Posts tagged: market research

Is big data* changing the need for focus groups?

By , December 21, 2013 8:52 am

Recent articles suggest that there is so much information being gathered about customers and spending and everything else you can think of, that the need to do traditional market research is starting to fall by the wayside.  Data will give you all the information you need to predict consumer actions.  As I noted in my recent post about consumers using Amazon and other sources to comparative shop for price and quality, features and benefits, big data still reports historically on what consumers have done, therefore, you are looking backwards to predict the future. Yes, I know, history repeats itself but when you’re selling next seasons’ clothing line, you might want to reconsider consulting the past.  And I agree that focus groups and other agency/consultant and client pre-conceived ideas put in front of customers should fall by the wayside (after all, a focus group puts these ideas in front of the customer and asks the customer what they think about your ideas, not what the customer wants).

I’m sure if you are a huge corporation, having access to all this data must be comforting. But it’s still all seen from the perspective of the market and not the customer.  I believe that nothing is better than asking your customers what they want and how they want it.  That’s a predictive, not historical, approach. I’ve done it for big corporations (one had a return-on-investment of 1,000%) and I’ve don’t it for solopreneurs (one had a return-on-investment of 60%).   I suggest you do it for yourself.  Get out there and poll your customers directly.  Mimoona, which is a new crowdfunding tool (http://www.mimoona.com/?reffID=4299), allows your customers to have a vote on your next seasons line – and it’s not an idle vote – they vote with their credit cards.

*Big data is a term coined for the collection of data that comes in such large volume and in groupings, that it can’t be handled by traditional methods. The value of mining big data, is that enables one to see connections on a larger scale than ever before, as well as see connections between things that were never before available.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are you still the sucker you used to be?

By , December 14, 2013 8:46 am

New research was just released that demonstrates a big shift in how consumers buy and what influences their purchase. Traditional ads no longer have the same power to shape consumer opinions as they once did. Amazon (the ultimate cost and quality comparison, along with others) influence consumers more than ever.  The studies were based on the “compromise” effect – (see NYT article below for the full story) are probably now saying to yourself, ho hum… and why is this news?  Well, it took a while for the establishment to document what most of us already know and practice organically.  However, some of the results of the study suggest that digital feedback in the digital world allows marketers to see what works and what doesn’t – what messages are influencing customers and which ones aren’t.  And they can make adjustments accordingly…and very quickly.  This is all very well and good, and excellent support (although the writers and researchers don’t see it from the customers’ point-of-view, so they are still missing the point) for my position that customer-focused information and insight right from the beginning…pre- advertising/marketing/PR efforts and spending, is more valuable than measuring what works after you’ve spent all that time, money and effort and then correcting it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/business/theres-power-in-all-those-user-reviews.html?smid=pl-share

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

How a clothing line moved itself from product to brand

By , November 23, 2013 10:15 am

Here’s a really great case history about how a fashion company used customer-focused market research and marketing.

The TwirlyGirl clothing line polled their customers about the feelings/descriptive words that identified the clothing to them.  They took the results, which when all combined generated a single consistent image, and came up with the word “transformative”.  This was the genesis of the brand.  They next took this information a step further and changed all their copy to reflect the transformative attitude.

This not only became the brand, which TwirlyGirl now has established, but also positioned the company and clothing line in its own space with regards to other girls clothing lines.  A very important double punch to success.  Because there are lots of girls clothing lines, but only TwirlyGirl provides an experience with each piece of clothing. What a great differentiator and competitive advantage.  By following this course of action, they have created a strong niche for themselves.

http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/blog/post/3577776


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Your corporate identity…get it right the first time

By , October 5, 2013 10:13 am

Part 1: Focus on your logo

Every company should start out with minimal corporate IDs or branding – logo, name, tag line (value proposition), design templates and color palettes. There should be a template developed that shows how these items are used (in larger companies, a brand book is created that spells out exactly how sizes, placements, colors etc. are to be used ).

This is the core of your company’s identity. Like a skeleton, it supports your body.  Do it early, and do it correctly. And especially don’t skimp on the fees to get it done.  It’s a lot more difficult to correct a brand identity mistake or direction than to establish it the first time – to make a correction, you will have to re-ID your company, and then spend countless dollars and time on PR to explain why the company has changed its basic identity and to overcome confusion created by this change.

