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When it comes to getting major influencers to help with your marketing efforts, you can be embarking down a treacherous path. While it’s crucial to on-board folks who have a lot of sway with your market, you have to be careful not to rub them the wrong way.

In some cases, it can be just as easy to either get ignored by the influencers altogether, or goad them into giving you the wrong kind of marketing. With that in mind, here are four do’s and four don’t’s to pay attention to when you are trying to get influencers to help market your product.

1. Do choose your influencers wisely.

First, and probably most importantly, is to choose the right influencers to reach out to. You want to make sure their following is actually part of your market. That way, your message gets conveyed to people who will actually have an interest in what you’re promoting.

For example, in 2010 when author Shel Horowitz published his 10th book, "Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green," he quickly identified that the appropriate influencers for his market would be newsletter publishers, bloggers, best-selling authors and the like. He reached out to these influencers, and saw tremendous results from the campaign.

Based on a Google search showing 1,070,000 responses for an exact-match search for the book title, I estimate that at least 5,000,000 people were exposed to the campaign (that would be a very low average of five people seeing each page).

Also, remember that bigger isn’t always better. Victor Ricci of Trend Pie says that “targeting the big name social celebrities is nice but doesn’t always have the best results. When looking to get the lowest CPI, engagement is much more important than follower count.”

2. Do amplify influencer messages.

Influencers are often under tremendous pressure to drive traffic to their message, so anything you can do to help them do that will be noticed and greatly appreciated. You should find an influencer you greatly admire, and start amplifying their content by sharing it on your own social media networks. Be sure to tag the influencer so he or she knows what you’re doing.

Digital marketing entrepreneur Spencer X. Smith found out just how powerful this courtship could be when he began sharing articles by Cheryl Conner of Forbes. He would share her stories on LinkedIn and Twitter, always providing his own thoughts about the piece and how his audience might use it. As a result of his efforts, Conner actually contacted Smith to be the subject of a feature article at Forbes.

3. Do offer influencers something to entice them.

Sometimes, just building the relationship might not be enough. Many influencers need something a bit more tangible than just you sharing their message, so you need to entice them. This could take the form of a charitable donation in the influencer’s name or something more along the lines of helping the influencer get even more exposure.

For example, Cloudways struggled at first to get influencers to promote its new cloud hosting management platform. They pitched a list of influencers one at a time, and were either ignored or told they were being too pushy. While part of this might be a lack of relationship-building first, what finally worked for Cloudways tells “the rest of the story.”

Cloudways reached out to influencers again, this time inviting them to be interviewed for the company’s blog. This got the attention of several influencers, especially mid-level ones and the response was strong enough that Cloudways has published more than 120 interviews and has created a community that loves the company’s product and talks about it often.

4. Do use an evangelical approach.

Remember who you’re approaching. Top influencers respond to a different kind of value propositions than regular users. While regular users respond to quantitative value propositions like “cheaper,” “smaller,” or “faster,” top influencers are more interested in qualitative value propositions. This is where you’ll use words like “revolutionary,” “breakthrough,” and “game-changing.” Influencers want to be involved in exciting ventures, so you need to attract their attention with engaging text.

Rick Carlile, the founder of Aegora.com, the Professional Marketplace, used a very evangelical approach in trying to attract influencers to come on board. As a result of his influencer marketing campaign, Aegora.com was able to attract around 500 high-quality signups to the site, a tremendous number in a highly competitive niche.

 

5. Don’t spam influencers with follow ups.

Yes, you should follow up with your influencer, but don’t be obnoxious about it. This means having a bit of patience, since most influencers are very busy people and may not have an opportunity to reply to your email in just a day or two. If you don’t hear back from the influencer within a week, then it’s probably safe to send a follow up email.

Adarsh Thampy, CEO of LeadFerry, points out that you have to walk a fine line between persistence and pushiness. Thampy suggests you should send no more than two follow ups, with at least a week’s gap in between, to maximize your chances of success. Remember, though, not to be pushy:

It goes without saying. But influencers are humans too. Do you feel like doing something if someone you barely know acts pushy? No. When you face resistance, let it go.

6. Don’t forget to build influencer relationships.

Remember our suggestion in the do’s section about courting your influencer? This is crucial, because it builds a relationship with them before you even think about asking them for help. Failing to build that relationship first will mean you come across as being spammy and pushy.

Chris Boulas, the founder and president of digital marketing firm Formulytic, has built businesses from $5 million to more than $30 million in revenue, largely on the back of influencer marketing. Boulas points out how you can go about developing a relationship first:

Business is about give and take, so don’t approach influencers with a take-only mindset. Be ready to provide value in return. Do you have a skill, idea or feedback on an influencer’s business? Apply your skill or share your ideas for free and provide value upfront first. 

7. Don’t forget to set influencer guidelines.

How does your influencer reach out to his or her following? Through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or some other medium? Make sure you have specific guidelines in place for how you should be promoted and especially tagged, to generate the maximum exposure possible.

For example, Lindsay White of Lot801 Marketing points out that Instagram has recently made it possible to tag images. As a result of that, many influencers are only tagging people in the images when they are working with brands. This is a major problem, White points out:

"No one taps on the photo anymore to see who they tagged. But, they will read the captions. If your influencers aren’t tagging you in the caption, you’re missing out on some serious sales and social media followers. Since we’ve made this a requirement when working with any influencers, our sales are about 30 percent higher than if they didn’t tag us in both the caption and photo… along with an increase of about 50 percent in sales."

8. Don’t rely solely on the influencer for buzz.

Marketing almost has to take a multi pronged approach, so make sure you don’t get tunnel vision. You cannot rely just on the influencer to generate the buzz that will make your campaign successful. Consider the influencer just a piece of the puzzle, albeit a possibly big piece.

Marc Nashaat, of Powered by Search, stresses the importance of this multifaceted approach. He points out that at the same time you are building your influencer network, you should also be identifying the people or publications that cover your campaign topic or the engagements of your influencer. Do outreach to them to help “seed” your influencer-based marketing campaign.

 

Run a great influencer marketing campaign.

With these tips under your belt, you should be able to successfully attract the right influencers to help you with your marketing efforts. Just remember to be yourself, and follow the advice of folks who have been doing influencer marketing with great success for many years. 

Source:   https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/275923

 

SEO is a long-term strategy

 

You have to work hard to develop a body of highly optimized content for readers, and then you have to make efforts off-site to prove the relevance and authority of your website to search engines.

 

For the impatient marketer just starting out with their SEO strategy, the task can seem less than worthwhile. If this sounds familiar – and you need some quick SEO wins – this blog post is for you.

