And, we all like helping a heck of a lot more than salesing.


As pricing pressures drive down overall sample costs, we have to understand that this impacts how much a sample company can spend on their people and service. This principle holds true for any industry.

Given the enormous pricing pressures among publicly traded companies, sample (people that take surveys) has taken the brunt of the pressure resulting in an increase of concern around data quality.

Meanwhile, under Mendy’s leadership, Prodege continues to have a thriving sample business. Why?

“The market appreciates our high level of transparency.”

There are many different brands of cars. Some are cheap and some are expensive. Why the variance? They each attract and contribute to a different set of needs. The motivation around buying a BMW is different than a Teslsa…which is different than a Civic.

By understanding the market and your customer, you know where you win and where you don’t. In the same way you wouldn’t try and sell a Civic buyer a BMW; you need to know your target customer and focus your solutions to their needs.

I call this the “Right Shoe for the Right Foot” principle.


Anne’s husband was one of the Freedom Riders (a civil rights activist who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and subsequent years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Morgan v. Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional).

Anne is vocal about issues around diversity,

“How is diversity going to play into the lives of our future leaders?”

CEOs have a huge opportunity to support underrepresented and suppressed groups. One of my favorite examples of this is AT&T’s multi-year commitment to The Trevor Project and $1 million donation.

Know who you are and stand by that. If you try and maintain relevancy to everyone, you’ll wind up being relevant to no one.

PS I love her website.


As a leader, we will all experience breakthrough revenue quarters along with periods of retraction. Don’t be fooled by periods of prolonged prosperity. Merrill has a saying, “Profits hide problems.” Be constantly humble.

“What type of a leader do I need to become. Take a good hard look at the resources available. Pull from many different inspirations so you have a solid foundation to build upon. For me, Founder’s Mentality is one of those inspirations.”

If you are humble, then you’ll look outside yourself which creates inspiration and maintains relevancy. As Tim explained in his talk, when he applied this self-reflection he became the leader Quester needed. As a result, 2019 will be the best growth year they have ever seen (that is my prediction based off some data and my gut).


In the early days of Decipher, I tried to sell my first accounts access to our DIY survey tool. This was met with, “I’d rather someone else program my surveys.” So, we pivoted to offer services. Over time the market evolved to adopt our DIY platform, but services always played a linchpin role in all our enterprise level deals.

Anders nailed this point in our interview,

“End clients in North America are more interested in software enabled services…but services are still part of it.”

All too often, technology is seen as the Unique Selling Proposition. But, it isn’t. What doeswin is your connection with your customers at a human to human level. That is why I’m bullish on Microsoft’s recent announcement of moving from AI to Human Augmented Intelligence.

Wrap services around your customers and you’ll expedite corporate adoption and shorten sales times.


We’ve likely all been guilty of making an announcement in an All Hands meeting about some new policy or strategic direction and expected everyone to jump right in line. Of course we know what happens…as soon as you are done speaking, people forgot and get back to doing things the same way.

My rule of thumb is that every change you introduce will take 3 months before your team can get on board. And, if you layer in an additional change before the full adoption of your first change then you are undoing any work done to date and likely will loose credibility with your team.

Camille has experienced consistent growth at Gongos. One of the reasons she gave for their success was their application of “urgent patience“,

“The Art of Urgent Patience. As the CEO, I know where we want to go. I can see it. But you’ve got to meet people where they are.”

I have never heard of the concept before…but she just nailed it. Patience isn’t passive. It is active and creates focus. Successful CEOs know change is necessary so you better get to the grind so you can move to the next big thing.


The adage, “It’s lonely at the top” is 100% true and the bigger your organization, the higher the mountain…thinner air…colder…more isolation…scarier.

I loved my conversation with Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360,

“It’s very difficult being the CEO of a company and you don’t have easy or frequent access to other CEOs. This conference is great for meeting other CEOs and hearing their struggles, wins and tactics.”

