Research with a Twist
blue lineVol. 9, Issue 8, December 2013
 CSR - Center for Strategy Research
 In This Issue…

twistAndShoutTwist and Shout


Everyone here at CSR wishes you a very happy holiday season! Click here by 12/25/13 to enter your name into a lottery for a $50 Amazon gift card so that you, too, can take just the right amount of togetherness out of your shopping experience.

 Quote of the Month
“It is vain to talk of the interest of the community without understanding what is the interest of the individual.”

– Jeremy Bentham

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Happy Holidays! For many of us, December is a time when we wrap up our year and start to charge our batteries for the new one. It’s a time of reflection, spending time with loved ones, and of course, figuring out how to get deeper, more cutting-edge insights from our customers and prospects!

In this month’s newsletter, Jennifer Lacy, CSR’s Senior Vice President of Operations, explains why even during the winter holidays, ’tis the season for market research!
signature - Julie
Julie Brown

signature - Mark
Mark Palmerino

Executive Vice President
Julie and Mark
articleOneGive the Gift of Insight this Christmas
Once again, I finished most of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Black Friday was but a twinkle in the retailers’ eyes, and I’d already bought most of my gifts from home, hot cup of tea in hand. I’ll admit it – I love online shopping because it takes just the right amount of “togetherness” out of the holiday season!

If I went to the store, sure, I’d be able to see all the novelty items (bacon scarf anyone?), and touch the cashmere sweaters, but then I’d have to dodge people in the parking lot, steer clear of the herd of other shoppers, and track down a sales associate to help me. When it comes to shopping, like Greta Garbo, “I want to be alone!”

Not so for the rest of the year, though. When it comes to market research, “community” is too important.

During the holidays, or any time of the year, we need to establish strong connections with our customers and prospects in order to better understand how we can help them. At CSR, we find that establishing communities – groups of participants who discuss trends and insights – is increasingly in demand among our corporate partners.

So, in answer to the age-old question: What do you get for the researcher who has everything? Often, easy access to that single, hard-to-reach audience, whether it’s Chief Financial Officers, brokers, IT purchase decision-makers or high-net-worth investors, is the answer. In other words, this year you may want to try creating a community composed of your key audience members, dedicated to talking about your, and their, “hot button” topics.

They’ll give you – and each other – the gift of insight for Christmas this year!

mixologyMixology (Putting Research into Practice)martini
How can I get this wondrous gift, you might ask? Come, sit on Santa’s lap, and we’ll share with you some of the best practices we’ve developed for our friends on our “nice” list:
  1. We recommend offline, not online, communities for B2B audiences.

    Today, online is the norm, and everything else is described in contrast to it. Maybe I’m dating myself, but remember when “offline” was just “real life”?

    Of course, the benefits of our digital world are numerous – the speed and frequency with which we can connect and share information are astonishing. For example, being able to see the results of an online survey in “real time” is often very helpful to our clients, who are eager for the information so they can start making their marketing, sales or strategic plans immediately.

    But sometimes, nothing beats a good old “offline” conversation.

    In our experience, the primary goal of establishing a community is largely exploratory – “let’s understand what our customers and prospects really think about a particular subject.”

    In addition, for companies with a B2B business model, there is often a more limited pool of customers and prospects than there might be for a B2C company. We call these audiences “high value” – what any single CFO, IT decision-maker, broker, etc. in your target market has to say about your company, product or service could have a significant influence on your sales or marketing efforts.

    Furthermore, these folks are often eager to talk with each other – they want to learn best practices and gain insights from their colleagues just as much as you do.

    For these reasons, we strongly recommend creating communities that meet primarily by phone, and whenever possible, in-person. Just like we visit Grandma during the holidays, rather than just shoot her an email – we find that really connecting with customers and prospects is best done person-to-person!
  1. Shape the agenda through “pre-event” phone discussions.

    So, we’ve created a community, and have scheduled an hour-long phone-based teleconference. Should we just give everyone the dial-in information and hope that the topics are interesting enough that everyone jumps in and talks?

    Absolutely not. Spontaneous is great for a weekend getaway (hmmm .. that would make a great holiday gift for that special someone!), but not for an event meant to draw out our target audience.

    We’ve found that scheduling a 10 to 20-minute call with participants prior to a teleconference or a live gathering serves a few important purposes. First, it helps ensure that the topic is of interest to participants – that way we learn sooner rather than later if the shiny agenda we have in our hands is really just a lump of coal to our VIPs.

    Second, calling in advance enables us to identify who has a strong point of view or an interesting experience they would like to share on a particular topic – and provide them with a “heads up” that the moderator will ask them to speak during the call. Participants will be grateful that they have time to think about what they will contribute to the conversation.

    Finally, this pre-event call gives you another valuable opportunity to talk with a member of your target audience and find out what’s really on his or her mind today. What a gift!
  1. Engage an outside firm to establish and maintain the community.

    Participants know that the company hosting the community wishes to benefit from it, so they might be reluctant to speak openly about issues and challenges if they fear being “sold” to by the community sponsor. Counterbalance that suspicion by using an independent third party to recruit participants, to conduct pre-event phone calls, to moderate events, write reports, and warehouse the data. You won’t lose because your moderating partner can and should share relevant opportunities with you, but ideally this is done in such a way that customers don’t feel hounded. And yes, of course, we can recommend a great partner for you!
  1. “Warehouse” ideas over time.

    A community of customers and prospects is the gift that keeps on giving… especially when interactions are transcribed and content-coded.

    “Warehousing” ideas mentioned by participants in pre-event interviews and during group interactions maximizes the value of insights. This approach allows us to track ideas over time, and to make comparisons between key groups, e.g., brokers v. benefits managers, or by industry sector (CFOs in financial services v. retail CFOs). These can be shared with participants, as a further incentive for their time, and/or internally, to provide strategic insight to your own sales and marketing teams. In our experience, transcribing and content-coding community interactions puts the “it” factor in commun-it-y!
Here’s the Twist:

For many companies, especially those that are B2B-focused, access to certain target audiences is incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Establishing a community that meets regularly to share information about trends and insights can help by providing continual access to these elusive groups. It addition, it let’s you be a “fly on the wall” as these important participants “talk amongst themselves!”

Unlike the bacon scarf, we don’t think you’ll re-gift this one!

aboutUsAbout Us
The Center for Strategy Research, Inc. (CSR) is a research firm. The “Twist” to what we offer is this: We combine open-ended questioning with our proprietary technology to create quantifiable data. As a result our clients gain more actionable and valuable insights from their research efforts.
understanding what people really think
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