Tag Archives: research

Should I Be Podcasting on YouTube?

Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve got a product to promote. There are many places that offer the product you’re promoting, and the great thing is, it’s not like a grocery store that charges you for shelf space. You can put your product in any of these places you’d like, and it doesn’t cost you a thing. There are clear, consistent data that demonstrates which of these places that offer products like yours have the most customers.

If you offered this product, and you had the chance to put your product at the place that boasts the largest number of people interested in your product, would you put it there? Well, a podcast is the product, YouTube is the place, and thousands of podcasters are either publishing their shows there minimally or not at all.

How can this be?

We deployed a new research study, “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube,” conducted in conjunction with Amplifi Media, in which we surveyed 1,000 15- to 64-year-old podcast consumers in the United States. We learn that even though there is no shortage of podcast apps, 73% of podcast consumers prefer one of only three: YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts. YouTube is the most used app for podcasts (used by 60% of podcast consumers, compared to 53% for Spotify and 30% for Apple).

So, why isn’t podcasting on YouTube a no-brainer?

Different podcasters have different explanations, many of which are perfectly valid. And frankly, not all podcasts should be on YouTube, due to factors that may include type and category. A common concern is the RSS feed problem. I can use a hosting platform like Blubrry or Libsyn to automatically send my podcast by RSS feed to most major podcast apps. I can see analytics via the hosting platform. It seamlessly grabs my cover art and show notes, and uploads my episode.

But not to YouTube.

Reports say YouTube is running an RSS pilot, but it only ingests the audio, doesn’t allow for analytics, and must not contain any ads. YouTube is a monster, but it operates very much in its own podcast ecosystem.

There are some podcasters that believe a podcast is “audio-only” and that if it has a video, it’s not a podcast. So, we asked that question in our study to the robust sample of consumers. “How would you define a podcast?” The answer is clear: 75% of podcast consumers think a podcast should be defined as audio or video.

And if you think YouTube users drive that number, consider that more than two-thirds of those who prefer Spotify and Apple Podcasts feel the same way.

We’ve heard from many podcasters that think YouTube consumers just don’t watch or listen to podcasts as often as on other platforms.

Well…we’ve got data that lays that theory to rest.

Do people think YouTube is hard to use? Why do they choose it instead of other platforms? What about YouTube Music, which YouTube is pushing users to for podcasts? And how big is YouTube Shorts?

We had a lot of questions about YouTube, now we have answers, and we’ll share them with you with one goal in mind. We’ll show you an unbiased view of YouTube’s role in podcasting from the consumer’s perspective, to help you better understand how (and if!) your podcast should be there and how to use it to your advantage.

I’ll present the findings from “The New Rules of Podcasting on YouTube” this Thursday, August 24th at 8:30AM MT along with Steve Goldstein from Amplifi Media at Podcast Movement in Denver. Watch the Tuesdays With Coleman blog next week, when I’ll reveal more findings and a link to an upcoming webinar.

Finally, our thanks go out to Locked On Podcast Network for sponsoring the study. The locally focused sports network has more than dipped its foot in the YouTube pool and was just as curious as us as to what the findings would show.

Much more to come!

What Makes a Personality Memorable?

I listened to a radio station recently with my 19-year-old son in the car. There were two air personalities co-hosting a “Free-for-all” feature during which they played songs that worked within the format but aren’t typically part of the rotation. Two moments that occurred during my quarter-hour of listening stuck out.

First, they played two 90s boy bands back-to-back. Because they added context and an anecdote, it was fun, and it worked.  Second, they played a song they didn’t intend to play (or at least genuinely made it seem that way). They stopped the song, talked about the mistake and laughed about it, and played the song they meant to. It was fun.

I enjoyed it.

My son, who always seems to have pearls of wisdom in moments like this, says, “Radio stations don’t sound like that anymore. Usually, they just sound pre-recorded. They don’t make any mistakes. It’s too perfect. It doesn’t sound any different than a podcast.”

Oh, man.

Now, this isn’t another blog on the benefits or perils of “AI Ashley” or Artificial Intelligence’s potential effects on the radio industry. It is, however, an important reminder of the crucial importance of listener perceptions of personalities.

