Here’s a brief article posted a short time ago on the website of The Phoenix Business Journal.
Feel free to share your opinions here.
Qualitative research is a lot like great investigative journalism. The end result is nearly always a testament to truth.
One of my greatest joys is having a client tell Joe Hengemuehler Consulting there’s a problem in need of a fix.
It may be a brand that isn’t resonating. It may be a curiosity about which ad will cut through to consumers the fastest and with the most lasting impact. Or, it may be about how consumers feel about the company’s customer service. I’ve even had clients who want to go deep on the shape of the packaging of their product.
While the problems (let’s call them challenges from this point forward) that businesses face are varied, in most cases, each client is looking for the exact same thing from us; to help them unravel and reveal the truth about what motivates their current customer base and what might attract new business.
When clients come to us, one of the first things we do is put on our reporter’s hat. We start asking questions. Lots of questions: When this research project is done, what’s the most important thing you want to know about your own business? What will you do with the information you learn? In what areas do you see yourself as vulnerable? [We never ask the Barbara Walters question ‘If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”]
In a reporter’s world, all those questions would end up in a nicely packaged story told to television viewers at 6pm. “In 3, 2, 1, cue talent!”
In our world of qualitative research, those questions are just the beginning. We take the information and design a highly strategic discussion guide to be used in the focus groups.
For us, the focus groups are ‘show time’. It’s where we start to find truth. And I will tell you, there is nothing more gratifying than building a discussion guide that results in answers and insights that a client can act upon.
Let’s be honest. The insights aren’t always what the client wants to hear. But that’s why we do research. You’re being intentional about asking people to tell you what you need to hear so that you can grow your business and strengthen your brand. We all want to hear we’re great. It’s good — well, it’s great for the ego. But it doesn’t always help us forge ahead.
My advice to clients is consistent: You’ve already taken a courageous first step. You’ve commissioned a research project. The next step – and arguably the most courageous one of all, is to do something with the findings. To have information and do nothing with it is like a reporter missing the story of the day. No one wants to get scooped –especially when the success of your business and your brand is on the line.
I am sharing this great article I found on the website Ragan’s PR Daily. It draws clear boundaries about how to and how not to use LinkedIn.
Some of it is obvious. All of it is worth a quick read.
Have a great Tuesday!
I say WalMart, some say “People of Walmart”, referring to the unfortunate photos captured of people roaming the aisles at the largest grocery retailer in America. Or, you sniff and shrug and say, “I NEVER shop at WalMart.”
I shop at WalMart. But I don’t whisper about it. (I don’t shop there exclusively but I sure spend a lot of my dough there).
And today, there’s a bit of news that makes me feel even better about the place.
An article out today on the website Energy Manager Today, gives a clear picture of the retail giant’s commitment to renewable energy.
One interesting fact; that WalMart intends to plop solar panels atop at least 1,000 facilities by the year 2020. That, and a whole bunch of other energy reduction efforts that are underway are supposed to result in annual energy savings to the tune of $1 billion.
Pretty impressive — if it all happens.
I have invented new curse words.
I can’t share them here though. That’s because this blog is ‘professional’ (said with a sort of ‘Grey Poupon’ TV commercial style accent). More on that in a moment.
I do market research for a living. And I can tell you that one popular topic that companies like to research a lot — is customer service. Businesses want to know how you feel about, well, about them. Specifically, how polite and knowledgable their representatives are, how satisfied you are when they try to resolve issues and whether you will be a return customer. In some very rare cases, they also want to know the height of the tree that’s grown in your backyard during the span of time you sat patiently on hold waiting for an actual human being to come on the line. OK, maybe not the last one.
The point is, customer service can make or break a business.
I had my own little customer service stress session recently. It was with the company that designed my business website. I’ll make up a name so as to disguise the real identity of the company. For sensitivity sake, I will call this website company “Proceed Father”.
And let’s be clear. The team over at “Proceed Father” really cares about my total satisfaction. In fact, each of the three representatives I spoke with over the past month, tells me that at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of each phone call.
What I learned about big web design companies — at least ones based in Scottsdale, is that they are very, very busy people. I know because they always tell me. And that’s why they haven’t gotten to my issue yet. But they will! Just not now. Or tomorrow.
Look, it’s hard making everyone happy. I get it. Still, there are companies out there that model excellent customer service. They have much to teach the others.
This article outlines some of those lessons in bold ways that should get the attention of business owners and managers everywhere and maybe even force some meetings to discuss this important aspect of running a business. The article is from just about a year ago. I haven’t seen a 2013 update to it so the stats are probably a little off from current reality, but probably not by much. You’ll still get the picture.
Give it a read.
Here’s where you might expect me to ask you about your own customer service horror stories. Actually, I’d rather you share the experiences that impressed you. Share the ones that others can read and learn from. And thanks!
My friend Kevin is pretty talented. He shoots high quality web videos for businesses. He knows (and reminds me a lot) that “video is where it’s at.” It must be, because it’s how he makes his living.
There’s no mistaking it. The clips his company produces are a smart blend of advertising and marketing. Kevin’s vignettes are bold, high energy bursts that scream “Come check us out!” And, “Be one of our customers!” What they are not are the traditional run of the mill 30-second spots we’re used to seeing.
You might think that in this world of short attention spans that Kevin has it all backwards. That you have to get it on and get it off quickly if you want to keep people’s attention and make an impression.
Not so fast.
At least not according to some new stats I found in this article.
The study by Celtra makes the point that what we may have always believed about short attention spans may have been a bit off point. OK. It may have just been wrong.
For instance, one of the findings is that the completion rate (i.e. did you watch the whole thing?) for 30-second spots is actually lower than the completion rate for other video content — some of it as long as 150 seconds. All of this research was done on video content in the mobile environment because let’s face it; that’s where a lot of us go for information and entertainment.
The study also sends companies a pretty clear signal on how to be a bit more savvy with video/mobile advertising. Most importantly, don’t assume you can check “mobile advertising” off your to-do list by simply taking your TV spot and running it on mobile platforms. Consumers, at least those who took part in this survey, say they don’t want leftovers. No re-hash please.
So the pressure seems to be on advertising houses that aren’t already thinking this way. It’s time to start giving the mobile audience custom, fresh targeted spots — which by the way, don’t have to fit the traditional :30 mold.
It all makes me think Kevin isn’t just talented. He’s also ahead of the curve in delivering what the mobile audience demands.