Ep. 303 – Ted Pulsifer – Trends in MRx: Augmented Reality, Agile Research, and Changes to Survey Designs

This episode was recorded in December 2019.


My guest today is Ted Pulsifer, CRO at Market Cube.

Established in 2008, Market Cube in an Online Sample, Survey, and Research Company based in Mount Pleasant South Carolina.

Prior to joining Market Cube, Ted has served in leadership roles at Dynata and Lucid. Additionally, he has invested in a craft brew firm and is a purveyor of fine art. 

Find Ted Online:

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

Website: https://market-cube.com/ 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil  

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp  

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp  

Website: www.happymr.com  

Music:

“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com

This Episode’s Sponsor: 

This episode is brought to you by SurveyMonkey. Almost everyone has taken its surveys, but did you know that SurveyMonkey offers complete solutions for market researchers? In addition to flexible surveys, their global Audience panel, and research services, SurveyMonkey just launched a fast and easy way to collect market feedback, with 7 new Expert Solutions for concept and creative testing. With built-in, customizable methodology, AI-Powered Insights, and industry benchmarking, you can get feedback on your ideas from your target market–in a presentation-ready format, by the way–in as little as an hour. 

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[00:00:03]

Jamin Brazil: Hi, I’m Jamin and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. My guest today is Ted Pulsifer, CRO at Market Cube. Established in 2008, Market Cube is an online sample survey and research company based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Prior to joining Market Cube, Ted has served in leadership roles at both Dynata and Lucid. Additionally, he has invested in a Craft Brew firm and is a purveyor of fine art. Ted, thanks for joining me on Happy Market Research podcast today.

[00:00:34]

Ted Pulsifer: Yeah, thanks for having me.

[00:00:36]

Jamin Brazil: So, fine art, how did you get into that?

[00:00:40]

Ted Pulsifer: That’s a funny story. So, sometimes it helps that who you know is better than what you know. I have a good friend of mine from college that was doing some art collecting as part of his estate process and he asked me to be on the board of a company that dealt specifically in buying and collecting and storing art based on some different taxation situations with art, so I got a crash course. And I try to say yes to most exciting opportunities that take me out of my comfort zone and that was certainly one of them, so.

[00:01:08]

Jamin Brazil: I bet. What was the one thing you learned going through that process?

[00:01:13]

Ted Pulsifer: Just how unbelievably extensive valuations can be for art and how it has such an unbelievable emotional impact on people where they’ll see something and say, “OK, that Kandinsky, that’s unbelievable, that’s worth $300,000 in my mind or a million dollars. And that’s totally clear.” And other people will see things and find no value to it and think it’s a joke. And so just obviously this subjective art side of valuing the paintings and sculptures is one thing. But what I thought was so interesting was just kind of the emotional side of the viewer or the observer and how that runs the gamut so dramatically unlike anything else really. I mean even if – Before that I spent some time in fine wine and even people that don’t necessarily love wine, I mean you could pour them a $200 bottle next to a bottle of something that costs four dollars from Yellow Tail and they can certainly taste the difference in finish, in texture, in complexity and alcohol burn. So, like most things, the novice can at least appreciate the differences and art was something that I got to see that everybody runs the spectrum on, so that part about it made it pretty exciting.

[00:02:19]

Jamin Brazil: That’s funny. Was loss aversion a big part of the valuation?

[00:02:24]

Ted Pulsifer: Not as much. What was so interesting was just sort of the financing and the shipping and I think it’s like a lot of things. Until you have somebody that you know that works in an industry, you don’t really realize all the components of it. So for example, just all the factors of storage, shipping, insurance, those cottage industries on top of cottage industries, that exist that when you kind of take time to stop and think out of your mind makes sense, but in a knee jerk reaction, you ever sit next to somebody interesting on a plane you think, “Oh I had no idea that that exists.” So, that was the biggest part of it was just realizing how many sub-industries support that. But yeah, it was fun.

