Main Street CEOs Optimistic on Future and Looking to Innovation

The Vistage Confidence Index evolved from a “customer survey” to the largest survey of chief executives from small and medium sized businesses in the U.S.  Over 2,500 small business CEOs answer the same set of 9 questions based on the economy and another 5-7 questions relating to current economic issues.  All of the respondents are members of Vistage International.

The Results for Q2 2010

Here is a quick summary of the Q2 results that were published in July, 2010.

  • CEOs have made adjustments based on a leaner, meaner economy and feel that they are positioned for success.
  • New opportunities and profits will come from innovative new products and services, generating new customers and maintaining business with existing customers.
  • 50% plan to finance their growth with cash.
  • 87% feel that the government doesn’t understand the challenges well enough to expand opportunities for small business.

The actual Confidence Index for Q2 2010 is 94.4 and is significantly higher than the 69.0 at the same time last year.

What does all this mean?

If you’re in the market research business, then it means that the survey recommendations that you make have to be focused on collecting information that’s going to help small business owners identify new, more profitable customers .  Other kinds of research to recommend would be anything that will help them increase the level of innovation within their products and services.

Research that helps small business CEOs identify competitive advantage and increase the profit-level of their existing customers while attracting new ones is money well spent.

Get the full Vistage Confidence Index Report and read more about Vistage here.

http://www.vistage.com/media-center/confidence-index-archive.aspx

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Q & A session from Webinar: How to Use Conjoint Analysis in the Innovation Process

On Thursday August 26th, 2010 over 90 participants signed up for Survey Analytics and Dorian Simpson of Planning Innovations presentation on: How to Use Conjoint Analysis In the Innovation Process.

Conjoint Analysis is a powerful and often under-utilized marketing research tool that can provide powerful insight into how your customers actually think. The resulting information can be used to prioritize features, develop pricing strategies, and estimate market share… all before you develop your product or spend valuable marketing dollars.

Participants posted the following questions and both presenters, Dorian Simpson of Planning Innovations and Esther LaVielle of Survey Analytics, responded to each one.

1) I Do straightforward quant work like cross tabs, but I wonder if I can really do conjoint – does it take super high skill to set up and analyze the conjoint, or can a relative newcomer do a decent job.  Should I try to work with a mentor?

A: There are a lot of resources and white papers available to learn about conjoint analysis. When working with SurveyAnalytics, you will have a dedicated account manager who walk you through your projects, offer guidance and tips to get statistically significant data. You may also work directly with consultants such as Dorian Simpson from Planning Innovations who can train and help your understanding of conjoint analysis.

Q: Can you spend a minute or so explaining how the conjoint questions get embedded ina survey? does it integrate with outside survey tools? What is the form of the data output? Excel? SPSS?

A: The conjoint question template can we used in conjunction with other question types in SurveyAnalytics so this does not need to be embedded into another survey tool to work.

Q: How do we choose between a full factorial design (all combinations, costly but highly accurate approach) versus a partial factorial design (selected combinations of attribute levels, cost-effective, relatively less accurate) in the conjoint analysis studies?

A: We do partial. We generate a orthogonal set of profiles which you then chose how many the respondent sees. Full factorial is something we add later, but as you say, it is costly.

Q: How do you determine what “task count” you assign to a given study? Presumeably there is a trade-off here between overburdening the respondent and getting low quality results? Are there rules of thumb you use?

A: Our experience has shown that there is a precipitious drop-out rate after about 15 tasks. Unless there is a strong personal incentive for the end-users to complete the survey, we would suggest to keep the number of tasks to under 15 especially in cases where users are volunteering to take surveys. Please keep in mind that conjoint product selection is a little more involved than simply “answering a survey question” — users have to comprehend each of the attributes/concepts and then make a choice. This is a lot more involved than say choosing “Male/Female” on a gender question.

On the lower side, we would suggest that 6-8 tasks be the minium for a conjoint model with 3 attributes. The more attributes you have, the more number of tasks users have to fill out.

It is obvious that it’s a balancing act between the number of tasks, concepts per task and the total number of attributes/levels than need to be displayed.

