Sunday, October 19, 2008

Zebra Bites has a new home

From now on, Zebra Bites can be found at:

Please change your bookmarks and/or RSS feed

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Satisfaction guaranteed? Hardly.

Customer satisfaction. You want it. You need it. Your KPIs demand it.

But how do you get it? And how do you measure it?

“Already onto it!” you say. “Covered that in our customer satisfaction survey, with some questions asking our customers how satisfied they are.”


Wrong answer.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not very helpful to ask your customers how satisfied they are. If they rate you highly, the most you’ll get out of it is a warm fuzzy feeling. If they rate you poorly, you’ll be scratching your head, wondering why.

Either way, it’s a waste of both time and money to ask them how satisfied they are without understanding what ‘satisfaction’ actually means to them.

An important step in the market research process – but one that’s all too often overlooked – is to identify the dimensions of satisfaction from your customers’ perspective.

How do they describe it? What does it feel like? What does it depend on? And so on…

Good qualitative research can answer these questions: it can give you important and relevant detail that you’d otherwise miss.

And this kind of information has legs that go beyond KPIs (which always seem to get in the way of organisations becoming truly customer focussed, but that’s another discussion in itself). Good qualitative research can tell you exactly what action you need to take. It can tell you what you’re doing right, what you could be doing better, and where the opportunities lie.  

Pretty good eh?  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pioneering Porcupines: the lot of them!

See here for a brief explanation of the Porcupine principle.

Julian Cole, of Adspace Pioneers fame (and Social Media Strategist extraordinaire over at The Population), has compiled a list of the top marketing blogs in Australia.

So it’s actually more like 100+ porcupine reads: each with its own clever blend of fine thinking and discourse. Value.

And Zebra Bites made the list! Currently sitting, stripey and pretty, at #96. Interestingly, Zebra Bites is one of only 3 market research blogs on the list. Even more interestingly, it looks like it's the only qualitative market research blog listed…

: o

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

83% of people agree

This is a qualitative make-over post. 

I’m going to do a 'before and after' on a sentence I pulled from a qualitative research report I was asked to read recently.

Here’s the before sentence: Of the 4 groups, 83% of people said they liked the design.

Now some of you reading will, at this point, know exactly what I’m talking about: You can go and play. For those who don’t please keep reading.

There are many things wrong with the above sentence being part of a qualitative research report. Here are 3 points to start:

1. It’s not robust

Percentages, in a qualitative context, are pretty much meaningless. While at first blush, a grand 83% looks pretty good, what does it really mean? It means that, assuming 4 groups of 8 participants, 26.6 research participants, screened to fit a particular profile, and willing to attend a particular research group, said they liked the design. That’s a very small, skewed sample: hardly robust and hardly worth reporting. But that’s only the beginning…

2. It’s not controlled

To get a good, clean read on any particular issue in a quantitative survey, the way the questions are ordered and the way they are asked is key. For all intents and purposes, and as much as possible, the survey should be administered in a controlled environment. Even rotating the order of questions is controlled. This ensures reliability (being able to replicate the findings) and therefore, some confidence in the results.

In contrast, to get a good read in a qualitative study (we don’t necessarily go for clean in qual), we need to dance around a bit. Cover the floor. A good qualitative facilitator will bounce around, jump ahead, reverse, turn corners, step to the side…you might even see a grand jeté.

The point here is that the context within which the question is asked, ie the discussion group, will vary wildly for each group. In effect, it will be confounded by all sorts of, well, confounding variables; not least, the discussion itself. The fact that 83% of people said they liked the design means absolutely zip without understanding the discussion that came before.

3. It's open to misinterpretation

The third and most worrying point is the potential for misinterpretation. The most obvious here is making the assumption that 83% of people, per se, liked the design. And then using this ‘finding’ to make Big, Important and Expensive decisions, like changing the design.

Here’s the after sentence: Positive feedback for the design was based on factors X, Y and Z.

Note the glaring (and appropriate) lack of percentages?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Corporates on Twitter: a culture clash?

I’ve been watching the BigPond/Twitter proceedings with great interest.

In true Web 2.0 fashion, the discussion has taken on a life of its own.

Well, for the most part.

Ironically, BigPond’s own contribution to the conversation has been somewhat stilted. A bit reserved. A bit corporate. 

No surprises there. It’s what they do and what they are. And being corporate is fine in a prospectus. And it’s fine on TV. It’s part of their groove and, no doubt, part of what gives the big in BIGpond some credibility.