I’ve seen a lot of results from websites where designers bid for the logo work.  Some of it is okay.  Okay is not good enough for your company.  A lot of the results are derivative of other logos, and leftover designs an artist hasn’t sold. Remember, you are going to pay for the result.  Pay one time and get it right and it won’t cost you dollars and time down the road.

So invest the money into a designer or firm who gets you.

When it’s my money, I look for someone who is intuitive about what my client or my company is and what they are trying to do/say to the marketplace (how do you know they are intuitive?  Check out what they’ve done for other people…you’ll get a feel for if they have a feel for their clients).  My designer is one of my company’s secret weapons to success.

An interesting take on designers is expressed in this link:
http://www.manta.com/TOTD/marketing/20131004?referid=16483&su=MT1000787066&uu=511dac7431f24625b3909f94

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are You A Design Entrepreneur?

By , September 28, 2013 8:21 am

DENYC logo

The second (annual I hope) Design Entrepreneurs NYC program came to an amazing finale Thursday evening September 26 with the announcement of two winners of cash awards of 1st place- $25,000 and 2nd place- $10,000. Becca McCharen owner of CHROMAT (chromatgarments.com) placed first in the business plan competition and Vasumathi Soundararajan (an FIT grad!) of Ken Wroy, Inc. (kenwroy.com) came in second (there were only two places). Kudos to the winners!

Design Entrepreneur Winners 2013

L to R: Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology; Vasumathi Soundararajan, Ken Wroy, Inc.; Becca McCharen, Chromat; Jeanette Nostra, President, G-III Apparel Group.

And kudos to the entire 2013 class of Design Entrepreneurs NYC! Everyone is on their way to growing their companies with freshly minted business plans in their possession.  The intensive mini-MBA program started in June with solid weekend-filled classes and then the entrepreneurs spent their summer, under the guidance of mentors,  working hard writing and refining their business plans. After submitting their business plans, the entrepreneurs waited to hear which ones were selected to present – half of the class of 35.  The presentations, in front of industry judges in four different rooms, narrowed down the field to 4 finalists who then presented in front of all the judges and the 2013 class.  Some of the Judges included: Tim Baxter (EVP & GMM, Macy’s), Morris Goldfarb (CEO, G-III Apparel), Ellen Rodriguez (President & CEO, French Connection), Jeffrey Binder (Consultant, Former Divisional Merchandise Manager, Bloomingdales), and Laurence Leeds, Jr. (Chair, Buckingham Capital).  I was privileged to be a moderator for one of the panels.

So the entrepreneurs are off now to grow their businesses and take them in new directions as a result of this experience.  As well as stay in touch with their classmates, faculty, school and judges.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

The New Role of Market Research

By , June 29, 2013 8:31 am
Today’s guest blogger is Dev Das, Founder of Expleo Insight, a consulting and market research company specializing in emerging biotech and pharma (see bio below).  Dev has several years of experience in big pharma as well as running his own business so he understands the challenges and needs on both sides of the market research equation.
 
Trying to compete in an increasingly competitive market with fewer resources?  It’s become the name of the game these days for most companies, both large and small.  Startup companies have always been resource constrained due to tight budgets. Now, with a glut of choices and minimal differentiation, mid and larger sized companies are also feeling the pinch.  
 
And as large companies, as well, struggle to keep growing profitably, there is an urgent need for more operating efficiencies.  Success now lies in being more flexible, agile and efficient than others.
 
The rapid advances in technology and telecommunications have provided a plethora of options to tap into as companies grapple with growth and differentiation.  They have also created the need for a new type of market researcher.  This new strategic market researcher can no longer solely rely on methods from the past.  They will need to be open to piloting and experimenting with new approaches, and with how to channel the flood of new data and technology into actionable strategic insights.  
 
A big challenge and opportunity lies ahead of us as market researchers … 
can we harness the power of our new options in crowdsourcing, mobile technology, social media and big data spaces, to provide the insights we seek WITHOUT being inundated with more data dumps and analysis paralysis, or in plain English, too much information with only a small percentage being useful.
 
 
Dev Das has a  20+ year career which has spanned the biotech, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods industries.   Immediately prior to creating Expleo Insight, Dev built the Strategic Insights & Analytics function in Auxilium Pharmaceuticals.  As Group Director, he successfully managed the market research, analytics/forecasting, and competitive intelligence needs for the company portfolio.  Prior to Auxilium, Dev led the market research efforts for several early and late-stage opportunities within Virology, Immunology, and Cardiovascular/Metabolics areas at Bristol-Myers Squibb.  Dev started his career in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry with market leaders, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods, which gave him a solid foundation of the underlying principles of effective marketing.
 