[00:03:03]

Jamin Brazil: Great. Well, let’s get started with our opening question. Tell us a little bit about your –

[00:03:07]

Ted Pulsifer: Sure.

[00:03:07]

Jamin Brazil: Parents, and how did they inform your current career?

[00:03:12]

Ted Pulsifer: Absolutely. So, I grew up in southern Maine, so I’m a New England transplant. In fact, living here in Charleston I’m what’s called a damn Yankee. So, a Yankee is somebody that visits the south and then goes home, spends their tourist dollars, has a vacation, and goes home. And a damn Yankee is somebody that marries a southern person and stays, so that’s – My first introduction is I’m a damn Yankee now by trade, by title. Which, I guess I’m proud to have. So yeah, I grew up in southern Maine. And really, both my parents had careers and passions in construction and art and things that are not necessarily my immediate skill set, but gave me great appreciation for where I am today. So, my dad owned a wooden ship building business and built wooden boats by hand. So, growing up I spent a lot of time around tools, in the woods, certainly lots of times, very passionate about time on the water, being in the ocean, but also just doing lots with wood. We literally heated our house off of firewood, so regular chores for me, stacking wood, that sort of thing. And I don’t know, I guess that sort of helped my career in that not necessarily do people wake up and say, “I can’t wait to spend two hours stacking wood today.” But it’s also a very healthy process because I found that in most jobs, especially in sales, there’s that two or three or four hours a day of stacking wood, whatever that may be in your vertical that you just have to do, that if you learn to not necessarily enjoy but appreciate it, do it faster and better, things like that have helped me a lot.

[00:04:40]

Jamin Brazil: I have an entrepreneur friend, he started a pest control business and it’s done really, really well, like stupidly well. And I asked him one time, I said, “How are you winning when all these other companies, a lot of them even bigger, are struggling?” And he said, “I just do the shit that nobody else wants to do.”

[00:04:57]

Ted Pulsifer: Right. Right.

[00:04:58]

Jamin Brazil: That’s exactly the court, given this also a shout out to my friend, Ron Francella [ph]. I talked to him before – He was in the market research industry actually, had a successful sales career and he said his minimum number of cold calls was I believe it was 50 a day. That’s hard to deal with that kind of rejection.

[00:05:18]

Ted Pulsifer: It’s hard and it’s – It also takes a really high amount of self-discipline, so I just have a special place in my heart for people that have jobs that will not do themselves when you’re gone. So for example, and I’ll put myself in that bucket now, I can have business travel or vacation and put an out of office on and largely things will get done and processed without me being there. However, if you are building a boat or you are doing pest control or doing services or something that you have to be there. It takes on this whole different importance, and so things like making that number of cold calls, taking on the work that people don’t want to do, it’s pretty valiant, but it requires a high amount of self-discipline to do that.

[00:05:58]

Jamin Brazil: It totally does. And an interesting point that you’re making because I heard a keynote by a president of a famous college and so in the keynote he said that you will probably never hear me, obviously not see me again in your lives at his – This was a graduation talk and – But it just goes to show you how truly important my role is in context of the people that serve you lunch, which if they weren’t here just one day then you would know they were gone immediately. And so I thought it was kind of interesting how he kind of like changed the value prop of kind of the roles and the people that keep things moving on a day to day basis for an organization versus kind of the executive. Obviously you need both, I’m not saying you don’t, but it was – I thought that was kind of a nice humble perspective from his part. So, let’s shift gears.

[00:06:50]

Ted Pulsifer: Sure.

[00:06:50]

Jamin Brazil: What is the role of insights in a modern brand and how has that changed in the last five years?

