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Welcome to the 2019 IIEX North America Conference Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Steve Mast, one of the Founders of Methodify.

Contact Steve Online:

LinkedIn

Methodify


[00:00]

Steve Mast with Methodify.  These guys are just crushing it.  They were the best exhibitors at the event, maybe even at any event I’ve ever attended.  A lot of things that were clever. My favorite was… They had these little stickers, which basically were fill-in-the-blanks.  “This blank has been certified by Methodify.”  And they would write in what it was.  So like, “This water cooler or this cup or this microphone or this coffee pot or this person’s back or whatever…”  It was really funny, created a lot of buzz. Also, it drove my good friend, Matt Gershner, and other GreenBook pros crazy, but, having said that, the entertainment value was huge.  Enjoy the episode.

[00:48]  

I have Steve Mast, the founder and CEO?

[00:51]  

One of the founders of Methodify, yes.

[00:54]

Methodify.  Yep, that’s right.  So, we’re at IIeX in Austin.  You guys have been here before.

[00:58]

Yes, we have, yes.  First year, we’ve actually done a full activation:  the booth, speaking, all those kinds of things, so…

[01:04]   

And you’ve been testing everything according to…

[01:07]

We’ve been testing the water coolers, the food stations.  Yeah, everything’s been Methodified.

[01:13]  

I love “This has been Methodified.”  You know that’s an interesting kind of…  OK, so, talk to me a little bit about that.

[01:21]

So, where that actually came out of ‘cause we actually have registered Methodify IT.  So, we’re not an Italian company; we’re actually born out of Canada, right, but Methodify is a global platform.  But the “Methodify it” came out of our clients literally saying, “We want to Methodify it” or “Was that piece of creative or was that new product, was it Methodified?”  So that’s where we actually came up with the whole “Methodify it.” So, it was our clients. So literally we’re listening to our customers, and we’re applying what they’re saying to our marketing and various…           

[01:53]

Isn’t that the best proof of concept? You know you can have this thing like founder-market fit where you have a personalized need, and you recognize it in the marketplace.  “Oh, good, I can solve that need.” But when the market actually starts changing language around your product and your solution, that’s a nice confirmation.

[02:13]

Yeah, I think it was interesting because (I don’t know what your feeling is but…) we’re obviously Methodify is research automation.  Like that’s the space it’s playing in. But I think what’s interesting is the last couple of years everybody’s been, “Yeah, we’re kicking the tires; we’re checking it out; we’re trying things; we’re piloting programs.”  This year I feel a substantial change in that where people are not kicking the tires. Now it’s about “How and when do we implement this?” “Where does it fit within the ecosystem of our market research tools, platforms?”  So I think the whole industry has changed. The other big thing too is (and I think you may have talked about it in other episodes as well) is when you look at the martech industry, right, it’s very mature obviously, but if you look at the research space, now we have this huge rise of research technologies.  And I think the big thing that has to happen is those two industries have to start to move closer together and start embedding research tech inside of martech. So very often, we’ve had some of our clients, if you think of their marketing-operations process, instead of it being a separate thing over somewhere else where you have research basically living on a data lake or living on some other knowledge platform integrating it within the overall process.  So we’ve had the most success where the research tech is actually part of the overall marketing process versus living somewhere else.

[03:41]

OK, this is going to be a longer episode than I thought.

[03:44]

There’s a lot to digest there, for sure.

[03:46]  

More my point is, this is a really exciting topic.  So, I actually bought IntegratedInsights.com because it was, you know, cheap, because (and I’ll never use the domain) but I bought it because the…  I can’t get more excited than, except for like with my kids hitting a home run baseball, than… If we can get insights integrated into the workflows of the large organization, then we become really the enablers of insights, which I believe is the biggest missing piece for brands to ultimately deliver the best product or service to their customers.  It’s ultimately – as you articulated so perfectly – martech, adtech, and researchtech, I mean they’re nice classifications but what we really got to do is not just answer on an A/B test “This is bigger than that” but we have to allow the customer to discover the “why” behind that so then they can make decisions that are moving the needle in the right direction from the customer’s point of view and with the understanding of the motivations.       

[05:05]

Yeah, if you look at some of the work (I think you had Adobe on program)…

[05:09]

Yeah, Stacey Walker with Adobe.

[05:10]

She’s fantastic.

[05:11]

She’s pretty good.

[05:12]

When I see what Adobe is even doing in some of their technologies and I think about what we’re doing, that’s when we start to have to bring those pieces together.  We actually have been working with one of our customers in integrating within their design studios a Methodify button. So, literally, while the designer is designing things, they’ve got to test it as they go through the iterations.  Or even in the editing suites, while they’re going through an editing their actual concept or whatever it might be, they actually have the ability to test something within that environment. So it’s seamlessly integrated.

[05:49]   

Are you on Twitter very much?

[05:50]

Yeah.

[05:50]      

So, I’m super active on Twitter, and I post at least once a week.  I’ll take the time to screenshot when I see an application of integrated insights and then I post it.  This is my post: Is this research? #MRX#marketingresearch. And more often than not, I get push-back from inside of our industry, saying, “Bull****” or whatever, right.  And then you see these two divergent camps. And we just have to own the fact that everybody can do research now. And what we have to do as researchers is protect the integrity of the research.  Now we become largely empowerers at the brand level ‘cause it’s going to happen. When it happens, that research is being done in the right context with the right framework with ultimately the right business insight to drive the right outcome…  And to your point, a designer can’t wait a day to Methodify that point of view. It’s got to be in the workflow at 2 A.M.