 

Here’s an eight-step SEO game plan for impatient marketers.

 

Step 1: Make Sure You’re Optimized for Mobile
First things first:

 

Is your site mobile-compatible? If not, this is one of your most important SEO tasks.

If you’re not sure, you can check right now using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test:

 

Mobile Friendly Test Website Screenshot

 

 

 

Just enter your URL and Google will tell you in seconds.

 

Optimizing for mobile is a really important step to get quick gains in SEO. For one, people in the US are now spending 61% of their time online using a mobile device. If someone accesses your site through mobile, and it’s not optimized, they’re much more likely to bounce, which is going to affect your results in SERPs.

 

And have you heard of Mobilegeddon? This is what marketers are calling Google’s April 2015 ranking algorithm update – one that was designed to boost the rank of mobile-friendly pages in search.

 

Step 2: Create a Site Map


If you’re already mobile-compatible, then the next step is making sure you have a sitemap.

A sitemap gives search engines detailed information about what pages are on your website, which will make it easier for them to crawl it. You can create one using XML Sitemaps for free (up to 500 pages).

 

XML Website Screenshot

 

 

 

If you use WordPress, there are simple plugins you can use to build a sitemap, such as Yoast. Otherwise, take your XML Sitemap and upload it to the root file of your site like this: /sitemap.xml.

 

Step 3: Get Set up With Search Console


If you haven’t already, you should sign up for Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, and verify your website.

 

Then you can submit your sitemap to each search engine. Here are the instructions for Google, and here are the ones for Bing.

 

On Search Console, just go to your dashboard, click ‘Crawl’ on the side navigation, then ‘Sitemaps.’ You’ll then see the option to ‘Add/Test Sitemap.’

 

Google Search Console Screenshot

 

 

 

Then just follow the prompts to get it set up.

 

Step 4: Check Your Site Speed


Now that you’re on Webmaster Tools, it’s really easy to check your site speed. In Google Analytics, click the “Reporting” tab in the top navigation.

 

Then, in the side toolbar, click Behavior > Site Speed > Overview to see your data.

 

Site Speed Menu Screenshot

 

 

 

Site speed is an important rank factor for SERPs, and it affects your bounce rate. People are impatient – the slower your website loads, the more likely they are to leave. In fact, 47% of consumers expect pages to load in 2 seconds or less.

 

Site speed also has an impact on your conversions—a 1-second loading delay can cause up to a 7% loss in conversions. This means you should do everything you can to make sure your website runs as fast as possible.

 

Google offers its own speed suggestions in the Site Speed drop-down menu. You can also look into different site speed fixes based on your platform (WordPress, Weebly, etc.). Here are some other common ways your content or setup can slow down your site speed.

 

 

Step 5: Make Sure Google is Crawling Your Website Properly


It’s important to make sure that Google is crawling your site properly – if it’s not, your content might not appear in search results at all.

 

If you’ve already submitted your sitemap to Search Console, check their Crawl Errors Report to see if they had problems crawling any of your pages. You should check back with this often as your website grows.

 

If you don’t already have one, create a robots.txt file in Google Analytics. If you have one already, check and make sure it’s not blocking any important URLs.

 

There are also many external tools to help you crawl your website, including:

Screaming Frog
SEO Chat
Webmaster World


Step 6: Check for Missing and Duplicate Data


Next, you should run your own crawler to identify any missing or duplicate data. Most of the crawling tools out there are paid, but Screaming Frog will give you a free trial for up to 500 URLs.

 

Here’s what you should be looking out for:

 

Missing ALT tags
Missing (or duplicate) meta descriptions
Missing (or duplicate) H1 and H2 tags
Duplicate pages
404 errors


Use this information to go back through and fill in any gaps in your website’s data.

Google doesn’t like websites with duplicate content, so it’s important to either block duplicate pages with your robots.txt file, or make the content unique.

 

Step 7: Start Optimizing for Local Search


Google is increasingly favoring locally optimized results for SERPs.

For example, if I search for “phone accessories,” Google doesn’t show me online retailers:

 

Google Search Screenshot for Cell Phone Accessories

 

 

 

Google used my IP address to highlight phone accessory options near me, before the first organic result.

So if you want some quick SEO wins, focus on local.

 

First, add your business to Google My Business. Add your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) and make sure the information is accurate.

 

Google compares your My Business NAP to your other NAP listings around the web. If there are discrepancies, it will affect your rank.

 

Next, you should go to the other popular search data providers and make sure your NAP is available for Google to find. Check Yelp, Bing, Yellow Pages, and other listings relevant to your industry.

 

You need to make sure your NAP is correct everywhere it appears. Moz Local can help you find your other listings using just your business name and zip code:

 

Moz Local Screenshot

 

 

 

For incorrect NAPs, either update it yourself or contact the website to tell them the information is wrong.

 

Step 8: Look for Long-Tail Keyword Opportunities


At this point, you’ve sorted out most of the technical issues that can really affect your SEO. Now, you have no choice but to move on to keyword optimization.

 

Still, there are some ways to get quick wins when trying to rank for keywords. The best one is looking for long-tail keywords.

 

Ranking for the most popular keywords in your industry can take years – or it could never happen at all – but if you find the right long-tail keywords to optimize for, you can shoot to the top of rankings.

 

According to Moz, a huge portion (70%) of keywords have relatively low demand.

Long-tail keywords are discovered by thinking about user intent. When your audience sits down at the search engine, what are they typing in?

 

For example, say I’m an online retailer of phone accessories. Ranking for keywords like “iphone case” or “screen protectors” will be difficult — you’d be going up against the biggest brands:

 

 

Google Search Screenshot for phone cases

 

 

But a lot of the time, your audience wants something specific. “Fast charge wireless charging pad” or “Galaxy Note 5 Flip Cover Case” are long-tail keywords that would have much less rank competition.

 

Finding good long-tail keywords is mostly about imagining user intent. Once you come up with some options, you can determine how relevant and competitive they are using Google Adwords.

 

If you’re searching for long-tail keywords in particular, I recommend using Keyword Tool Dominator. It uses Google autocomplete to help find relevant long-tail keywords right from search:

 

 

Keyword Tool Dominator Website Screenshot

 

 

 

Conclusion


There’s no getting around the long-haul optimization strategies if you want to get and maintain the highest rank possible. But if you’re just starting out with SEO, there are a lot of quick tricks you can use to jumpstart your efforts.

Follow the eight steps above to start your SEO game plan for impatient marketers.