Consider the Coleman Insights Image PyramidSM. After a radio station has established its Base Music or Talk position, personalities are the most important factor in building brand depth. The caveat is that the personalities that build brand depth are the memorable ones. The ones that listeners actively think about, relate to, and listen to the station for.

The Coleman Insights Image Pyramid

This is why personality and show research is particularly critical for your brand. By measuring which personalities and shows are cutting through, brands can focus their energy on building the brand of the talent alongside the station. Meghan Campbell and I will dive into the topic of personality and show research in our next Ask Me Anything webinar on Wednesday, July 12th at 2P EDT/11A PDT and we hope to see you there. Registration is now open.

There are plenty of things that make a personality memorable. I’m not sure “perfect” is one of them.

Why Strategy Must Come Before Tactics (And How Research Fits In)

One of the most-read Tuesdays With Coleman blogs (which was published on December 4, 2018) is “Direct Marketing is Easy. Brand Marketing is Hard.” Digital marketers, some of whom may disagree with me on that statement, spend countless hours tracking the success of campaigns and optimizing messages based on the data.

A/B testing is a way of life.

And while the trackability of digital campaigns is great and immensely useful, playing the short-term game and tweaking your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is only one part of the equation. Most importantly, if you don’t have a clear strategy to inform the tactics, you set yourself up to hit roadblock after roadblock.

Consider how many times this flow has been executed “out of order.”

Here’s an example of how it should play out.

Let’s say the Carolina Panthers want to improve their fan base in the state of North Carolina outside of their home base in Charlotte.

First, they should conduct research to determine where the strongest opportunity is, which informs the strategy. Based on the results, that might turn into “Grow the fanbase in the Raleigh and Greensboro markets.” Or “Grow the fanbase in Asheville.” Or maybe it shows there’s a greater opportunity in another region that the team wasn’t aware of.

Now the strategy can be executed with tactics, which is informed by both elements of the flowchart above it. Research can indicate which markets are most ripe to grow the fan base, and it can also show the best ways to reach them. What shows do they watch? What social media do they use? What radio stations do they listen to?

Only then should a goal be drawn up, because research will have indicated how much opportunity is available in the market. Is the goal to get 1,000 new season ticket holders in Greensboro? 2,500? 5,000? The goal should be ambitious but also based in reality, which research helps provide.

Ever had goals thrown around in your business with no fundamental basis?

Consider how blindfolded you are when starting with each layer other than the top.

  • If you set goals without deeply understanding the consumer landscape, how do you know if they are realistic?
  • If you focus on tactical without mapping out the strategy, how do you know if the tactics are on target?
  • If you focus on strategy without conducting research, how will you know if the strategy is a winning one?

At Coleman Insights, we follow the Research>Strategy>Tactics>Goals flow in our Plan Developer studies.

You likely have beliefs about your market, target audience, strengths, and weaknesses. Perceptual research is designed to test those beliefs. Answer those questions. Identify the strengths and weaknesses. Once we understand the landscape, we map out a strategy to take advantage of what we’ve learned. The tactics, including who to target and where/how to reach them, are informed by the strategy. Finally, specific, actionable, and achievable goals can be set for the team.

Strategy: built on data and opinions, this is how you answer the question: “why are we doing that?”

Tactics: built on strategy, these are individual investments you make to achieve the strategic goal.

Following the process from research to goals is more rewarding, more efficient, and reduces the time and expenditure spent on the wrong direction.

Starbucks Wants to Get To Know Me

As a Starbucks Gold Card member, I’m used to getting periodic customer surveys from the company about my experiences at specific stores on certain dates. Most of the questions are straightforward and related to items that include food quality, store cleanliness, speed of service, and Covid protocols. But there’s a question that has bugged me for years. It annoys my family because I bring it up every time I get the survey.

Starbucks asks you to rate, using a 1 to 7 scale from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree,” whether “The employees made an effort to get to know me.”

 

In the, oh…one or two times I’ve been in a Starbucks store or drive-thru when there was no line, I have in fact had a nice quick conversation with the barista. But the other 99% of the time, it is an eye of the hurricane, hair on fire situation behind the counter with overworked employees doing their best just to keep up. And, I think they do a pretty great job of it. But you know what they don’t have time for?

