Market Research | The Brainzooming Group - Part 5 – page 5
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Author John L. Allen, Jr. has been an influence on me in so many ways. Before becoming a well-known author, reporter, and sought-after expert on the Catholic Church’s inner workings and current trends impacting it during and after Pope John Paul II, John Allen and I were very close friends in high school and college. As a result, my collection of early John Allen memorabilia includes fun things such as:

  • The standard opening paragraph John wrote which works for ANY book report.
  • A hand-written list of his “great sayings.”
  • Many memories of hilarious stories of John’s fearless exploits in student journalism and government, rock music criticism, and the consumption of food and beverages.

It had been at least ten years since I last saw John, right before he was moving to Rome to establish a beat there reporting on the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter. As John told me at the time, he was going to Rome, in essence, to “wait for Pope John Paul II to die.” After arriving at the Vatican however, John, not surprisingly, turned an opportunity other Rome-based reporters viewed as a laid back assignment into a platform to break stories of global impact through building relationships with important figures throughout the Catholic Church hierarchy.

In the decade since, John traveled on 50 trips with Pope John Paul II, and became the go-to Vatican analyst for CNN leading up to and after the death of Pope John Paul II. He’s also authored numerous books, including “The Future Church – How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church.”

Talking about “The Future Church” brought John  to The University of Kansas recently in advance of heading back to Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II this weekend.

In writing this trend-focused book, John went through an extensive process to identify and vet potential trends against specific criteria to ensure the ten trends in his book could legitimately be considered so. After his KU lecture, I asked John to talk about the research and crowdsource-based process he used to settle on the ten trends in “The Future Church,” since the strategy he employed is directly applicable to how one would approach forecasting current trends in any market or organization. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4

At some point I lost track of the number of different presentations during last week’s 2011 TED simulcast. Beyond standard 18-minute TED presentations, there were video segments, 3-minute talks, audience talks, musical interludes (from the house band comprised of teenagers), introductions of TED-related people, and Skype exchanges with remote simulcast locations (BTW, the Swiss had the right idea, holding their simulcast in a winery). Let’s just say there’s no way here to share every talk (that’s what the videos are for), every challenging idea, and every insight which didn’t occur to me until after all the live TED simulcast tweeting was over. To manage the glut of content, today’s post recaps a few of the more innovative science-oriented stand-out presentations. We’ll cover a few more presentations on Thursday (after a Wednesday post on creativity and taking time to reflect). Friday’s post will highlight the big ideas I took away from the 2011 TED simulcast.

The Scientists

The first simulcast session was titled “Deep Mystery,” and it was packed with really smart scientists and one cellist (hey, it’s TED). Scientists don’t talk in natural one-liners; their messages unfold and the big ideas emerge. This makes them tough to live tweet but yields loads of (and by “loads of,” I mean “too much”) blog content. Here are my “it’s been forever since I was in a science class, and when I was, we didn’t cover this stuff” reflections:

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio explored what constitutes the conscious mind and our sense of self – the “me” in our minds. The critical connections are between the cerebral cortex (which provides the visual spectacle of our minds) and the brain stem (the grounding for the self), and between the brain stem and the body, which creates the autobiographical self, setting us apart from other life forms.  The process depends on the interrelationship between the image-making and memory-forming parts of the brain, and the precise workings between them.

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a geobiochemist, addressed a wondrous question: How do you know what you’re looking for if you’ve never seen it before? Her focus is identifying alternative microbiological systems both on earth and elsewhere. She claims we look at the tree of life too closely (ignoring many other branches), which causes us to notice great diversity and conclude ALL life must be comprised of the 6 elements making up everything we view as “living.” Wolfe-Simon’s contention is that taking a giant step back to look at the full tree of life opens the view to many other possible life forms. Searching for alternative biochemistries, she began by looking at elements in the periodic table adjacent to those we “know” comprise life, i.e. could a toxin such as arsenic substitute for nearby nitrogen or phosphorous? She indeed found an instance where arsenic does function in a life-supporting role.  Her summary, applicable in SO many situations, is what we don’t know easily precludes us from seeing new forms of life all around us.