 

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/serps-success-seo-game-plan-impatient-marketers/158977/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday, so welcome to our weekly round up of search marketing and related news.

This week we have the 16 companies dominating Google, stats on retailers’ search budgets, and a look at accusations around Google and searches for Hillary Clinton.

Is Google manipulating searches for Hillary Clinton? Er,no…

There’s been talk of Google manipulating autocomplete suggestions for searches on Hillary Clinton. A video from SourceFed claims that searches around Clinton are being manipulated as they don’t return the suggestions they would expect to find.

Specifically, searches such as “Hillary Clinton cri-” did not suggest “Hillary Clinton criminal charges” and “Hillary Clinton in-” did not return “Hillary Clinton indictment.”

SEO and reputation management expert Rhea Drysdale does an excellent job of debunking the theory in a post on Medium.

Essentially SoureFed failed to compare similar searches for Donald Trump, which fail to suggest phrases like “Donald Trump lawsuit”.

trump la

In a nutshell, if Google is manipulating searches for Clinton, it’s doing the same for Trump. There’s another theory too – the popularity of the SourceFed video has led to thousands trying out these searches for themselves, thus potentially manipulating these results.

Google becomes the world’s most powerful brand

Apple’s value has dropped 8% to $228 billion in the past year, while Google’s has risen 32% to reach $229 billion. So Google takes top spot in Millward Brown Digital’s annual report.

mill brown

Amazon’s search spending

Fractl has analyzed the marketing spend of some of the biggest retailers, and search gets the lion’s share of Amazon’s budget.

During the period studied, the ecommerce giant spent $8 million on TV and radio, $54 million on print and $1.35 billion on search.

amazon-budget

For more stats, see Mike O’Brien’s piece on the research.

In search, do the the rich just get richer?

Earlier this week, Chris Lake covered an excellent Glen Allsop study into how 16 companies are dominating Google’s results.

 

As Chris says in his post:

In this case, the rich are major publishing groups. The way they are getting richer is by cross-linking to existing and new websites, from footers and body copy, which are “constantly changing”
And these are the big 16:

top16

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/10/four-of-the-most-interesting-search-marketing-news-stories-of-the-week/

Categorized in Market Research

The Google Contacts web app, first introduced over a year ago, is rolling out new a feature despite still being in preview mode. The new feature will list verified business information from Google Maps directly in a contact.

If you have previously added information about a business to the Google Contacts web app, such as a phone number, the contact will be populated with verified information about that businesses from its listing in Google Maps. In addition, Contacts will pull in the the business’s profile information as well as link to open the listing directly in Maps.

If you have previously added data to the Google Contact Web App then your information will not be overridden, rather the two sets of data will show up simultaneously. All information from Google Maps will be displays below the information you have added manually.

This is one of the first new features added to Google Contacts since the preview rolled out. If you’re still on the old version of Contact you can activate the new one by clicking on “Try Contact Preview” in the left toolbar.

map

A new design for Google Contact is available now, with the Maps integration set to roll out to all users in the coming days.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-contacts-web-app-now-shows-verified-information-maps/165606/

Categorized in Search Engine

The application backlogs in nearly every organization are expanding exponentially as companies try to keep pace with competitors and their own internal needs. How can you improve the time-to-market of your applications so they can be inserted into production quicker? Here are some suggestions.

1: Collaborate

Agile development methodologies, like scrum, encourage ongoing collaboration in application requirements definition and development between end users and IT. The more you can keep end users actively engaged in the application development process, the less you will have to worry about the application drifting from what the business expected. When you meet business expectations dead-on the first time, your applications can be placed into production without delay.

More about Innovation

How the 'PayPal Mafia' redefined success in Silicon Valley

A decade ago, the PayPal Mafia played a major role in revitalizing the tech industry in Silicon Valley. The story behind this group of leaders proves that their success is more than just luck.

 

2: Prototype often

Application developers now have app prototyping tools that enable users and developers to see the flows and the looks of applications as the apps are being built. This is important in terms of user acceptance and ultimate app readiness. Every time you incorporate a new application element, create a working prototype for end users to test drive and comment on. It is easier to make adjustments in earlier stages of app development than right before the app is scheduled to be moved into production.

3: Virtualize development and test environments

It takes time to configure physical hardware and software for application testing and development. A better approach is to use a cloud service or to virtualize your own development and test environments so that your developers can have dedicated test and development systems. With virtualization, the strain on your DBA and system programmers will also be reduced, since configuration and deployment of virtual systems is quicker.

4: Hold users accountable

Users get busy, too—so there is always a tendency for them to walk away from the development and testing process after they feel they have given IT all their app requirements. Don't let this happen. Ensuring that applications stay on course with requirements during development should be as much of an end-business responsibility as it is an IT responsibility.

5: Work on usability as much as you work on features and functions

You'd be surprised at how many data errors and end user trouble reports are generated because of poor navigation and screen or report design. Giving equal time to usability as well as to technical design can go a long way toward ensuring that apps are accepted and placed into production the first time.

6: Implement a standard library of routines you can reuse

The easiest way to ensure app compatibility with other software you use is to standardize routines (e.g., a date routine) so that they can be pulled from a common library and used over and over again.

7: Don't forget quality assurance

It is important to thoroughly QA an application—from both a usability and a technical performance standpoint. Organizations are still seeing 50% of IT's programming time being committed to software maintenance—which happens because apps fail or don't do what they are supposed to do. You can help prevent this by designing apps that work correctly the first time and every time, thereby freeing up maintenance staff so you can redirect those resources into more new development.

 

8: Regression test for performance

Organizations continue to unit test applications and then try to rush them into production without performing a full regression test to ensure that the new app will handle the transaction load it is supposed to be able to handle—or that it is compatible with all the other software it must run with. When an app breakdown occurs in production because regression testing wasn't done, it can become a major embarrassment for a company.

9: Train your support staff and your users

User training should be a project task for any new application. If business users aren't trained in how to use an app, they will get frustrated and end up calling your support staff. Before any app goes live, the IT support staff should also be thoroughly trained. If they're not knowledgeable and can't respond to user questions quickly, it could reflect negatively on an application to the point where it must be pulled from production.

10: Design for simplicity

Applications should always use a modular design structure. This enables developers to test and debug individual routines without having to read through an entire program.

Source:  http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-ways-to-improve-time-to-market-for-your-applications/

Categorized in Market Research

The year 2016 will be known as the beginning of the rise of influencer marketing. In a world where everyone is a minor celebrity through Twitter, YouTube, and blogging, anyone can use their clout to direct their audience and make smaller voices heard.