[00:06:56]

Ted Pulsifer: I love this question and I’d largely love to see some of our corporate clients, kind of how they answer this, but in just some of the conversations that I have with them – I think for years people have heard that budgets are tight and there’s fewer folks on an insight staff to do work that maybe four to five years ago there might have been a large staff where – One of the things that we’ve seen is that some of our corporate clients and even agency clients that used to do a lot of things themselves, have started to outsource more and more of that to trusted partners. So, I think on the one hand it’s great for companies like Market Cube because we will instead of just saying hey here’s a sample, for a thousand completes we’ll actually be able to help them create the questionnaire, program it, do tabs, and do just kind of a larger part of the research, which makes you – Obviously it kind of typically leads to a larger sale, but more importantly you’re more of an integrated partner. And so it’s interesting, like our largest clients I’d say are more kind of partners where I feel like when I call them we’re back and forth on how we’re going to design a questionnaire, how we’re going to go about slicing the data, how we’re going to look at sample sizing, and really from a quantitative side. So, I think while they have smaller teams, they’re pushing more and more out to partners and they’re able to spend more and more time on the insights. And so that’s I think one of the really interesting things I’d say. For us I’ve seen that really from 2018 on. Some of our most sophisticated clients are able to pass stuff off. And that’s a difficult thing to do because if you spend your career in the insights and your career working in brands, it’s really hard to let go of some of those pieces and processes. But I find that as more and more folks are forced to do that, they actually free up time and they can take those findings outside of the boardroom and deal with more stakeholders within their organization. So, certainly – I think I mentioned this on the panel that we did together in San Francisco, we don’t have clients that are coming to us saying we’re going to be doing less research or less demand. They might have budgets that are tighter on the brand side, but they’re actually the volume of work that they’re requesting seems to be doubling or tripling on the regular. So, I think that part’s really, really exciting.

[00:09:05]

Jamin Brazil: So, when you think about the increase in spend or rather work velocity, research velocity, maybe not absolute spend, where is the growth coming from and are you seeing a shift in spend from one area to another area?

[00:09:22]

Ted Pulsifer: Yeah. So, full disclosure, my answer’s probably more limited to the quantitative side. I really can’t speak too much about changes in qual and other aspects, but I think overall in the last five to six years there’s just been a much larger comfort with the word survey, where it used to seem like it was this process and only certain people did it. Now as a consumer, I can’t walk off my flight or check out of my hotel or leave the car dealership or anything without getting three or four survey requests on my experience and everything and even – A great experience is I stayed at a hotel with my wife for our anniversary a couple years ago and we had one teeny tiny issue with I don’t know, room service being late or something and the head of room service called me back and invited me back to the hotel and dinner on us. And of course, I’ll never forget that, that was incredible. And so even though that’s kind of primary research and research of the customer, I think that, making the whole population more comfortable with surveys helps market research have a broader base of survey respondents. And so I think just kind of a general comfort level and a broader acceptance of surveys, from the quantitative side I feel like that’s driving adoption, whereas years ago potential business unit leaders and agencies would say OK, we’ll survey these people, we’ll ask them this and that’s it. Now it’s just there’s such a proliferation of surveys being done that it seems to be a more accepted topic.

[00:10:49]

Jamin Brazil: It really is the hay day of surveys, isn’t it?

[00:10:52]

Ted Pulsifer: For sure.

[00:10:53]

Jamin Brazil: It’s crazy. I just got my windows tinted on my – With this little like corner – You know what I mean, it’s on this like not great area and I got a survey. I got a survey request, basic MPS type survey request out of their CRM. So, it’s just connected to their POS, I can’t remember what it was, but it was a – It just really struck me as amazing that – You think about relatively unsophisticated SMBs that are now employing surveys and presumably using that data in some way to help create better experiences for customers.