Two factors determine the overall utility:

  • Concepts Per Task
  • Total # of Tasks

The system provides the “Concept Simulator” – with the concept simulator you can see the TOTAL number of times a particular level will be displayed (given the total number of respondents)

Q: Is it important to describe attributes or is it better to let less knowledgeable respondents use their best guess what it means?

A: This depends on many factors. You may want to review how homogeneous your respondent list is, number of times you’ve surveyed this particular group, and also if the features and levels you are presenting are familiar to your respondents or not.

With SurveyAnalytics, you can add tips, definitions, instructions and visuals for respondents to make a better trade-off decision.

Q: Are slides available?

A: Yes. Click below to review slides from both presenters



About the Presenters:

Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.

http://www.planninginnovations.com

Esther LaVielle is a Senior Account Manager at QuestionPro and Survey Analytics, which was started in 2002 in Seattle and is now one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Prior to her adventure at QuestionPro she spent 3 years as a Qualitative Project Manager at the Gilmore Research Group.

http://www.surveyanalytics.com

Webinar Review: Learn How to Use MaxDiff Analysis to Create Products/Services People Want To Buy

On Tues August 24th, 2010, SurveyAnalytics teamed up with Chris Robson, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Parametric Marketing to present : Learn How to Use MaxDiff Analysis Create Products People Want To Buy

We had 80 guests in attendance. In our session Chris Robson covered the following:

What is MaxDiff?

-Why all the fuss?

-Problems with Ratings Scales, and why MaxDiff is better

-Fielding and Analyzing MaxDiff questions
-Getting Started using MaxDiff tool from SurveyAnalytics

Maximum Difference Scaling (MaxDiff) is a way of evaluating the importance (or preference) of a number of alternatives.It is a discrete choice technique: respondents are asked to make simple best/worst choices. It has the advantage that it is very simple for the respondent, but gives extremely rich information to the researcher


Slides from the presentation are available for download here:
Introduction to MaxDiff Scaling of Importance – Parametric Marketing Slides

Q&A from Webinar

Q: When is it more appropriate to use Max-Diff instead of Discrete choice Conjoint?  Conjoint is also about making trade-offs.

A: MaxDiff and Conjoint are related discrete-choice methods. Conjoint works best when the features to be tested can be structured into attributes with mutually-exclusive levels – e.g. the ‘attribute’ color has ‘levels’ red, blue or green. Also, Conjoint can be used to test price sensitivity. MaxDiff works well when there is a ‘laundry list’ of unalike features.

Q: What is your opinion on the question type, “Constant Sum” or “Continuous Sum” it is sometimes called.  With this question type you can “Rank” the attributes, but are able to see to a certain degree how much more important something is over another.  It seems like the end result of max-diff is similar.  Are they comparable in effectiveness at all?

A: One of the main problems with ‘Constant Sum’ questions is that they get unwieldy for the respondent when there are more than a few options to consider. When there are many options respondents start to use different strategies, like “Give all points to best item” or “Spread thinly over many items”, which gives problems for analysis.

Q: Where can we find the paper he is talking about?

A: I recommend: Chrzan, K. and N. Golovashkina (2006) “An empirical test of six stated importance measures,” International Journal of Market Research, 48, 717-40.

A simpler overview of the problems with importance scales by the same authors can be found at: http://www.maritz.com/White-Papers/Research/Testing-Alternatives-to-Importance-Ratings.aspx

Q: Is share of preference similar to TURF?

A: TURF analysis can be used with MaxDiff results to identify optimum feature configurations.

Q: Is there a risk of forcing a difference between 2 attributes when they are actually equal?

A: It is wise to avoid including two features that are essentially the same. If, however, there are real differences forcing a choice is a good thing.

About the Presenters:

Chris Robson

Co-founder Parametric Marketing LLC and serves as Chief Scientist, leading selection and development of all analysis capabilities.