But what is influencer marketing? And why should small businesses try to harness its power? Here’s your guide to the whats, whys, and hows.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing combines word-of-mouth reviews with celebrity endorsements. Brands work to find a public figure or well-known name within their niche and ask them to talk about their products or engage with their content.

Depending on the company, this can be a low-key (and even free) exercise or a pricey form of marketing. On one end, small non-profits ask local news anchors to promote them — otherwise known as free PR — and B2B bloggers reach out to keynote speakers asking for retweets to their expansive networks. On the other end, some brands are willing to pay thousands of dollars just for one Instagram post from Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan.

Finding a partner to showcase your brand is key, and when it’s done right, your brand can flourish.

Why is Influencer Marketing Beneficial?

Once our clients have a basic understanding of influencer marketing, the follow-up questions are: Will it work for our brand? And Why should we try it? There are many reasons to give it a shot, but here are our top six.

 

You Expose Your Brand to Larger Audiences

The rise of ad-blockers has led to more companies trying to connect with potential customers on a personal level instead of broadcasting blanket ads. There are two ways to do this: create content on personal platforms like blogs and social media, or promote your content on other influencer platforms.

Content marketers have started using influencers as recruiters for their brands. Your blog might only reach 1,000 people per day, but your influencer’s blog might reach 1,000,000. Even if just 2% of your influencer’s visitors come to your site, you’re still going to triple your audience.

Influencers Prove You’re a Major Player

Many brands use influencer marketing to seem like bigger brands than they actually are. Let’s use the example above, where a blog with a million followers promotes a blog with a thousand. The larger blog’s audience doesn’t know that the smaller channel only gets a thousand visitors daily — and they don’t care. Cool content is cool content, regardless of the audience.

Influencer marketing is ideal for putting your brand on the map and making it stand out. If your brand is good enough for the influencer, then it should be good enough for their audience.

Word-of-Mouth Provides Credibility

Many customers trust word-of-mouth, but it’s also one of the hardest marketing tools to employ. Influencer marketing channels the word-of-mouth benefits without the labor of getting each customer to promote your brand.

The key to finding a successful influencer is picking someone who already lives with your brand and would be a natural fit to represent you. For example, Audrina Patridge announced her pregnancy using a Clear Blue Easy pregnancy test featured on Instagram. The placement was a natural fit because she was expecting and because the majority of her fans are twenty-something women.

 

The Relationship Creates Better ROI in the Long Run

While some influencer relationships will remain the same (you will always pay through the nose for Kylie Jenner to take a selfie with your product), most niche influencer relationships will have better ROI the longer you work with them.

The first part of the outreach process is always the hardest. Your influencer might not be familiar with your product or content and neither of you is sure if the promotion will be a success, but after a few wins you can form a partnership, and your influencer’s audience will know that they genuinely love the product.

Paid placements should become cheaper as you work with the influencer more (while bulk buying should decrease the price) and organic placements should be easier to acquire over time.

Adweek notes that influencer costs have been rising significantly in the past two years, which means that getting in on the ground floor now can save you thousands in the next six months or a year.

Success Tracking is Easier Than Ever

Google Analytics and other sites like Coremetrics and Omniture can measure every step your audience takes and how they convert. Instead of just measuring exposure in the same way we measure TV and radio ads, we can measure the exact path from the influencer’s site to ours, and track their conversion process.

One of the hardest parts of marketing is constantly allocating and reallocating your budget for the highest ROI, and modern analytics will help with that.

Your Competition is Already Doing It

As of October 2015, 75% of companies reported using influencer marketing as a strategic marketing tool. Of that, 47% considered the channel extremely effective, while 34% thought it was somewhat effective. This means half of your competition is already beating you, and another third is on its way!

 

How Do I Start?

Once clients are sold on the idea of influencer marketing, the next question is how? We recommend these five quick steps to start testing the influencer waters:

Determine what budget (if any) you can commit to paid partnerships.
Brainstorm an influencer “dream team” of 10-20 people or websites that would ideally promote your products or content.

Get creative with the marketing message! Anyone can hold up a product, but unique messages have more staying power.

Seek out input from the influencer of what worked or didn’t, and collect feedback from both of your audiences on the promotion.

Test, test, test. It’s okay to fail as long as each failure comes with a lesson.

Influencer marketing depends on the spokespeople you choose, but also on the products or services you offer. Remember, Kim Kardashian can try to promote corset trainers all she wants, but if they don’t work, all that influencer marketing has gone to waist.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/6-reasons-influencer-marketing-beneficial/163866/

There is no doubt that the world of business advertising has changed dramatically over the past few years. Strong evidence exists that more and more money is being spent on advertising in the business-to-business media, that more and more companies are participating in business advertising, and that more and more sales leads are being stimulated by business advertising in general.

The trend toward more business advertising can be seen in the latest statistics on business advertising spending among the top 100 largest advertisers. The publication Business Marketing reports that, for the period from 1980 to 1985, the advertising spending of the top 100 advertisers in measured business publications increased from a total of approximately $125 million to approximately $750 million. While media inflation accounts for some of this huge increase, these data confirm the importance of business advertising in the minds of many marketing and advertising managers.

But what's happening in business advertising research? Is there as much excitement about current developments in business advertising research as there is in business advertising? Are more and more companies using research to make sure that their business advertising budget is being spent wisely? Are there innovations in research methodologies that direct the development of advertising strategies better than before? Are advertising managers seeing the benefits of business advertising research in tangible terms?

Problems, opportunities

We believe that the answers to these questions would provide a great deal of insight into the current state of the art in business advertising research. But more importantly, we believe that the answers to these questions would provide insight into the current thinking about the problems and opportunities associated with business advertising research.

It is useful to have a better understanding of the role of research in the process of developing and evaluating business advertising. It was with this purpose in mind that we began the research project described here.

Our objective is to report some of the major findings of a research project that we conducted during the summer of 1987. In this study, we set out to contact and interview some of the top advertising research professionals in business advertising. We obtained information on several different aspects of business advertising research but we concentrated primarily in two areas: The use of research in the development of advertising strategy and the use of research in measuring advertising effectiveness. First we'll summarize the methodology that was used to collect the data.

 

"Key informant"

The methodology used in the study was based upon the "key informant” technique. Key informants, or the most knowledgeable individuals in the business advertising profession, were identified and interviewed in a 20 minute telephone conversation. The list of the 100 leading business-to-business advertisers from the July, 1986, edition of Business Marketing was used to identify companies that are the most active in business advertising. The Standard Directory of Advertisers was used to identify the individuals within these companies who have major responsibilities for advertising.

