TMRE 2012: Storytelling, Creating a Research Brand, and Beer

Today’s post comes from TMRE Guest Blogger, Katie Clark. She is also known as @InsightsGal on Twitter and a client-side market researcher, project manager, and social media mave

Well folks, we’ve made it to the end of another TMRE! I hope you all had a great time and took
away some great learnings from the conference, I know I did. Two key themes I
noticed today in the keynotes and breakout sessions: storytelling and
actionable take-aways.

Without further
ado, here’s the recap from the third and final day of TMRE:

One of the key
themes of the conference, storytelling, was showcased to full effect by the
first keynote speaker, Jonah Sachs, author of Winning the Story Wars and
Co-Founder and Creative Director at Free Range Studios. Sachs feels we’re
headed into a ‘digitoral’ era – oral tradition by way of digital communication
and connection. In this new era of storytelling, it will be important for
brands to be able to easily and clearly describe what values the brand is aligned with’not just the features your product
has…and market research can clearly help in that discovery process.

Keeping with the
theme of storytelling, the first session I attended was PepsiCo’s Sara Bergson
presenting ‘The Art of Storytelling: Getting Traction and Action.’ Bergson
highlighted the issue that pretty much every TMRE attendee has: how do you get
your ideas across in the current business climate of short attention spans, constant
interruptions, and increased complexity?

shared some great, actionable ideas about reporting the data by way of
storytelling; stories can simplify complexity. Utilizing the traditional story
structure (set the scene ->begin the journey->encounter obstacle->deliver
resolution) Bergson creates a 1-page storyline and ghost decks (5 minute
presentation, 10 minute, 30 minute and so on) at the beginning of a project
which helps to create structure for the research delivery. She also brought up
a theme I heard throughout the day ‘ branding your research projects with a
name, a logo, a template. This is inspiring to the research team and helps
brand the department internally.

Key takeaway: ‘You
can make ‘big thump decks’ and ‘little thump decks,’ but can you get your ideas
across in one page’?

Next up was a
session co-presented by Katy Mogul of Logitech and Jason Kramer of VitalFindings: ‘Bringing Research to
Life Through Collaborative, Engaging, And Inspiring Work Sessions.’ As you can
tell from the title, this session focused on utilizing workshops to really
bring the research to life for your internal clients: marketing,
engineering/R&D, senior executives, and so on.  Kramer highlighted that workshops can unlock
that highest level of learning: read, analyze, SYNTHESIZE. The session focused
on using workshops during different phases of the project lifecycle: before
research begins, between research phases, and after research is complete. Mogul
then shared several case studies of how Logitech used workshops for product
ideation and engaging R&D.

Key takeaway: Workshops
can be utilized throughout the research process to engage your internal clients
and go ‘beyond the PowerPoint.’

Genius moves by the
presenters? Bringing the persona boards and staging them throughout the room,
and providing a laminated deck of workshop cards with instructions as to how to
run each type of workshop they discussed.

Finally, it was
time to listen in on Florence Guesnet of Heineken’s presentation on ‘The
Toughness of Soft Skills.’ If the title is a bit vague, here’s the gist ‘ the presentation
was about building and branding the market research department within a large
organization (240 total brands!).  Guesnet’s
challenge was ‘applying marketing to the market research function, something we
[researchers] are amazingly lousy at.’

She created a research brand within the
company by clearly defining their key foci (foresight, intelligence,
excellence, impactful talent), their selling line: ‘We Know, We Share, We
Inspire,’ and by building awareness throughout the company with impactful
imagery, creative reporting, and relevant take-aways. Throughout the
presentation, Guesnet brought the focus back to the internal customer, and
highlighting that it’s ‘not good enough to be right,’ you also have to address
System 1 and System 2, and be able to deliver ‘what’s in it for them [senior management].’

Key takeaway: Treat
the market research function as a brand and don’t be modest about it. Keep the
relevance of research at the forefront, and pay major attention to execution
(video, print, etc.).

Best quote of the
day: “A consumer insight is to marketing
what yeast is to beer!”

Day 3 finished up with
a great keynote by Robert Kozinets, Professor of Marketing at York University
and author of Netnography. For more
information on the day’s final keynote ,other sessions that I didn’t cover, and
overall event chatter, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #TMRE on Twitter.

It’s been my
pleasure to provide blog updates and tweets throughout the conference ‘ thanks to
TMRE for the opportunity. Please don’t hesitate to connect up on Twitter,
LinkedIn, and at my blog. Safe travels everyone!

More about Katie: Based in Portland, Maine, Katie leads the market research team at Diversified Business Communications. She has worked with companies large and small and in industries such as seafood, 3D laser imaging, software, fragrance, finance, and entertainment to help them move the business forward through actionable insights derived from market research. She is passionate about bringing the’Voice of the Customer’ inside the organization. The opinions expressed here are her own and not those of her employer.