Chris Robson co-founded Parametric and serves as Chief Scientist, leading selection and development of all analysis capabilities. He is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in both marketing and technology. Prior to co-founding Parametric, Chris was Vice President of Engineering for WebCriteria, Inc. (acquired by Coremetrics, Inc.), and was responsible for the development of Site Analyst, described by Forrester as “a smart – and unique – choice for Web Managers struggling to define success metrics”. Prior to that, he spent thirteen years with Hewlett-Packard in a variety of senior management roles in R&D, Marketing, Business Development and Advanced Research. He started his career as a mathematician building complex statistical models of radar systems. Chris is a native of England and holds an honours degree in Mathematics from Brunel University of West London.

Esther LaVielle is a Senior Account Manager at QuestionPro and Survey Analytics, which was started in 2002 in Seattle and is now one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Prior to her adventure at QuestionPro she spent 3 years as a Qualitative Project Manager at the Gilmore Research Group.

http://www.surveyanalytics.com

How Small Businesses Buy Technology — Like You and I

Industrial buyers are people too!

I used to go crazy working in a manufacturing environment and hearing sales people or executives go on and on about how “our customers” were different.  They were “industrial buyers”.  They were part of a buying center or committee — as if they had no pulse or something.  (Well, that part was true for some of them).  But in most cases, buyers are actually people; living breathing human beings who had a cup of coffee that morning or took their kids to school.  They thought about what they would do with that bonus and how they might get a little something nice for their spouse.

PEOPLE Make Decisions – Not Titles or Committees

So,  you can imagine how happy I was to see this latest study come out of Ivy Worldwide,  an integrated social media marketing company.  The short skippy of the results is that even when they are buying technology, business buyers behave like regular consumers.  Yup.  They buy computers and servers much like you and I buy a laptop or TV.

First they search the internet looking for what criteria they should be considering.  The same way that I’ve been searching for the internet trying to figure out how to compare these new HDTV’s; should I care about whether it’s 60Hz or 120Hz?  What about WiFi?  Nothing in the results points to any behavior that’s unlike standard purchasing behavior by the rest of us.

Next, they rely on word of mouth.  Once they understand what criteria they are looking for and which alternatives have that criteria, they are checking online reviews and  experiences by colleagues and friends.  The study also showed that most purchasers were not committed to a brand as they went through their purchasing process.

However, random conversations on Twitter and Facebook have little influence .

Buying technology for business is often an online purchase.  The study shows that 70% of their respondents purchase online.

And finally, the respondents said that large companies miss the mark when marketing to the small and medium sized business owner.  That’s no surprise.  I remember needing to update my virus software and going to McAfee.  While the site was very nice looking,  it was completely targeted to the large industrial IT buyer.  I couldn’t easily find the product I was looking for and quickly got frustrated and left.

What Can Provider’s Do

While this particular survey focused on technology purchases, I think the results are extremely useful for every company selling into the small and medium sized business market.

Who’s doing it well?  Hewlett Packard comes to mind (and was also mentioned in the survey) as a company that’s really committed to connecting with the small business.

I have personal experience with their small business marketing and they consistently show their commitment to connecting with and understanding the particular nuances of their market.

Download the full technology buyer results here and tell us what YOUR feedback is.

What company do YOU think does a great job at selling to you and which one does the worst?

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Free Webinar Tues 8/24/10 9AM PST- Learn How to Use MaxDiff Analysis to Create Products/Services People Want To Buy

Tuesday August 24th, 2010

9:00 AM PST

Ever thought about using Max Difference Scaling as part of your research strategy?

Maximum Difference Scaling is a very effective method of establishing the relative priority attached by an audience to a large set of items (up to 30). These items might be:

* Features or benefits of a service

* Areas for potential investment of resources

* Interests and activities

* Potential marketing messages for a new product

* Products or Services used

In our presentation we’ll answer:

1) What is MaxDiff Scaling and what are its benefits to using it in a research project?

2) How can you develop MaxDiff studies that provide unique data vs. using a standard rating scale, etc?

3) How MaxDiff studies differ from other trade-off analysis techniques.

This webinar will answer these questions and more as well as provide a forum to discuss specific challenges.

Sign Up Here: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/971418706

About the Presenters:

Chris Robson

Co-founder Parametric Marketing LLC and serves as Chief Scientist, leading selection and development of all analysis capabilities.