The list of key informants was qualified further by telephoning each individual's company to confirm that he/she was still employed with the company and, if so, to confirm his/her address and telephone number. We then sent a letter to each individual remaining on our list which explained the purpose of our study, requested their cooperation, and assured them that their responses would remain confidential. Forty letters were mailed.

Telephone calls were made to each individual on the list about 10 days after the letters were mailed, and several callbacks were made. In the interview, a structured outline that included questions on the role of business advertising research in two major situations was used: 1. The development of advertising strategy. 2. The measurement of advertising effectiveness.

Within both of these areas the following questions were asked:

What is the trend in business advertising research in your company during the past few years? Is there more research, less research, or about the same amount of research? Please explain.
What kind of methodology (or methodologies) do you use? What is its overall purpose? What variables are measured? What is the sample size? What other important aspects of the methodology are there?
What are the benefits of this research? In other words, what do you get for it?

How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with this type of research in assisting in developing good advertising at your company (or in evaluating the effectiveness of your company's business advertising)?
We found that the respondents were, for the most part, very willing to share this type of information with us and were quite interested in our study. We completed the interview with 20 key informants, for a response rate of 50%.

Obviously, the small number of respondents limits the generalizability of our results. But we felt that an exploratory study among the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry would give us the kind of information that would be most useful at this stage of our research.

Differing opinions

The results of the research provided the kind of insight we were looking for. We found that there are many differing opinions about the roles of business advertising research, the methodologies that are used, the benefits and problems associated with the research, and the levels of satisfaction with various research approaches.

Results of the study in each of the areas included in the study are:

1. Trends in business advertising research
The responses seemed fairly well divided between those respondents who believe that there is more research and those who believe that there is less research in their companies. It appears that there is a slight trend for more research in the area of strategy development and less research in the area of advertising effectiveness research during the past few years.

Responses were mixed, and it is quite difficult to discern any other trends. Representative comments from the respondents included:

"Very positive. Much more (research) than ever before."

"More interest, but only a little more actual testing. Parts of the company do more, some not so."

 

"More research is being used now than ever before. Some operating companies use more research; some do not. We try to influence them to do so."

"More research. More tracking research is being used to feed into the creative process."

"Research is not used at all. Campaigns are developed by gut feel based on discussions within the company and ad agency."

"There is less emphasis here (in advertising effectiveness research) than with strategy development research. It needs a champion."

"More research in our company. We now insist that divisions measure advertising effectiveness in terms of operational communications objectives."

"We do some research, but not much. Only in selected areas."

"More need now than ever before but less time, money, and people available to accomplish it."

"More competition with deregulation resulting in more advertising and measurement."

"No more 'seat of the pants.' There is more pressure to be cost-effective and segment selective."

"We're sadly deficient. We do almost no measurement."

"Less research. There is more scrutiny now than ever before with emphasis on profits as to where we spend our money."

Overall, it appears that there are more questions being asked by management that should be answered by research. But there does not seem to be strong evidence that more research is being conducted, however.

2. Methodologies being used

A. Strategy development research

It is very clear that there is little agreement as to what methodologies should be used to provide the best input into the strategy development process. Responses were all over the board with every major research technique being represented. The responses included: Focus groups, personal interviews, telephone studies, copy testing, and tracking research used to feedback into the creative process.

Some respondents use only one of these techniques, while other respondents use a combination of methods. One rather unexpected finding was the extent to which tracking studies, typically conducted by telephone, are used in the strategy development process (as well as in the measurement of advertising effectiveness). In some firms, tracking studies are supplemented by focus groups and other methods.

Sample sizes vary all over the lot depending upon the size of the market being targeted. The sample sizes range from 10-1,500.

In the area of copy testing, by far the most widely used method is the Starch method.

It was also interesting to find out that special, proprietary techniques are not being used. The only exception to this was that one respondent reported using claims matrix mapping exclusively. He is an eager proponent of this method for use in product positioning in business advertising.

Methodologies used

Representative comments regarding the methodologies being used include the following:

"Focus groups, tracking research (used to feed back into the creative process)."

"One-on-one qualitative research with individuals in the financial community. They are asked to comment on our ads and our competitors."

"Telephone study: Attribute testing (for both customers and non? customers). Mail study; concept testing where stickers are allocated."

"We start with a small scale qualitative study and we end with concept boards with short copy."

"All types of methods. Whatever is needed; focus groups, tracking, Starch."

 

B. Advertising effectiveness research

In the area of advertising effectiveness research, the most commonly used technique, as we expected, is the tracking study. Most of the tracking research is conducted by telephone, although tracking via mail questionnaires is used as well. The typical tracking study research measures variables such as company awareness, advertising awareness, and attitudes or perceptions about the company as well as about several other firms. These other firms used for comparison that are typically included in the research are either competitors or other large, highly visible firms. Examples of the latter group includes IBM, AT&T, Dow Chemical, GE, 3M, Du Pont, and Xerox. Very often, tracking research is conducted by market audience across several markets served by the firm. We also found that these results are often broken down by current customers and potential customers as well as by different market segments.

In addition to tracking studies, several other methods are being used by the top business advertisers. These include:

Copy testing, especially Starch;
Focus groups;
Personal interviews;
Publishers' audience data (although a great deal of skepticism exists regarding the validity of these data);
Miscellaneous techniques such as coupon response, calls to a toll-free number, and informal client feedback.

Representative comments that we received include the following:

"Tracking study conducted by telephone. The study uses a sample size of 1,500 broken down by target markets. Measures ad awareness, company awareness, perceptions of the company, and impressions of the company," "A qualitative study consisting of three open-ended questions related to 'What does the advertising make you think about."'

"We do an annual study against several target audiences measuring awareness, attitudes, and perceptions using a sample size of 150 per cell. Copy testing is also used; ASI and Starch."

"We use a combination of focus groups and story boards. We measure awareness, attitudes, and corporate identity."

"A tracking study at the corporate level, and some tracking at the operations levels as well. In the corporate level, we focus on two broad audiences: 1. Business. 2. Financial and security analysts."

"Wall Street Journal" readership studies. We monitor coupon returns from our WSJ advertising. Informal client feedback."

"In-depth telephone interviews with sample size of 1,000+. We measure company awareness, advertising awareness, attitudes vis-a-vis competitors, and other specific issues of concern."

"We measure coupon response and calls to our toll-free number."