Physicist Aaron O’Connell discussed the “weirdness of quantum mechanics,” an area which has been confined to explaining small particles, not larger objects. The interplay between his logical and intuitive points of view launched him on a path to find quantum mechanics playing out on a visible scale, i.e., a visible object which could be in two places at once. Again, I won’t delve into the science, but using a small piece of metal, and getting everything around it (air, heat, etc.) away, allowed the metal to act very differently. O’Connell was able to get the metal to both vibrate and not vibrate at the same time – being in two places at once. He pointed out that the scale differences between an atom and the piece of metal is the same as between the piece of metal and humans, opening up a whole new set of considerations about our ability to be in two places at once.

The most accessible of the science presentations was from cognitive scientist Deb Roy whose remarks incorporated multiple elements which draw in audiences – kids, poignancy, and video of both. Roy installed cameras throughout his home to continuously capture activity (200 terabytes of video) with the purpose of better understanding how children (specifically his son) learn language. Through examining video “space time worms” it was possible to look at the connected places, events, and language which led to his son learning words. Roy demonstrated the technique being applied to media analysis to see how people engage and learn from media exposure.

    The intriguing take-away for me was the interplay between proximity and connectedness throughout each of these talks. More about this Thursday in the take-away lessons.

    The Educator

    Salman Khan, a former hedge fund manager and now YouTube education star, covered the inception and growth of his 12-minute tutorial videos on a variety of mathematical, scientific, and other topics. Growing out of a very informal and convenient means to help tutor his cousins, his videos are now seen by 1 million students monthly. The videos allow for time shifting classroom learning: teachers can use class time for direct student interaction and what is traditionally considered “home” work. Outside class, students are able to review the engaging tutorial videos at their own pace, potentially multiple times, with skills testing that creates enough repetition for a student to have to demonstrate mastery by getting 10 correct answers in a row before moving to the next topic. And since the learning is delivered online, Khan envisions a global classroom community where students around the world are in a position to help each other learn.

     

    The First Big Picture Guy

    Historian David Christian is the consummate intellectual integrator, tugging upon a wide range of disciplines to spin the story of “Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity.” The TED simulcast audience received an 18-minute version of the multiple billion year story, focusing on how, in a world governed by the second law of thermodynamics, the universe creates complexity. There’s no way to explain this presentation; it has to be viewed. The big fascinating revelation for me was this: Christian points to six threshold events between the big bang (which he puts at 13.7 billion years ago) and the emergence of the human species just 200,000 years ago. Hmmmmm. Know of any other big story of how we got here with six major time divisions? Coincidence? Probably not.

    Wrap Up

    Thanks to Kansas City digital marketing agency VML and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for bringing the 2011 TED simulcast to Kansas City.

    Thursday we’ll cover some additional 2011 TED simulcast presentations, including the 2011 TED prize winner who invites you to join in changing the world through REALLY big pictures.

    What do you think? Are these TED overviews starting to suggest some big ideas for you? Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you focus your brand strategy to improve on  the things which really matter for your business.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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    2

    Following strong reception to the Brainzooming recap of January’s Kansas City American Marketing Association luncheon on Southwest Airlines social media strategy, I was compelled to attend the February panel on “Social Media for Marketing Communications Professionals.” The guest speakers were three well-known faces (and avatars) in the Kansas City social media community:

    Five content areas stood out particularly for me, with one of them warranting a rant!

    Social Media Coming and Going

    Chris and Ramsey talked about the steps before and after your audience interacts with your social media sites. Chris discussed the importance of your offline marketing clearly (as in spell out your Twitter and Facebook ids) driving audience members to check out your social media presences. Ramsey reminded everyone that even super fans of your brand won’t hang around your website for kicks. They’re there for utility, then moving on to social networking sites to interact with people. His comments were a great reminder that you need to also be present online where your audiences are already spending time.