“Getting to know me.”

NBC News recently revealed that question is pretty important to Starbucks. So much so, that they use the “connection score” in evaluating store performance. Many workers say the connection score system has even helped drive union organizing efforts around the country.

In designing and analyzing questionnaires, we’re constantly asking ourselves and our clients what value and action can be taken from the answers to every question. And despite the fact that Starbucks added a “Does Not Apply” button you could conceivably check for the “getting to know me” question, it doesn’t seem quite fair to expect employees to have enough time to ensure “my food tasted great,” “got my order right,” prepared my order “in a reasonable amount of time” and “made an effort to get to know me.”

Seems like a lot to ask.

I love that Starbucks utilizes surveys, and like how they integrate questions within seasonal games on the app. But whether we’re talking about Starbucks, your brand, or any brand, we often come back to the “Three Best Practices of Questionnaire Development” outlined by our Senior Vice President of Research, David Baird:

#3: Ask the most important questions in the beginning.

#2: Don’t ask qualitative questions in a quantitative project.

And #1, the one that applies the most to the Starbucks example:

Ask questions that will provide actionable information. Make sure they are realistic and fair, and provide a path to make positive changes to the brand.

Embrace Listening to Your Consumer (Especially When It’s Not What You Want to Hear)

On May 4th, Delta Air Lines sent an email to their database with the subject line “Updates to Your Delta SkyClub Access.” In the email, Delta explains that, due to an increasing number of guests to the clubs in recent months, the airline would begin restricting access to the clubs to three hours before your flight and during connections. The email included this fateful line: “With the exception of arriving Delta One customers, Club access will be unavailable for arriving customers without a connection.”

Delta’s social media channels lit up almost immediately following the email. While many complaints were of the general variety, a key theme emerged. Customers who use Delta for business trips (a crucial client base for most airlines) enjoy using the SkyClub when they arrive. Delta was barraged with examples of customers who use the clubs after a flight prior to a meeting, including getting changed or even taking a shower in some locations. Others mentioned using the space for last-minute preparation.

Regardless of the specific angle, it was clear Delta had irritated many of its most loyal customers and the feedback was there for the airline to listen to.

Surprise, it did.

On May 12th, Delta sent another email with the header “We’re Listening to Your Feedback.” In it Delta acknowledges the negative response: “We heard your feedback in response to the updates, including that some customers want to visit a Club to refresh after landing or to recharge ahead of a meeting.” The email goes on to reverse the previously announced policy change: “Arriving customers – with or without a connection – will be able to enjoy the Club upon arrival, as you do today.”

It’s probably safe to assume many customers of any company harbor a certain level of cynicism that their feedback will be listened to, much less acted on. If you think about when you made changes to your own brand, a great many calls and meetings likely took place before the changes. It’s a hassle to change something back. Perhaps even more of an obstacle is the requirement that it requires admitting you were wrong.

But listening to and acting on customer feedback is in the DNA of many of the most successful brands, including ones we have the privilege to call clients and strategic partners. Most brands don’t have the advantage of having 1.6 million Twitter followers, allowing Delta instant valuable feedback on their decision. Qualitative research like our Campfire Online Discussion Groups and 20/20 Focus Groups allow our clients to understand the “whys” behind what their listeners like and don’t like about what they offer. This deeper level of feedback provides a competitive advantage for those that utilize it.

The willingness to make strategic changes based on feedback, particularly when it is contrary to what you thought was the right decision, should be celebrated.

Embrace listening to your customers, and the rest will fall in place.

Too Many Messages!

Tuesdays With Coleman

Regular readers of Tuesdays With Coleman and loyal Coleman Insights clients know of our affinity for Outside Thinking, the ability to look at any business, product or service from the perspective of its customers or users. Furthermore, those of you who have listened to my colleagues and I espouse on Outside Thinking know that understanding the obstacles that often prevent businesses from communicating what they stand for and offer is vitally important. One of those obstacles is the concept of “Too Many Messages.” When brands—through their product, advertising and other communication efforts—communicate multiple messages about what they stand for, the result is a lack of consistency in the messages that get through to consumers.

