Posts Tagged ‘consulting’

Current Day Qualitative Market Research in a Nutshell…

ImageIt’s been a while since I have had the time to blog about some of the excellent articles I am reading regarding trends in marketing and market research.  Well, have a got a great one for you.  It’s from the folks at GreenBook.  I have relied on the GreenBook for my market research needs for more than a decade and they have really hit it out of the park with their new book entitled:  New Qualitative Research.  It’s the quintessential guide to qualitative research options today.

Here are some of the highlights that I think you will find interesting…

They break out qualitative research into two buckets:

  • Real-time (live)
  • Non-real-time (asynchronous)

Here’s what they are saying fit into these buckets:

Real-time (live) qualitative options

  • Face-to-face one-on-one or group sessions, at research facilities or other locations
  • Webcam/video one-on-ones or groups via computers or mobile devices
  • Text chat, instant messaging, or SMS texting dialogues with individuals or groups, using computers or mobile devices
  • Landline or mobile phone one-on-one or group discussions — with or without web support for showing multi-media information or concepts, collaborating with markup tools, sharing computer screens remotely, and more

Non-real-time (asynchronous) qualitative options

  • Online discussion boards, forums, or collaboration platforms for one-on-one or group interactions that may include Q&A dialogues, projective or immersive activities, journaling/diaries,/blogs or other multi-media activities accessed via computers and/or mobile devices
  • Longer-term insight communities, co-creation networks, or other longitudinal approaches
  • Social media listening/observing, or engaging social media users in market research

Ok, now that you have the techniques…when do you use them.  I say, read the article and decide for yourself what makes sense for your business. I am partial to focus groups and social media listening myself, but I am sure that I could gain a lot from building a discussion community.  Ah if only I had the time and money!

Happy Marketing!

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Social media marketing for the big and the small…

You know what is great about social media marketing?  You can do it successfully whether you are a multi-billion dollar organization or a small mom and pop style grocery store.

  • For the mom and pop store, it allows you to seem bigger than you are.  You know, what having a cool website did for you about 10 to 15 years ago!
  • For the large corporations, it allows you to become smaller.  I know what you are saying…”what? Seem smaller?…Why would I want that?”  Ah, grasshopper, the reason is community and relationships.  As companies grow, their line of sight to individual customers narrows to something that you need a telescope to see.  So, by actively listening and then engaging in social media platforms, large corporations can get back to the one-to-one marketing they used to do when they first started out.  It makes a difference…really.  Just ask Starbucks!
 
A mentor of mine, Dr. Bret Simmons, posted a question on Facebook asking about how conducting social media marketing would differ (if at all) for a company in a metropolitan area than for a company in a rural area. My short answer to this question is:  it really shouldn’t be any different…that is the beauty of social media!  
 
The only difference in social media marketing in a rural area versus a metropolitan area is reach.  Because rural areas tend to have fewer options when it comes to internet connections and fewer people in general, the reach you will get with your social media marketing efforts  in a rural area will be much smaller than in a metropolitan area.
 
One point to be made about social media marketing…it cannot be done in a vacuum.  Your social media marketing campaign has to be:
  • Integrated into your company culture:  You can’t say one thing in social media and then do another during the purchase or post purchase experience.
  • Integrated into your marketing campaign:  To get through today’s clutter, you need to integrate your social media into an integrated marketing campaign.  So, combine your social media efforts with your direct mail, advertising and digital marketing efforts.
  • Fully emersed:  You can’t just do a couple of tweets and expect the world to come to your door.  You have to consistently be there and engaging with your community.

So, how are you integrating your social media marketing efforts into your customer service efforts and your marketing campaigns? 

Happy Marketing!

 

Entrepreneurial Permission

As I toiled away on my elliptical machine tonight, I re-read Tina Seelig’s book “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.”  And what I love most about this book has to do with what makes a small business owner successful.  Is it being a marketing genius? Is it being a financial wizard?  Is it having a parent with a very large bank roll?  They all help, but that’s not it…at least not for the long run away.

