Reflections and Learnings from the Quirks Event

A couple of weeks ago I returned from the bi-coastal experiment called the Quirk’s Event. One was held in Irvine, CA, and one in Brooklyn, NY.  I attended them both.  The consensus among attendees seemed to be that the Brooklyn event was stronger, but maybe this is because it is the older sibling to the new Irvine event.  Even so, Irvine gets the award for most exciting since the hotel lost all power on the conference’s final day, even though it was a beautiful SoCal dKermitay without a cloud in the sky.  Maybe the Californians were just being “green.”

Even without power, I heard a few things that made me stop and take note around the evolution of brands, the pace of business, and the keys to product development.

BRANDING

Some thought-provoking quotes on branding.

  • “Has the world changed more rapidly than your model?” — Amy Levin, Benenson Strategy Group
  • “What is the important (to the customer) benefit that only you can enable?”  Corollary, “First, talk to the customer, then talk internally.”  — Lori Laflin, Cargill
  • “One of the top 3 reasons people trust brands is because of their vulnerability or reciprocity” — Baileigh Allen, BrandTrust

SPEED

Speed, it seems, reigns supreme.

IBM shared details about their “Always On Intelligence Program.”  This program is driving their transformation “from a project-driven to a program-driven information system with continuous feedback.”  Reported results at IBM, “providing engaging insights at the pace of business and improved client perceptions of IBM.”  Think about the implications of this if this radical thinking becomes industry standard.  It will change everything.

Meanwhile, “We conduct fast turn concept testing all the time” was a comment from Simone Schuster of Dannon – further confirmation that we live in world where we want information, and we want it now.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

At its core, product development is about understanding the consumer. Jenni French Cyrek of Microsoft shared five questions that product managers should ask.

  1. Where are the gaps in the customer buying and use process?
  2. Where do important needs and low satisfaction intersect? That is opportunity.
  3. What concepts actually work for the customer, not the company?
  4. What is a strong value proposition for the market?
  5. How to improve the product over time? Match survey and behavioral metrics.

Hats off to the Quirk’s team for taking risks and trying some new techniques.  Maybe the West Coast event will grow to be as good or better than the Brooklyn event.  Regardless, they have re-invented a tradeshow/conference format that works. I admire smart risk-takers.

I plan to be in Brooklyn next year. The jury is still out on Irvine.  However, I might be swayed by the prospect of a few days in SoCal in February.

 

 

How can you get a more complete view of the customer? Hybrid research.

As companies engage in a never-ending battle for share of mind and wallet, every new piece of insight has the potential to provide a competitive advantage. As we explore in our latest white paper, the companies that win are those that have a 360-degree view of their customer – and there is no better way to gain a more complete view than by blending research methods in a hybrid approach.

What exactly do we mean by hybrid research? In its simplest form, hybrid research simply means mixing methods. Most commonly it involves adding a qualitative element to the end of a quantitative survey. With all the tools available today, this can mean an online discussion or webcam interviews after a survey to explore certain ideas or capture feedback in the consumer’s own words. It can mean blending in-person research with online journaling, or in-home usage testing with social media.  Really, the possibilities are endless based upon your specific objectives.

Whatever blend of approaches are selected, the goal should always be the same – to give the insights some flavor, add some nuance, capture that coveted voice of the customer. Hybrid research provides this critical layer of humanity, the “why” behind the what, and it has the power to do so without derailing timelines and budgets.

To read more about hybrid research approaches, and how they can provide more comprehensive insights, check out our white paper Today’s Hybrid Research: It Might Not Mean What You Think It Means. In it, you’ll also find examples of studies that have successfully employed mixed methodologies. Happy reading!

20|20 Acquires iModerate. Prepares for the Future.

The research landscape is rapidly changing.   Change is not coming, it is here.

We cannot sit still and expect to thrive in the transformational era shaking our industry.  Technology is creating a revolution in how we gather, analyze and use data to make marketing and strategic decisions.  Competitive pressures and faster internal processes are dramatically shortening timelines.  We as an industry must answer the call to continually develop new methods to deliver meaningful information faster and more clearly than ever before.  Innovation and transformation cannot be a one-time event; it must be on-going.

imoderate_logo_2c-1In the spirit of continuous transformation, this week 20|20 announced its first acquisition in 30 years by bringing iModerate into the 20|20 family (press release here).  Like 20|20, iModerate is a service-first technology company with a strong brand and experienced staff.  But iModerate also brings new capabilities and a renewed sense of energy and forward thinking.

iModerate is overflowing with smart, capable people who understand research.  They will challenge us to see the 20|20 products and services with new eyes.  20|20 will challenge them to see the iModerate products and services from a different perspective as well.  Together, we can focus a broader array of services on solving a wider range of the problems vexing our clients.