A few years ago, my colleague Sam Milkman ran into this guy:

This t-shirt has too many messages on it

Even though Sam didn’t know him, he begged him to let him take his picture. Why? Because the radio station t-shirt he is wearing is one of the best examples of violating the Too Many Messages rule we’ve ever seen. The shirt inundates anyone who sees it with at least three major things it wants you to know about the Magic 101.7 brand: (1) it plays “Continuous Lite Rock,” (2) it features John Carter’s morning show and (3) it offers “the no-repeat workday.”

The point here is that this guy in the t-shirt could have walked past many people the day he wore it, and if we polled those people afterwards, each of them would have taken away different perceptions about Magic 101.7. Some would just remember the brand name, some would recall the kind of music the station plays, some would retain John Carter’s name and some would think about the station’s no-repeat workday feature. Very few of them would retain all four messages and the overall population of people exposed to the shirt would remember inconsistent mash-ups of the various messages.

Despite our efforts to discourage breaking the Too Many Messages rule, we see radio stations and other businesses do it all the time. Why? We can chalk up some of it to human nature; when advertising budgets are tight and you get that rare opportunity to tell consumers about your business, you want to tell them as much about it as you can. However, I think it mostly happens due to a lack of strategic thinking and understanding of how consumers’ brains process information. It probably also happens because some people just don’t buy into the Too Many Messages rule. I’m sure the Inside Thinker who designed the t-shirt above concluded that it wasn’t too complicated and that consumers would “get it.”

Fortunately, we have proof that consumers don’t get it via recent research from Millward Brown, a subsidiary of Kantar, the global research behemoth. Millward Brown’s specialty is measuring the effectiveness of advertising and they offer their clients a service called Link™, which measures how consumers respond to advertising copy across many dimensions.

Using Link, Millward Brown was able to determine how well ads featuring multiple messages manage to get any single message through to the consumer. As the accompanying graph reveals, not very well. Even by adding a second message to an ad, the likelihood that consumers take away either of them drops from 100% for a single-message ad to only 65%. By the time fourth messages are added to ads, the best likelihood of a message getting through to consumers drops to 43%.

The more messages you try to communicate the lower the likelihood of communicating any single message

What does this mean for your business? It means that you should focus on the most strategically-important message to get across to your target audience to the greatest extent possible. If you’re in radio, this should flow from knowledge you have on the state of your station’s Image Pyramid and which layer is most in need of development. If your music position needs development, focus your advertising solely on the music you play and resist also promoting your morning show or another benefit listening to your station offers.

If you’re trying to grow the audience for a podcast and you believe—as most research in the podcasting space has confirmed thus far—that there’s a large untapped audience consisting of people who aren’t aware of your podcast, keep the message focused on the “elevator pitch” for your podcast and don’t spend a lot of time explaining all of content elements of the show. If you own a hot dog stand that recently expanded its menu to include bratwurst, don’t advertise the addition of bratwurst until you know that your image for hot dogs is strong enough to support the development of imagery for other items on your menu.

I should stress that this applies well beyond what you do with your advertising, especially if you are in radio. Think about the messages your listeners are exposed to when they tune in to your station. Are they focused on helping your station develop the one image that is the next step in the construction of your Image Pyramid, or do they hear a music image promo in one break, followed by a promo for your morning show in another break, followed by another break in which your air personality encourages listeners to visit him at the station’s tent at the upcoming community festival downtown?

When he portrayed Curly in the classic 1991 movie “City Slickers,” I doubt Jack Palance thought his “secret of life” would apply to the “Too Many Messages” rule. My take? Nearly 30 years later, Curly’s recipe provides good marketing advice:

 

10 Quotes from 100 Blogs

Tuesdays With Coleman

On October 10, 2017, we started our Tuesdays With Coleman blog series as a way to share branding, content and research strategy. Last week’s entry, “Seven Solutions for the Podcasting Brand Challenge,” was the final of three consecutive blogs about podcasting, centered around the increasingly popular Podcast Movement conference in Orlando.

It was also our 100th Tuesdays With Coleman blog.