At the end of the day, it really just boils down to a couple of traits or states of mind; traits/states of mind I would like to share with you.  The presence or absence of these traits/states of mind will tell you if you have the stomach and the know-how to become a successful small business owner.

  • Turning failure upside down—entrepreneurs can take failure because they know that failure shows them how to succeed the next time.  Failure is temporary.  Failure is sometimes necessary.  And, guess what? It took Thomas Edison something like  1,000 “steps” as he liked to call it to perfect the light bulb.
  • Knowing that “no” sometimes means not now—let’s face it, very few people in life like hearing the word no; especially as it relates to their business/baby.  Successful entrepreneurs understand that “no” might mean call me next week when I am in a better frame of mind.
  • Try everything, at least once—Successful small business owners will do just about anything to keep their dream alive.   And, they get creative…both inside and outside the box.  They are constantly thinking about what is next for their business and questioning whether if they are doing everything right and everything they should be doing.  Just like their business, they are in constant motion.
  • Test and learn beats fast and furious (…just ask the rabbit)—successful small business owners don’t waste money on big splashes, they take a disciplined approach to just about everything. They aren’t tentative, but they do their due diligence.

Here is my favorite and the most important part of being a successful entrepreneur.

  • Give yourself permission—the permission to start, the permission to stop, the permission to take risks, the permission to accept failures, the permission to say you were wrong, and the permission to say you were right.  Whatever permission you are denying yourself…give it freely.  You don’t have to wait for permission from someone else.  Who cares what they think?  Give yourself permission to start doing what you love today!

Since this blog isn’t about my normal marketing or market research topics, I have decided to end with a quote from Thomas Edison rather than “Happy Marketing”.  Here goes:

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 

Here’s something from me…I give you permission.

I’m an expert, how about you?

When you have a small business, minutes matter.  You have to stay focused, which is very hard to do in this chaotic business world in which many of us operate.  In the past, many companies operated and sold either locally or, at most, regionally.  Now, we are global.  So how can you differentiate your brand, in addition to your products and services?  Become the Expert!

I was reading Ivana Taylor’s article regarding influence (You 14 Step Roadmap to becoming an Influencer ) on openforum.com and it got me thinking…what can small businesses do to make themselves brand experts? 

Here are some ideas that I gleaned from Ivana with my additions (of course).

  • Put in the time—You truly do need to be an expert to claim that status (don’t be a poser!)…Ivana recommends 10,000 hours…that means that you have to be working full time in an industry for at least five years to claim expert status…totally doable!  Remember though, focus is key… I am not just a market research and marketing expert…I am an expert in B2B insurance market research and B2B insurance marketing (as well as other things…wink). 
  • Strategically Embrace Social media—there are a lot of things you can do through social media that will boost your expert status, but you can’t afford to waste time.  Here are my quick hit favorites:
    • LinkedIn—join 50 groups…it’s fast and easy; and, actively post articles and ask questions in the groups from which you think you will get the most “expert status” bump. 
    • Blog—Don’t do what I do…keep your blogs short and sweet…and do what I do…keep them on topic.  When you blog, use key words you want to own/be associated with your name/brand…like marketing, commercial insurance, Net Promoter Score.  If you have more time…I suggest you also place comments on other people’s blogs—it helps with Google juice!  Another idea would be to guest blog, but few of us have enough time to write our own blogs let alone blog for other people.  I would try to get them to repost one of the blogs you have already written.
    • Create a YouTube video—if you have a video camera and an internet connection, you are pretty much set.  Make the video really short (1 to 3 minutes, tops) and very informative and instructional.  Oh, and make it fun.    Post these videos on your website…more Google juice!
    • Publish…Your Data—if you collect and analyze data and can publish it…do so!   Nothing better than providing the world with useful information.  And, after you have published your data…write a press release about it.  It doesn’t cost that much to get your press releases run through the newswires. 
    • In-person Networking—yes, you need to get out there and meet people face to face, not just online.  To do this, I recommend joining associations and attending their conferences (to the extent it makes sense).  Service clubs like Rotary are great as well, but don’t just focus on local things and events.  
    • Speak/Join Panels/Webinars—most of us would rather jump off a bridge than speak publically; but, there are few better ways to build up your expert status than having documented proof that people are willing to pay for your advice.

