Tag Archives: KL Communications

Catch & Release: Elevating the Researcher/Customer Relationship

By: Kevin Lonnie, Founder,
KL Communications

I would argue that market research has not lived up to its
reciprocal relationship with the customer. 
In theory, we are the conduit that allows their voice to be heard so our
clients can make better decisions.
But this is a one-way relationship where we hold all the
cards.  That’s why we get to ask all the
questions.  In fact, the customer is
afforded few opportunities to change the nature of the conversation. 
And speaking from years of perspective (oh man, it’s been a
bunch of years), we’ve done little to elevate the nature of the relationship.
We still refer to questionnaire input as data capture.  We still fall back on grid questions and
often underestimate the length of the primary survey experience.  We still rely on paltry economic incentivizing.  Well into the 21st Century, we continue with
our ‘catch & release’ approach to customer feedback.  Of course, over time, the customer has become
leery of our ‘hooks’ and passes on future attempts to have their opinions
heard.  The net effect is we’re left with
the limited, non-representative segment of the population still willing to
OK, what can we do to elevate the nature of the client/customer
relationship?  After all, there’s no
association or code of conduct that requires researchers to actually make the
customer experience ‘enjoyable’.
To our credit, there has been a decade’s worth of
conversation on the need to add gamification and social incentives to our repertoire.  Unfortunately, little progress has been made
as this is counterproductive to the budget. 
Elevating the researcher/customer relationship is not going
to happen overnight.   Heck, we’ve spent
the past 70 years doing our best to wreck it. 
Despite all that, I can envision a gradual migration away from traditional
data collection tools to customer empowerment tools.   As millennials begin to take on senior
positions, I think there will be a natural desire to bring social reciprocity
to the world of market research.
As for myself, I think the fundamental questions become;
Do we wish to empower or capture our customers? 
What are the terms of the new marketplace relationship? 
Is it based on mutual empowerment or are we to view
customers as acquired goods? 
If we choose the latter, it surely doesn’t promote a common
or sustainable purpose. 
The smart organizations will choose an empowered
relationship with their customers for the simple reasons that it represents the
best value (far greater understanding of unmet needs/new product opportunities)
and because it represents the only sustainable option. 
KL Communications is a
research agency with a specialty in collaborative online communities. While
traditional online communities capture the opinion of crowds, only KLC delivers
the wisdom of crowds via our proprietary CrowdWeaving’ platform!

How Social Media ‘Architects’ Work with ‘Detectives’ to Build the Human Network

The Market Research Technology Event is teaming up with sponsor KL Communications  to bring you weekly perspectives on the latest in the market research technology world.   The Market Research Technology Event is taking place April 30-May 2, 2012, in Las Vegas, NV.  As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code MRTECH12BLOG, you’ll receive a 15% discount off the standard rate!

How Social Media ‘Architects’ Work with ‘Detectives’ to Build the Human Network

By John Huntsman, Contributing Writer

An interesting perspective described by Brian Solis in his new book, ‘The End of Business as Usual,’ is that all of us who participate in social media are actively working together to architect the next generation of information network; aptly coined by Cisco as the ‘human network.’ The dominance of traditional search engine algorithms is on the decline, quickly being eclipsed by a new way of finding information that relies more on tapping into networks of people, and less on search engine indexes. Instead of manually combing through websites, articles, and databases that search engines point you to, you can connect to informed people (via social media) who can then help guide your discovery process. If there is any indication that things are trending this way, look at Google’s push to make Google+ viable.

From a marketing perspective, there is a big opportunity for brands to act as ‘architects,’ in which they make the information discovery process more effective and efficient for their target market. The key here is to provide quality and relevant information that speeds up the learning process, as opposed to simply providing sales copy that leads people directly to your website. Social consumers are more savvy than traditional consumers, and can spot a salesy approach from a mile away, so a major focus in social media for businesses needs to be on education.

With that said, how do you become effective architects of the human network? It starts with a top-down commitment to social media at your organization. However, once the resources are put in place to support a social media initiative, developing a strategy from that point becomes a little less straight forward. What content is most relevant to information-seeking prospects? Where do prospects typically start when searching for information? Where do they end up? What is the typical ‘click path’ that they follow before they are even ready to interact with a brand? The list of questions goes on.

How do you derive data-driven answers to these questions? Through using social media analysis tools such as Collective Intellect, Radian 6 or Netbase, in conjunction with tools like Klout or Twitalyzer, you can begin to uncover insights that can help you reverse engineer the information discovery click path. This type of research is based on ‘grounded’ or ‘empirical’ approaches, which takes the opposite approach of traditional research. It involves finding clues and opportunities, and letting that data guide the development of insights, instead of starting with a hypothesis that guides the direction.

It’s sometimes apt to think of a social media analyst as a detective. Just think of a classic detective movie where they pin up the various pieces surrounding a case on a cork board, and use strings to show how the different pieces are connected. This is essentially how social media analysts can go about trying to figure out the click path of their target market.

If the social media detectives are able to provide this type of information to the rest of the marketing department, they will essentially be providing the key background for architects to design effective blue prints in the human network. As social media becomes more ingrained in our culture, this architecture is going to become even more critical for awareness and ultimately the conversion of new leads.

MR Gets Dissed at the 84th Academy Awards!

The Market Research Technology Event is teaming up with sponsor KL Communications  to bring you weekly perspectives on the latest in the market research technology world.   The Market Research Technology Event is taking place April 30-May 2, 2012, in Las Vegas, NV.  As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code MRTECH12BLOG, you’ll receive a 15% discount off the standard rate!

