I suspect this is the number one complaint people have about conference talks. Not the lack of vegetarian meals, not the early sessions, but rather sessions billed as educational that turn out to be sales pitches.
What happens when a talk is a sales pitch? People tune out of your talk and in to something else like complaining about you on Twitter, choosing the next talk to go to, finding out what’s for lunch, or checking the sports scores. In my case, I tweet about brownies.
The fortunate thing is that this problem is REALLY easy to avoid.
- Never say the name of your company or your brands. Audience members have the conference program in front of them. We can read about you and your company there. Besides, if you say things that are truly educational and intriguing, people will open that program to your page and circle your name a bunch of times. They’ll probably even wait to speak to you after you’re finished talking.
- Don’t provide an explanation of your company even for context. Company context is irrelevant in about 99.99999% of cases. Even if it’s a really cool video. I’ve yet to see one instance where a company video improved my understanding of the talk.
- Never say ‘we’ or ‘our.’ I KNOW who you are talking about. I KNOW the things you say represent you and your company. Instead of saying “We believe that mobile surveys are the most disruptive methodology you will see this year,” try saying “Mobile surveys are the most disruptive methodology you will see this year.” Besides, this phrasing offers a bigger and more memorable punch. And no, mobile surveys are not the next big thing.
- Don’t describe YOUR tools. We don’t care about YOUR tools. Your audience is there to learn about new theories and processes and tools beyond the bubble of your company. Teach them the generic ideas, which just so happen to be reflected in your tools and your business model. As you demonstrate your impressive knowledge about the broader industry, the audience will decide that you are worth talking to and they will whip open that agenda and circle your name to follow up with later.
- Don’t answer questions about your product or company. Listen to questions and focus them towards industry knowledge so that everyone in the room will learn something from your answer. For example, you can say, “I’d be happy to talk about our pricing or features during the break but I agree with you that privacy should be designed into every piece of software from the beginning, not as an after thought.”
- Put a compelling sales pitch in your bio. And by sales pitch, I mean offer an interesting and relevant bio that contains specific details about your offerings not dreams, buzzwords, and nondescript nonsense.
- Put your logo on every slide (if you’re allowed to). Put your contact information on the first and last slide so that strong silent types can reach out to you privately afterwards. Put your twitter name on every slide and encourage people to tweet. I shouldn’t have to say those things but I recently went to a conference where NUMEROUS speakers did not put their name on their presentation. I’m positive most of them lost out on potential follow-ups.
- Finish exactly on time. When you’re late, conference organizers get upset, audience members get ansty, the speakers after you get annoyed, and you create a lot of bad karma. Respectful speakers generate follow ups.
- Deliver fabulous content full of actionable recommendations that people can implement immediately. Fill your talk with to-do lists and checklists and reference materials. Offer additional white papers and case studies to those who want more information. The best sales pitch is awesome content. Hands down.
You might know I’m a huge fan of Twitter. You get to meet a lot of people, learn lots of new things, and listen to myriad points of view. It’s a great educational and networking tool.
Except when people forget how to relate to potential customers as human beings rather than sales prospects. Let’s consider these two private messages I received from the same person a few weeks apart.
Always great connecting with another CX professional Annie! We at COMPANY would love your feedback on our new eBook on customer-centric measurement and analytics to help with your customer improvement efforts to reduce churn, increase engagement and fuel growth. LINK
Message 1: First, it’s nice that the person took note of my human name rather than my Twitter name. Kudos on that. However, I’m curious why they would love my feedback on a CX ebook since I don’t really do any work in CX. Why do they want my feedback? Why do they want my feedback for free? And, wow, what a pretty series of buzzwords – reduce churn! increase engagement! fuel growth! I won Business Bingo with one DM.
Now let’s dissect the followup private message I received a few weeks later.
