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5 issues market researchers can study from entrepreneurs

26, 2021

5 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

If you've spoken to anyone in marketing recently, you know how central the customer experience is. Innovative companies have sophisticated Customer Experience Management (CEM) systems that can be used to track almost every customer interaction. This allows them to measure rapidly changing attitudes and opinions on a weekly or even daily basis and not have to wait for a monthly report.

It's a booming market for CEM. Global industry should grow from $ 6.5 billion in 2019 to almost $ 24 billion in 2027, according to a February 2020 report by Grandview Research. And the thirst for CEM providers has only grown. Qualtrics – which markets a cloud-based CEM platform – debuted on NASDAQ in late January at $ 30 per share and quickly rose to $ 55 per share. Its market capitalization was more than $ 27 billion in early February.

CMOs have made experience management a core part of their work, but not all corners of the marketing world have adapted that quickly. As a market researcher, I would argue that our field is still largely in the past, relying on folders full of data and slide decks full of diagrams to support our case. In doing so, we overlook the very human role that researchers can play in the success of a brand.

Here are five things researchers can learn from marketers to help improve our game and create a better brand experience.

Related: Conducting Market Research

1. Bring your client into the boardroom

The best marketers are, at essence, good storytellers who are able to combine the required quantitative data with compelling graphics, including videos.

I love to tell the story of a presentation we made for a studio in Burbank a few years ago and watch the room full of distracted executives with their heads bowed as they fiddle with their phones. However, once our consumer videos were played, the phones disappeared and all eyes were glued to the big screen.

Executives love to see real people interact with their brand. So if you're presenting top-line data, make sure you view videos that bring your research to life. Your stakeholders or customers may not reopen this slide deck, but they will never forget to see the face of their customer, fan or viewer.

2. Get close to action and make research an on-going process

Many of the world's largest companies understand the value of an integrated, iterative approach to customer insight-gathering. Ford Motor Co. is a good example. The company established its Global Data Insights and Analytics (GDIA) department in 2015 to drive data-based decisions across the company and embed GDIA members in every product team.

Getting closer to action is important, as is building capacity for what Forrester calls continuous discovery. Research used to be like the space missions of the 1970s: you take a very expensive survey, send it into orbit, and hope that something useful returns to Earth. Today, the rockets we need are smaller and, like SpaceX's Falcon 9, can both take off and land.

3. Give your customers shareable, easy-to-digest insights

Many organizations have access to a wide variety of information, including behavioral, transactional, and social listening data. Market researchers need to find ways to make these findings visually appealing and easy to use.

For example, when I do research for United Airlines there is a lot of data that the marketing team may need. But there is also data that should be passed on to the baggage handler (experience at the baggage carousel) or the flight attendant (feedback on a new on-board menu).

If you're looking to invest in research, don't let insights gather dust on a bookshelf. Make sure it's available to everyone in bite-sized pieces.

4. Humanize your research – and yourself

If you want real, authentic answers, you need to be willing to share a little about yourself. One of our clients is filming videos of herself while walking her dog to showcase each research project. Her commitment is enormous, she says, since it is no longer an automated "Respondent 1741-B, please answer the following questions". It does not treat participants as numbers or data points.

Related: 3 Ways to Help Your CEO "Get" Marketing

5. Link your work to the ROI

Don't forget that market research is not a charitable donation, but a business investment. Your CMO or clients deserve to understand: A. How will your insights make them money? or B. How can this save you money? That's why we always ask potential competing customers on Discovery calls: What's your ROI? How do you get your bonus? What is important to you?

Sometimes the answer is obvious, but sometimes it isn't. By asking lots of targeted questions, we can better understand a customer's core metrics and incorporate them into our work – by drawing a little more purpose and potentially more value from the data we collect.

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