Rob is exactly right. I’ll end this bit on another old adage, “You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most.” Actively seek to level up your peer group.


I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s CEO Summit. Thank you Insights Association along with the fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

You can hear the full interviews here on As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.

2 Trends in Market Research from 31 Interviews at IIeX

On February 18th and 19th, Greenbook hosted the 5th annual IIeX in Amsterdam. While the venue was among the best I’ve ever seen, there was an overriding theme that surfaced, research empowerment

After doing over 80 interviews on the Happy Market Research Podcast among some of today’s top minds in market research, a theme is coming into focus: Research Empowerment

There were a ton of great talks and exhibitors a this year’s IIeX Amsterdam. Here are my 2 big takeaways from: 

1. Regardless of where you sit in your organization, consumer experience is part of your job. 

It used to be the case that doing a survey or one-on-one was hard. Those days are long gone. Today there are a host of tools including SurveyMonkey and that facilitate nearly instant access to consumers. 

Today’s tools are easy enough for even my mom to use but robust enough for most professional researchers. But that doesn’t mean research rigor is in place.

Most people who need the consumers’ point of view to inform their work have the ability to do a survey. For example, about 10 years ago a colleague told me there was a study done by Oracle on what tools their staff used to conduct research. They were surprised to learn that there were about 5,000 individual subscriptions to SurveyMonkey! 

Each person who has to make a decision about design that impacts the customer journey, al needs the customers’ point of view in near real-time. Tools make getting this point of view easy. But is that good?


The problem with the democratization of research is that non-researchers often don’t understand the basics. Jake’s tweet on the right talks about many issues facing modern researchers. But show that list to non-researchers and see how much they actually understand.

The question isn’t,

“How do I get untrained researchers that are not in my department to stop doing research?” 

The question is,

“How do I empower them to get quality insights?” 

2. Insight Automation is a tool, not the answer. 

Research Automation as a value proposition has come into full bloom in market research. It addresses the conundrum, 

“Quality. Timing. Cost. Pick 2.”  

By automating the logistics function of research, we can spend more time on the “Now what and so what” of research. The real value prop is “Quality, Timing, and Cost…now you get all 3.”

Leveraging research automation can make hard things like adding external behavior data from your firms data lake become easy…even automated. This leaves you time to build a journalistic narrative that moves the company to change.

But, if Research Managers democratize insights as opposed to trying to centralize them, there must be an approval process. For example, in a recent chat with a P&G exec…they are concerned about research findings from different studies being compared over time.

“There is a lot that can change between studies including market conditions. With out setting the context or understanding what the business has done, you may misunderstand the drivers of of change.” 

Across your organization, people are doing research. This is why you have such a significant rise in data scientists and user experience researchers. Both of those job functions usually sit outside the purview of Market Research and are leveraged heavily because they have integrated insights into the daily tasks and workflows of designers and developers. 


Where and how should researchers deploy research empowerment? To answer this, I have simplified things…maybe too much…into two types of research: 

  1. Macro: These are commissioned by executives and have strategic implications for the business. Researchers must always be involved, if not outright in charge, of this type of work. 
  2. Micro: These spawn when there is a question like, “Which graphic is better?” or “What would the customer want to see here?” or “Is there a missing feature?” These are numerous and made through the organization. While they are not mission critical, the right choice has impact; so we want the person to have the tools and knowledge to incorporate the customer into their thinking. 

Most research that is done outside of the market research function is stuff we’ve been doing for decades: Satisfaction, Usability, Conjoint, Segmentation, etc. This is where we, as market researchers, can pull ahead and offer…

  1. Research automation tools such as Zappi or PureSpectrum offer firms the opportunity to standardize common methodologies and question types. This takes much of the risk out of the research. Additionally, by employing a research knowledge management system like KnowledgeHound you can create visibility on active and past projects ensuring presentations are inline with findings. This is a hell of a lot better than pretending research isn’t being done.
  2. Guidance: Once a month, a colleague of mine creates a SlideShare and then hosts a lunch-and-learn for the User Experience team where they cover a methodology, best practices, new tech, research tips, and Q&A. 