Hi Annie. I noticed you didn’t download my prior offer. Well, here’s another one that might be more relevant to you. I’ve summarized my decade long research efforts on the Net Promoter Score in a free white paper, “TITLE OF WHITE PAPER”. One NPS myth is that many customer-centric professionals believe the claim that the NPS is the best predictor of growth. In reality, only 25% of customer-centric professionals believe that claim. Download the free whitepaper to see the other four NPS myths and learn what you can do to improve your customer analytics efforts. Be sure to share it with your colleagues; you’ll be a hero. LINK
Message 2: STALKER ALERT! Apparently they’ve been watching their email list for ME. Checking whether I personally downloaded their ebook. (Ignore the fact that I regularly use an unnamed email account to download these sorts of things because newsletters aren’t my thing.) If I didn’t already download it, but was planning to, those plans just got canceled. Second, their offer? You mean the ebook they wanted me to download so I could give them free feedback? That’s not an offer. That’s free consulting. And lastly, share with my colleagues so I’ll be a hero? My, we think highly of ourselves, don’t we! For a company focused on customer experience, the experience that this potential customer had was less than stellar and less than heroic.
I actually like it when people share links to webinars, ebooks, and white papers. But I don’t like presumptive strangers telling me what I like or what I need or what they think I’m doing. And I definitely don’t like being stalked. So to end on a more positive note, I took a stab at rewriting those marketing messages in a way that is more human, and less stalky.
Tip #1: Get rid of the you and your words that imply you know what I need or want or do.
Tip #2: Never, ever, ever indicate or imply you are stalking. Even though we all do it.
Always great connecting with another CX professional Annie! I just wrote an eBook on customer-centric measurement and analytics to help with customer improvement efforts to reduce churn, increase engagement and fuel growth. If that sounds interesting to you, download it here. Maybe we could chat about it. LINK
Hi Annie. I prepared a free white paper based on my decade long research efforts on the Net Promoter Score, “TITLE OF WHITE PAPER.” One NPS myth is that many customer-centric professionals believe the claim that the NPS is the best predictor of growth. In reality, only 25% of customer-centric professionals believe that claim. Download the free whitepaper to see the other four NPS myths and learn what can be done to improve customer analytics efforts. Feel free to share it with any colleagues who are interested in the NPS. LINK
This lesson in relating to people in a non-stalking way is brought to you by the letter circle and the number orange.
Even though this infographic is out of date, having first been published in January 2014, the points it lays out are still relevant today. Jade Furubayashi from Simply Measured describes the Twitter practices of the top brands including how many times they tweet every day and how engagement is affected by the number of followers. But don’t misinterpret that correlation by buying yourself 100,000 followers. Paid followers won’t add to your engagement and they won’t love and adore your brand by sharing, tweeting, and retweeting. Only genuine brand love creates engagement.
- Interesting infographic: How your brain sees a logo (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- Missing Data: Whose problem is it anyways? (web.peanutlabs.com)
- 13 tips for giving the worst presentation ever (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- How women should ask for a raise if they don’t want to follow Microsoft’s CEO advice of Trust Karma (lovestats.wordpress.com)
WAPOR opened with a bang as David Fan described the statistical techniques he used to organize the accepted papers into relevant bunches. The key terms included cluster analysis and the traveling salesman approach as a number of presenters were asked to determine which of the other accepted papers were most similar to theirs. One of the methodological issues that had to be dealt with was that some presenters were forced to back out at the last minute such that the carefully designed grouping didn’t end up being perfect. Alas, as with every research project, errors creep in.
And in case you’re curious, no, there was no parade of WAPOR figure heads each welcoming us with a short prepared talk. There were no dance routines, fun videos, or Nice tourism representatives. Yes, a room full of data geeks got a truly geeky talk from the head geek. I’m still chuckling about it. 🙂
Rather than summarize the talks I went to, I’ll mention a few interesting tidbits and a few thoughts that came to mind for me.
