Tag Archives: Charlene Li

TMRE Spotlight: Paul Long, CPA Canada

At TMRE, we unite leaders across market research, consumer insights, strategy, innovation, marketing, analytics, shopper insights, media research, UX, customer experience, business intelligence, competitive intelligence and more, dedicated to blending art and science to fully understand today’s consumers.

As we curate best practices across industries and disciplines from practitioners in Market Research all over the globe, we’d decided to spotlight a few notables from the trenches.

Meet Paul Long, here’s what he’s shared with us:

Paul Long

Paul Long is Manager of Market Research at Charter Professional Accountants of Canada, the member organization for Canada’s professional accountants.  He previously worked as a Research Consultant for a market research company, and as a Consumer Insights Manager for a Canadian grocery retailer.  Paul tweets at @paul_long and is an occasional blogger at www.paullong.ca.

What do you do and how did you get started?

I currently work as market research manager for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada). In my role, I work on both qualitative and quantitative projects. Much of the research is directly with CPAs. Some examples include the CPA Canada Business Monitor, which asks CPAs in executive roles with Canadian companies to give their opinions on economic trends. We also do a lot of financial literacy work with the public.This has included survey work addressing issues such as debt management, retirement savings and, most recently, summer spending. CPA Canada’s research assists our organization in determining ways it can continue to play an active role in helping Canadians learn more about personal finances.

My first job in market research was as a part-time telephone interviewer for a market research company while I was in graduate school.  After that I became a phone room supervisor. Once I finished my studies, I started looking for research jobs, eventually working at a market research company, and after that, in the customer insights department for a Canadian grocery retailer.

What interested you about MR?

I was first aware of market research because of my interest in politics, and following political polls and watching pundits on television. It didn’t occur to me until later that the big research companies that were conducting political polls were also conducting research on breakfast cereals and car preferences.

How do you feel the industry is changing? 

There are so many different ways that the industry is changing!  Gamification, drops in response rates, growth in mobile research are just a few. To concentrate on one element, as a client-side researcher I will focus on the growth in DIY research. Declining research budgets seems to be a common trend these days in many client-side research departments. The challenge for client-side researchers is to efficiently allocate their departmental budgets so that they outsource what is clearly outside of their level of expertise, and maximize efficiency in the work they conduct internally.

This has offered a great opportunity for suppliers providing advanced but easy to use out of the box applications for corporate researchers to position themselves in a niche area.  At the same time, full service companies are having to compete for a piece of a smaller pie. Consolidation among research companies has been going on for quite a few years, and it will likely continue.

What is your best tip for researchers in the trenches to become a catalyst for impact?

Again, from a client-side researcher perspective, I would say to other client-side researchers to provide value to your internal clients — explain what the data means, not just what the numbers are.

What’s one book you think we should read?

While it is not specially a market research book, I would recommend Groundswell, by Josh Bernhoff of Forrester Research and Charlene Li of Altimeter. One of the main themes of the book is that in a Web 2.0 world companies no longer have control of their brand, because of the conversations on social media. Due to this they need to take part in the conversations online, and neither ignore it nor try to suppress it.

I think one can draw a parallel with market research. It has been changing rapidly for maybe the past 15 years or so. In much the same way ignoring the changes that have taken place in market research methods, and ignoring newer methods is not helpful to anyone.

What Tech should we keep an eye on?

I’m curious about wearable technology, Google Glass or watches with similar applications as smartphones. Will some wearable device at some point in the future have a mainstream research application? It would appear unlikely, but mobile phones wouldn’t have appeared to be a good candidate for research devices before smartphones dominated the space, so who knows?

Random fact?

In three different years, I have taken part in a two-day 120 mile bicycle ride for charity — from Toronto to Niagara Falls.

Let us know if you would like to appear in our Market Research Spotlight next.

Flashback Friday: How Open Do I Need to Be REALLY? Charlene Li Responds


Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year’s event, download the brochure.

Flashback Friday: How Open Do I Need to Be REALLY? Charlene Li Responds

I’ve never heard Groundswell author and Altimeter Group founder Charlene Li speak before, and I’m glad I had the chance today. She makes “social” seem less scary; audience members that didn’t speak up before are comfortable asking her the questions that most bother them.

The points she made in sum:

- Focus on relationships. This is about having a relationships strategy, not a social media strategy.
- Align social strategy with strategic goals.
- Support your open leaders.
- Plan for failure – there will be many.

Relationships and planning in advance for failure are two themes that keep popping up this week, so it merits taking special note of those.

Here’s what Li discussed in more detail.

A recurring question she gets from companies: “How open do I need to be?” The answer: Have confidence and humility to relinquish the need for control, while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals. That’s how you stay in command without whipping out the iron fist.

A good rule of thumb if you still feel murky about this “being open” thing: Don’t just look at where people are being social; examine to what degree they are being open to one another.

This isn’t about complete balls-out openness; this is about cultivating the openness that is appropriate for your strategy. An example she gives is that she walked into a room full of people and bared her soul, it would probably make everyone uncomfortable, and she’d feel weird about it too. But if she’s walking into a roomful of her closest friends, it would be okay to do that, and people would get it.

Another nice example is considering Apple: people feel it’s incredibly closed, and in a lot of ways it is, but the fact is it would probably hurt more than help if they were more open. When will Apple need to be more open? When it stops designing exceptional products, Li says.

Seven guidelines for moving forward in your relationship strategy:

1. Align openness with strategic goals, say, for 2011. Pick one where “open” and “social” can have impact. Make sure the strategy aligns with one of the five-odd things your CEO truly cares about; if it doesn’t, you’re toast.

2. Understand value. “We tend to overvalue the things we can measure, and undervalue the things we cannot.” – John Hayes, CMO American Express. What’s the value of Coca-Cola’s five million fans, versus people that are exposed to a Coke ad?

3. Understand how open you need to be.

4. Find and develop open leaders inside your company. You may see four types: worried pessimists, transparent evangelists, cautious testers, realist optimists. Treat and use them accordingly. The higher up the organization you go, the more “worried skeptics” you find. By far, the most effective archetype is the “realist optimist” – they see the problems the company has, but understand the end point and have an idea how to get there.

Cultivate a culture of sharing inside your company, because it’s a safe place. If people can’t share inside, they won’t do it outside. “Mindsets only change if skills and behavior change,” says Li.

5. Prepare your organisation. What areas do your frontline people need to be ready for?

6. Organise to meet your goals. Try the social media triage:

7. Embrace failure. Wal-Mart underwent at least three major social media failures before it came up with the Check-Out Blog, which hit the right note: saving people money, no longer fabricating user conversation.

Four goals define your strategy:

Understand that the dialog is important, and you can’t get to the “support” and “innovate” parts of that graph without it. Learning to create a dialog teaches you what you need to do to support users; with that, over time, you can innovate.

Finally, manage risk with Sandbox Covenants: define the limits of your company’s “comfort” sandbox, so it’s clear to all participants. As your relationship strengthens with users, the sandbox will expand organically – yielding not just more openness and comfort with different technologies, but innovations, too.

Don’t forget users have sandboxes too; consider them. What do they expect from you? Create mitigation/contingency strategies for what happens when a line is crossed.

Li wrapped with a pretty idea: In the future, social networks will be like air. It’ll seem quaint that we had to go to a space like Twitter/Facebook in order to feel connected.

Photo via Logic + Emotion, who in turn found it on Waiting for Dorothy.

Looking back at the past year, has your company embraced openness as part of your social media strategy? What sorts of dialogs have you engaged in?