The technology should centralize the research putting research as the principle of insights and allows the organization to become better at getting and understanding the consumer voice.


So, what is the role of the corporate researcher? In part,


We need to establish best practices and guide the use of the right tools for the right jobs to ensure the implications from the customer views is accurate and impactful. 

As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

Shameless Plug

PureSpectrum has a lot to offer on this front. By partnering with existing automation solutions or by building them from the ground up, you can help improve your velocity of insights while saving money. Let me know if you’d like to talk:

3 Ways the Detroit Pistons are Using Data to Activate Fans & Sponsors

In my recent interview on the Happy Market Research Podcast with Shelly Bouren, Head of Research for the Detroit Pistons, she gave a transparent view of how the Detroit Pistons are using market research to engage both Fans and Sponsors. 

While relatively new to the world of market research, Bouren has a strong background in analytics from her experience in banking. This unorthodox background gives her a unique view of how and where insights should be integrated into the business to improve outcomes for both customers and owners. Her approach to research is both accessible and practical for us all. 

As part of, and an industry-leading, data & analytics department, Bouren manages research for all of the Detroit Pistons’ business departments; including operations/guest experience, marketing, entertainment, ticket sales, and sponsorship sales. 


This moniker is the hallmark of modern researchers. However, Bouren, takes this to a whole new level. On the walls of the office you’ll find signs like this,

Bouren says,

“Without context, the amount of data that is generated each season can be overwhelming. When current results were shared, there was a lot of head-nodding, and not a lot of action being taken.” 

By clearly and publicly articulating the rubric of research, you create a self-policing culture of action. It also creates a constant reminder to executives that, “We use research” to make decisions. This supports a culture of data driven decisions and supports the continued investment in research when budget time comes around.


Having worked with hundreds of companies, this is harder in some and easier in others. It all depends on the transparency of the organization and degree of access you have to executive staff.

Bouren has designed her research around 6 questions which gives the Detroit Pistons clarity and opportunity to improve. She displays each question as a cog. If the machine of business is going to run efficiently, then we must invest in insights:

“Who are our customers?”

“Are we reaching them?”

The adage, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” is vital when it comes to maximizing your Ad spend. 

  • TV/Radio Ratings
  • Social Measures
  • Media Monitoring

One trend I’ve heard over the last 50 interviews is that top firms are measuring not just the topline returns but also measuring at the individual level. For example, if you are selling in a B2B environment, LinkedIn now has a Social Selling solution which gives you a view of a target company’s org chart and the ability to be notified when buyers post or interact.

HACK: If you want to sell to P&G, start interacting with the buyers on social. This helps build a non-threatening relationship, informs you about who they are and what they care about (both professionally and socially), and will make your first meeting feel a lot more like a meeting among friends.

“What do they think of us?”

Don’t have your finger on the pulse of the consumer? SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott, feels it is so important they paid $8 billion for Qualtrics on a $400 million-dollar gross revenue. Honestly, there simply isn’t anything more important that knowing how your customers are feeling about you.

  • Fans: Brand Health Study
  • Attendees: Pistons Gameday Survey; Secret Shoppers; NBA Game Experience Study
  • Members: Fan Loyalty Tracker; Rewards Survey
  • Groups: NBA Group Leader Survey; Group Planning Surveys
  • Partners: Sponsor Satisfaction Study

HACK: Social listening is so important and easy to implement. If you say, “but I’m not on social,” you and your firm are in trouble. According to Edwin Wong, head of insights for Buzzfeed, “We created the largest Facebook group by simply going where the people are and talking about what they care about.” Your customers are on social and they are talking. Be there and engage…your competition is. 

“Do sponsorships benefit them?”

Havas Media improved their win rate by 50% by incorporating data into their pitches.