[00:11:24]

Ted Pulsifer: I do think with the proliferation of social media and apps and just so much more communication available to consumers now, certainly that’s not new, but if you look in aggregate, there’s certainly way more things to do on your phone now than there was 15 years ago. And I know that’s a large period of time, but the fact is that technology, not just in market research, but technology in the cellular networks, in telephones, on apps, on smartphones, has really made this easier to do. And so for example, like 15 years ago a window tinting company would have a hell of a time doing a survey or you would get a cold call from somebody and probably hang-up or be too busy. Now, I think that just technology begets technology and it’s been a rising tide I think for all things survey and all things data collection.

[00:12:12]

Jamin Brazil: So, the way that we get people to take surveys is interesting, right? You have like direct email, such as my window tinting example or my Amazon purchase or what have you. And then you have sometimes intercepts that you’ll see online.

[00:12:25]

Ted Pulsifer: Sure.

[00:12:26]

Jamin Brazil: The other way is text messages.

[00:12:29]

Ted Pulsifer: Right.

[00:12:29]

Jamin Brazil: So, do you think there’s going to be a growth in that methodology or that approach to getting people to provide feedback?

[00:12:34]

Ted Pulsifer: Yeah, I do. But, I kind of will pause with that and say that – So, I think one of the advantages is it’s simple and it’s short but it is very difficult to have a conversational deep dive into understanding things in a deep meaningful way by text message. So, where I see it’s doing the most impact is we have a huge office in Delhi, India, we do a bulk of our operations work out of there and our panel and our sample delivery in India is one of the fastest growing parts of our business. And part of that is because just from a cellular infrastructure, that more and more parts of rural India, rural Asia, rural Africa, are coming online and cell phone research is booming in those areas. So, while those are emerging economies, it’s very important to get insights from that group, is that’s really going to be the future of the global economy over the next 10 to 15 years. In my opinion of course. But obviously it’s undeniable when you look at the population. I think that that will change. I guess the thing that I wrestle with is you might be able to figure out how is your window tinting experience or did you like the movie, would you come back? But those are really short tiny bits of information that are not necessarily life changing to researchers. So, I still see that obviously we’d like surveys to be shorter and all that, but we see kind of the average survey that we’re doing closer to that ten minute mark versus the two minute mark. And so in that process you’re asking a lot of information and you have so many cool things in survey platforms as far as grids and pictures and videos. So, if you just move to a text based system, I fear that you’re leaving a lot of that valuable data on the sideline. But certainly there’s others that specialize in that mobile arena that are more qualified to answer than I am.

[00:14:19]

Jamin Brazil: So your interesting point that SMS has a spot, it’s very much like the right tool for the right job.

[00:14:25]

Ted Pulsifer: Right.

[00:14:26]

Jamin Brazil: So, given your point of view with respect to the evolution of surveys, I mean you guys have been in the industry a long time, and really since start hitting scale in 2008, so mobile adoption, et cetera. Have you seen any trends at a macro level on survey design? You mentioned an average survey looking something like ten minutes. Is that less, more?

[00:14:51]

Ted Pulsifer: It’s a good question. I think from a survey design standpoint, the short answer for me is just better and better and better. So, we do a lot of work with FocusVision, and we do a lot of work with a lot of different programming tools for example. But that’s just one that we – A lot of our customers use that we spend a lot of time in. And every quarter, every month, we’re seeing more and more features that, frankly, they don’t seem like a big deal now, but five years ago it was a really difficult thing to do. With respect to survey design, the more we can embed and do rich media where appropriate, the better it is. So, I guess this doesn’t answer your question directly, but we have a few clients that tend to do a lot of work where the survey is in terms of run time are long, but they have some really interesting video applications that go on in them and the drop rate is very, very low. And so what we get from that is that – And this is our respondent base, I can’t speak for the global sample pool, but our respondents are saying that they don’t mind that it’s long as long as what they’re doing is interesting and they love watching rich media they love it when it feels more interactive and it’s fun. So, that’s a little of a different slice than say pure gamification. But I’m finding that the more the surveys can be designed to be interactive and have a media component, the better that it is for our respondents. I think that in and of itself doesn’t necessarily shorten it but a lot of components of survey design where you can ask a question and do some visual mapping and stuff. If that shortens it 20, 30 seconds versus grids, eliminating grids or minimizing the use of grids, all those sort of best practices, we’ve seen help a lot.