    Influencer Marketing – Where Events and Social Media Intersect

    The combination of social media and live event marketing Joe shared is really compelling (you can see his first-hand account in a video from the lunch). He discussed how both at Red Bull and now at the brands he represents, his field marketing strategy focuses on finding young, hip influencers targeted by beverage marketers. After identifying them, Joe asks about what their dream events are and then provides the connections, resources, and promotion to make them happen. His strategy creates the emotional impact which makes great events and compelling social media content. That’s why the approach is so much more successful and exciting for all concerned than conducting boring “blogger outreach” programs.

    How Does All This Help Business?

    Ramsey hit the “big question” in social media: How does your social media activity ladder up to overall business objectives? While the link doesn’t necessarily have to be one-step away, you have to be able to credibly connect how social media contributes to what your company actually does to serve customers and generate revenue. Since multiple steps are typically involved, The Brainzooming Group recommends a multi-level metrics strategy for social media to account for a variety of metrics.

    What’s Next?

    The panelists were asked, “What’s next in social media?” Here are the trends and platforms they mentioned:

    Social Media Ain’t a Focus Group Folks

    For the second consecutive month at the Kansas City AMA luncheon, a presenter said social media is “like a real-time focus group.” WRONG! Despite what people unfamiliar with research think, focus groups aren’t simply a bunch of people coming together and talking free form. Even though a focus group’s results are qualitative, a properly-done focus group has structure, carefully selected participants, and a scripted discussion guide behind it. Tweets and status messages don’t have any of those. Social media provides qualitative input, but unless you’ve created a much more structured environment, all you have is a bunch of comments.

    Speaking of comments, what do you think about these highlights? Please share your thoughts about these points in the comment below! Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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    8

    To people who still think Twitter is a waste or don’t see value in it, I describe it as an incredible social networking soup made from a phenomenal array of ingredients. These social networking ingredients, originating from all over the world, could have never been brought together before. But now, all of them are available in a single soup pot, cooked, and ready for anyone to dish out a bowl of this unique Twitter soup mixture.

    But here’s a catch.

    What you’ll taste in this social networking soup is completely dependent on how good the ladle is you use to scoop the soup!

    Use a great ladle, and you’ll experience with Twitter an incredible combination of tastes you’ve never experienced before.

    Use a crappy one – one with holes; one that’s too small (or too big); one that’s too cumbersome to handle properly – and it won’t just be the soup isn’t any good. It will be the foulest tasting soup you’ve ever had. If you’re in polite company, you may choke it down. If you aren’t, you won’t hesitate for an instant to spit out.

    How to make sure your ladle is absolutely the right one?

    Think back to all the how-to’s you’ve seen on cultivating the right audience on Twitter, engaging with others (to keep your “ingredients” fresh), using the right social media monitoring tools in the right ways for you and your organization. All of those things help make sure your ladle is the best one it can be.

    If you have the right one, Twitter isn’t difficult to understand and benefit from in multiple dimensions. With the wrong one, however, Twitter (and much of social media), IS a waste!

    How is your social networking ladle working? Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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    3

    I’ve already been told The Brainzooming Group “World Headquarters” is going to have a document clean-up and organization day near the first of the year. It’s been a long-time coming, I know, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less of a chore. I’ll admit to retaining a lot of project documentation materials.

    Quite frankly, I successfully go back to and use previously developed models and outlines from previous projects quite a bit. Before leaving the corporate world, I was handed a quick-turnaround assignment to develop a strategic marketing communications plan for a very infrequent business event. Interestingly, we had done a strategic plan for a similar situation years before. I was able to retrieve both paper and electronic copies of the document, creating an updated strategic marketing communications plan in only a few hours.

    Long story short, if you can retrieve a project document when you need it, the strategy of retaining your past project documentation pays off in enhanced efficiency.

    But in thinking about the decision making process for which documents to throw away, maybe these strategic guidelines I’m creating for myself will be helpful to you if you struggle with the same situations.