Brand Amplification Study; Sponsor Lift/Eval Study; Sponsor Recaps; Asset Valuations

“How can we grow?”

The rate of innovation is by no means slowing down. Voice, AI, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, etc. are changing the way consumers interact with the world. By allocating resources here, the organization is ensuring it is well prepared for these changes and whatever else might come up.

Prospecting Surveys; Campaign Support; Marketing Concept Testing

“What is our culture?”

Bouren put this cog at the bottom of the slide. In fact, it really isn’t number 6. It is the underpinnings of the whole machine. Being customer focused is not enough. You must have an engaged workforce.

Employee Survey; Pulse Surveys

HACK: Every company that is adding or subtracting headcount should do a pulse survey. For me, this was a weekly survey sent every Thursday at 3pm PT. The sooner you start tracking, then the sooner your baseline will come into focus; and you can start measuring things like the impact of 401ks or acquisitions or benefit changes or major company wins or major losses or…. Keep it short, 2 questions: NPS surrogate and an open-ended question. Best part is, you can do it for free using SurveyMonkey.


“The insights process dashboard has helped the organization understand how research can answer the questions that drive business and growth each season. It provides the framework for monthly executive level meetings, and has been a great communication tool to increase the reach and influence of our insights. With the increased exposure and understanding, I have been included in more strategic and planning conversations and am able to guide more data-driven decisions.“ 


AGENCY: If you sell into the market research industry, Bouren has given us one of the greatest gifts, a glimpse of how she frames and uses research. It is a clear roadmap of where you can add value and create clarity around your offerings, so they add value to your customers. 

BRAND: If you are inside the walls of a brand, Bouren has given us a comprehensive way to frame what we do day-to-day that will keep us managing up and ensuring our brands are acting with data.

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As always, it would mean the world if you’d share this article on Twitter or LinkedIn. I wish you all success and happiness!

3 Ways to Get the Job You Want!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee will change jobs every 3.8 years. Put another way, over a 40-year career that is 11 transitions. Why? LinkedIn recently released a study which shows that “opportunity for advancement” is the number one reason exceeding even “poor management”. 


Value will always win, and success will always follow.  

In the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes. 

Last year, at the Insights Association’s CEO Summit I met a remarkable young CEO, Colson Steber. He was facing many challenges including pressure on sales, operational issues, and rising debt service. After my presentation Colson grabbed me and we worked through a 30,000-foot tactical plan that would help turn the business around. Colson did the hard work and took our conversation to the next level created an amazing 2018 outcome: 

  • Stabilized the business 
  • Revenue up by 30%
  • Established an engaging culture
  • Raised employee pay
  • Improved his Gross Margin 
  • Grew Net Income

At this year’s CEO Summit, Colson gave a presentation in front of the 80 CEOs about our conversation and how he implemented it. He literally leveled up my brand. 

The advice I was giving him was the culmination of nearly 20 years as a leader. It would have been easy for me to frame our discussion in a consulting agreement, so I totally skipped over the monetization opportunity and we went to work. 

Never miss an opportunity to help someone in need. It is ok to stay late, answer questions or just help clean up. Please know that people will take advantage of you from time to time…but if your motivation if their success…who cares.

In addition to capitalizing on spontaneous opportunities, go out of your way to ask your boss and peers, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Kindness and hard work are strong differentiators and are core to the type of person any high-performance culture wants to employ. 


Find an aspect of your job that you can quantify and then do it. Why? Because this data will give your performance a benchmark that you can use to quantify the impact of changes you make. 

Why is this useful? Using data in your life will…

Before you say, “This is impossible.” consider this example:

Jane does video production in addition to a heap of other things. Currently, videos take 8 hours to create. She monitors how much time each video takes for the next few months. This creates a performance benchmark, e.g. 8 hours. 

This leads Jane to ask herself,

“How can I get it to 7 hours?” 

She thinks, maybe I can leverage existing assets to save some time and it will not jeopardize the quality. 