In the end, joining these two companies will give our clients a stronger partner to help them solve problems faster and with better information than ever before.  Business is accelerating; the tools available to all researchers are multiplying; clients must have partners they can trust with the tools they need to solve problems faster than ever before.  These trends, and others, are driving the industry’s transformation.  20|20 and iModerate will continue to serve our clients with innovative, insightful solutions that produce answers to the questions that drive their business.

We at 20|20 welcome the iModerate staff and solutions to the family.  The future will be challenging, but together, we are ready.

20|20 Marks 30 Years in Research 

On September 22, 1986, two young guys hung out a shingle with the goal of establishing a research firm focused on the delivery of outstanding research and a commitment to building relationships through superior client service. Today, that company, 20|20 Research, has grown to include 140 employees across three offices, serving nearly 4,000 clients around the world.

We have won our share of awards through the years, from fastest growing company in Nashville to “most innovative” to excellence in building design.  But 20|20 is simply the sum of its people…and ours are the best.  Some are songwriters by day and recruiters by night.  Some have logged more than 20 years with the company.  Several are continuing their careers with other research firms or corporate research departments.  All contribute to the culture of mutual respect and caring that make 20|20 a special place for the last 30 years.  I’m proud to be associated with these people.

As we mark our 30th anniversary, I want to offer my sincere thanks to our clients and our partners.  Without your support, we would not have reached this historic milestone, and all the other milestones along the way.

To our employees, too, who continue to support that original mission of providing the highest level of research expertise and client service.  I salute you.

In fact, I was recently asked what I am most proud of when I think back over the last 30 years.  In that time, we’ve gone from two guys with an idea to a worldwide leader in research technology.  But it isn’t our platforms, services or innovations that give me the greatest sense of pride.  It’s the company and our culture.  Throughout the years we have changed what we do and how we do it, but we’ve never fundamentally changed who we are.  At our core, that is a caring company focused on service.  And I honored to be a part of it every day.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported 20|20 and made these 30 years possible.  Our success is yours. Here’s to the next 30!

20|20 and Resource/Ammirati Partner for Mobile Award

This week, 20|20 won the 2016 Award for Best Mobile Qualitative from Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW).  We are honored to be recognized.  The MRMW Awards celebrate excellence in market research and those who contribute to achievements in mobile market research.  The awards were presented July 19 at the MRMW North America Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

We also want to recognize our partner Resource/Ammirati for being willing to take a risk and try something new.  The winning project was conducted in partnership with Resource/Ammirati, a digitally focused creative agency. They approached us to assist with a study centered around baking, with the goal of tapping into the motivations of the modern baker.

20|20 used the QualBoard® discussion platform and QualBoard®Mobile™ app so that respondents could use pictures and videos to document their time in the kitchen throughout the week-long study. With the app, participants were able to upload an unlimited amount of media, which not only led to greater in-the-moment feedback, but also much more detailed insights into their experiences. So much so, in fact, that the findings were contrary to what was expected before the project began and resulted in completely different messaging for the creative work after the fact.

In accepting the award on behalf of 20|20, my colleague Isaac Rogers said it best, “Thank you to our clients for their willingness to take risks with us.” After all, the best innovations and forward momentum for the market research industry are born out of these sorts of partnerships.  It is through close collaboration and a willingness to try new things that we can uncover unmet needs and address them with new approaches.

So thanks to MRMW for the recognition, to all of our clients who support our innovation, and to the team at 20|20 who put so much effort every day into supporting our clients.  And, a special, heart-felt thanks to Resource/Ammirati for stepping out to partner with us to try new and revealing techniques.

To read more about the 2016 MRMW Awards and the other honorees, please click here: http://na.mrmw.net/blog-post/winners-of-the-2016-mrmw-mobile-research-awards-announced

 

America Speaks: A little fun with the GOP Presidential Candidates

We at 20|20 had a little fun last night.  While the Republican Presidential debate raged on, we did a poll of Americans to see what they thought about the candidates in a more “tongue-in-cheek” way.  Here is what 2000 Americans had to say last night to 5 burning questions with a little commentary tossed in for fun.

