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Marketing’s Boll Weevil?

Romi Mahajan · President – KKM Group

KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Those interested in US history will remember the devastating impact the Boll Weevil had on the cotton-based Southern-Economy in the early 20th century. In the thirty years from the Weevil’s appearance in the US to the height of its spread, 600,000 square miles of territory were infested, wreaking havoc on the monoculture in the Agrarian South and prompting one of the largest shifts of population in the history of this country.

The city of Enterprise, Alabama, however, erected a Monument to this pest in 1919 since it, in their perception, heralded an era of Economic Prosperity. The Boll Weevil infestation is thought to be the precipitating force behind the South’s creation of a more complex, diverse economy.

Shocks to the system, while painful to endure, can engender positive change.

So what is Marketing’s Boll Weevil? The Internet? Measurement? Recession?

What are your thoughts?

Marketing’s Acupressure Problem

Peanut-Buttered Marketing has little hope for success. Marketing that stems from the “meridian” philosophy of early Chinese medicine is the only real way to go. In Acupuncture and Acupressure, certain nodal points in the body are located as “meridians” that when stimulated have far-reaching effects throughout the body. Marketers need to know the acupressure points in their ecosystem if they hope to ever show the results they claim they can. Spreading marketing evenly, while understandable, is by and large a failing proposition.

Consider the following problem: Let’s say you are CMO of a company that wants to get Developers to write applications for your new Mobile operating system. You want to incite action and participation from Developers by getting them to change their perceptions of your company and your competitors. Where would you spend the bulk of your marketing efforts? Well, clearly, you’d spend resources in Silicon Valley, the well-known “headwaters” of perception in the world of technology and home to Apple Corporation, maker of the iPhone and incumbent perception-leader in its space. It would be foolish to spend equal amounts in the Valley and in, say, Los Angeles though the latter is a bigger market.

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Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

India 3.0

India 3.0 is here.

India 1.0 was all about cost and the 24 hour workday. India 2.0 was about large project efficiencies. India 3.0 is about global talent management.

In speaking with Srivats Srinivasan, CEO of Nayamode, a marketing services company based in Redmond, WA, I crystallized my thoughts about the changing order of what I call “Advantage Priorities.” [Full disclosure: I am an Advisor to the company.]

The term Advantage Priorities refers to the method of enumeration of the relative advantages that different facets of your Business Model confer to your company. India 1.0 was about the advantage of cost savings and of a perpetually productive workforce. India 2.0 was about the advantages that large, skilled, non-payroll virtual teams can add to efficiencies. India 3.0 is about the ability companies have to leverage a robust and dynamic global talent pool to provide the right talent for the right project, while simultaneously upgrading projects and skill-sets.

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Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

The Enduring CPM and its Discontents

The Internet is a breeding ground for unlimited punditry, and the pundits are almost always wrong – as in the area of Internet advertising in which self-proclaimed seers declare the demise of the CPM, the fundamental unit of measurement in Internet Advertising.

The world has changed, they say, and advertisers/marketers want action and engagement, not just impressions. In this “theory,” the CPM is dead, but the CPC, CPL, and CPA are alive and kicking.

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Romi Mahajan is President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Is Your Doctor Smarter Than Your Average Employee?

Do you think your average surgeon is smarter than your average retail employee or restaurant staff member? We think so. Which is why it’s such a mystery that managers expect hourly employees to automatically treat customers in ways which so many doctors cannot.
You’re sitting in the doctor’s office and you’re scared to death. Maybe you’re the patient or maybe it’s a loved one, but your anxiety level is high. Your meet with the physician, who gathers information, presents a diagnosis and then talks about your treatment options.

Doctors are human, and sometimes their diagnoses and treatments of patients (who are their customers) don’t go as hoped. What’s interesting – and important for any of us who deal with customers of our own – is that the likelihood that a patient decides to sue his or her physician when this occurs has nothing to do with the quality of medical care provided.

A surprising predictor. One of my most interesting take-aways from Malcom Gladwell’s book, blink, was his review of a study involving how doctors interact with their patients and – in particular – how those interactions predict lawsuits.

Instead of clinician quality, the likelihood of a patient suing his doctor has a lot more to do with the types of conversations and relationships between doctor and physician leading up to the point where something goes wrong. In blink, Gladwell writes that they found:

  • No correlation between quality of care provided and likelihood of a malpractice suit.
  • A strong correlation with a patient’s impression of how he or she was treated – on a personal level –by the doctor.
  • That those surgeons who had never been sued spent more than 3 minutes longer with each patient than those who had been sued at least twice. (18.3 minutes vs. 15 minutes.)