Dev’s educational background includes a BS from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and an MBA from the Case Western Reserve University.  He is currently pursuing a doctorate at the Pace University.
 

Make your company grow…listen to your customers

By , May 18, 2013 9:58 am

Market research – I’m referring to primary market research — takes time and energy and sometimes money.  But the results are amazing and don’t cost nearly as much as the time, energy and money you will waste by NOT doing it.  When you ask open-ended questions to your customers, the responses you get will help you cut through the clutter and develop a communication that speaks directly to the audience you want to sell to  (or whatever your goal is with that audience).

And this is where you, as a small business, have it over the big guys. Large companies are so invested in a point-of-view (usually management’s point-of-view, not that of their customers) that they can’t make an adjustment to respond to the information in front of them. Imagine being at the helm of a huge cargo ship and having to make a u-turn in a space as wide as 42nd St.  Not only is it not easy, it’s almost not do-able.  So when situations come up that require a quick response to get to the market, the big firms are basically out of luck. Which leaves lots of room for you … if you’ve done your research properly.

Check out Isaiah Adams’ post and how research can help you … and hurt you if you’re not listening to your audience.

http://blog.optimizationgroup.com/bid/281279/

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

10 Trends for Better Marketing and Results in 2013

By , March 23, 2013 10:08 am

Everyone loves top 10 lists.

So now that we’re ending the first quarter of the year…here’s some helpful directions to focus on in your marketing and business (they are in no particular order of importance)

1.       Integrate your marketing
As much as everyone would really love “the answer” and that it be just one thing…social media is the “one” at the moment…that’s just not how marketing works. Marketing is an eco-system that includes social, PR, collateral, branding etc.

2.       Put in a call to action in every piece of marketing you do
This may sound self-serving but it actually helps direct the customer to the key next steps in order to buy your product or otherwise engage with you.

3.       Create content that is valuable to your customers
This includes helpful tips and case histories that will help move the prospective forward to become a customer.

4.       Communicate
Tweet, blog, get your voice out there and heard.  I posted a jobs graph from another source a while back and suddenly it’s been “Pinned” by dozens of people on Pinterest. Who knew?

5.       Do primary research with your customers
Ask them open-ended questions about what’s important to them about your product or service and what will drive them to buy it.

6.       Listen to your customers’ answers
The information may be different from what you expected. Welcome the face that you do not know it all and keep your ego out of it.

7.       Follow-up after the sale
Thank your customers. If they have feedback (which you should solicit) listen to it and if something is wrong, make changes or otherwise implement their feedback.
Follow-up again.

8.       Identify your influencers
Build a relationship with them either on-line or in person.

9.       Brand yourself, your product, your company
Remember, you are your brand.  Use experiences and stories to help with brand identification. Your customers will also help you create your brand.

10.     Write better subject lines
It’s a crowded, competitive world out there…make sure your communications are opened.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Social Media week – observations and a guest blogger on those observations

By , February 23, 2013 8:37 am

Social Media week was full of fantastic events with different experts in various sectors.  The networking was great because each venue had different people to meet and multiple points-of-view.

There were two global takeaways I had from the events I attended.

·   The first is that there’s still no magic bullet to get customers, even in social media.  SEO, blogs, websites, linked in, pinterest, etc. must all work in as part of a strategically organized system in order to be successful. And that requires a fair degree of participation on your, the entrepreneur’s, part

·   The second takeaway I observed and heard from techies who were self-proclaimed “not” marketing people (that’s how obvious the problem is) is that the paradigm of giving the customer what the company and ad agency wants hasn’t changed at all.  The only change is how it’s delivered –- using new, sexy technology.  This is troubling. For example, at the “Marketing without words” event, there was a discussion of social engagement through images. Tools to follow each visitor from first look to sale, re-tweet or re-pin, etc. is now available. It’s called Curalate.  Great. But what does it measure AFTER a customer’s visual trail?  How does that affect a company’s bottom line? Imagine how much more impactful a  brand would be if they asked their customers what THEY wanted to see before they posted anything.  I predict that audience participation would skyrocket.  And Curalate would confirm that.  There is some progress in that, but where’s the ROI?