Chris Robson co-founded Parametric and serves as Chief Scientist, leading selection and development of all analysis capabilities. He is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in both marketing and technology. Prior to co-founding Parametric, Chris was Vice President of Engineering for WebCriteria, Inc. (acquired by Coremetrics, Inc.), and was responsible for the development of Site Analyst, described by Forrester as “a smart – and unique – choice for Web Managers struggling to define success metrics”. Prior to that, he spent thirteen years with Hewlett-Packard in a variety of senior management roles in R&D, Marketing, Business Development and Advanced Research. He started his career as a mathematician building complex statistical models of radar systems. Chris is a native of England and holds an honours degree in Mathematics from Brunel University of West London.

Esther LaVielle is a Senior Account Manager at QuestionPro and Survey Analytics, which was started in 2002 in Seattle and is now one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Prior to her adventure at QuestionPro she spent 3 years as a Qualitative Project Manager at the Gilmore Research Group.

http://www.surveyanalytics.com

The 24-Hour Customer Brings Out TIME as a Way to Squeeze Into Your Customer’s World

The 24-Hour Customer:Time-onomics from Adrian Ott on Vimeo.

If you’re part of a market research organization, you’re probably acutely aware of the shifts that have been going on in Market Research.  Maybe they upset you.  But this is a good thing.  That’s your brain’s way of telling you that it’s time to do something different.  And the good news is, the sooner you get to finding something different – the better for your bottom line. The 24-Hour Customer Gives Strategists Insight on Creating New Opportunities by Focusing On How Customers Spend Time In my latest book review on Small Business Trends, I looked at “The 24-Hour Customer” by Adrian Ott.  If you are reading this blog — then you need to get this book.  If you’re in marketing or a CEO or in any way responsible for identifying new niches — you can’t afford to miss this book. “The 24-Hour Customer” explains exactly how and why it is that people can waste hours on Facebook Farmville and yet not give your product the time of day.  Ott names exactly 111 companies as examples of how strategists were able to observe how customers prioritized time with relation to Habit, Motivation, Convenience and Value — and then develop products and services that fit right into those crevices.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Zipcar used a “Time Slicing” strategy that broke up car ownership into much smaller slices of time instead of years.
  • Hulu and Netflix used time-shifting to movies on-demand.
  • Nike and Apple co-created a mobile app that measured and reported on a runner’s progress on a Nike+ website.

There are many more examples and the data to support them.  Did I say you should read this book yet? Applying These Time Slicing and Time Shifting Strategies Means You Have to Love Your Customer Romi Mahajan talks about building deeper customer relationships in his latest article on Research Access.  He’s not talking about social media, he’s not talking about focus groups.  He’s talking about participating in conversations that are going on around you. You’ve heard me talk about market research as becoming more of a “Listening” function.  And the combination of Romi’s article and reading “The 24-hour Customer”  will inspire you and open your mind to other possibilities. Successful market research isn’t going to come from having the best technology or running the best multi-variate regression.  It’s going to come from possessing great listening and observation skills and then having the brains to quantify those inklings and intuitive insights. Who’s up for the job?

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Getting Attention: A Whole New Way to Interact With Your Market

I bet you didn’t know this guy’s name is Matt Lesko.  You probably know him as “that annoying, screaming, question mark suite wearing guy” — yeah — THAT GUY.  He’s made millions being bold and annoying and he didn’t spend millions to do it.

I was recently a presenter at a conference where I heard Jim Kukral, the author of “Attention! This book will make you money.  How to Use Attention-Getting Online Marketing to Increase Your Revenue“.   If you’re working for a large corporation — you need to pay attention to this.  If you’re a small business struggling to get more business — you need to pay attention to this.  If you’ve seen or heard anyone on the news or online and wondered why it is that THIS DOOFUS is getting more attention and making more money and stealing market share that should be rightfully yours.  YOU need to pay attention to this.

Kukral is talking about a dangerous combination; cheap accessible technology, good ideas, and people with enough guts and no sense of ego who are willing to do what you won’t to get attention and make money.

