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Voxpopme 8: Two key tips or tricks for communicating insights that resonate with the C-Suite and drive real results

Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

Episode 8: Share two key tips or tricks you have for communicating insights that resonate with the C-Suite and drive real results.

Alrighty, tip number one: Sample Sizes.

The reasons for choosing sample sizes are a foreign concept to many people, leaders included. Many people depend on you to provide helpful guidance when it comes understanding what an appropriate sample size is, the drawbacks of those sizes, and how results can be interpreted given those choices. One tip I’ve used is to give them specific examples of what might and might not be statistically significant when the results do come through. For instance, rather than sharing the margin of error around a specific sample size, instead I’ll say something like:

With this sample size, a result of 30% would be statistically different from 37% but statistically the same as 36%. Are you prepared to choose a winning concept that is preferred by 30% of people rather than by 36% of people?

Tip number two: actionability.

As someone who loves raw data, cleaned data, charted data, graphed data, and tabled data, sometimes it’s hard to take the next step and make the data useable and actionable. But business leaders don’t always care about individual data points. They may not even be concerned with summaries of the results. What they really want is your informed opinion about what the data actually mean, and the appropriate options that should be considered as a result of the data. So, beyond reporting that 30% of people like a certain thing, use your understanding of the rest of the results to indicate why they like a certain thing, why they might not like it, the implications of moving forward (or not) with that thing, and how that choice might affect other products on the market already. Take the data as far forward as you possibly can in order to give them fodder to spark further ideas.

Bonus tip!

Know your own weaknesses. I know that data visualization is not my strength. When I need data to be visualized well so that it is understandable by everyone, from junior to senior and expert to newbie, my only option is to find an expert. And here’s an example of how an expert would illustrate missing data. I would have never thought to do it like but look at how effective it is. It’s worth the extra cost.

http://www.thirdway.org/infographic/the-absurd-way-we-report-higher-ed-data

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Voxpopme 3: Is market research slow to adopt new technologies?

Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

Episode 3: Think about the barriers and resistance to new technology in the research industry that you’ve come across. People say that market research is slow to adopt. Is it true?

No. 100% no.

My absolute defiance to this question stems from one very important definition: what is market research? For me, market research is any scientific process (whether qualitative and quantitative!) that helps us to better understand consumers and markets. As you see, that definition says nothing about surveys or focus groups or big data or artificial intelligence. Methods and technology play no part. Companies  marketing themselves in the market research business play no part. That definition doesn’t say System 1 Research, Affectiva, or Ipsos. It also doesn’t say Google, Facebook, or Tesla.

With that in mind, the market research industry is full steam ahead. We are awash with companies at the forefront of artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, virtual/augmented/modified/extreme reality. If you can name a way awesome technology, I can guarantee you that someone is using it for market research purposes. Of course, the company might have been formed three months ago in someone’s basement or maybe even two years ago. And, even though they’re doing it, the company might not even know what “market research” or “consumer research” is.

What our industry is REALLY good at is claiming that other industries are trying to barge into our territory. We’re REALLY resistant at acknowledging that market research companies exist outside of those claiming a spot on market research supplier lists. That there are many other companies doing what we thought we could claim as MINE MINE MINE.

So on that note, if you’re looking forward to a career in market research, don’t necessarily seek out a company that markets themselves as market researchers. Seek out companies that work to understand consumers and markets, whatever the name or size of the company and whatever industry or methodology they use. There are a ton of really cool companies out there doing some amazing things even though they’ve never heard of ESOMAR, MRIA, Insights Association, ARF, AMSRS, or MRS before. Once you’re there, feel free to introduce us to them. We’re lovely people!

Voxpopme 4:. What is an insight?

Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

What is an insight?

Ah yes, the never-ending question in our business. I have a fairly simple yet vague definition of insight. It’s anything that turns on a lightbulb over your head. It’s that piece of knowledge that makes you sit straight up or jump out of your seat or pop your eyes out of their socket. The one that makes you go “OH MY GOD” or “HOLY SHIT.”

True insight is rare. You’re really lucky if you get even one out of each research study you run.

If you think about it, we go into most research projects with ideas, hypotheses, expectations. We create a data collection tool, collect data, run the analyses, and confirm what we hypothesized all along. We just have the data to back it up now.

From my perspective, insights were never an idea or hypothesis or expectation. They come out of nowhere and smack you in the face.

The trick with an insight is to capture it before it dissipates. To realize that what is running through your mind is magic and that you need to take note of and write it down.

If you love it, don’t set it free. Catch that puppy and write it up. If you do set it free, you’ll never be able to turn it into an actionable outcome.

https://giphy.com/embed/6RXkMDpm1Qppu

via GIPHY

Voxpopme 5: How can you best educate, develop, and improve yourself in market research?

Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

Episode 5: How can you best educate, develop, and improve yourself in market research?

Our industry is really lucky to be one that is focused on learning, educating, and sharing knowledge. We have an abundance of mentors who love to help people grow. No matter your budget, you have great options for learning more about market research.

But given that not everyone has the funds to attend conferences, buy books, or take classes, I’ll share three of my favourite free options.