But being corporate on Twitter just doesn’t work. And trying to be not corporate, when, by all intents and systems you are corporate, just isn’t very credible.

Can Twitter ever be the right medium for corporates? As corporates?

I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

P.S Then again...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Are you STILL following me?

I can’t think of anything good about it.

On a personal level, it’s really annoyed me. First, I had to write an extra email that, had the @Bigpondteam not teased me with their tweet, I could have avoided. Second, after our brief tweet-a-tweet, I still had to send my request to them by snail mail. And last, but certainly not least, it hasn’t really helped me solve my Bigpond problem.

Tip #1: Understand your customers

Why didn’t they do any basic research before following and tweeting at me? Why didn’t they look at who I follow, and who’s following me?

I’m wondering how they just plain didn’t notice that the Tweetosphere is rife with savvy, and very articulate, social media observers just looking for a case study such as this…

It’s being played out to that effect. Analysis of Bigpond’s tweet effort has been tweeted and re-tweeted around the traps and has, of course, spread to the (echoing) boulevards of blogsville. The recurring theme seems to be about how brands should not conduct themselves on Twitter.

My question for Bigpond is simple: Why Twitter? What customer needs are you fulfilling? Think about it and get back to me. On Twitter please.

(More about this in an excellent post by Lid here) 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Follow The Zebra

Bigpond are following me on Twitter.

: o

It all started with this Tweet:

Me: Composing letter to Bigpond to protest charges for additional usage. ROFLMAO. Just typed Pigpond inadvertently. Might leave it as is. 09:42 PM September 24, 2008 from web

Me: And now Bigpong! It honestly just fell out as I was typing. 09:47 PM September 24, 2008 from web

And then, the next day:

Bigpond: @zebrabites BigPond® would like 2 chat about the concerns U have. Click & a BigPond consultant will email U back. 12:03 PM September 25, 2008 from web in reply to ZebraBites

Me: Hello Bigpond and thanks for the follow! I think. : S 12:06 PM September 25, 2008 from web

Me: @BigPondTeam I have already emailed you and without much success. Will this time be different? 12:09 PM September 25, 2008 from web in reply to BigPondTeam

Me: @BigPondTeam Yoohooo! Are you still there?? 12:26 PM September 25, 2008 from web in reply to BigPondTeam

Bigpond: @zebrabites yes we will certainly assist in any enquiry you have 12:39 PM September 25, 2008 from web in reply to ZebraBites

Me: @BigPondTeam Great! I will email you my woes and await your reply. 12:42 PM September 25, 2008 from web in reply to BigPondTeam

Me: off for a walk to post a letter. To Bigpond. Cause they need a (hard copy) signature to process my request. *mind boggling* 05:01 PM September 25, 2008 from web

You can find further interesting twittering on this here:

And by the way Bigpond, my invitation still stands!

Me: @BigPondTeam Come and *listen* to responses to your tweets: a lot to learn here if you're interested! about 6 hours ago from web in reply to BigPondTeam.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Age of Conversation: A Great Porcupine Read

Today’s porcupine book is a shaping and defining must read for anyone interested in, well, the age of conversation! 

Get inspired.

Title: The Age of conversation: 100 voices. 1 conversation

Editors: Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan

And the next edition will be out soon!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How was it for you?

I’ve been reflecting on the AMSRS conference I attended in Melbourne last week; wondering why I was so underwhelmed.

Three things that bugged me and then I’ll shut up and move on in my life.

1. Eeew…mould!

I wasn’t the only one to notice the irony. The conference was titled Breaking The Mould, yet conference presenters were made to conform to a prescribed, very dull and downright ugly, PowerPoint presentation theme. A bit control-freak and yesterday I think: were the organisers afraid we’d forget which conference we were at?

2. Presentations

I really felt short changed here. On the whole, there were far too many squirm-in-your-seat, bum-numbingly dull presentations. In effect, not much to say about the content: perhaps it was brilliant, but I switched off.

There were some exceptions; the Pecha Kucha session was great. Laurent Flores, David Tunnicliffe and Dianne Gardener all gave wonderful, engaging presentations too.*

3. Brand flogging

I won’t name names, but in some of the sessions there was a disproportionate level of sell in relation to useful or interesting content. I reckon that if you’ve got something interesting to say, people will seek and/or forgive the branding. If you don’t, it just sounds hollow.