"We plot Starch data over time."

3. Benefits received

Perhaps the most interesting result from the research was in the area of benefits received. In the vast majority of cases, the respondents were able to provide two or three substantial benefits that they saw in business advertising research. Although the range of responses seems great, there appears to be some consistent themes running through the responses.

A. Strategy development research

The most common response received to the question "What are the benefits of strategy development research?" deals with the positive nature of the feedback to the creative process. The usefulness of research in copy development is quite obvious from our research. Respondents seemed to be in fairly close agreement that strategy development research enabled them to get a better grip on their buyers' needs and to identify the types of information that would be helpful in the buyers' decision-making process. This result was especially important for those respondents who carry out advertising campaigns to several different target audiences.

 

Closely related to the ability of strategy development research in adding to the creative process were responses related to providing assistance in spending the advertising budget more wisely and providing an "objective" look at what should be done.

Another major benefit from strategy development research exists in an organizational sense. Here, business advertising research is being used as a tool to aid in convincing management that advertising dollars are being spent in the most productive way possible and to justify the need for budget and staff. We believe that this use of business advertising research may be one of the most important findings in our study. The ability of advertising managers to use research to convince skeptical top management that "advertising monies are not being wasted" and "we are getting something in return for our budget" are major reasons to conduct the research. This defensive position was mentioned by several respondents as being a crucial benefit of advertising research.

Objective measure

In the area of strategy development research, representative comments include the following:

"Helps in spending money wisely under conditions of tight budgets.”

"Helps to direct message to different target markets."

"Identifies areas of weakness and mis-perception relative to the audience. Helps focus the advertising on the audience target."

"Identifies the kind of information that the financial community looks for. Identifies problems with corporate image. Provides clear, concise information with graphics. Organizationally, the research has been very helpful."

Here, more of the same kinds of comments were made by the respondents. It quickly became clear that there are widely acknowledged benefits stemming from advertising effectiveness research.

Representative comments from those who participated in the research include:

"Measures image. Research has led to improvements in our image. It has led to direct increase in the sales of one product line."

"Tells us weak spots, strong spots, where we are. Allows us to look at advertising from the point of view of total communication."

"Provides us with feedback on the direction of the campaign and where we are heading. Provides us with creative strategy input."

"Provides a measure of how well we spent our money. Provides guidance on where to spend our money. Provides an indication of the relative merits of different media vehicles. Helps to keep up the morale of the sales force. Keeps the channel of communication open to the sales force."

Spending wisely

In summary, the respondents who participated in our studies feel that the benefits of advertising effectiveness research fall into three major categories:

1. Assistance is provided with the development of messages targeted to the needs of the intended audience. Copy strategy and execution are improved due to the feedback from previous advertising.

2. The advertising budget is spent more wisely, and the advertising expenditures are held accountable for achieving certain results. In the "results oriented" environment of many businesses today, advertising effectiveness research is an important indicator of success.

3. Skeptical top management personnel can be convinced that they are receiving some return on their advertising dollars.

4. Degree of satisfaction and problems encountered

Most of the responses we received to the questions related to the degree of satisfaction were positive. At the same time, almost all of the respondents noted that there are some problems that need to be dealt with in order to make the research process more useful.

The problems mentioned by the respondents vary widely. They deal with issues such as:

The weaknesses associated with various techniques (such as the subjectivity and non-projectability of focus groups and low response rates in telephone interviewing);

The difficulties in reaching the right individual to include in the research;

 

Small sample size;

Measurement error;
The expense involved in the research process, and
The length of time it takes to generate research results.
Another major problem is the need to do a better job of "getting management on board" in supporting the research as well as the advertising itself.

Improved methods needed

Some of the comments were received that reflect these concerns are as follows:

"Adequate. Methods are needed that are more applicable and affordable. Our methods are awfully subjective and non-projectable."

"Very satisfied. But we're always looking for improved methods. Care is needed in using focus groups due to certain people dominating the session."

"Satisfied. The methods are there. The problem is in convincing management and in making the process work internally."

"Moderately satisfied but leaves a lot lacking. Sample size is a problem; it is hard to identify and talk with them."

"We are frustrated. We think that we are doing the right thing, but the research tools are expensive and vague. Getting to the right person is difficult due to the sensitive nature of the information (in defense?related industries). Our refusal rate is 90%. Trying to link results to a particular campaign is difficult. We tried perceptual mapping and found that it didn't work. We are skeptical about other sophisticated techniques."

"Very satisfied. Changing questions is difficult. Sample size is a problem. We can't extend the research to as many target industries as we would like due to the expense of the research."

Research use varies

This study has provided insight into the use of research among business advertising professionals. The responses obtained from some of the largest business advertisers were quite helpful in understanding the role of research in the advertising process, the types of techniques that have been found to be most useful, the benefits of this research, and the levels of satisfaction with business advertising research.

The results of the study indicate that some of the largest business advertisers are quite active in their use of research. They use research on a regular basis and see its role becoming increasingly important. They use methodologies such as focus groups, personal interviews, telephone surveys, and copy testing to attempt to improve the quality of their creative product and to evaluate the effectiveness of it as well. They see several benefits stemming from the process of advertising research, and they indicate that they are generally satisfied with the research they use.

 

On the other hand, a relatively large number of the business advertising professionals interviewed are far less satisfied with business advertising research than was expected. Responses such as, "Research is not used at all," and "We do almost no research at all" were surprising given the significant budget levels devoted to advertising in the business media by the companies comprising the sample. Evidently, these companies see little or no value associated with the research process.

Given that research techniques are currently available that are effective in guiding the development of advertising strategy and improving advertising effectiveness, we found these results to be discouraging. It was disheartening to find that so many of the top 100 business advertisers in our sample did not perceive more "value added" by advertising research. We also were surprised to find that advertising research is being used so frequently for the purpose of convincing skeptical management that advertising really works.

Needing more education

Based on our experiences in discussing business advertising research with 20 key informants in the industry, we believe that there is a strong need for further education on the benefits of advertising research. Educational programs directed at top management and other personnel would be useful in demonstrating the value of business advertising research. In some companies, however, it is clear that this educational task is likely to be a long and difficult one.

But despite the discouraging results obtained from several respondents, other companies are definitely providing leadership in the area of business advertising research. Their leadership will no doubt continue into the future as they find new ways to maximize the impact of advertising through research. We are optimistic that our plans for further research using larger, more representative samples will continue to uncover novel and effective uses for business advertising research.