Even more surprising, one study which Gladwell references involves participants who listened to recordings of conversations between doctors and their patients. The study participants quickly learned to differentiate between doctors whose tone and manner distanced themselves from their patients, or which might have even seemed imperious or condescending, and those who took even a small amount of time to establish a personal connection with their patients in the process of discussing diagnosis and treatment.

The latter group made orienting statements such as “I’ll take a few minutes to examine you, and we can discuss options”. They explained ahead of time that there would be plenty of time for questions; they diffused tension with humor; they made appropriate small talk along the way to put their patient at ease. Whereas the first group of doctors sounded cool and detached, the latter seemed relatively warm and approachable.

Guess which group of doctors was far more likely to have been sued during their careers for malpractice? That’s right – the doctors who failed to make those personal connections. In short, patients have a lot more patience with doctors whom they have been given reasons to like.

What’s even more remarkable is that the study participants could eventually predict with an extremely high degree of accuracy whether or not a doctor had been sued at least once within his or her career simply by listening to a few random moments of recorded interaction with patients. The difference was that pronounced.

How can someone so smart be so dumb? For a doctor, getting sued for malpractice can be devastating. Personally and professionally it can be a serious setback and very difficult to endure.

So, if failure was this predictable, why don’t more doctors protect themselves? Why don’t they make the adjustments in their bedside manners necessary to lower their risk for malpractice suit?

The answer is: because they’re blind to the risk. They lack the context to evaluate their own interactions and the data to understand the consequences of them. Seeing your own actions objectively is incredibly difficult, even for someone as highly educated as a physician.

Good Medicine. Losing a customer in your own organization might seem like a far cry from being sued for malpractice, but the cumulative effects of a steady drain of customer defections can be equally punishing on any company.

There are two lessons that we think you can apply from Gladwell’s chapter on malpractice. First, be sure that you’ve invested the time into talking with customer-facing employees about the importance of their not mistaking a professional tone for a detached one.

Study participants were able to divine whether or not a doctor was at risk for being sued just by listening to a few random moments of recorded patient conversations.  We’ll bet you know just as quickly when your employees are putting you at risk with their approach to talking to customers. Getting this right sets the stage for more and better future discussions. And, as Gladwell points out, it does a great deal to build you a base of goodwill when things go wrong.

Second, be sure that you do everything you can to show employees objectively how customers perceive their interactions with employees.  A good start on this is to implement a policy of complete transparency when a customer complaint arises. If your employees can’t see firsthand how customers felt at how they were treated, you can’t expect them to make changes.

About the Author:  Max Israel is the founder of Customerville, a Customer Satisfaction Measurement Solution for Multi-unit Operators that can help you create happier customers and drive sales.

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Successful Survey Tips: Reporting Results

Finally, it all comes together: the strategy, the design and the implementation.  You’ve pulled together a winning survey and now it’s time to share the results.  Here are my tips for pulling together a killer presentation that gets your audience to take the actions YOU want them to take.

  • What’s the Burning Issue? What was the question you were trying to answer with this survey?  What story will the presentation tell? Keep it short and simple.  A single slide with about a 30 second introduction will do the trick.
  • Focus on what the data means to your audience. How will their work or life change as a result?  Does your data mean different things to different people?  Bring that out in your report.
  • Provide your learnings and conclusions as a 1-2 punch.  On one slide, put what you learned or a conclusion supported by a dramatic picture.  On the second slide, show them the proof.  DO NOT put a table or a chart with lots of little tiny numbers and lines.   See this slide below — DON’T DO THAT.   I know, it’s in Russian, but does it really matter?

  • What action do you want the audience to take and what’s the payoff? Create a slide that has an action and a benefit statement on it.  This way, it’s clear what action needs to be taken and why.

Surprise your audience by telling the story of your research journey.  Bring them along for the ride and share the enthusiasm you have for what you’ve learned.

If you really want to know how to present complex data really well with a story, you need to take the time to watch this:

This is Hans Rosling giving a live presentation of Data at the TED conference.

Here is the same data presented Differently — click on the picture and you’ll go to the page where you can download the presentation or watch online.

When we present the findings from a survey, we have a HUGE opportunity to engage our audience and build enthusiasm and excitement for what we’ve done.    It seems a shame to let all our hard work go to waste because we chose to present stone cold numbers instead of a story.

What are YOUR presentation tips?  Do you have a favorite data presentation that you reference all the time — share it with us here!

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Mall Intercept – Field Surveys using the iPad/iPhone

We are in the middle of launching a new module to our enterprise platform on Survey Analytics – iPad / iPhone enabled surveys. We are right now looking to do a pilot/beta with someone to test out our iPad solution for field surveys. Our objective is to elimiate the clipboard! We are already in the process of conducting some pilot projects with a couple of key clients – and we would like to open this up to a larger group. If you are interested in being part of a beta/pilot project for this, please contact me – contact info below.