MR Gets Dissed at the 84th Academy Awards!
By Kevin Lonnie, President and CEO

All in all, the 84th Academy Awards were largely forgettable. Billy Crystal, we love you, but it’s time to give that gig to someone born after 1950.

In the midst of this blandness, they set up a skit based on the idea of a 1939 Focus Group for ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ The piece was done by Christopher Guest and his troupe of actors. I have to say I’m a big fan of Christopher Guest, his acting troupe and cult films. ‘Best in Show’ remains one of my all time favorites.

But as I watched the piece, which had some funny moments (especially Fred Willard’s love of Flying Monkeys), I was thinking to myself ‘What was the writer/director’s intent’? And basically, it was to slam the idea of common folk aiding the creative process. Personally, I felt that MR had been dissed.  Watch the Christopher Guest Focus Group Skit (Hey we got dissed, but this troupe is always funny!)

And it goes back to what I would call ‘creative elitism.’ The idea that creative integrity belongs to the artists and certainly not the common folks. Besides, what does the public know about creativity?

Gosh, why would we want to ask people what they thought of the movie? Could it be the fact they’re the ones who pay to see them? It’s nice to set yourself above the fray and strike out on behalf of creative vision, but no one in Hollywood actually believes that crap. That industry is ruled by the dollar as much as any CPG or service company. You ask for the public’s input because you want to put out a product that people will actually want to see.

Well, I thought to myself, Kevin you’re being too parochial. Most folks probably didn’t take it that way, but looking at the Twitter feed told me that I was not alone:

jokes about focus groups. way to connect to rest of America, Hollywood.

Focus group skit horrible ‘ basically saying average viewers are idiots

I think the thesis is imagine if they focus grouped The Wizard of Oz, it would be terrible. That is a pretty hacky observation.

And I’m not even a fan of focus groups. I think their time has come and gone with the digital age, but the condescending tone of this skit is what annoyed me.

But to put everyone into context, I believe constructive criticism is an art. It’s not a matter of turning over artistic direction but you can certainly explore whether the product speaks to you. Musicians have always tested new material in their acts, gauging what songs are resonating with their fans.

And with movies, one of the more famous uses of market research was for the Michael Douglass-Glen Close Movie ‘Fatal Attraction.’ Joseph Farrell (who was honored during the awards as one of the greats who passed away) was a pioneer in using MR to help fine-tune a movie. The original ending of ‘Fatal Attraction‘ left audiences feeling empty. They wanted Glenn Close’s character to ultimately pay for her acts. So the ending was redone (Ms. Close’s character gets shot by the besieged wife) and the film debuted to critical and commercial success.

My point is that no one is above public opinion. An artist who is shunned by the public is a legend only in his/her own mind.

That doesn’t take MR off the hook. We have to be every bit as creative in extracting viewer insights so we don’t run roughshod over the artist’s intent but rather discover areas that are not working. Heck, this is why theatrical plays premiere in Peoria and not on Broadway. It gives the writers’ an opportunity to work out the kinks.

A century ago Henry Ford famously said this about the public’s ability to guide him: ‘If I asked the public what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ And Steve Jobs was a modern day Henry Ford on the value he placed on MR (basically zero). Mr. Jobs felt the public couldn’t articulate their need for something they haven’t seen.

Is it possible for MR to help create the next big thing? Can they actually help ensure the success of the next blockbuster?

I think the new interactive tools of MR are a game changer. Instead of looking at consumers as passive respondents, they become participants. And a participant can certainly be part of the creative process.

Besides it’s simply bad karma to put yourself above the paying public.

I’ve always admired this quote by the great comedian Jack Benny. When Mr. Benny was asked late in his career how he had managed to be relevant with the public for over 50 years, he replied. ‘When I started out in vaudeville, the other comics talked about playing down to the audience, so I thought I would play up to mine.’

You can read KL Communication’s blog here.

Complimentary Web Seminar: How the Impending Facebook and Google Invasion Will Revolutionize MR

Title: Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
Speakers: Kevin Lonnie & Sean Holbert, KL Communications
Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT

Presenters: ‘ Kevin Lonnie, CEO & Founder, KL Communications
                     ‘ Sean Holbert, Executive VP, Client Relations,

Register here. 

About the web seminar:
This webinar will examine the opportunities presented by New MR (e.g. social media listening, mobile, text analytics, MROCs, Crowdsourcing, Neuromarketing, etc.) and offer recommendations/best practices on how to bring them into your research arsenal.

Over the next ten years, the MR industry will see its relationship with consumers evolve from respondents to participants. And we will best achieve this new collaborative relationship by weaving our research tools with the interactions provided us via social networking.

Attendees will learn about:

  • ‘ Social Media Listening: How to integrate conversations about your brand into your traditional MR to validate findings and generate new hypotheses.
  • ‘ Gamification: Survey designers will need to become survey engagers in that it will be as important to create an appealing fun environment as it will be to craft questions.
  • ‘ CrowdSourcing of New Products/Services: Passionate customers don’t want to just sit on the sidelines, they want to participate in the creation process.
  • ‘ Neuromarketing: Learn what consumers really think about your new product/ad with a roadmap of firing neurons that words just can’t equal!
  • ‘ MROCs: No longer just one sided conversations. MROCs will evolve so that members largely determine the content, allowing clients to tap into the wisdom of their passionate customers.
  • ‘ Mobile: Finally, we can capture customers in the moment of their purchase decision.
  • ‘ The Impending Facebook and Google Invasion: Utilizing their massive proprietary database, these goliaths are well positioned to dominate our industry unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Register Now. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.  Sponsored by: KL Communications.