Source:  http://www.quirks.com/articles/a1988/19880401.aspx?searchID=622320787&sort=5&pg=1

Categorized in Business Research

Emotional engagement, a leading-indicator of consumer behavior, sales and corporate profitability, is now more difficult for brands to achieve as the key drivers of brand engagement have shifted dramatically toward emotional values according to the majority of the 72 categories surveyed in Brand Keys’ 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) – the 21st annual survey conducted by Brand Keys, the New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy.

“The consumer engagement process today is more dependent on emotional benefits and values of products than ever,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. As rational attributes have become price-of-entry givens for today’s consumers, emotional values have become more problematic for brands.

“The difficult part is not brand outreach or messaging but how to accurately determine which emotional values a brand should leverage to emotionally engage consumers since they describe how consumers view the category, compare brands and howtheywillengagewithabrand, buy, remainloyalandprofitable. Imagery items and emotional engagement values are not one and the same,” said Passikoff.

 

Of the 72 categories included in Brand Keys’ 2016 assessments, the 10 with the highest expectations for emotional category values (in parentheses below) – and the brands consumers assessed as best meeting those values – included:

1. Athletic footwear: New Balance/Nike (Personal innovation)
2. Automotive: Hyundai/Ford (My life is always connected)
3. Breakfast bars: Kind/Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain (My tasty lifestyle)
4. Fast-casual restaurants: Panera/Shake Shack (Customization and well-being)
5. Instant messages: WhatsApp (Making my impact)
6. Online retailers: Amazon (Immediate gratification)
7. Online video: Netflix (Always amused, never bored)
8. Smartphones: Apple (I can do anything!)
9. Social networking: Facebook (Personal connectivity and influence)
10. Whiskey: Jack Daniels (My brand is me)

View the complete listing of the 72 categories and the brands which best emotionally engage consumers to learn more.

First-time engagement and loyalty winners

Brands rated Number 1 in their respective categories for the first time included: Lyft, Panera and Shake Shack, Dropbox, ChapStick, Svedka, Kind Breakfast Bars, Omni Hotels, REI and Haagen-Dazs. “As these assessments are based on a brand’s ability to meet customers’ expectations better for key values that drive customer engagement,” said Passikoff, “We’re not surprised to see that brands that do are category leaders and usually more profitable than the competition.”

“If a marketer can increase a brand’s engagement level – particularly the emotional values – they’ll always see positive consumer behavior in the marketplace. Always,” said Passikoff. “Axiomatically, brands that can do that always earn greater market share and are always more profitable than the competition. To succeed, marketers need to accurately answer these questions, ‘What drives my category, what are the emotional engagement values I need to focus on? How can my brand exceed consumer expectations for those emotional values?’ To their detriment, most brands can’t.”

Six new categories

The addition of six new categories – deodorants, file hosting, ice cream, lip balm, ticketing services, whiskey and the return of bottled water and tequila, as well as brand-expansion in several categories, added 83 new brands to the 2016 CLEI survey.

“We’ve seen high consumer interest and strong brand growth in the new categories,” said Passikoff. “And, the increased number of brands appearing in consumers’ consideration sets – 10 new brands alone in the Fast Casual and Quick Serve categories, for example, confirms the category volatility brands that aren’t emotionally engaging consumers face.”

 

The CLEI brand lists aren’t pre-determined. Consumers tell Brand Keys researchers which brands they actually use; brands must be mentioned enough times to provide a statistically generalizable sample. When consumers mention new brands at a significant level, it’s an indicator that current options do not meet their needs. And when that happens, consumers look to other brands to do that for them. On the emotional and rational sides of the purchase equation, today it’s the emotional side of that equation brands need to concentrate on,” noted Passikoff. “Today the rational stuff is easy. Profitability has become far more difficult.”

Methodology

For the 2016 survey, 42,792 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age from the nine U.S. Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers and the brands for which they are top-20 percent customers. Seventy percent were interviewed by phone, 25 percent via face-to-face interviews (to identify and include cellphone-only households), and 5 percent online.

The research technique combines psychological inquiry and statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93 and provides results generalizable at the 95 percent confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B and B2C categories in 35 countries.

The output identifies the four behavioral drivers for the category-specific ideal, and identifies the emotional and rational values (and their percent-contribution to engagement) that form the components of each driver. Drivers – and their component values – are category-specific since consumers don’t buy smartphones the same way they buy cosmetics or pizza. The engagement and loyalty assessments measure how well brands meet expectations that consumers hold for each driver that makes up the category-specific ideal.

Source:  http://quirksblog.com/blog/2016/03/10/recent-study-finds-changes-in-brand-engagement/

Categorized in Business Research

 

Tan Sthanunathan, senior vice president, consumer and market insights at Unilever, recently spoke during the opening keynote of the MRS’s annual conference, Impact 2016, which took place in London on March 15 and 16. Taking a look at the “seismic changes” within the technology and digital world, Sthanunathan’s presentation examined how traditional agencies can adhere to new rules to keep up with the pace of change and survive in a marketplace “in which data is becoming increasingly democratized,” according to an article by Research Live.

“What we have is incredible access to information,” Sthanunathan said. “If we all think that information is going give us a competitive edge and we’re going to use it to become great, don’t think that’s the case. You can get answers to a lot of questions by searching on Google.”

the ten CommandmentsThe article provided the 10 commandments Sthanunathan suggested agencies and clients should follow:

Get social or get ready to be branded anti-social. Mine the information gleaned from social media.
Data is commoditized but insights are getting democratized – a Google consumer survey costs as little as £500.

Get visual or get impaired. Think how to bring insights to life using a fact-based, rather than fact-filled presentation.

Innovate, don’t renovate. Renovating comes naturally because it’s easy. “But renovation in my way of thinking is more like polishing a turd,” Sthanunathan said.
Become the master of metamorphosis – change on an ongoing basis, change every day.

Digitize and humanize. Tame data.

 

Think bi-polar.

It’s too risky not to take risks. Be bolder than you have been traditionally.
Never underestimate the power of N=1 – brands are increasingly being influenced by people.
Real-time is the new currency, cutting the time lapse between asking the question and getting the answer.

Source:  http://quirksblog.com/blog/2016/03/21/10-commandments-for-keeping-up-with-the-pace-of-change/

 

Categorized in Business Research

Given the idea that "people are people," one might assume that the strategies used for consumer focus groups would apply to business-to-business focus groups, but this is not the case. This article offers strategies and considerations for conducting business-to-business focus groups, including playing dumb, allowing the client in the group room, anonymity, confidentiality and a quantitative follow-up.