Market Research Needs to Pay Attention to This

For as long as I’ve been working and longer — market research was how “respectable” businesses found new trends and figured out how to grab that valuable market share point.  This is still the case – but I want to warn corporations and timid businesses that doing research the same old way just takes entirely too long.

Your competition is getting bold and creative.  And they no longer use the kind of money and time that has kept corporations insulated and safe from the little guy.

Your market research will have to get bold and focused on identifying what YOU do well and what’s missing in the market.

Do you have experience with research that has inspired bold attention-getting people or products?  Take a look at the presentation below and leave your thoughts.

Review of Webinar: Innovative Technologies for Fall 2010

On Wednesday August 18th, 2010, SurveyAnalytics participated in a free webinar hosted by Peanut Labs featuring panelists: John Dick, Chief Executive Officer of CivicScience; Esther Rmah LaVielle, Chief Education Director SurveyAnalytics; and Dean Wiltse, Founder & CEO of Thumbspeak.

In this webinar we presented:
– A new method of attitudinal research that captures opinions from broad segments of the consumer population
– How to use conjoint analysis in the innovation process
– Solutions to the challenges of conducting market research via the mobile phone.

If you missed the opportunity to join us that day but are still interested in discovering new technology that will heavily influence the future of research, please click on the links below to review the recording, slides, and review from Peanut Labs:


Click here for Slides


Download Audio here

Webinar Review from Peanut Labs

Creative Segmentation Methods That Will Help You Identify New Opportunities

Segmentation has been around for so long, that we often take it for granted, and yet it continues to be the most powerful, lowest cost and most effective marketing tool we have access to.

In the most basic sense, we segment our audience and our customers because it’s more cost effective and more efficient to group them into clusters that will react similarly to a specific message.  For example, men between the ages of 19 and 25 who are currently attending college are very different from women between the ages of 35 and 45  who live in mid Western suburbs.  Although both of these groups might purchase Hamburger Helper, they have different reasons and different perceived benefits.

Malcolm Gladwell Talks About Spaghetti Sauce Segments

This is a fascinating story about how Campbell’s Soup discovered an unmet need by looking at their customers’ preferences for different types of spaghetti sauce rather than just their demographics.

Segments Can Come From Anywhere

Don’t get stuck in the rut of simply creating segments out of demographics, psychographics or benefits.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H  yourself and your outlook and start exploring segmentation opportunities.

In the new book “The 24-Hour Customer” Adrian Ott explores the new product opportunities and ideas that were uncovered when researchers realized that we only spend about 28% of our time shopping (this includes researching as well as buying).  That’s not so shocking.  But get this — given out increased exposure to new products and services as well as our ability to shop online hasn’t made an impact on that figure anywhere in the world.  In other words – there are more products competing for that same slice of time.  In this case, pulling out TIME and our interaction with it turned out to be an interesting segment.

Take Another Look At Segmentation

If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at segmentation — then read this article by Nico Peruzzi over at Research Access.  He pulls together an outstanding overview of segmentation that you can use to get your creative juices flowing.

What have been your experiences with segmentation?  Have you ever found yourself finding a new opportunity by segmenting differently?  Share your segmentation tips and experiences in our comment section.

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How Can Re-Framing Research as Listening Improve Your Decisions

I have this client that is completely number-obsessed.  Sometimes I wonder if they do the research we do to avoid actually talking to their customers.  They find comfort in the decimal places of the ratings.  They track each movement week by week, quarter by quarter.  They also analyze each of the open ended responses and contact customers to hear more and get more insight around what the customers meant when they responded to our survey.  They are analyzing and hearing.  They are moving toward listening.

What Does Listening Have to Do With Research

Listening implies  understanding.  And when we are understanding what our audience is saying, we can move forward in creating offerings that are appealing to them.

Listening implies caring.  The only way our customers know that they’ve been heard is when we take what they’ve told us and react to it; maybe you explain why you will NOT be adding a feature, maybe you add a feature and tell them it came from their responses.  Either one builds loyalty and engagement.

How do you LISTEN to your customers?  What tools have you used?  How have you communicated the fact that you’ve been listening?

Have you used IdeaScale as a listening tool?  Tell us about your experience.