She uses Adobe Stock Images and BOOM…2 hours are saved on the next video. “Hrm”, Jane thinks. “I wonder if the performance of the videos is the same?” She looks at that data also. 

During her 1 on 1 with her manager, she tells the story and quantifies her improvement. Jane’s boss is impressed and even has Jane do a training with her peers. 

Now, imagine she is applying for a new job? “Over 2 months, I improved video production by 25% across my company.” It is easy to see the outcome of that job interview. 


Brand is performance over time.  

LinkedIn as a platform is evolving. More and more of us are using it as a place to find current content, see what is trending, and connect with peers and influencers. 

Putting yourself out there may seem scary. Don’t worry. We all have bags under our eyes, pimples, and stumble over our words. Just get out there. The key is to be authentic. One of my favorite examples of this is Ryan Berry. Just checkout his feed to see what I mean. 

What content should you post? Pick a lane and stay on point for a few months. Here are some tips…

  1. Write a blog post. Break it up into a 4 parter. This will give your voice shape so people know what to expect and start positioning you as a thought leader. 
  2. Don’t like to write? That is fine, post a video. Just use your phone. Quality is something you can worry about once you get better at the craft. 
  3. Start a podcast and start interviewing people. This is a fantastic way to extend your reach and, if you are like me, gets you out of the spotlight. 

Pick your medium and outline your first few topics then shoot your video, write your blog, or line up your podcast interviews. The key is to just start.


This is going to take time.  

One of my employees who recently joined Twitter said, “I’ve never had anyone interact with my tweets so just dismissed the platform.” When you first start, it is going to be slow going. That is just part of it. Consistency is 80% of the game. The best part is: by doing you will hone your craft and quality along with building an audience. 

As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you the best. 

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2 Tips For Turning Customers into Brand Champions

The end of 2018 was marked by Customer Experience being named King. With the acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP for $8b to be completed in Q1 ’19, Customer Experience is on track to have an incredible global era for the next decade, and we are just starting.

Everyday there are brands impacted by customer experience through the use of online ratings and social media. Consider this…

  1. According to a study done by Nielsen, over 65% of consumers prefer other customer recommendations over any other sources when choosing a product or service.
  2. Additionally, Sprout Data showed, “Two out of three (66 percent) respondents said posts from brands rarely or never influence their opinions.”

In this article, I give advice on how to grow your business (this especially applies to Market Research companies) by creating and capitalizing on amazing customer experiences based on my recent interview with Kantar’s Ann Green and Stephen DiMarco.


Consider the last time you had a hot date. You likely picked a fancy place for dinner and everyone would have been excited. But then you showed up and the parking lot was full, and you had to walk half a mile from the parking garage in the pouring rain with no umbrella. Your experience had to have been downgraded. Does the restaurant owner own the parking lot? Most likely no. Do they own the experience? 100% yes!

During the interview Ann Green used the example of Delta Airlines, “Delta used to be a means to get from one place to another. It was a flight. Now it is an experience. It is everything from onboard services to ordering a drink at the gate.” She went on to say,

“People are spending more on experiences than they are on things or products. So, marketers have to spend a lot more time and money getting to know their customer, so they impact not just the exact product but also the time and area around that consumption.”

To create a successful experience, we have to view the experience through the eyes of the consumer. In short, the context of the experience is just as important as the food, flight, insights report, or whatever else you are delivering.


Technology enabled data collection through Software as a Service is employed across most large companies in the same way that they have CRMs like But you still need professional services.

How? These are some tips from Kantar:

  1. Partner: Start with an investment with clients on discovery that creates a shared point of view of the customer pain points. Ideally, these pain points are unfilled by competitors.
  2. Listen: You have to use the right shoe for the right foot. There is no one size fits all here. Sometimes you’ll need an ethnography, IDI, Focus Group, Survey, Diary, or all the above. No matter what you employ, be open minded…this came up in many of the interviews of 2018. Check your assumptions at the door and get ready to learn.
  3. Delivery: Data tables, PowerPoints, Dashboards…these don’t get consumed by the organization. Consumer insights must facilitate a conversation that concludes with, “What is the action?”
  4. Prioritize: Action Over Answers

But to help the brand recreate the brand promise, research needs to identify an unmet need and extend to the operational plan to meet that need. This is why Kantar is finding purchase in Professional Services that take the data to the next level.