Above Par Leader

This post was written by my son and 20|20’s summer intern, Alex Bryson. Alex recently graduated high school and will attend Belmont University in the fall.  The subject, Ron Samuels, is a friend and a great leader who has been instrumental in shaping Nashville into the boomtown it is today.  

Screenshot 2015-07-05 07.20.58Ron Samuels, CEO of Avenue Bank, wrote an article on leadership called, “The Front Nine: A Walk To Remember”. In this article, he highlights nine important leadership attributes that an entrepreneur must hold in order to become a successful leader/business owner. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Mr. Samuels and interview him about this article. His article truly brings about his personality and gives a brief Avenue Bank Logoglimpse into his vast mentality of ethics, whether they are in regards to business or to humanity.

I initially started with questioning him about golf, as an icebreaker, but even with such a simple question, he formed it into a fantastic analogy that illustrates personal accountability and self-awareness. He made the point, “You are your own referee, and there is no place to hide from your own discipline. You hit some shots; you miss some shots. It builds character”. True, disciplined character sets an entrepreneur up for personal success in addition to business success, and finding more value in personal success. He also explains how having great personal ethics will make others want to follow.

In the lobby of Avenue Bank, there is a painting of a group of hummingbirds following their leader, who is clearly singled out while simultaneously being shown as a part of a collective unit. This painting represents Mr. Samuels’s attitude towards leadership. It shows how a leader is supposed to be exemplary, while humbling himself to admit that he operates as a team member.

Mr. Samuels also expanded on his third point (in his article) about being authentic and original. We agreed over the importance of standing out, and not following in the paths of others and becoming generic. He explained how a business owner needs to have a certain edge to both the way he runs his company, and how he presents his service and/or product. He told me to “look at the hummingbird (being the symbol of Avenue Bank). hummingbirdThe hummingbird has a great stamina. It is very fast. It has unbelievable agility, and is the only bird that can fly backwards”. He says that the hummingbird holds two traits that business owners need to possess: It has flexibility in what it’s trying to accomplish, and it holds an authentic characteristic that allows it to stand out from the others. The combination of these two traits will instill a lasting impression into the minds of the people surrounding the leader, whether they are in the business or are customers/clients. Authenticity and a keen edge will make people desire the business and what it stands for.

In conclusion, Ron Samuels is a fantastic role model to both entrepreneurs and young minds. His ethics show the importance of finding humanity in the business world and how personal discipline, accountability, and self-awareness leads into success through authenticity. He demonstrates how these values attracts people to the business and makes them want to use the business’s service/product. He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to and I hope that his words continue to motivate me, the people he works with, and anyone else who can have the pleasure of hearing his wisdom.

Anyone Can Innovate!

We make innovation too hard.

When we think of innovation, we think of “disruptive innovation.”  We think of innovations like the light bulb, the transistor, the microchip, Google and, maybe, Uber.  Disruptive innovations change the way we live.  But most innovations are not disruptive.  They are incremental.

My Uncle Bill was an engineer and a professional tinkerer.  In the 1970s, he had the first mobile phone I ever saw.  It was in his car.  When he came to visit, he would call us when he was on his way.  We thought it was amazing.  In reality, his “mobile phone” was a radio with phone-like features that sent a signal to a tower across the valley on Mt. Nebo.  That tower converted the signal and put it into the phone system.

Craig McCaw and others recognized that if you build more towers, each tower becomes a “cell” to capture the signal and pass it along to other “cells” or connect to the phone system.  Thus, cell phones were born.  In about 1989, I had one of these “cell phones” hard-wired into my car.  It looked much like Uncle Bill’s radio phone of the 1970s.  As battery technology improved phones did not have to be hard-wired to the car battery any more.  So, today, we have true mobile phones.  They have changed our lives through incremental innovation and technology improvement.

Sudden disruptive innovations that quickly transform our lives are rare.  Trying to create a sudden disruptive innovation is a bit like playing the lottery, a lot of people play but very few actually win.  When there is a winner, it is BIG.  The winner gets a lot of press as a great innovator.  He or she becomes like a rockstar.  Everyone knows him/her.  So, to us, our tendency is to think of innovation as disruptive innovation.  We also recognize that the road to disruptive innovation is daunting.  Most of us would have difficulty creating sudden disruptive innovations…and we know it.  So, we often don’t try.  This is mindset is wrong because we set the standard of innovation too high.