- Do you ever consider responder needs, not your own needs? When you’re designing surveys, do you ever really think about what the responder needs as part of the research process? I know you want quality data and you want to design surveys that generate quality data, but do you really think about the fact that responders may want to answer a survey on a phone because they can take it to a private room or a quiet room? Similarly, do you realize that people may not want to answer a phone survey because there are other people in the room or it’s too noisy for them? Stop fussing over whether you do or don’t want people to take a survey on their phone. Give them the tools to give you the best data they can – from a quiet room, a private room, or anywhere.
- People don’t fan pages they don’t like. One of the speakers mentioned that people don’t fan brand pages if they aren’t truly fans of the brand. Well, that’s not completely true. Many people ‘fan’ or ‘like’ a page so that they can leave a complaint or criticism on it. Or, they want to monitor what the brand is doing to see how it compares to their loyal brands. Or, they like the page to learn about discounts and coupons that they can redeem with their own brand. Whether Facebook or Twitter, it doesn’t matter what the social network names the buttons – people will click on the button that suits their purpose.
- Social media data has yet to be validated. Someone also mentioned that social media data is taking a while to become widely used because the data itself hasn’t been validated yet. For instance, if someone tweets that they went to McDonald’s, did they really go to McDonald’s. I found this comment kind of funny coming from someone in the survey world. Hm… if someone says on a survey that they went to McDonald’s, did they really go to McDonald’s? Something to ponder!
- Why are Google, Facebook, and Microsoft so far ahead in research? This comment came up as a tangent and was never answered by the speaker, but I’ll take it on here. Why? Because they aren’t research companies. They don’t have to fuss and fret and worry that their norms and standards will be royally screwed up. They aren’t worried about fitting 412 questions into 5 minutes of survey time. They aren’t trying to figure out how to make their product ‘fun.’ We DO have to worry about these things. Actually, I disagree that we have to worry. If we keep worrying as we have been, then Google and Facebook and Microsoft will wipe our faces with their research. If we don’t get with the times and become our own thought leaders, that’s what’s going to happen. Be aware of your norms and be cautious as you change them. Make the research experience enjoyable as it should be. It’s your business at stake. Stop talking. Start doing. (me included!)
- Are AAPOR guidelines too American? You know, I never really thought of that before. There are a number of organizations in the research world that want to be global. Given that WAPOR is the world version of AAPOR, I must conclude that AAPOR does want to be global. Yes, as was mentioned during today’s talk, most of the AAPOR guidelines are drawn with first world, English countries in mind – everyone has a phone, everyone has a smart phone, everyone has a physical legal home. Do the AAPOR guidelines make it easy or even possible for people in other countries to conduct ‘good’ research? It’s worth a ponder.
- Let’s stop the probability/non-probability debate. Hear hear! I don’t believe there is such thing as a probability sample in the human world (generally speaking). Yet, AAPOR continues to promote the idea. You see, even if you COULD know an entire population and select a random sample, people will still decline to participate, quit participating, answer questions incorrectly, misread questions, lie on questions, etc. The assumption is that probability samples create perfect data and this is just never the case. I would love it if we could just drop the whole probability superiority complex and get on with our work.
- Candy is a legitimate snack. Breaktime featured a fine selection of…. candy? yes, candy. For the second time today, I was happily shocked. Someone later mentioned that fruit was also available but I don’t know what that is and I didn’t see it. So they lied.
And that, my friends, is the Day 1 wrap!
GUN control, he said GUN control! 🙂
- The Conference Presenter Gender Gap #WAPOR #AAPOR #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- I poo poo on your significance tests #AAPOR #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- How many survey contacts is enough? #AAPOR #mrx (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- President of American Association of Buggy-Whip Manufacturers takes a strong stand against internal combustion engine, argues that the so-called “automobile” has “little grounding in theory” and that “results can vary widely based on the particular fuel t (andrewgelman.com)
I’m on Twitter a lot. I tweet a lot, I read it a lot. But I seem to be gravitating more and more to Facebook even though the powers that be tell me Facebook is about to implode. But I’ll tell you why I’m dating Twitter less than I used to.