[00:16:25]

Jamin Brazil: Grids are the devil. Sorry researchers. It’s always a bad outcome when you guys see it. And for me personally taking a survey, if I see the wall of grid I’m kind of like fenced out, don’t care anymore.

[00:16:38]

Ted Pulsifer: Well, let me counter with maybe they’re not the devil, but more than one or two can be very devilish.

[00:16:45]

Jamin Brazil: That’s fair. That’s fair. Gosh, I literally was just taking a survey this morning and there was I don’t even know how many answer choices on this grid, at least – I had to scroll and I was on my phone of course, and it was a ten point scale, 11 point scale. I’m kind of going through it and I’m reading the answer choices of course because I’m trying to answer the survey, I actually care about the brand that’s asking me information. And I’m like what are you tactically going to do this different based on this answer choice. I’m sure the researchers had thought about that, but anyway, I always kind of try and get it down to what at the end of the day, the data needs to be driving some sort of actual business outcome.

[00:17:28]

Ted Pulsifer: Absolutely.

[00:17:29]

Jamin Brazil: Market research has gone through a lot of transitions. Your example of our time spent on mobile over the 15 years, it’s literally even affecting our bone structure, right? I’m sure you saw that report about a couple months ago where Generation Z is developing these bone spurs or horns in the back of their neck because they’re staring down more than everything else. Are you – And I know that your business is focused in online survey data collection quant. Are you seeing things or hearing things around VR, AR, or maybe even more right now natural language processing? Part of the power of online surveys is that you can – You do gather vast amount of open ended data.

[00:18:20]

Ted Pulsifer: Right.

[00:18:21]

Jamin Brazil: Is that something that is increasing or gaining attention among your customers?

[00:18:27]

Ted Pulsifer: Yeah, so I think with our customers, largely that’s a what’s new, let me take note, and so I feel like conferences are a phenomenal way for our customers to go out there and see sort of what is new that may pertain to their business and really help them change the way they’re doing things. We don’t typically have a large role in that part of the data collection cycle. Although I will say this, I don’t go to every single one, but I do attend probably five to seven conferences a year globally, maybe more. And I’ve gone to a lot of them for six, seven, eight years in a row now and one of the things that I notice anecdotally at TMRE and certainly at the last Quirks event I was at was just a number of new software VR data processing booths and companies that I frankly don’t recognize that are newer and I think wow, what are these guys doing? So, I’d say that’s definitely new, but let me back up to the mobile point. And I’d say one of the things that I’ve seen is that from some reports I’ve read, from looking and trying to understand the 5G market is that we are just at the beginning. Even though it seems like wow, mobile is different and there’s apps and all this stuff. Well, if you go back and you kind of examine the history of the network and how the fourth generation of mobile, and mobile power technology allowed cell phone users to have enough data where you could actually do web based activities on a phone and then apps came to be and now we’re in the staring at 5G that’s going to be rolling out soon, and once the 5G network is out then the devices need to catch up. But as they do and you start to have really tight speed outside in the city not being on a WiFi network, really mobile and able devices. I think it hasn’t even started yet. So you could picture things like holograms on phones, VR taking off. So maybe the way that-and that’s one of those things that’s kind of scary, but also pretty exciting is in not too distant of a future, three to four years out, 2023, 2025-I don’t know exactly, but you’re gonna start to see your cell phone doing even more things than it is now in a very scalable way, in a way that we haven’t even scratched the surface of. And that’s what’s really exciting is to figure out not just in a daily life as a consumer or as a retailer, but from the market research standpoint, what applications can come from that? So I’ll flip it back to you and pretend I’m the host for a second. How do you think that would impact that qualitative environment alone?