Ok. Moving on now. But I’d be very interested to hear what other attendees thought…

* Because the presentations were streamed, I didn’t get a chance to see them all, so apologies if you presented a cracking presentation but don’t get a mention here. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back in five minutes

Had an interesting (!?) few days at the AMSRS conference here in Melbourne. Not all good and not all bad. In the least, it gave me a lot to think about and a lot to play with. More on this when I get back to Sydney in a few days. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get jiggy with it

So, following on again from the last post: what to do?!

You can’t just read up on this stuff (although it’s useful to do so, and I’ll be compiling a list of good porcupine reads of relevance over time).

Reading is not enough because successful Web 2.0 case studies have a very limited shelf-life. By the time you read about it, it’s probably going to be just that little bit yesterday.

But more importantly, it’s outrageously limiting to develop strategies a la text-book case study, because it’s virtually (hahaha) impossible to know what's possible in this space. The exciting thing about Web 2.0 is the potential to stretch, and even create, new boundaries.

I think the very best, and possibly the only, way to really understand the world of Web 2.0 is to get involved. Become a participant. Wander the web. Weave your way through a community of blog rolls. Leave a comment. Twitter. Get a feel for the fussy, yet forgiving nature of Web 2.0 etiquette. In essence, in case you haven’t already heard the phrase; join the conversation. 

What I’m suggesting isn’t new. It’s still all about understanding your customers. It’s just that to do so in a Web 2.0 savvy way, companies, brands, marketers, researchers, you, we need to get more involved than perhaps we're used to.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Burning questions

Following on from my last post, consider, also, that any given community’s needs and expectations are evolving: the Web 2.0 environment is constantly refreshing and reloading itself. What people Digg (figuratively or literally) one minute is buried the next. By the time we try to distill the elements that drove the Digging, ‘they’ (Web 2.0 citizens – or, umm…people by any other name) have moved on to something else.

But, in the midst of this exciting uncertainty – or perhaps because of it – there are some urgent Web 2.0 (let’s not even mention Web 3.0) questions burning ulcers into the guts of the marketing world. No one wants to be left behind or possibly worse, get it wrong.

How can the potential of this untamed, unbridled world nonpareil be harnessed?

You get that it’s not going away and that you need to be a part of it: how can, and should, your brand ride this digital/social media wave?

You get that it’s not about monologues anymore, but conversations: what’s the best way for your brand to start a conversation?

You know that if you don’t join the conversation, it’ll happen without you: web-whispers behind your back. But is blogging, vlogging, Twittering, Facebooking or MySpacing for your brand?

What to do?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ch-Ch-Changes (look out you rock 'n rollers)

So, what should we be measuring here? What will Web 2.0 research gems look like?

On the surface, it’s an easy enough question to answer. Once the marketing objectives have been defined, then we’ll just go measure how well the brand tracks on those measures. Of course. You nut.

But wait a minute. That assumes you know what you’re trying to achieve in this space. More fundamentally, it assumes you know what brand equity in the Web 2.0 environment even looks like.

And this is the crux of the matter.

With Web 2.0, brand equity is, for the most part, defined by the community. Heavens – it’s even generated by the community.

That’s quite a shift for the way we think about marketing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Well, blog me over the head

Crikey. Just when we researchers thought we had a pretty good grip on this whole measurement thing, along comes Web 2.0 to blog us on the head and throw us sideways.

Budgets are (or will be) moving into this space faster than you can tweet about it.

But what on earth should we be measuring here? What should we track and how will it help us?

What do we need to consider, from a research point of view, when we’re looking to understand this (relatively) shiny new world of Web 2.0?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Statistics without tears: another porcupine read

I love this book.

I think of it as a dear old friend: gentle, kind hearted and dependable.

For those of us who aren’t statistically inclined, it provides easy access to the world of distributions, significance, correlation co-efficients, and the rest.

Just the ticket for a qualitative researcher! Porcupine worthy.

Title: Statistics without tears: a primer for non-mathematicians

Author: Derek Rowntree

ISBN: 0024040908

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So, should we be worried?

The paradigm has truly shifted (when has it ever stayed still?!).

With so much information available, it’s pretty clear that information, per se, doesn’t hold much currency anymore*.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same (which always sounds better in French: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose).

It’s one thing to have information. It’s quite another to make sense of it. And beyond making sense of it, it’s still another thing to help someone else make sense of it.