We love a good benchmark, and 100 blogs feels like an opportunity to look back and mine some nuggets from the past couple of years. Since 100 quotes seems excessive, here are 10, curated from a wide range of topics, strategic advice and members of our team.

“We sometimes get too close to the product for our own good, and are unable to see it through the lens of our customers.”

Warren Kurtzman, in “Is Inside Thinking Blurring Your Strategic Vision?” explains the Coleman Insights principle of Outside Thinking and how to achieve results by changing your mindset.

“If Bill Belichick showed up to a station remote, what would he think of a station banner hastily hung behind a bored jock eating a cheeseburger?”

One of our most-read blogs, “What if Bill Belichick Programmed Your Radio Station?” features Jon Coleman imagining New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as a radio station program director.

“We’ve all become so hyper-focused on the now, the instant gratification of numbers, that it is easy to take your eye off the big picture.”

After attending a talk by marketer Seth Godin, I wrote “Direct Marketing Is Easy. Brand Marketing is Hard” to reinforce the value of brand marketing, despite its lack of trackability.

“The Trader Joe’s lesson is that you beat a leader not by being better. You win by finding the inherent weakness in their strength and creating your points of differentiation.”

In “The Branding Genius of Trader Joe’s,” Sam Milkman explores why Trader Joe’s is so profitable in an industry with traditionally low margins and how to apply the lessons to your brand.

“TV is looking for talent in new places and banking on that talent. Why can’t radio?”

In “When it’s Time to Hunt (for Talent), Go Outside,” Jessica Lichtenfeld makes the case that radio should look outside the industry to find fresh, new, memorable stars for the medium.

 

“Don’t confuse the lack of 90s music exposure with the desire for hearing 90s music.”

In “The 90s Music Research Conundrum,” John Boyne explains how compatibility, not appeal, influences 90s airplay on many Adult Contemporary and Classic Hits stations.

 

“It’s possible while you’re programming on intuition alone, your competition is making data-influenced decisions.”

In “How Research Won The Super Bowl,” Sam Milkman debunks the myth that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was a crazy risk-taker in winning the 2018 Super Bowl, when in fact he used a combination of research and instinct to take down the Patriots.

“There are a few iconic brands in every category and there isn’t much changing going on.”

In “Don’t Change Your Radio Station,” I explain how the instinct to “freshen things up” can be detrimental to brand growth.

 

“Chipotle doesn’t sell pancakes. Hip Hop stations don’t play Taylor Swift.”

In “Should I Play That Song On My Radio Station,” Jon Coleman warns that playing popular songs or even songs that test strongly on your station that don’t fit your brand is a slippery slope.

 

“The ultimate success of the industry will depend on its ability to build brands.”

Warren Kurtzman, in “Joe Rogan and the Podcasting Brand Challenge,” writes that while producing great content is very important, listeners won’t discover it if the brand isn’t strong.

Thanks for reading Tuesdays With Coleman. If you haven’t yet subscribed, we invite you to do so. If you have an idea for a topic you’d like us to cover, feel free to reply and let us know. It may just show up in one of the next 100 blogs.

 

 

 

 

Winning Through Analytics and Intuition

Tuesdays With Coleman

This is a very difficult blog for me to write. You see, I’m a huge English soccer fan who spends far too many weekend mornings in a pub watching matches with my fellow members of North Carolina Spurs, the official local supporters club of my favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur. To say that I have become a rabid fan since I began closely following the English Premier League more than a decade ago is a bit of an understatement; my wife and I even made sure to attend a match in London before they tore down my team’s ancestral home—White Hart Lane—to make way for its beautiful, new state-of-the-art stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur

Me with my wife Sharon at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur’s former stadium

And now I am going to write about a glowing New York Times article about Liverpool. I hate Liverpool—I believe it’s codified in English law that if you’re a supporter of one of the Premier League’s “Big Six” teams you have to hate the other five—but the piece supports a concept that is incredibly aligned with our experience of working with radio stations at Coleman Insights.

So why is this a challenging blog for me? This past Saturday, Spurs lost a heartbreaking 2-0 match to Liverpool in the final of the Champions League. For the uninitiated, the Champions League is an annual competition between the top clubs across Europe and is the closest thing the continent has—short of the World Cup—to America’s Super Bowl. It was amazing that my Spurs advanced as far as the Champions League final, but to get so close and just miss out on being crowned as the champions of Europe was also bitterly disappointing.