[00:20:54]

Jamin Brazil: I would not spend money on a booth if I had a VR or AR market research or consumer insights or UX, whatever, centric product. I feel like the time is just not right now. It’s too, too early. Or where I think there’s a lot of waste in the market research space is in the open ends. So when you look-especially in contexts of surveys. So I’m talking quant here, not qual. Qual does a good job of kind of understanding that that’s important and we process it. But because you don’t have the larger insights or the total number of people taking the surveys to be reflective of the population, then it’s sort of discounted. It’s not quantifiable. What’s interesting about online surveys is they really could operate as a surrogate conversation at scale and I think that opportunity is-I’m still not really seeing anybody capitalize on. Sure, there are companies that are-I know there are companies that are doing it, but I haven’t seen people put a flag in the ground as this sort of added-value piece into their platform or their service. Again, centric to online surveys. And a lot of-I’ve been doing this obviously for a while, so back in the day, you would take a subset of the total number of open ends for each question and then you would code those and that would be your answers. But now with natural language processing and sentiment analysis, you actually have an opportunity to get a lot more information. Now it also starts begetting the question of how good are the open ends. So now all of the sudden you start thinking a lot more about the quality of the respondents, which I think then leads to the next trend that I think we’re gonna see and I’m seeing now, which is more of a blended methodology for recruiting. So using existing managed communities slash maybe some of the networks out there and then supplementing that sample with other-whether it’s user lists, customer lists, or social recruiting just as sort of this added kind of baseline of nonprofessional respondents. So I think there’s a lot of value that exists that-opportunity to capitalize on inside of the surveys that are beyond just the ratings questions or what have you, the Likert scales. And I think whoever winds up cracking that nut in a material way so it becomes easy to use, then-let me actually just give you a little bit more context. So if you’re a researcher and you’re presenting your results to your customer, what if-as you’re going through that process, what if you gave everybody a five-broke them up into teams of two or individually, and gave them five open ends that they would then code? The open ends create this really unique connection to the ones and zeros inside of the quantified question format. So I think there’s this engagement opportunity that exists is one thing and I think the other thing that’s really interesting is that sort of humanization or deeper insight that can be-or getting into the why more. Which again, starts sort of feeding the overall questionnaire design and sample frame.

[00:24:07]

Ted Pulsifer: Well, it’s interesting. So as I hear you say that, I’m thinking in the back of my mind that we’ve used as an industry-and I guess I’m qual for sure, but I can speak a little more intelligently to quant. We’ve used a lot of different technological innovations to make the job of sampling easier. So we need less humans to launch emails, to monitor email open rates and a lot of those things are automated now, obviously, and that’s great. But the one thing that seems pretty constant to me in this market research space is definitely a blend of art and science and that there’s always gonna be the need for these very, very smart market researchers to use these tools and interpret what they mean. I’ve yet to see one device that I think will eliminate the market researcher that can do all this data collection and then deliver all the insights and say what it means. There’s-there just seems like there’s gonna be this ongoing need for the human connection and the human interpretation and the skilled-basically the skilled hands of market researchers to interpret this and make these suggestions and these decisions. I think that’s what makes it a pretty exciting time, not just for the survey space, but also for market researchers in general that are considering entering the field.

[00:25:15]

Jamin Brazil: Oh god, I totally agree. The less that we can focus on the operational considerations, then the more time that we have to spend on the analytics and implementation of the research. So proportionally, I’ve not seen the statistic and I probably never will, but it would be fascinating if you could give me a pie chart and you could show me how much time is spent at-I’ll pick on the agency. Let’s say Ipsos. How much time is spent at Ipsos on a project for the different pieces of it? I’m hypothesizing, but the majority of the time is usually in the operational consideration of the research, not in the engagement of the insights in the organization. And so that’s the-to your point, none of that is automatable. There’s-you just have to be creative with what those kinds of workshops or what have you look like, so you can empower the insight across the organization to effect change, which is really how you drive the ROI, right? So yeah, I agree. I think we’re a long ways away from being out of a job because of a machine. I thought that was funny when people were first talking about it and I think it’s funnier now. There’s no way you can automate things.