Basically, current CX solutions are great but need a lot of contextualization around them to be useful and brands need help with the specialized expertise to ensure decisions are driving successful business outcomes. 

As researchers and business owners, once we recognize that software is just part of the solution, then we can see the opportunity to shine for our clients.

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6 Keys to Grow Your Business Through LinkedIn Articles & Posts

Trying to grow an audience on LinkedIn? Me too! But the analytics around Articles and Posts has had me vexed.

In this first article I introduce the benefits and best practices around both Articles and Posts so you can bring the right tool to the job.


I’ve been all in on LinkedIn from the beginning. In fact, for over 8 years, LinkedIn was one of my largest users of the Consumer Survey Platform I built. Sadly, I continue to be frustrated with the way my Articles are performing in comparison to my Posts.


For example, below is the analytics from my best performing Article we see 135 views, 37 likes and 6 comments.

Compare this well performing Post which had over 12k views, 100 likes and 20 comments…


There was no paid ad spend on either the LinkedIn Article or the Post. My hourly rate is much higher but, for this work, $100 an hour felt right.

The economics is very obviously in favor of the Post. Here is why:

  1. They require less time, money and energy to produce.
  2. Seem to get way more currency of choice, #attention.

Engagement is my attempt to create a measure of impact per post and consists of Likes + Comments. Physiologically, Views has some important impact on me. So, the emotional lens created by views and the larger Engagement supported an “all in” effort on posts.


I reviewed over 20 blogs, articles and had many discussions with other LinkedIn influencers to better understand their experience. I also joined the Writing on LinkedIn Group (which produced way too much spam).

Let’s start with views. According to LinkedIn’s FAQ, not all views are equal. The difference between the number of views on a post, video or an article…

  1. Articles – Someone has clicked on and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app. Note: Clicking into and viewing your own article also counts towards the number of views for that article.
  2. Posts – Someone saw your post on their LinkedIn homepage feed.
  3. Videos – Someone has viewed your video in their LinkedIn homepage feed, or by clicking on the video.

The huge distinction here is between Articles and Posts. In my example post, we have a 9:1 ratio of Post:Article views.

However, the quality of the view for an Article is much…much higher. 

But, why?

Observe your behavior when consuming your feed on LinkedIn. You are likely swiping up until something catches your eye. This gives each post a “view” count even though you didn’t really see it. This view also has competition from ads. The below screen has a yellow overlay over the ad areas on that screen (excluding promoted posts):

Conversely, a view in an Article is counted when someone clicks the Article that they discover in their feed which creates a much lower outcome. BUT, the value of that view is HUGE! Why? You have a captured (engaged) audience…and no yellow. 

Now that we know not all views are created equal, what about the difference between Likes, Comments and Shares?


From my experience, comments offer the highest value opportunity across the View, Like, Comment and Share indicators. Why?

Shares yield views (top of the funnel) but Comments yield opportunity. 

I created the below image to show the order of performance vs my overall Key Performance Indicator (KPI) which is Comments. This is where Paid becomes a critical component for your LinkedIn social strategy. By placing a few ad dollars against an Article, you’ll greatly improve your top of the communication funnel; and if you are adding value and your creative connects, you’ll see the trickle down effects.


Take the time to produce quality articles that add value to your target audience. To this end, I will be producing 3 articles per week this year.

  1. Ensure all content you produce, especially Articles, add value.
  2. Spend the time with creative. Given the ease of use introduced by Canva to create amazing social graphics, there are simply no excuses for subpar creative.