    Here’s my strategy for three types of project documentation I’m planning to jettison:

    • Old Reference Material – In fast-developing markets, a lot of reference material simply isn’t relevant anymore. With changing business dynamics, the usefulness of historical studies and reports is likely deteriorating at an accelerating rate. The trick is figuring out which reference materials are worthless and which can still be good future inputs.
    • Anything that Can Be Retrieved on the Internet – There’s no need to house a lot of secondary market research information that’s easily obtainable via the web. I’ll be clearing out historical project files and simply searching to find updated information if I need it in the future.
    • Forgotten Work – If you can’t remember the work, and it’s not part of a filing system, you aren’t going to be able to get to it when you need it! You might as well work from memory and take the extra time to address it with a fresh perspective when it counts.

    Let me know if you have any other tips!

    I’ll be printing this post out and keeping my document retention strategy close when combing through and making decisions about the many boxes of old project documentation files waiting for me!  – Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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    1

    We met with a client to think through a strategy to protect its organization’s market research knowledge. Protecting its market understanding was especially important since its market research analysis staff shrunk dramatically the last few years with no replacements planned any time soon.

    As with many companies, this one has undergone dramatic brand strategy changes: old brands have gone away, new brands have emerged, and significant alterations have taken place nearly everywhere else. The central question was what historical market research data to re-organize and retain along with what market research data to let go.

    Our recommended strategy called for retaining and prioritizing four types of information from market research reports. If you’re also facing a situation of tremendous change and a proliferation of available data, this list will help in considering what market research to retain:

    • Methodology / Structural Background – Hang on to what you’ve learned about the right and wrong ways to use market research in talking with your marketplace. There’s never a good reason to re-learn the ins and outs of doing market research in your particular business, particularly when you don’t have as many people in place to do the actual market research. Another keeper? Market research surveys which allow you to reference specific survey questions that have been productive.
    • What’s Important to Customers – You want to preserve tracking information on what’s important to buyers, especially if it’s derived importance data (i.e., statistically determined insights on what predicts customer behaviors and perceptions).  If your market research budget is squeezed and you have to move to stated importance on surveys (where customers simply say what they think is important), it’s beneficial to have derived importance data as a reference point, even if it’s slightly dated.
    • Keep Inputs for Market Sizing and Forecasting – For many business markets, there are no readily available sources of syndicated or third party data to actively size a market, especially in specific niches. In those cases, primary business-to-business market research may be the only reliable source to gauge market trends. Make sure to keep elements which help estimate sizes and forecasts for the markets you serve. Even with change going on, you can adjust and modify when you start with a solid, even somewhat historical, knowledge base.
    • Work that Will Demonstrate Value – Even if dated, retain market research reports which demonstrate where research contributed value to the business previously – backing up positive business decisions, challenging what were (or would have been) poor strategic decisions, or forward-looking predictions that ultimately come to fruition. You always want the raw materials to demonstrate value you’ve provided when trying to make a case for greater customer understanding.

    That’s our take on the subject. What types of historical market research data do you prioritize within your company? – Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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    1

    What a week last week!

    First of all, thanks to Barrett Sydnor for keeping the Brainzooming blog active with book reviews on some fundamental strategy books for marketers.

    For most of the week, I was chairing the 2010 American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference in Atlanta for the second year in a row. There was tremendous strategic content on business, marketing, and market research from outstanding speakers. But since my focus for the marketing research conference was on emceeing the general sessions and helping produce the conference, I didn’t take the typical copious notes I usually would.

    So as I pull my thoughts together into a future blog post, here’s a video recap of the American Marketing Association marketing research conference from Jeffrey Henning of Vovici. Jeffrey Henning has been on the AMA Marketing Research Conference social media team two years in a row, and this year, he wrote 13 blog posts across the marketing research conference which ran from September 26 to September 29, 2010.

    Beyond Jeffrey’s take, we’ll have several other videos and reflections from in and around the conference this week. – Mike Brown

    The Brainzooming Group helps make mart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

    Mike Brown

    Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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