With the SA-Mobile module, conducting real-time mall-intercepts is a breeze. With the iPad (3G or WiFI) enabled handled devices – you can conduct field surveys, mall intercepts in real-time. The custom SA-Mobile iPhone/iPad application allows you to setup a survey for data-collection in the real-world without sacrificing time.

  • Real-Time Reporting
  • Location Awareness – Automatic Segmentation
  • Instant Feedback – Globally
  • Off-The-Shelf Hardware – Apple iPhone/iPad
  • Custom iPhone/iPad App
  • Custom User Interface for handheld devices

Here is a video and help file:

The objective (from our standpoint) for the pilot would be:

  • Validate that the solution that we are coming up with indeed is useful and adds value
  • Find holes in the process/solution so we can go live with a bigger bang
  • Put together a case study on advantages/cost savings/opportunity etc.

Some target uses:

  • Personal mall intercept survey – Mall
    intercept surveys are widely used and (theoretically) able to reach a
    large segment of the population. In any given two-week period, about 2/3
    of U.S. households shop one or more times at a mall. According to a
    CASRO membership survey, about 25% of all marketing research and 64% of
    personal interviews are conducted at malls.
  • Interview & on-site surveys – Rapidly
    develop and deploy complex and multilingual surveys on a variety of
    mobile devices. Interviewers engage people at the point of experience to
    ensure that the insights collected are timely and accurate.
  • Post Class/Training Evaluation – Pass a
    survey around for feedback on training sessions right after the session

Here is a quick video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

We’d obviously offer this solution to you free of cost for the pilot phase. Our iPhone/iPad app is under the app review cycle with Apple and our expectation is that this will available for general download/install in the next 2 weeks.

If you’d like to participate in the pilot – and have a project in mind in the next 2-6 weeks please feel free to get in touch with me. My contact info is below:

vivek [dot] bhaskaran [at]

Additional Links:

Successful Survey Tips: How to Get “All of It” From Your Surveys

Successful surveys don’t just happen.  They are a function of doing some very logical simple things really, really well.  The first element is knowing what you want to know; defining objectives, laying out what decisions you’re making and planning out the infrastructure of the survey.  Another element of the series is actually writing the questions and making it easy for the respondent to participate. Next, we’re going to focus on leaving our respondent happy and preparing ourselves for analyzing the data.

My favorite part of this clip is actually the very end when Mr. Miyagi informs Daniel that he will be using his new technique to paint the WHOLE fence.  Daniel says “All of it?” and the camera sssslllloooowwwllly pans around the garden.  All you hear in the background is Mr. Miyagi saying “up….down….up….down”

Yes.  All of it.  If we really want to get all the benefit from the work that we had done in defining our objectives and creating engaging questions, than the very least we can do is finish the job and get as much information and future cooperation from our respondents.    This next set of tips is designed to reduce the amount of work for you and also reducing the need to go back to your respondents for information you might have missed.

  • Segment your sample.  If you are using an existing customer list, pre segment your sample using the “custom variable” feature in QuestionPro.  You have the ability to use as many as 255 custom variables.  If you already know specific demographics about your respondents, then this is the ideal place to program them in.  In addition to that, you can place up to 5 custom variables in an e-mail invitation to personalize it to each respondent.  You can also compare as many as 10 segments at a time by the specific questions that you ask.
  • Pre-test your survey. The easiest way to test your survey is to literally give it internally to your company or a trusted group of respondents.  Be sure to tell your test group who the audience or the respondents are and to act is if they were the target respondent when answering the questions.  Look for two specific types of feedback; first check for clarity of the questions.  Did the respondent perceive the question as it was intended?  Next check the test data and see if you can make the decision that was the core of your objective.  If you don’t have enough information to make the decision, then you will have to go back and tweak the questions.
  • Use a Thank You. QuestionPro gives you a variety of ways to say “Thank You” to your respondents.  There is, of course, a Thank You page.  This is actually a wonderful piece of promotional real estate where you can give your customers a “downloadable” thank you gift.  Another use of the Thank You page is to send your respondents to another page on your web site where they can get more information about the topic that they’ve been surveyed about – maybe even a blog post where they can provide more feedback.  You can also send your respondents a Thank You e-mail in addition to a thank you page.  I would recommend using BOTH the Thank You page AND a Thank You e-mail especially if you are providing a downloadable gift.

What are some of the ways that you get the most out of your surveys?  And what tips do you have for rewarding respondents and/or saying thanks?

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