I’ll be continuing this series based on my findings over the coming months. Here are some of the other items I’ll be exploring:

  1. Why do people Like vs Comment on LinkedIn & How to Drive Comments?
  2. What is the long tail of Posts vs Articles?
  3. If boosted, would Articles out perform Posts? If so, how much money to hit the tipping point? I’ll likely build a calculator for this so you can test and see if the market is going to yield an adequate return.

What else should I be paying attention to or would you like me to investigate?

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5 Things every Researcher should know about how Buzzfeed uses consumer insights

Today I had the privilege of interviewing Edwin Wong from Buzzfeed. We chatted about how his research background at Yahoo and Pinterest informs Buzzfeed. We also discussed what he looks for in suppliers and his advice for recently minted marketing researchers.

These notes are just my big takeaways and should not be taken as the complete picture. For that, you’ll need to listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions.


Edwin’s entry into research came from being part of the first few hires at a then small startup, Hall & Partners, which works with top brands to unlock new opportunities to co-invent the future. While at Hall & Partners, he was part of it’s ascension into the stratosphere of brand consulting.

My key takeaways

Walk alongside your customer and win

Prior to the interview Edwin and I were laughing about a particularly difficult project which required us to work over Christmas break and into New Years.

“There’s no such thing as vendor, client, whatever; it’s really partnerships.” 

I still recall the strain of that project. We had screwed something up in the survey programming and the sample simply wasn’t coming in at the rate promised. The customer had to have the data directly after the holiday break so that the company executives could make a strategic shift. Pressure was mounting daily and peoples’ careers were literally on the line.

No matter how late, no matter how early, weekend, holiday, vacation, at the bar with a few drinks in…we picked up the phone if a customer needed us.

This is something that is hard to quantify in collateral, websites and in sales decks. But each of us, yeah, I mean you and me, has a similar warchest of stories to pull from. When you are talking to prospective customers try telling them the story of how your team came through for another firm when the odds were stacked against you. I promise, the company you are pitching has plenty of examples when a trusted vender didn’t pickup the phone until Monday.

Take the full view

Context is one of the easiest things to loose when doing research. Why? We isolate our data from outside influences such as current events, where the respondents are coming from and their motivations. By incorporating external data such as purchase behavior, macro trends and media consumption we offer a fuller view of what is driving a consumer insight.

Edwin gave us a brilliant quote from Buzzfeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti,

“We are data full, not data rich.” 

That is exactly correct. Despite the rise in the volume of data, brands simply don’t know how to apply it to self-reported quantitative and qualitative research data. But it can be very easy to apply it…even if you have no technology. For example, if you are using a customer supplied list get a few other relevant variables besides contact information and combine that into your analysis. This extra step will help inform your findings, add value to the study and make you standout from your peers.

Research logistics are less important than Why

Today’s technology is making it easier and easier for brands to do research themselves saving time and money without compromising quality. However, pattern recognition continues to be a point of massive value.

“Gaining an understanding of what the consumer is doing is actually quite easy. But the why is what’s important.” 


“As we start to look at some of these newer platforms, the reason why I think they’re taking off is because they are aligning the digital experience with what’s core to being human. Part of Buzzfeed’s success is being able to dissect what the experience actually means to the consumer.” 

Seeing the same story play out in other clients and in other industries will help you put together a clear view on market trends so that your research findings uncover the why in the numbers.

Story trumps numbers

Long gone are the days where you present a 30 page powerpoint showing charts and tables. Today is the day of the story.

“Numbers matter less than the story. Methodology is absolutely critical, [because] the stories we tell each other are the stories that move the business.” 

It isn’t enough to have a data backed position. You have to craft a story which can be discussed at the water-cooler. Our research needs to connect to the organization through its employees so they can affect the change necessary to ensure its long-term success.

Advice to young market researchers

I see this a lot with eager researchers. They pop down in a chair next to some company subject matter expert of 20 years and start challenging. The reality is that, as a researcher, we are never as up to date on the business as the executives and we are never as close the the customer as sales. So, listen and then apply the insights in the context that they provide.

