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Blog Round-up

Obviously we’re fans of blogging around here at the GreenBook, and today’s post should show you why. This is by no means a comprehensive collection of recent blog posts, but it is an aggregation of those that I found most interesting.

Obviously we’re fans of blogging around here at the GreenBook, and today’s post should show you why. This is by no means a comprehensive collection of recent blog posts, but it is an aggregation of those that I found most interesting, and hopefully so will you! Click on the quotes to go to the original content.

Starting us off, Spych Market Analytics asks the question Has Social Media Research Shown Market Researchers a Different Recession in Our Industry?. This a great exploration about the impact of the loss of credibility of MR among both consumers and some business decision makers, and also a series of proposed solutions to address this issue.

…So, I ask you, what do we do to grow and encourage trust with everyone regarding the quality of work our industry represents?  What do we do to position ourselves as the keystone to successful marketing and advertising, the building blocks for new product development and the key player in providing value to our clients?

I’ll start:

1)   Think of the customer/consumer/respondent as your client – go where they are, listen and respond to their needs and then communicate those needs and wants to the companies and brands that are interested in them.

2)   Add your value on top – less journalistic and more strategic consultation is the way of the future.  Do not lose the neutral unbiased edge, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and showcase your expertise.

3)   Embrace change – Be smart and approach the future with open arms and open minds.  Remember every angry person is a frightened person who is afraid of some loss.

4)   Embrace technology – Whether you are a research noobie or a veteran of our industry, good research is good research, and technology does not change that.  You are relevant and provide value, just learn the new buttons to push in the new environment and execute the same core principles that market research is founded upon.  (this statement does not suggest online will fully-replace in-person, Twitter is the new focus group,  Facebook is the new market research, or any other outlandish statement of the kind)

5)   Embrace collaboration and possess humility – Collaboration is the key to the future, both for us and the companies and brands that we assist.  Know your strengths, focus on them, and partner up to shore up your weaknesses.  Not EVERYTHING we do is extremely proprietary and secretive.  Remember, as the tide rises, so do all of the boats.

This seems like the foundation for a new MR Mission Statement to me!

Continuing on the theme of how MR can add value, Ian Lewis writes on the Cambiar blog about the Four Pillars for Success – Make the Move from Researcher to Consultant! As I’m sure you know, Ian is a central player in the ARF  Transformation initiative and has been espousing the transition to a consultancy-based model for some time. Here he lays out the steps to make that happen.

The ARF recently launched a major Research Transformation initiative, and has made a video that’s available at

ARF has adopted a “wedding cake” as a framework for its new value creation model.  Think of it as Maslow’s hierarchy for Market Research.  The cake is terrific – it has seven layers, starting with Data Feeds at the bottom, progressing through Craftsmanship and Science to Synthesis, then to Communication, Storytelling and Taking a Stand, and ultimately to Inspiring Better Business Futures.  The only reason market researchers should get paid is for creating better business futures.  Research buyers must take the lead, and will need their suppliers to partner with them in order to deliver.

Ian goes on to elaborate on the Four Pillars necessary to bring this vision to life; it’s well worth a read!

Shifting gears a bit away from strategy and towards new techniques, we have a two posts related to “Next Generation” MR concerns. The first is by Andrew Jeavons, posting on the Research Access site on the topic of  CrowdSolving – Beyond CrowdSourcing? Andrew writes about some innovative ways that companies are using the reach and engagement models of online and social media to go beyond data collection and instead are harnessing the power of participants to solve critical business issues.

There is a lot of research from social psychology showing that groups polarize decisions in contrast to individuals. A group will make a more extreme decision (cautious or risky) than an individual. There is also the fact that estimations of physical sizes and weights will tend to show a normal distribution, with the most common estimate, the mode, being the correct one. Here there is wisdom in crowds, or more likely the wisdom of the normal distribution, the central limit theorem and statistics in general. Distributions are wonderful things.

It’s a great post, and helps shed some light on the possibilities for future opportunities for enterprising MR suppliers!

Next, SocialMediaToday gives us the low-down on Data Mining: The Real Killer App of Social Media. There has been a lot of discussion recently about how research companies could develop new revenue opportunities by implementing more data mining initiatives, and it seems to be beyond a shadow of a doubt that the future of MR includes a significant focus on data mining as a core offering of successful firms. This post details some of the issues that may be on the horizon gives a few ideas on what we can do to work around them.

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal supplied readers with a detailed look at the world of data mining.  The tone of this massive article is one of shock — websites are tracking your behavior! The surveillance state is upon us! But in some respects it is the surprise that comes as a surprise.

In fact, it should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to the Internet, and especially the social media revolution of Web 2.0, that data mining and tracking software is the killer app of e-commerce.  Before the Internet, companies had to rely on market surveys and anecdote in order to track the behavior of their customers (and, even more importantly, their potential customers).  Data was often unreliable, and even when it reflected consumer preferences it was often received months after the relevant transaction.

The Internet, and particularly the interactive aspects of social media, suddenly provide industry with a wealth of tools to understand their consumers and build correlation models to better comprehend what they do and why they do it.

It sounds like our trade orgs may have some more work cut out for them in dealing with more legislative issues soon!

Wrapping up the blogs that caught my eye, we have two posts related to issues of human capital. The always interesting Harvard Business Review has a great entry about the need to focus on finding talent vs. education profiles titled Higher Education Is Overrated; Skills Aren’t.

But painfully clear to many employers are serious gaps between elite educational credentials and actual individual competence. College transcripts spackled with As and Bs — particularly from liberal arts and humanities programs — reveal less about a candidate’s capabilities than most serious employers need to know. Even top-tier MBA degrees often say more about the desire to have an important credential than about any greater capacity to be a good leader or manager. The curricular formalities of higher education — as opposed to its informal networks of friends and connections — may be less valuable now than they were a decade ago. In other words, alumni networks may be more economically valuable than whatever one studied in class. “Where you went” may prove professionally more helpful than “what you know.” That certainly undermines “value of education” arguments. While higher education itself isn’t marginal or unimportant, its actual market impact on employment prospects may be wildly misunderstood. In “Econ 101” terms for job-hunters: time spent cultivating your Facebook/Linked-In network(s) may be a better investment than taking that Finance elective.

This is a must read folks. I’ve written before on the need for MR to begin focusing on talent identification and human capital in general in order to help drive the industry into the future, and this blog makes the argument far better than I can. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Finally, on David McCallum writes about how important it is to Master your Craft and Bullet-proof your Career. It’s a great piece on the importance of honing core capabilities vital for success in the MR space, as well as in business in general.

It has also been said that in tomorrow’s environment; yesterday’s skills will be redundant. That’s true to a degree but only so long as the former skills are replaced, updated, and re-applied. All the changes in the commercial and technological environment do not mean that research skills per se become unnecessary, they need to be augmented not replaced by business acumen and client servicing ‘savvy’ as well as an ongoing appreciation of the new consumer settings. Because even if you are studying blogs or online research community content it doesn’t mean you can avoid digging into the data like an “old-school” researcher or designing studies and framing issues to avoid bias and provide focus.

That’s the blog round-up as of the first week of August. We hope you enjoy the selections here as much as we did in finding them!

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One response to “Blog Round-up

  1. Hi Lenny!!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog and feature it in the Blog Round-up!!

    We are definitely amongst some great company!! The future of research is bright!! Anyone who fails to see that…must not be asking the right questions! 🙂


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