[00:26:21]

Ted Pulsifer: But at the same time, I can see why that would be a fearful moment for people because if most of your career-if you’re a 20-year market researcher, then in the ’90s you probably spent most of your time doing data collection and writing reports and copying and pasting. And so now that a lot of those features have gone away, I can see why there’d be some fear and uncertainty of, “Well, what am I gonna do now?” But if you actually say by taking away some of these operational things-which I think the industry’s done a good job of doing and touting. And we’re still working on that in certain areas, but I think a lot of that heavy lifting has been done. Then all the sudden you actually say, “Look, we’re gonna free you up for more thinking time and more analysis time.” It’s actually a pretty cool thing to be a part of so.

[00:27:05]

Jamin Brazil: You’re right. You’re talking to me right in my lane with over 20 years in the space, started in 1996. So through my career, the majority of my time was spent in operational considerations, not on the tactical side. And the reason that Decipher was actually formed was Jayme Plunkett and myself, we recognized that there was an opportunity to do something-to make researchers’ lives easier. It was-literally that was the premise of the business. It’s let’s make life easier as a researcher, so we can spend less time on the operations, copying, pasting or what have you, and more time on the actual analytics. But getting to your point, no matter how good a platform is at automating, at least in my experience, there was always some level of change, always some level of additional attention that needed to get paid, and then that time benefit is ultimately offset at a minimum-or the best case scenario by us being able to spend more time in the analytics. So and then getting into the why also becomes really interesting. So understanding the meta layer of what’s driving a good survey versus a bad survey or good outcome versus a bad out-insight. You have so much data you can actually become the spokesperson, but that takes time too. So that was the piece that I felt was-I think is important is that if-and I will say this, that the companies that have relied on the traditional longitudinal surveys to drive revenue at half a million dollar annual budgets, they have been under attack and that has been a material disruption with automated platforms coming in and stealing that share for pennies on the dollar in some cases. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. There’s been a lot-there’s a lot of people that are upset about that transition, but gosh, what is it? Darwin that said, “It’s not the smartest or the fittest that survive. It’s those that are more adaptable.”

[00:28:55]

Ted Pulsifer: Yeah and I certainly think that would proliferate across multiple industries. In fact, we might be a little slower than some other industries that have to do that. If you look at a 10 or 15 or 20 year time horizon, look at all the changes in maybe the financial industry from advertising-I mean, I’ll date myself. I’m in my mid-40s so I remember being in college and the roaring ’90s and the stock market was booming and every other commercial was about, “We can do 2199 stock trading,” or, “We can do your commissions on your stock trading”. Now it’s like-I saw an ad the other day and it’s literally, “commission-free trading, no minimums, just give us your money.” It’s pretty incredible. So certainly we’re not immune to those industry cycles.

[00:29:38]

Jamin Brazil: What is the biggest issue facing market researchers today?

[00:29:42]

Ted Pulsifer: What a great question. I think we’ve touched on some of it, just staying on top of technology and not in a way that the technology makes you freak out and change all the rudimentary science and the different methodological information that researchers lean on. So not throwing that out. But I think the biggest challenge would be really just keeping up with technology and trends and trying to keep pace with the consumer. The consumer’s very different. So like your point earlier about the Gen Z and the cell phone thing, it’s not limited to them. I get on a plane and I’ll look down the row and everybody from 70 to 7 is on a device or a phone hunched over. So while maybe younger folks are having changes to their body as a result, we’re all doing those same things. We’re all voting with our wallet. We’re all hooked to technology devices faster. I guess I would just say trying to keep abreast of how technology’s gonna change, not only insights, but whatever their core product is in a massive way. Even if you have sort of a mundane offering, like you make toothbrushes or you make paper towels or something like that and you still need to do market research, well just as far as how your consumers buy, rate and review, that’s gonna change. And then if you are in a company that produces a technology-based product, keeping up with the tech, the delivery of that and then also the research and insights behind that. I think that’s just a lot and that’s gonna be the biggest single thing for everybody to keep pace with.