So while Aaron Sorkin may well read through each and every post generated on his facebook page, and sort and filter it into useful form, chances are, marketers won’t have the time to. Nor, possibly, will they have the inclination…

I can only guess there’ll be a greater need for our skills and expertise in doing just that. Sorting through and making sense of it all: turning these magnificent, but daunting yottabytes (don’t worry, we’re not quite there yet) of information into something useful.

From my point of view, the researchers’ realm isn’t just getting bigger, it’s getting a lot more interesting too!


* Michael Wesch explains this all beautifully on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Aaron Sorkin's getting it for free!

There’s been some talk of a facebook movie with Aaron Sorkin (the West Wing screenwriter) being involved.

One way he’s doing his research is through a group on facebook.

Fantastic. Just look at all the data he’s collecting!

At last count there were:

-  6115 members (including me!)

-  56 discussion topics (mostly user generated)

-  648 wall posts

All of this will provide him with rich, detailed and focused feedback.

My mind is spinning. Not only is he collecting a wealth of data, but it’s probably pretty good stuff too. While there may be a possible ‘facebook’ effect, there’s minimal research effect: I’m guessing people are just telling it like it is.

What price would you put on this kind of data? Whether you’re a research buyer or supplier: think about that for a moment.

Well, guess what? It’s FREE! Gratis.

*Stops dead in tracks*

All this information, and for free? Isn’t this OUR manor? The researchers’ realm? Are we being ousted? Should we be worried?

I have my own point of view on this, but I’d be fascinated to hear what others think before I post…so any researchers reading this, please feel free to comment!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The times they are a-changin' (again)

My bookmark bar keeps changing. I now have a totally different bookmark bar to the one I had even a month ago.

BBC, SMH, ABC, etc – gone to the sidelines. Even the weather’s been bumped from prime position.

New diggs on the block; Google Reader, facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, Diigo, Addict-o-matic (heard about this via the amazing Gavin Heaton).

What’s changed?

I can now get micro-relevant content. Me-centric information. Katie-focussed bites.

I can subscribe to feeds and sites that tell me what’s happening in my world, in words, sounds and images that have personal meaning. And for the first time, today I checked facebook before I checked the weather.

Yep. The world’s changing (again).

But the changes we’re seeing with Web 2.0 (and beyond) are different: subtle at times, penny dropping at others, but without shadow of a doubt, different.


For sure, Web 2.0 is sparking change at a mass social/community level. But – and this is what’s different – it’s sparking change in a personally noticeable and shout-worthy way at the individual level too.

Exciting stuff. This, indeed, is a new age of conversation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Porcupine books (ouch!)

I call them Porcupine books because they have lots of pages I’ve tagged with little post-its and they kind of remind me of a porcupine’s quills.

It’s a simple and effective rating system: the more quills (tags), the more useful or interesting the read.

Anyway, I thought I’d start sharing my Porcupine book list. Today’s pick is one of my all time top-rating Porcupines.

Title: The Brand Innovation Manifesto

Author: John Grant

ISBN: 0470027517

Source: My very clever friend David, from The Red Brick Road, told me about it.

Nutshell: Best brand read for a long, long time: it fundamentally changed the way I think about brands and branding. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does it have to be so freaking boring?

I went to two presentations this week: one was about the Consumer of The Future and the other was about Greenwashing. I find both to be fascinating topics.

A number of speakers presented at each session, but two really stood out.

The first was Mel Silva, from Google Financial Services, at the Consumer of The Future session.  Mel gave a cracking presentation: very engaging, perfectly paced, and (thus) ultimately useful.

Different story for the presentations at the Greenwashing session. To my disappointment, the presentations were excruciatingly boring in a collapse on the floor, very dramatic, “I can’t bear another minute of this” kind of way a bit dull. While I desperately wanted to listen, and desperately tried to listen, I just couldn’t get my brain to engage. Instead, I spent the hour (one of the longest I can remember) thinking about other things entirely.  I don’t even know what the speakers said. Aaarrggghhh.

I wonder how much this happens in research debriefs? Slide after slide of insight and stats that clients want to know about, need to know about, but can’t get interested about. Because of the way it’s presented (Zebra presentations excluded of course!).

Come on research land. We have interesting (fascinating!) stories to tell. Let’s not let ourselves down with boring presentations. Think of ways to spiff them up (and I don’t mean Powerpoint clipart).