Blogs: Literally hundreds of market researchers around the world keep personal blogs. They share their unique opinions based on their unique experiences about a plethora of topics from focus groups and surveys, to chatbots, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality. You don’t need to know anything about the topics and you don’t even need to agree with a single thing they say. All you need to do is have an open mind to consider the ideas they’re sharing and you’ll quickly become a more informed and better decision maker.

I keep a list of hundreds of blogs in my RSS reader but here are some of my absolute favourites:

  • Affectiva: If you’re ready to see what else is out there in market research land besides questionnaires, this is a great place to start. Facial coding, emotion, AI, biometrics, yeah baby!
  • FlowingData (Nathan Yau): Lovely collection of beautiful charts, maps, infographics, and visualizations. Good place to stay on top of new and beautiful data.
  • Pew Research Center: For the absolute best production of research about digital, social, there is no alternative. Every post could be considered a how-to guide on analyzing and presenting data. The topics are usually from the USA but the methodologies are universal.
  • Lexalytics: Really nice posts on applying social media research to real life problems.
  • Math with Bad Drawings (Ben Orlin): Lots of people hate math. Lots of people can’t draw. This blog uses bad drawing to help readers better understand math. It makes me smile!
  • Not awful and boring examples for teaching statistics and research methods (Jess Hartnett): If you recall back to your statistics classes in university, most of them were pretty darn boring and made it really easy to tune out (Yup, I think 9 out of 10 of mine!). This blog has so many great ideas on how to teach statistics in ways that people enjoy. If you need a refresher, start here!
  • System 1 Research Blog: Extremely well written thought pieces about marketing and research in all aspects of products, brands, life, and culture

Webinars: Ideas that start in personal blogs often make their way into companies where they turn into full-fledged research projects and then webinars. Sure, sometimes webinars feel like sales pitches but if you read between the lines, you can collect many tidbits of knowledge. Besides, learning about competitors’ products will help you in many ways – to improve your own products, point an existing client to a product that might work for them, or even partner with them on a project. In addition, Ray Poynter regularly runs webinars on a variety of topics with guests from around the world. In both cases, you can likely view them after the fact. Just register for the original webinar so you can the link afterwards.

Online conferences: I have two absolute favourite online conferences. You’ve probably heard of the NewMR festival that Ray Poynter runs. I’m also a big fan of VizFest which is run by Keen as Mustard marketing and E-Tabs. These two events run once per year over several days and they host speakers from around the world on a variety of topics. Some of the top speakers from other conferences speak here so if you have no budget to travel because you’re a solopreneur or a tiny company, you can still enjoy some of the best and brightest in the industry!

So there you go! Free and informed!

 

Voxpopme 6: How does market research maintain trust when fake news is perceived to be rife?

Along with a group of market resevoxpopme logoarchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂

Episode 6: How does market research maintain trust and authority in modern times where fake news and misinformation are perceived to be rife?

There are a few things we can do.

First, despite how expertise is being discredited more and more these days, let’s be more open and transparent about our credentials. More than simply degrees and experience, let’s talk about our membership in recognized industry associations such as Insights Association, MRIA, MRS, AMSRS, and Esomar, as well as ISO certifications. Let’s do more than simply mention we’re members, and instead start our conversations with that fact. Let’s describe what it means to be a member in good standing in terms of the code of standards and ethics we abide by. Let’s put those logos on the first page of our reports, and even include with them some of the ethics and standards statements that are most relevant to the specific project. Let’s use these as reminders for our clients that we always act in their best interest, and in the best interest of the research project, even if the results don’t work out the way we had hoped.

Second, let’s be more transparent with clients. Let’s tell clients about all of the strengths and weaknesses of our research processes, about the things that changed unexpectedly along the way, even if it means disappointing them. When we can’t achieve the response rate, sample size, or cost per complete that they require, let’s tell them right from the beginning and be clear about why it can’t be done. When the results we generate are completely unexpected and don’t line up with our hypotheses or norms, let’s be open and honest about what might have happened and whether there might be a problem. Let’s worry less about not winning a job, and more about demonstrating our commitment to the integrity of results. The secondary bonus of this transparency is that we can educate less experienced buyers on how research can be positively and negatively impacted by a variety of known and unknown variables so that they will be more informed buyers in the future.

Third, let’s be better public advocates. When we see our research in the media, let’s ensure the results, conclusions, and recommendations are clearly properly represented. And when they aren’t, let’s get in touch with the media to help them understand what the issue is, including telling them why margin of error or making a certain generalization isn’t appropriate. And if they refuse to correct the misinterpretation, let’s make a public statement to right the wrong, perhaps with a note on your website sharing details about how the information should be properly interpreted. And along the way, if we learn that certain media channels regularly misinterpret results, let’s reconsider working with those channels and even the clients that work with those channels. Every one of us has a part to play in helping to ensure our research results are properly portrayed.

Voxpopme Perspectives: Video posts… in writing

Along with a group of market researchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response.

Except the video blogging thing wasn’t working for me. I do my best thinking in writing and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to watch me read a post. So instead, I’ll be sharing my thoughts in written posts. Feel free to write back if you’re so included. Stay tuned!

Voxpopme

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