There are a heck of a lot more ways to get your brand elevated to expert status, but these were my favorites.  And, as you have probably noticed, most of them are absolutely free (except for your time). 

What are you doing to elevate your brand status to expert?

Happy Marketing!

Social Media and Living the Thank You Economy Dream…

I just finished the book The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk and it got me wondering, what if we all lived in the Thank You Economy world instead of the I Win You, Lose world? And, of course the second part of the issue is…does Gary practice what he preaches…the answer, by the way, is YES!

If you know me, you know that I am a wine enthusiast. And, as such, I am always looking to try new (good) wines. So when I found out about the winelibrary.com from Gary’s book, I decided to give them a try. The site is very easy to navigate and I found plenty of quality wines to buy…I limited myself to 4 just to try them out. Though there are a few more (a lot more expensive ones) that I have my eye on. So who cares? Well I do, but it’s what happened next that was the important thing.

Great Thing: The very next day after my purchase, I got a call at work from the Wine Library thanking me for my recent purchase. Can you imagine that? A personal call…in addition to the automatic email I received. I was floored. How impressive!

Not so Good Thing: The girl (ok woman, but she sounded really, really young…perhaps not even old enough to drink the wine I just purchased) had not been trained well enough to be on the phone with customers…particularly brand new customers. It seemed to me that she had just been given a list with customers’ phone numbers and then told call these people and thank them for their order. On the surface this seems fine right? But, the call was extremely awkward. The gal said “hi it’s so and so from the winelibrary.com and I am calling to thank you for your order.”  Dead space. Me: “ok.” Dead space. “Um, do you have any questions?” Me: “I saw on your website that you are having a shipping delay due to the weather, when do you think my order will ship.”  Gal: “You will get an email when it ships.”  Me: “So you have no idea when it will ship?”   Gal: “No.”  The call ends soon after that. So, the moral of the story is that she needed a script or at the very least an outline. Gary doesn’t think so…but I humbly disagree. 

Kinda Awesome Thing: Since I am following Gary on twitter, I thought I would see if we could converse about this experience I had. The whole purpose was to let him, the owner know, that he is losing the effectiveness of his thank you calls because at least one of the people making the calls (the gal I talked with) was not trained enough—just trying to help. Interestingly, I know that Gary detests having scripted calls. Being a marketer and a market researcher, I am dedicated to such things. So I expected a lively discussion. I tweeted Gary that he needed to improve his thank you calls. Within an hour of me posting the tweet, he sent me two tweets asking me what was up and letting me know that he didn’t believe in scripted calls. I explained what happened and why I thought it was necessary.

Did he say he was going to look into it? No. Did he say he would do anything? No. Did he thank me for even letting him know he has an issue? No. So the experience was just kinda awesome. He responded to the tweet, but he didn’t say anything more than the questions he posed. I don’t have closure. Oh well, I accomplished my goal…I let him know he had a problem.  As, a potentially long-term customer for winelibrary.com, hopefully I will have eventually helped the process. 

The key to the story for me is that Gary is living in the Thank You Economy and I think all businesses could benefit from living in this type of economy. But please remember…don’t let your process show while living in this Thank You Economy.

Happy Marketing!

Bad photoretouching = Bad advertising

Photo credit

Bad graphic design and more specifically bad Photoshop work is the bane of the advertising world’s existence–especially when people (such as our target audience) notice. 

Over the years, I have seen some pretty bad work, some done by professionals and some done by amateurs.  

