DIY Consumer Answers for Ideation

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I just got out of an ideation session where we used consumer stories to inspire new ideas. As the consumer understanding team member, I saw it as my role to infuse the session with real consumer inputs whenever and however I could. After circling the teams in the room asking, "if you could ask your consumer one question right now, what would it be?" I threw the questions into a DIY MR platform. Within 5 minutes I had open-ended responses from 20 of the target consumers on each question. The answers sparked new thought and ideas that were truly connected to current and relevant consumer problems, not just a static segmentation profile.

So, I'm highly unlikely to drop everything and go DIY-only but I see some great scenarios where DIY can add tremendous value.

Where have you tested out DIY methods and found them to be helpful or hurtful? I'd love to hear!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Processing Through Pictures

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One of the coolest ways to take notes at SXSWi was through illustration.  I happen to appreciate taking in content in a non-verbal way because I really think it stimulates different thoughts and a different way of processing.  If you're at all curious about any of the content at SXSWi, the Ogilvy note I've featured came from a collection that can be accessed here.
I don't happen to be particularly good at drawing, but my husband is.  He sketched his way through life growing up.  At church and at school, he processed through sketches.  I think it might be part of the reason he's so curious.
I'm co-facilitating an ideation session tomorrow that will feature a sketch artist to capture the nuggets of the session as it progresses, which is extremely helpful because some ideas can't be verbalized as well as they can be illustrated.  Here's to processing thought in ways that are friendly to different learning and processing strengths.

Doing the Important Things

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm writing today from my "day off."  I have scheduled vacation time and this isn't it.  This is my day to not do the things I usually do each day.  I step back and examine what I'm working on, and how I need to be approaching things from a high level.  Instead of letting the Inbox dictate what I spend my time on, I take some Wednesdays to do what I think is most important.

For example, I contemplated how I could bring digital technologies into face to face research to make my face to face research better.  That sort of innovation and thought takes time and a bit of mental leg room.

Are you scheduling in time to ask yourself questions like, "is what I'm doing right now the most important thing?" or "what ways can I make what I'm doing better?"  Market researchers ask questions for a living, but I think we don't ask questions of ourselves enough.  Embrace the questions.  We don't grow by accident.

Role of Place

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This morning I've been pondering the role of place. Where do you feel most comfortable? Where do you feel most "you"? For me it happens to be somewhere that has a good amount of ambient noise, there's a buzz going. There's some natural light. Espresso is usually involved. My husband says I'm more energetic and engaged here. What about you? Where do you most connect? Why is that?
What about your respondents? Will you choose to preference them and go to the places where they're most likely to feel comfortable and open? To me, it seems essential to releasing their full potential.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

SXSWi Take-Aways

Friday, March 18, 2011

Around the office today I've been recapping some of my SXSWi highlights with other market researchers, so I thought I'd recap them here as well.  Really, it was a crazy learning experience.  I think I learned as much in panels and sessions as I did in conversations with others from related interactive fields.  Here are a couple of my take-aways:
User Experience (UX) Researchers.  These folks get research in a quick/fast/cheap way that still gets the job done with integrity.  I was impressed by their agility.  I still can't get over the fact that Twitter did sixteen iterations of research with four users in each iteration.  That goes against many of the traditional research pricing models that I'm used to.
Analogous Stimulus.  I found myself engrossed by things that I could learn from analogous fields.  In a session entitled, "It's Nature's Way:" Innovative Tech Design Through Biomimicry I appreciated the innovation that biomimicry sparks.  Things in nature have become the inspiration for many, simply through asking the question, "what can I take from this that applies to my field?"  Michael Dungan of BeeDance talked about how he found inspiration for waste disposal from bee hive activity.  So, what can we as researchers learn from the things around us that might spark innovation in or on our business?
New Competencies. I walked away thinking about the new competencies needed for researchers.  I can't put my finger on the exact SXSW stimulus, but I noticed that the new world of market research, especially design researchers, user experience researchers and social media researchers must have mastery of all core research principles, but then also understand tech platforms and be able to apply them.  What a challenge, and an opportunity, all in one.
Thanks, iTracks, for the badge contest!  I'm very thankful that I got to go.  If you're reading and you didn't go, but want to know more, give me a shout and I'll give you more of the scoop!  And if you're considering going next year, do it.

Three Lessons from Twitter at SXSWi

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mark Trammell (@Trammell) of Twitter and Nate Bolt (@Boltron) of Bolt Peters Research delivered a stellar and engaging presentation this morning.  The session title was "Stop Listening to Your Customers."  A little heretical, right?  This irreverence has led Trammell and Bolt to research innovation.  Here are a few of the themes they discussed, and my potential applications to market research.

Quick & Dirty Prototyping.  Amidst all of the push for "listening," sometimes asking and listening can get researchers to the wrong conclusions.  A great example is Microsoft's reliance on asking users hypothetical questions without providing a prototype.  Remember the MS Office paper clip "helper" of the 90s? That icon that would pop up at random (and often irrelevant) times and ask if the user wanted help?  When consumers were asked if they wanted something to pop up and offer to help, they answered yes.  Without seeing the execution, though, they weren't able to make a good call.  Taking this ill-informed direction, Microsoft followed through on the development of paper clip guy, which unfortunately fell tragically short in becoming one of the most loved features in Microsoft products.  Therefore, Bolt and Trammell encouraged researchers to push towards developing quick and dirty prototypes that illustrate the "need to knows" for users/respondents so that they can evaluate in the real realm, and not hypothetical.  Market research take-away: give respondents the right stimulus to make sure that they can respond and not guess as to what might be.