Here are some thoughts by Joe Bergmann, who has many years of online marketing experience. His approach is simpler and more effective than anything I’ve heard in a long time.

“Just By Asking”

Why do ad/brand companies try so hard to quantify people? Why do they try to dictate what they want people to think? Why do they think they have the power to brand themselves in people’s minds?

Most ad/technology companies of late adopters (advertisers), try to be hip, thinking they are on top of the latest technology and social networks so that they can exploit early adopters (customers, who don’t want their social media invaded by yellow creamy cheese and canned soup). Advertisers talk about controlling “authentic” relationships directly with customers, as if that was possible. Actually, it’s self-delusional. And then they take that delusion in-house (what next — outsourcing that authenticity to India?). Unbelievable.

This is top-down, invasive thinking. Most companies believe that what is important to them is important to their audience. It’s eyeball gathering that gets dirty looks from the consumer, because it is perceived as interrupting customer conversations and trampling on their privacy. What it is, is bad manners. Many companies seem to have forgotten that serving the customer also serves their stockholders. Until companies stop imposing meaningless marketing messaging on people, they will be stuck in a morass of the latest technological gimmick and the old-fashioned broadcast mentality. The Internet is a graveyard of technologies and metrics that have been the next, best thing.

So what’s a company to do? Remember, your brand is what the customer experiences of you — not what you want them to think (no matter how much and where you advertise). To make that work for your company, you should consider asking your customers what’s important to them. All you have to do is ask. So few companies do that, because they fear the of loss of control. But loss of control is not a bad thing. Being too much in control will make you less effective in the sales process. It turns your marketing message into a monologue. And most monologues don’t produce sales. After all, that’s what marketing boils down to — sales. Giving in to your customers and listening to what matters to them is liberating. It helps you think clearly about how you should approach your audience — without trying to interpret what they mean. In our experience, your customers are more than willing to help. They are the most important asset your company has.

So why do so many marketing companies and ad agencies still operate in broadcast mode? Again, loss of control. So they offer focus groups to pick the “best” of their controlled ideas. So what if the best idea isn’t in the 3-5 boards presented. Just keep developing more controlled ideas. Wouldn’t it be simpler to ask the customer what’s important to them and then build your marketing around their needs? But that takes a willingness to lose control and let people speak freely.

But that takes an approach to market research that requires a sense of humility, listening skills and a commitment to giving people what they want from your company (and a good product  or service that meets a need doesn’t hurt). The problem with most companies is that they rationalize or assume they know what the customer wants without having ever asked. They think their product or service should be interesting without being interested in their customers. Or worse, to be able to manipulate their perception. It doesn’t work.

That’s why I developed the OpenMind session and methodology. There is no better way to discover what your audience wants — and helps you give it to them. It’s the simplest, most time and cost effective way to make your marketing work. One OpenMind session will open your eyes to a whole new way to brand your company and then turn that brand into an experience to your audience. In OpenMind sessions customers are the ones who inform you how they want to be “told and sold.” Then and only then can technology become a tool that enables you speak to their needs.

Just by asking.

To learn more about OpenMind visit: http://www.holtzmancom.com/teamwork_openmind.php

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

How come no one wants to speak to the customer BEFORE they do marketing?

By , July 28, 2012 10:06 am

Seth Godin, marketing guru, in a recent blog talks about the three circles of marketing radiating outward:

1. The outer circle: Take the information about the product that is given you and promote the hell out of it.
2. The middle circle, which has more much more leverage: Tell a story that resonates with a particular tribe.
3. The third, innermost, circle is the story about the product itself: The product you are selling has the communication built into itself.
He summarizes his insights saying go one circle in, or to the middle circle, if you are having trouble selling/marketing the product.

This is all well and good advice. HOWEVER, even the great Seth Godin leaves out one crucial element – and a lot of people do this. No one thinks to ask what the customer wants. No one gets feedback from the customer BEFORE they market. This is so simple and very few people talk about it much less do it. And if they (you, we) did it, we wouldn’t have to worry about circles – actually that would be the fourth and innermost circle. I don’t know what the aversion is to speaking to your customers directly before you prepare marketing materials. Every time we do this for ourselves or a client, the marketing is so much more targeted and successful. How do I know this? The ROI measurements are exponentially higher than ever before (before the marketing and after previous marketing exercises).

The entire Seth Godin post is below.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/07/the-circles-of-marketing.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

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