- It’s getting harder and harder to talk to a person. As people realize the value of branding, more and more Twitter accounts are being named after companies and brands. They tweet endlessly all day long and attempt to engage in conversation. But I really can’t remember the last time I picked up a box of Cheerios and had a fun and interesting conversation with it. I talk to people, not brands. Even though I deliberately follow people over brands, my Twitterstream is an endless list of brands and companies, as if every human has stopped tweeting. Why not sign each tweet with -Annie, or put -Annie in your user bio. Yup, change your user bio every day depending on who’s tweeting.
- More and more people are begging to be followed. Outright asking for people to follow up them. No, they aren’t buying followers and I do appreciate that. But I don’t appreciate tweets along the lines of “Hey LoveStats, I love your tweets. Please follow us.” You see, if you tweeted with me even a couple of times, I would have reviewed your tweets and determined for myself whether your tweets were of interest to me. In other words, if you’ve tweeted with me and I’m not following you, it’s likely because I don’t want to follow you.
- Fewer and fewer tweets are personal. As I already said, I prefer to talk to people. And have lunch and play with their kids and do embarrassing things. It’s fun to read these things because first of all, well, they’re fun. And second of all, it helps me get to know you as a person, you as someone I’d like to talk to. I firmly believe there is a healthy balance between professional and serious, and fun and friendly. As a market research community, we are losing the right balance.
In conclusion, please treat me like a person wearing pink socks and eating chocolate, not a robot that might open a wallet for you.
There are a few basic rules to creating a great Twitterstream. The most obvious ones are
- Follow people with similar interests
- Don’t follow people who only tweet marketing messages
- Don’t follow people who only tweet inspirational messages
- Don’t follow people just because they followed you first
These tips will ensure that your Twitterstream is generally interesting and relevant. But, you’ll still see lots of irrelevant and uninteresting tweets with this method as most people like to create a bit of variety by tweeting off-topic once in while. It does potentially create a more fun reading pane for those just looking for something fun to read.
But, if you’re rushed or really need to focus, an open Twitterstream can sometimes bog you down. One of the best things you can do is create the perfect search string. For instance, here is the search string I use
The essential features are
- Choose your favorite hashtags and insert “OR” between each of them
- Choose terms you NEVER want to see. In my case, my stream is completely wiped of all things bieber and directioners. Just insert “-” before each of the dreaded words
- Choose a language. I only want to see English tweets so I type “lang:en: at the end of my search string
- Run the search and then save it
As you use the search string every day, take note of which hashtags need to be added to the list to include or exclude more tweets. Re-save your search string and then delete the old one. After a few days of adding and removing terms, you’ll end up with the perfect, highly relevant search string. Enjoy!
[To delete an old search string, run the old search string. Then the delete option will appear in the corner.]
Once you know what you really want to do, how do you get there? I’ve been asked a few times how I became a research methodologist and can someone else become a methodologist as well. It’s really quite simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
The advice I give is don’t wait for someone to offer you a job as a methodologist or to declare that you are a methodologist. If you know what you want, then it is your job to make it happen. No one else.
- If you are a project manager and you want to be a methodologist. Start tweeting about methodology. Share educational white papers and intriguing blog posts that helped you learn about methodology.
- If you’re in report prep and you want to be a methodologist, start a blog about methodology. Share your thoughts and opinions about good and bad methodology in easy to read, weekly or monthly opinion pieces. Be brand and bold and take a stand.
- If you’re a data analyst and you want to be a methodologist, stay a few hours late after work and re-analyze datasets with methodology in mind. Analyze speeding rates by survey topic, straightlining rates by number of grids, random responding by demographics. Then write a paper and share with your colleagues.
No matter what your current role is, you can find a way to incorporate what really excites you into your day. If you do it well, a good boss will find ways for you to expand into that space. And if your current boss doesn’t, one of your Twitter followers or blog readers will. Enjoy your new job!
- Finding the why in your market research results #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- A Halloween chocolate lesson in nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio data #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)
- SAS vs SPSS: Pick one and forever hold your peace #MRX (lovestats.wordpress.com)