[06:57]

What’s interesting is you’re touching on another subject around…  You look at research departments inside of large brands. I’m not going to paint everybody with the same brush, but many of them have such a huge PR problem internally.  Or you look at the marketing product groups, they’re going around them at all costs. So they become these gatekeepers that are holding information back from the people that need that information the most.  So what are they going to do? They’re going to run around; they’re going to use tools; they’re going to write poor research instruments; they’re going to get leading answers; they’re going to get bad data. So, how do we marry these two things?  That’s where I think technology has brought together this beautiful thing where it’s like the researchers can create the instruments for the marketers and the product people and allow them to run as many of these as they want but in a controlled way where they’re actually getting good data.  That’s the whole idea behind the research automation thing. You’re literally black boxing the methodologies, right? So, they can’t mess with the actual, the way the questions are asked. And that’s just human surveying. I mean there’s lots of other ways you can do that as well ‘cause the reality is there are to our point everybody is a researcher now.  Everybody is a consumer insights specialist.

[08:09]

Exactly. Which is not true, but it’s true.

[08:12]

Oh, it’s totally true.  Yeah, absolutely, yeah. To your point, I mean the reason why the researchers needed to have that…  Their job is to say to the marketer or to the decision maker, “That’s a bad idea.” And that’s not always the easy thing to do, right, because you have someone who is super invested in whatever that idea is or that new product, and you’ve got somebody coming along and saying, “You know what?  The consumer just doesn’t like it.” And on the other side, you have people saying, ”Well, what does the consumer need?” or “What do they know?” So this is the challenge, I think. So I think it’s about that iteration, and it’s about all the buzz words you hear now about agile and things like that.  But the marketers are bought into it; now it’s getting the researchers bought into that as well.

[08:56]

Yeah.  So, I actually wrote on LinkedIn a long-form article about this exact subject of where the…  market research still sits in the seat of power. It’s really interesting. I like using Lyft as kind of my go-to example of this.  They’ve got a handful of market researchers, and they’ve got almost tenfold on the UX research side. This is not unique, right? I see it in every organization.  And so, the type of projects that both departments are doing at largely the same. The research department has more of a Ph.D. spin on it, but the others ones are walking like every day in the trenches with the designers that are helping them get to the consumers’ insight, right?  We, as a department, as a function inside of the organization, really have to understand that it’s the role of … We have the opportunity to lead the charge of empowerment inside of the organization and with that I think this is where tools become really powerful because a wiki on how to write a question is not going to get traction but if you embed those best practices into the tool set, now all of a sudden you can create a standardized way of doing “X,” asking this type of question or whatever, right, in the right context, applying the right external data into that – so I’m thinking about like if UX or user experience, excuse me, or UI I think a lot about what part of the app are they interacting with, right?  And what is the specific need? And those are important contexts to understand the real implication of the insight.

[10:37]

But I think you’re touching on something where it’s the tools and the platforms and that’s what we’re all about.  But it’s a mindset that has to shift, right? Once they get past that idea that we’re not the gatekeepers; we need to be empowering to your point (organizations, marketers, decision makers within that).  We’ll become the hero in this story, right?

[11:00]

Totally.  

[11:01]  

And I think the other big thing is, and I don’t know if you’ve seen this as well, but the blurring of these roles…  We’re talking about everybody is an insights professional. But the blurring… If you get a great marketer and a great researcher in the room together that have the same mindset and understand their role and own that role, man, magic can happen.    

[11:20]  

Totally.

[11:20]

That’s incredible, right?  And you see it in some organizations.  Again, that’s why I don’t want to paint everyone with the same brush.  I think there’s a lot of fabulous organizations doing amazing things. Like some of the banking clients that we work with, it’s surprising how forward-thinking they are.  You’d think they would be like the last ones to gate. They’re actually really forward-thinking in what they’re doing around research now.

[11:38]  

So, my guest today has been Steve Mast.  Tell me, how do people get in contact with you guys?

[11:43]

If you go to Methodify.it, you can check us out there.  Or feel free to email me directly at SMast@Methodify.it.  

[11:53]

So, it would be wrong if I don’t ask you a few questions about the show so far.  What do you think about the new layout and venue?

[11:58]   

Ah, I love Austin; I absolutely love Austin.  I’m not sure if I love this location. Feels kind of, everything’s sort of separated in different places.  I don’t know if I can say if we were at Quirk’s recently. I know it’s a competitor.

[12:105]

Yeah, yeah, of course.  

[12:15]  

But it was all in one building, right?  I mean I didn’t love the location in Chicago where it was way down on the pier, but you’re in one building, one location; so, it was kind of easy to get to everything.  Now, for us, personally, it’s hard to miss us, right, like we got the big orange display down there.

[12:32]

Yeah, you guys went all in on the location.  And you’ve got the live video, interviews. And he does (I forgot his name.)

[12:42]

Saul.

[12:43]

Saul does a great job on the post-production.  I don’t know if he does the production.

[12:47]

Yep, he does.

[12:47]

I mean I’ve been looking forward to the highlight reel that he puts together.

[12:53]

Last year, we didn’t have any activation, but Saul was walking around and just interviewing people, right?  And what was amazing with that: we had clients – Coke was one of them – contact us because they loved the video so much that they wanted to use it for their own purposes internally, right?  We’re like absolutely…

[13:09]

NO! [laughter]  

[13:12]

Take that Methodify off the logo.

[13:14]

Steve Mast, Methodify.  Look him up. Information is in the show notes.  Thanks for joining me, sir.

[13:18]

Great, thank you.