[00:31:08]

Jamin Brazil: I completely agree with that. You’ve been inside of this space and operated at the biggest companies, really, around. When you think about the people that are stand out as successful for you, either on your team or inside of the industry at large, what do you see as the core values or the characteristics of these all-star employees?

[00:31:33]

Ted Pulsifer: That’s a great one. I think one of them is just being humble because even if you work for the best company with the best technology, if-you want to make sure that you are very just well aware of your role within that. And I think that the people and the customers and the folks on my team and other clients and buyers and everybody that we interact with, I really appreciate that quality. It just is disarming and it helps people kind of cut through the noise because the reality is that there is so much innovation around tech and around services. But at the end of the day, if you can’t explain an idea simply and easily, it can really translate to confusion to buyers and internal stakeholders. So I’ve always found that to be a really great trait for me personally. And then thinking back to your example with Ron on those 50 calls. So it’s one thing if you said every salesperson has to do these 50 calls, but how you do the calls matters too. And what I’ve found is the people that I enjoy working with the most, that have helped our business grow so much, are really the ones that are kind of self-motivated, whether it’s sales, technology, operations, programming, any part of this quantitative piece that we sit in. People that kind of start their own engine every day and don’t-and they spend more time anticipating than they do waiting for-to be told for stuff, those are my absolute favorite folks to work with. And really that translates over to clients as well. People that are just thinking about, “Hey, we launched this project. It’s going. I’m looking at it. I wanted to test this over. I have these ideas. What do you think,” is so much better than saying, “Hey, what’s the latest on this? Give me an update.” So I just-I love-I’m addicted and I get fueled off being around self-starters.

[00:33:24]

Jamin Brazil: So self-starters and humble. The humble thing kind of plays nicely into one of the points that you raised, which is being able to accept new or changes in the industry. So it isn’t having the-operating from a point of dogma of “this is just the way it is. I’m always gonna use a 5-point scale, never an 11-point scale,” or what have you. So it has this almost adaptability component to it that it unlocks if you employ that characteristic. So now for our last question, which has turned into probably my favorite. What is your personal motto?

[00:34:00]

Ted Pulsifer: So I can’t take full credit. I have to say my wife helped instill this and we kinda use it as a couple and it helps with personal life and professional life and it’s pretty simple, but it’s more, “Life is not really what happens. It’s more about how you handle it.” So mine would be it’s all about how you handle it. And so an example is you’re stressed, you get to the airport, you get there, your flight’s delayed and they look at you and say, “Yeah, it’s canceled. See you.” It just sends this chill down your spine. But if it’s a, “I’m so sorry to tell you this happened. I booked you on the other flight and there’s nothing I can do. Let me help you.” And so weird example, but I’ve really found that sort of adversity, success, failure, being hired, being fired, good, bad, all these things happen to you in life, but how you handle them is what really defines you. And so of course as a consumer, it’s easy to walk through examples, but I think the same’s true for a business, just kind of how you roll with things and how you take change and adversity and what you do with it. So that is mine, how you handle it. It’s all about how you handle it.

[00:35:06]

Jamin Brazil: My guest today has been Ted Pulsifer, CRO at Market Cube. Thank you, Ted, for joining me on the Happy Market Research podcast today.

[00:35:12]

Ted Pulsifer: Thank you so much.

[00:35:15]

Jamin Brazil: It was an absolute honor. If you found value in this episode, I certainly did, please take time, screen capture, share. As always, your five star ratings help other people find this podcast. Have a great rest of your day.