Want to know how to spot a fake or a mistake like a pro?  Here’s how.  Look for:

Strange or bad shadows—while a photo may look perfect, the graphic artist will likely miss the mark when it comes to accurately portraying the shadows associated with the people or objects in the picture.  Worst yet…they probably knwo that the shadow problem exists but don’t want to spend the time to fix it.   They are betting you (and their client) wont notice (see picture above).

Soulless eyes—they say that your eyes are the window to your soul.  Well that may be, but when it comes to spotting “fixed” eyes, it’s pretty easy, especially when there is more than one person in the photo.  To spot the changed-out eyes, you just need to look for the eye position..are everyone’s eyes in the same position?  And you need to look at the lightness of the eyes. If they swapped out the better eyes from a different picture, it is likely the angle was different.  If that’s the case, the brightness of the eyes will be different between the people.

Cloning—too much grass in the picture?  Is the pool a bit longer than it should be?  The graphic designer probably took something out of the picture and had to make up for it by cloning the background around the missing piece to fill in the space.  Cloning isn’t a problem…unless you can see it.

Bad  blending—even those good with Photoshop can have what we call fringe problems.   This occurs when the edges or fringes of an object doesn’t fit the back ground.  To detect this problem, look at the fringe or edge of an object to see if the background looks consistent both from a color and shape perspective.  Edges can also look too sharp or too soft.

The no freaking way factor—this is what I call the “does it make sense part?”.  This is where we use our collective brains to determine if what we are seeing makes sense…like a shark jumping out of the ocean in an attempt to catch a helicopter.  While a cool picture…not realistic.  FAIL!

Want to see some Photoshop failures?  Check out this link:  http://www.boredpanda.com/worst-photoshop-mistakes/ 

Can you spot a fake?

Happy Marketing!

You Stink But I Love You Anyway…the Loyalty Ladder

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One thing that never ceases to amaze me are customers who continue to patronize a company even though the company is not providing the service and/or value that should warrant the loyalty. While we can’t discount the masochists out there… I think there is a very simple, but very important answer, and it has to do with the various rungs on the Loyalty Ladder.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, we were all about measuring customer satisfaction. Then one day, someone got the bright idea that we should be measuring loyalty (usually in the form of willingness to recommend). At the turn of the century (wow am I that old?), we started using the Net Promoter Score (NPS)…which is a kissing cousin of loyalty, but goes a bit further. What should we be measuring? I think it depends…there is a lot of merit to NPS, but I like other types of measurements as well.

How do I categorize customers so that I really understand how likely they are to continue to buy from me? I put people on the rungs of what I call the Loyalty Ladder (shown in bulleted form).

• Raving Fans—these are folks that are giving me the highest scores possible on my survey. They are also going to recommend me every chance they get and will be willing to pay more for me (because I am just that good). I try to get everyone into this bucket but hey I am human…

• Always Done It That Way—these are folks that buy from you out of habit. To them , you are like the comfy blanket (or binky) that they had as a child. This type of loyalty is good, but not entirely loyal.

• I Have No Place to Go—these are the folks that feel trapped, but don’t spend a lot of time looking for alternatives. For example, cable companies had a lot of loyal customers before consumers were aware and understood the service provided by DirectTv and Dish Network. So what happened? Once these two companies (and others like them) became mainstream…these once loyal customers were not so loyal.

• Asleep at the Switch—these are the people that are using you and don’t even know that you are providing the service. They have no loyalty to you but they started your service some time back and forgot to turn it off.

• I Have a Coupon—consumers switching to you for discounts and other couponing are not necessarily going to stay with you. If they switched to you for a discount, they can easily go in the other direction (a competitor) the next time they need your product/service. For these folks, you need to add value beyond the coupon.

So why is this so important? When defending and/or attempting to increase your customer base, you need to know where your customers and prospects are on this loyalty ladder (for lon-term success that is).

Where are your customers on the loyalty ladder?

Happy marketing!

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