“We are hardly ever the smartest person in the room… be the best listener.” 

If you are a good listener, you will see how the dots connect into your insights and be able to tell a story that is supported instead of dismissed.

I recall a sales pitch I gave in Seattle about 5 years ago. It was for a very large piece of business. The pitch started with a slide that was titled, “Objectives & Client State”. Then the 2nd slide had in big bold letters, “What’s Changed?”. When the 2nd slide came on the overhead the client burst out laughing and said, “Thank God you asked…”. She proceeded to tell me over the last week they were going through a series of layoffs and had completely different buy motivations. If I hadn’t asked she likely would have likely patiently sat through my presentation and then smiled me to the door. Instead, I walked out with a signed contract.

In Conclusion

I was blown away with the level of detail Mr. Wong provided the research community. It is clear the value brands are looking for is shifting more and more away from the gathering of the insights and more towards what those insights mean to inform business decisions. 

Happy Market Research exists to facilitate a conversation between insights professionals and the brands they serve. I hope you found this useful and that you’ll keep tuning in.

Have a great day! 

4 Ways to Add Value to your Insights by Microsoft’s Director of Research

Today, Customer Experience is driving corporate decision making. In my recent interview with Marian Anderson, Director of Research at Microsoft, she outlined how Microsoft is using data to drive business decisions. 

Here are some of the highlights from our talk: 

1. Customer Empathy Wins Long Term 

In a recent talk I heard from Matt Cahill of McDonalds, he spoke about how they are improving sales by partnering with customers to maximize the consumer’s value. This is netting long term value and loyalty. 

Marian nailed this point, 

“We are intent on operating on behalf of the customer as opposed to building stuff they will buy.” 

Compare that to many of my experiences where “Share of Wallet” was the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). This KPI would be represented as a pie chart with the intent of gaining as much as possible. 

By partnering with consumers to make the right choices for themselves and their household, you create brand advocates which are far more valuable than the short-term impact model. 

2. Customer Centricity is the hallmark of a successful business. Establish it as a core value and back it up with data. 

Customer centricity is a core value of Microsoft and that value is set from the top. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has established this imperative in their DNA. 

The implication here is you must have voice of the customer, 

“You have to have data at the center of decision.” 

The good news is that core values self-police inside organizations, but the shift takes time. By humanizing our products, we will continue to set the customer as our North Star. 

3. Setting your findings in Context by leveraging other data adds value and impact to your research. 

Marian outlined a material problem for large corporations around their massive amounts of data. Here are a few that she mentioned they use regularly:

  1. Ethnographic 
  2. Quantitative  
  3. Internal telemetry
  4. External telemetry
  5. Motivation in social 
  6. Connection between satisfaction and revenue 
  7. Micro experience measurement 

This data must be leveraged because it sets a better context for the research. While this is hard, Marian says, 

“There is a relationship between hard and value. We never want to learn from one point of data in isolation.” 

4. Bring your research to life with NPR like story telling. 

Becoming expert in multivariate analysis is a skill that many of us researchers develop over time. Similarly, cultivating soft skills that enable you to guide a group discussion that uncovers hidden truths can be a lifelong endeavor. We have to treat storytelling as a similar skill to be studied and honed over our career. 

Remember the last time you listened to NPR? Regardless of your politics, you must admit their reporters do an amazing job of taking a combination of various data types and weaving them into a human story that connects to the audience. Marian says, 

“Influence requires a point of view communicated through story.”

The better your story, the bigger the lever you give your research data to impact the company. 


What are brand researchers struggling with? Marian said it best, 

“Combination of multiple data sources and decisions needing to get made in speed.” 

By partnering with your customer to understand their needs and then developing a path forward, you will align your offerings and attitudes towards creating mutual long-term success. So…do that.

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I wish you all success and happiness!


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