Using a “people are people” rationale, some researchers might contend that the same strategies can be used in conducting focus groups in the consumer and business to business settings. But experience suggests that some of the rules and practices used in consumer focus groups cannot readily be translated to business sessions. The following article offers strategies and issues to consider when conducting groups among business purchasers.

The unacceptability of “playing dumb.” In conducting consumer focus groups, it is common for moderators to intentionally convey a sense of incomplete understanding. This is often referred to as “sophisticated naivete” in textbooks; “playing dumb” in the vernacular.

In the business to business setting, playing dumb is generally not a viable strategy. The respondents believe that they have entered a group setting among peers, moderated by someone who understands the subject being discussed. They anticipate that this person can understand their language and they will speak more openly to a person who demonstrates an understanding of what they say than to one who does not.

The moderator can still demonstrate a level of incomplete understanding that requires additional information. He or she cannot, however, demonstrate such an ignorance of the subject matter that the participants are deterred from volunteering information. An example should help to clarify this distinction.

If a respondent in a group on electronic data transmission says, “I don’t think that 2400 baud is fast enough for this application,” a moderator who responds with, “I’m not sure what you mean by baud rate” will sacrifice the confidence of the group. The moderator has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the subject being discussed. An acceptable demonstration of incomplete understanding, however, would be: ‘‘I’m not sure why you feel that 2400 baud is not fast enough. This question says, “I understand you but I still need more information.” The previous question says, “I don’t know what you people are talking about.”

 

Waiving the “no client in the group room” rule. In consumer research, most moderators prohibit clients from being in the group room, because the client might inadvertently affect consumer responses by laughing in response to a remark, enthusiastically taking notes when the “important information” arises, looking disinterested, or in some other way shaping the comments of the participants. In many group situations, even the appearance of the client might affect participant statements.

In contrast, many business to business groups can benefit from the presence of a client in the room. Most frequently, this involves the presence of a technical expert, who can respond to participant questions and resolve any misunderstandings that occur in a business to business group. Importantly, this technical expert is not present to influence attitudes. Instead, the technical expert exists to clarify inaccuracies concerning product characteristics or other statements of fact.

Some guidelines apply in using these experts. The expert must be controlled by the moderator, responding only to the moderator’s questions, not to questions raised by the participants. Permitting them to respond to participant questions would risk a loss of control by the moderator.

To discourage interaction between the participants and the expert, the expert should not be seated in the visual focal point of the group. Above all, they must be restrained from debating technical issues with participants or attempting to sell the participants on the merits of the concept being discussed.

Anonymity cannot be guaranteed. In consumer research, most respondents are guaranteed anonymity. They are generally unknown to the viewers and contact between viewers and participants rarely occurs prior to or after group sessions.

In business to business research, however, a greater level of respondent-viewer interaction often exists. In a typical setting, key customers of a company might be seated around the table, while the marketing and sales executives of that company sit behind the glass. These executives have met the respondents before the sessions and they will see them again afterwards. Unless the client would be willing to allow the research company to conduct the sessions without client viewers, which would sacrifice one of the benefits of the group process, anonymity for these respondents cannot be guaranteed.

 

Eliminating this promise of anonymity, the moderator must do the next best thing: promise the participants that the information that they divulge will not be used against them in a sales setting. Of course, the client has to agree to this practice, keeping in mind that they will be jeopardizing their integrity if the promise is broken. A sales manager who repeats what he or she heard the customer say in a focus group setting will almost certainly risk the loss of that customer.

The client’s confidentiality is at risk. The passing of information between respondents and clients in business to business focus groups is a two-way street. Just as the respondent often loses his or her anonymity, the client operating in the business to business setting also loses confidentiality.

In consumer research, respondents are typically screened to ensure that they do not personally work, or have friends or relatives who work, in the researched market. In business to business research, the process is just the opposite: the respondent must work in the targeted industry to qualify for group participation. Working in the targeted industry also says that they have contacts in that industry, which presents the opportunity for security leaks. The dealer who sells your company’s plumbing supplies probably also sells your competitor’s products, which means that they have contacts with representatives from that company, providing them with opportunities to pass on information learned as a participant in a research project.

While some researchers have asked respondents to sign nondisclosure agreements, the value of these documents is questionable. Provided that an attorney could produce an enforceable document, would a company want to sue its customers in the event of a disclosure? More important, it is likely that the document would have a biasing effect on the research. The nondisclosure agreement would scream to the respondent, “The product concept that you are about to see is new and different!” Even an existing product would seem special if preceded by a nondisclosure agreement.

As an alternative to a confidentiality statement, some researchers might provide bogus product attributes to camouflage the nature of the product. In essence, the product concept described to the respondents would be a modification of what might ultimately be produced.

This appears to be a rather futile exercise, since it will obscure the evaluation of the “real” product concept. Additionally, the risk still exists that the respondents will remember only those elements that your company considers most sacred, and pass them along to your competitors.

Since we cannot swear the respondents to confidentiality and attempts to camouflage the nature of the new product concept would be counterproductive, it is recommended that the user of business focus groups views this as a risk versus reward situation. The risk exists that in doing good research in the business setting, some confidential information might leak to a competitor. What the marketer must do is evaluate that risk against the benefits of acquiring new marketing information. If the potential benefits outweigh the risks, then the research is worth doing. If, however, the risk of advanced disclosure of a new product idea is too great to offset the potential rewards of the information to be acquired, then the research should not be conducted.

 

Quantitative follow-up might be impractical. In consumer research, focus groups are so often followed by quantitative research that the focus group reports frequently close with a standard recommendation for a quantitative follow-up: “Of course, we recommend that this research be followed-up with a large sample, qualitative study.”

In the business to business setting, a quantitative follow-up is often impossible or illogical. If you are conducting research among the chief financial officers from the 25 largest companies in a market, and you have selected the focus group as the most appropriate method, who will be available for a quantitative follow-up? After conducting two focus groups with a sample from this population, virtually no one would remain with whom you could conduct your follow-up research. Since business to business focus group research frequently targets these small markets, a quantitative follow-up is likely to be impractical.

In conclusion, there are enough differences between business to business and consumer focus groups to warrant a modification of strategies in moderating and a rethinking of some of the truths that are assumed in the consumer setting. One needs to consider issues related to moderator knowledge, the use of experts, and anonymity and confidentiality, to maximize the value of this tool for the business to business researcher.

Source:  http://www.quirks.com/articles/a1989/19891201.aspx?searchID=622320787&sort=5&pg=1

Categorized in Business Research
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