Watch as they DO.  Instead of asking, Twitter watches as people do.  They watch as they navigate, looking specifically for "friction points" for the user.  A friction point is where users have created a go-around, have to do an extra step, or have to leave the Twitter interface altogether.  Bolt and Trammell emphasized that "New Twitter" wasn't pushed down from the C-Suite, but instead, was based on watching as users experience this friction and providing iterative solutions.  Market research take-away: watch, and watch looking for inefficiencies and pain points in the process.

Innovation.  I LOVE that Trammell and Bolt specifically went out of their way to break down a myth that my colleagues and I are actively warring against: “geniuses have genius ideas that turn into genius products.”  They emphasized that great ideas come from other great ideas, usually facilitated by research.  Market research take-away: we’re all real people and we can all be inspired by the real needs of real people.

Get scrappy.  This is my own recap of a principle that Bolt and Trammell talked, but basically they said they have little to no research budget and they have to get creative about research.  They use free or cheap tools in smart ways that didn’t sacrifice their results.  They looked for new solutions to problems instead of relying on what was done before.  Market research take-away: consider whether there are simpler (easier, faster, cheaper) ways to get the job done well…then try it out!

Process of Thought

I've been thinking a bit today alongside my roommate for the weekend, Carla Essen, about how we make connections.  How is it that we're able to string together three totally different talks at SXSWi and draw one application from all three?  Our ability to reason is a crazy gift, isn't it!?

And with that, I leave you with an interesting video on words and how language shapes our thoughts.

Stories of Real People

Susan & Renee at Threadgill's

 Many have said that SXSWi is less about the content and more about the people.  I love content, so this was hard for me to fathom. 

Now I introduce Susan.  We both won badges to SXSWi through iTracks.  We gathered around a table at Threadgill's (Susan's great recommendation!) to trade views on the first day of SXWi. With much laughing and a great bite to eat, I was honored to hear about some of Susan's stories from the research field.  She has such a breadth of research experience across unconventional fields, which made for quite the entertainment.

It truly is remarkable that we get to hear the stories of real people.  It's why we do what we do.

SXSWi Arrival!

Arriving at the Austin Convention Center was incredible! It felt like a homecoming for techy types of all walks of life.  Foursquare kindly awarded me two badges: "4sq SXSW Virgin" and "Super Duper Swarm.”  Who doesn’t like a new badge or two?

The first session I attended was on Social Media Metrics and the Net Promoter score.  The session was led by two humble guys hoping to test a hypothesis out on the crowd: that the theory behind Net Promoter score might be more beneficial than sentiment analysis.  For those unfamiliar with the Net Promoter score,  here’s a little background.  Companies like Charles Schwab use this method as one of their metrics…in fact one of the Schwab team members was at the session.

The Market Research take-away: Market researchers could think about whether respondents will recommend or not, versus overall sentiment related to the brand, product or service.  It’s one thing for a respondent to feel a certain way, but yet another for them to take action and recommend.  Have you used NPS in your research?  If so, how has it shaped your thinking?

The session covered ways that the speakers attempted to gather the Net Promoter Score via social media pushed surveys (survey links sent via social media).  This seemed problematic at best.  Additionally, I’d argue that it isn't necessary to push a survey out.  It  is possible to scrape naturally existing social media mentions of “I recommend ____ because _____.”  There’s a lot of value in comments like this because the researcher gleans WHY their promoter is promoting, understanding the source of the passion, not just a straight NPS.

And, for what it’s worth, the value of focus groups came up twice during the session, emphasizing that traditional research methods are still needed to understand some aspects that social media research and social media pushed surveys can’t achieve. 

SXSWi Guides

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

There are guides galore on Dos and Don'ts of SXSW. Snarky ones, basic ones, completely inappropriate ones, you name it, they're out there. This one will be my guide of choice because of the specialized Market Research focus AND because he highlighted Adam Savage of MythBusters' interview, which I had already highlighted as a must. Thanks, @theburchyburch for putting this together!

Touchstone Research | Custom Online Research Panels & Communities | Child Research Experts

Brene Brown & Vulnerability

This talk has been making it around the circles I run in.  What I like about it is the way that Brene is humble.  Researchers need to be humble and examine their own hearts in order to be fully able to hear what respondents have to say.  So, without further ado, here it is, folks.
Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on

SXSWi Questions

I'm headed out to SXSWi this week.  To be completely honest, I didn't even have the guts to consider it until a fellow QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) member, Ben Smithee, encouraged me to.  I don't consider myself to be a techy person.  But, I consider myself to be curious.  Well, long story short, I won a Gold Pass from iTracks.  While the likelihood of me converting to Hipster is extremely low, I'm going with my questions in hand to learn from the best and brightest.

Here are some questions I'll be asking myself as my time in Austin progresses:
  • What can Market Research learn from the topic/panel at hand?
  • What could this technology do to make Market Research easier/faster/cheaper/quicker?
  • What could this technology do to bring out the best in respondents?
If you have other questions you'd like me to be asking myself, give me a shout!  I find that I innovate best when I can apply analogous stimulus to my situation and SXSWi will provide ample amounts of that!

Check back for posts each day that share what I'm processing.  I invite you in to process with me.

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