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Lead up to the IIR TDMR: Interview With Guy Powell Of DemandROMI, Inc.

As a lead up to the Technology Driven Market Research Event (May 2-3, Chicago) I am conducting interviews with as many of the wonderful thought leaders that are presenting as possible. The plan will be to post 1 or 2 a week from now until the TDMR. This will be an eclectic mix of consultants, client-side research leaders, and senior MR supplier executives, but all hold one thing in common; they are on the forefront of utilizing (or developing!) new technologies to revolutionize what we think of as “market research”.

We’re starting the series off by talking with Guy Powell of DemandROMI, ( Guy has spoken at many events and facilitated many workshops around the world.  He is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the issues of marketing effectiveness and how to use data-driven analytics to improve strategic and tactical marketing decision-making.

I hope you enjoy reading about our conversation half as much as I enjoyed participating in it!

LM: The concept of Marketing ROI seems to be a hot topic, but it has been slow to be embraced when it comes to applying it to market research. Why do you think that is?

GP: Actually, the adoption of marketing ROI as a way to determine effectiveness and make better strategic and tactical marketing decisions has been accelerating.  There are some sectors which are still behind the curve, but for the most part mid-sized and large corporations are well along the way of implementing various stages of marketing ROI.

As for those companies not implementing ROI there are a few reasons: 1.) They don’t have the data 2.)They don’t know how, and 3.) They don’t want to reduce their advertising budgets in order to budget for the data and analytics it takes to develop a marketing ROI infrastructure.

LM: What do you think are the major drivers of change in the market research space right now and what role is the focus on greater ROI and marketing performance metrics playing in that?

GP: Market research is being inundated with new opportunities to gain insights into their consumers.  With the various social media channels becoming mainstream, these channels offer very interesting ways to capture new insights on their consumer base.  They also offer more recency and potential higher accuracy.

These new insights have both a negative and positive impact on marketing ROI and performance. The bad news is that many marketers are using these metrics to look only at short term results (Last Touch Attribution) and ignoring the long term effects. Marketers are inundated with new data and now are looking at too many variables to manage their marketing effectiveness. They are using these numbers to make tactical decisions but may not be understanding the strategic implications of these short term actions. With many of these new metrics ROI can be quickly improved because they help marketers avoid the simple errors and can quickly improve their tactical capabilities.

LM: So one of the limiting factors in developing an effective marketing ROI program is limitations in data analytics capabilities on the client side. Combine that with the issues of data overload and/or misapplication and it would seem to indicate an opportunity for market research to develop more of a business intelligence focus and work at a more core level with clients. What do you think?

GP: You’ve hit the nail on the head for Market Research.  Of course, there is some data overload, especially in the web side of things as well as in a few verticals, such as banking and financial services, but there is an enormous opportunity for Market Research to deliver highly valuable information for executives to make significantly better decisions.  Unfortunately, the difficulty is in translating the data into information that can be acted upon, and this is where funding of market research and experimentation in market research is often lacking.

LM: What is your vision of where market research will fit into client organizations in five years from now? Will it be more of a BI/IT centric function, more strategic marketing insights focused, or some other model?

GP: Absolutely.  Market Research can really deliver highly valuable, strategic information for marketers to support the business.  The alternative to Market Research is shooting from the hip.  And the bad reputation of analysis paralysis it has engendered in the past.  Market Research needs new methods of how to ‘sell’ its services into the organization to continue to prove that their outputs are worth the investment in time (calendar time) and money.  It also needs a scorecard of how well its research has delivered value to the business.  They need to continue to sell their value to the organization in terms of past success.  This is the area that can be of most value to the function of Market Research.

LM: Wow, great point regarding MR needing to learn how to tell our own story and earn our seat at the table by proving the value of our product! I think that is particularly relevant to internal research departments within client organizations. I agree it is the right model for suppliers to aspire to,  but I think the challenge there is changing the relationship with our clients. Often MR is viewed as a commodity and suppliers are just that: suppliers. There is little line of sight into outcomes on the client side or opportunities to be repositioned. Any thoughts on what market research suppliers can do to change that equation?

GP: Not sure I can add much here. Because many components of MR are a commodity, the lowest bidder may only deliver the facts without the business interpretation.  I guess that’s what you get when you buy things at least cost.

LM: I understand, but do you think there is a path forward for MR agencies to change the model and get out of the commodity market? Any thoughts on where some potential opportunities to exist to change the rules of the game?

GP: Unfortunately, after the last few years, organizations were purchasing the absolute minimum and this led to the commoditized approach.  MR now needs to work towards getting the value add that the agency can provide by adding more to the decks to help them point out the key hot buttons in the results.

LM: I think the issue of data actionability is a big one, and often MR doesn’t help the cause by delivering 100 slide PowerPoint decks that are rich in data descriptives but lacking in storytelling and implications, especially for busy C-Suite clients. If one of the key challenges  is making market research (and business intelligence, marketing metrics, etc…) meaningful to clients to, what are some things that we can do to help make that happen? Is the solution more dashboard type reporting, integrated enterprise analytics, more of a consulting approach, a mix of those approaches or something new all together?

GP: Yes, 100 slides is too many for a presentation, but are necessary for a deep understanding and supplemental reading.  The business executive doesn’t have time to wade through the 100 slides, but the smart ones will read them off-line. So the challenge is to develop skills in delivering a 10 to 15 slide executive summary with 100 slides as supporting material for later reading at their option.  The lower level brand team participants will need to have that level of understanding of what was found.  Not an easy task.

But I do believe the 100 slide deck problem is endemic in many disciplines.  Wasn’t it Einstein that said that I would have made it shorter, if I had more time?

LM: You’re moderating a panel debate on Social Media: Scientific Technology or Business Practice at the IIR Tech Driven Market Research event. What is your take on the subject and what do you hope for attendees to get out of the discussion?

GP: Social media is changing so rapidly that opportunities may only be available for a short time.  Facebook has certainly lasted and there are others that also have staying power.  I think the key issues will be what new technologies will deliver opportunities for marketers over the next 2 or 3 years and how will smart marketers identify them.

LM: What are your thoughts on the TDMR event in general? Why do you think it’s important to focus on understanding the current state of market research technology and what implications does it have for ROMI?

GP: Technology is what will simplify and automate the collection of data.  With that in mind, marketers will have better data and more things that can be measured in order to drive better strategic and tactical marketing decisions.

LM: Agreed absolutely Guy. I am thrilled that you’re going to be participating at the Tech Driven Market Research event! Thanks for your time; it’s been great chatting with you and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Chicago in May.

About Guy Powell:

Over the last 20 years Guy R. Powell, based in Atlanta, GA, USA, has helped companies to connect all their marketing activities to their impact on sales revenue in senior level sales & marketing across the globe both on the client and consulting sides. As part of his current consulting activities he has trained and/or presented his findings and methods to thousands of marketers all across the globe.

His company, DemandROMI, ( is based on helping marketers and business executives to take these critical concepts and implement them within his client organizations. His consulting career began ATKearney delivering strategic and tactical solutions to help companies fuel and maintain extraordinary growth. While at ATKearney he worked on a variety of wide ranging projects for both mid-tier and Global 100 companies in Europe, providing strategic assessments, business re-alignments and turn-arounds.Guy’s direct industry experience includes consumer package goods, financial services, digital electronics, high tech, brewery, frozen food, automotive, cable & wire, consumer durables, media & entertainment and many,many others.

Guy has written several top selling books on marketing effectiveness; you can find those here, here and here

Mr. Powell’s educational background includes an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BSEE from Lehigh University.

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