In truth, anyone can innovate.  Innovation is about making things better than they were before.  It is about identifying a problem and solving it. Innovation is about challenging the status quo and asking the question, “What if…”  It is rarely disruptive; it is usually incremental.  But incremental innovations often become disruptive just as my Uncle Bill’s radio phone did when it evolved into a mobile smartphone.

Over the past several years, 20|20 has gained quite a reputation for innovation.  Recently 20|20 was named to the GRIT “Most Innovative Supplier Companies in Market Research” list for the 4th year in a row at #11.  We simply envision a better research future and ask the question “What if…”  We seek to advance the practice of research so we innovate.  We may not change the world overnight, but we are improving the way researchers understand customers.

In 2016, 20|20 is introducing several new innovations that envision better, easier and faster research than ever before.  You can participate in the Spring Innovations webinar or another 20|20-hosted webinar to learn about how to apply innovations to your research methods by clicking here.

 Go innovate!  Its not as hard as it sounds and its a heckuva lotta fun.

Are you CHILES-G?

One of the problems of a growing company is hiring the right people.  As it turns out, skill sets are the easy part. Skills can be hired or taught.  The leader who wants to hire well must identify people who fit into, and even advance, the culture.  As I mentioned in my last post, “Leaders Drive Culture.  Culture Drives People. People Drive Business,” it is the leader’s job to drive culture so people throughout the organization know how to act and respond in a consistent way.  The wrong people are cultural roadblocks, or even cancerous, in an organization.  Consistent hiring is hard enough when the leader is doing all he hiring.  As an organization grows, consistent hiring is extremely difficult.

So how can a leader ensure that the organization hires people who advance the culture?  

There is no silver bullet.  Overall culture is a huge determinant of hiring.  But, managers need more explicit direction.  So, at 20|20, we developed an acronym that describes the type of person who is generally successful at 20|20.  The acronym is CHILES-G.  Here is what it means:

  • Curious
  • Humble
  • Intelligent
  • Likable
  • Enthusiastic
  • Service Oriented
  • Gritty

Its simple, memorable and it works for us.  If your company is growing, I recommend that you find something that identifies the people you want in your company.  As a leader you can’t hire them all, but its your responsibility to be sure the new hires advance the organization.

At 20|20, we are CHILES-G.

Leaders Drive Culture. Culture Drives People. People Drive Business.

The more our company grows, the more I realize how crucial culture is to our success.  We are in a service business.  As we grow, I personally interact with fewer and fewer of our clients on a regular basis.  So, how do I ensure that the people who do interact with our clients treat them as I would have treated them?  The answer is “culture.”

Leaders Drive Culture.  Culture is set by expectations and training, but mostly it is set by example and rewards.  Company leaders, especially the CEO, set culture.  What do they celebrate?  What do they value?  What do they punish?  How do they treat clients, vendors and employees?  What do they preach?  What are their actions (which speak louder than words)?  Finally, do they have a method for hiring people who not only fit the culture but can promote it?  Company leaders set the culture.  So, they must be able to articulate it and consciously promote it every day.

Culture Drives People.  Culture is crucial.  More than rules, training or speeches, culture provides the guardrails for accepted and desired behavior in an organization.  Businesses are small societies that develop their own mores and expectations.  These mores and expectations become understood and ingrained in the members of this micro-society (i.e., employees).  Their actions reflect the culture of their shared society.  Thus, the established culture (mores and expectations) drives their behavior.

People Drive Business.  We are a service business that happens to be in the technology space.  Our clients depend on our people to be excellent at what they do and to treat everyone with the respect and professionalism they deserve.  Without people a business cannot exist.  Without people doing the right things, a business dies.  Without culture, people don’t know how to act or make decisions, especially when the “handbook” doesn’t apply.  Simply, culture gives employees context for acting.

Sometimes we take culture for granted.  A very small business derives culture by osmosis from its founder.  A larger business must take culture seriously.  As a business grows, leaders must be intentional about developing and maintaining a culture that gives all employees the context they need to make the right decisions that promote the business and project the brand.  Otherwise, inconsistency and individual personality will rule and the business will flounder.

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