Even if you have no interest in soccer (or football, as everyone outside of America calls it), I encourage you to read “How Data (and Some Breathtaking Soccer) Brought Liverpool to the Cusp of Glory,” which ran in the Times about ten days before this past Saturday’s final. It talks about how Liverpool’s plan to rebuild after several less-than-successful seasons was not only based on luring away manager Jürgen Klopp from the German club Borussia Dortmund, but also on the hiring of a director of research named Ian Graham and using the data-based insights Graham produced for making decisions about the direction and strategy of the club.

Graham is but one of numerous examples of how analytics is revolutionizing sports. Sports executives, managers and coaches are increasingly making decisions—about what players to recruit, about where to position those players on the field, court or ice, about what strategies to employ, etc.—based on incredible reams of data that advances in technology have made readily accessible. It’s why Major League Baseball games feature more player shifts in the field than fans of the games have ever seen before and why three-point shots have become a much bigger factor in NBA games in recent years, even though they have been a part of the game since 1979.

The parallels to radio programming here are striking. Jürgen Klopp is the program director who is succeeding by blending together the science he is getting from his researcher Ian Graham and the art that comes from his instincts and years of experience coaching soccer. One of my favorite lines in the Times piece describes how “the tactics he chooses end up being a mix of the data-driven and the intuitive.” As a researcher, I can really relate to Ian Graham, who “wants the club he works for to win, but he also wants his judgments to be validated.” Very few things give me greater satisfaction that seeing one of our client stations enjoy great success because of things their management team learned from the data and insights we provided to them.

If a sports franchise can use insights derived from data to make consequential decisions on things like which players to attract and shots to take, radio stations should use the same advantages for decisions ranging from which air talent to attract to types of music to play and features to run. In fact, most successful radio stations do exactly that. The programmers that lead them possess great instincts and creativity; they put them to work within strategic frameworks that are supported by research.

May 15th marked my 24th anniversary with Coleman Insights; as I embark on my 25th year with the company, my belief that the best programmers know how to blend art and science is as strong as ever. Are you using high-quality data and research-based insights to make decisions about your strategy? If you are not, I strongly encourage you to do so if you want to remain relevant in a world that is increasingly reliant on data and analytics.

Even if all was right in the world and my Spurs—who also use analytics, but weren’t the Times article’s subject—defeated hated Liverpool, the fact that Liverpool has experienced a significant turnaround in its on-field performance since Ian Graham was added to its payroll is evidence of the value of high-quality research. With another soccer season over, now all I must worry about is that my fellow Spurs supporters don’t gave me too much grief about writing something positive about Liverpool.

Adapting to Audience Research Disruption

Tuesdays With Coleman

If you’re a regular Tuesdays With Coleman reader, you likely consume large amounts of information like me. One of my favorite aspects of reading is encountering material that really hits home by reminding me of something I’m dealing with in my personal or professional life.

That was certainly the case two weeks ago when Politico ran a piece entitled “Pew: Phone Polling in Crisis Again,” exploring the ramifications of the record low number of Americans willing to participate in telephone polls. This was followed last week by an excellent blog post called “Everything’s Being Disrupted—Even Audience Research” by my friend and one of the industry’s leading programming consultants, Fred Jacobs.

I won’t regurgitate the two things I read; if you’re interested in this topic in depth, I encourage you to follow the links to both provided above.

Today’s gadget-obsessed consumers pose new challenges for audience research

As you might imagine, I read both pieces thinking that someone was standing in my shoes for the last few years, as they described many of the factors that have resulted in dramatic changes in the business I oversee. Coleman Insights makes its money by advising clients on how to build strong brands and develop great content based on the consumer research we conduct on our clients’ behalf. Quite simply, if we can’t get consumers to share with us their opinions and perceptions, we don’t have a business.

That’s why we have radically changed the way we do most of the research we complete for our clients. All the music research we do—our FACT360SM Strategic Music Tests and the new music research conducted by our Integr8 Research subsidiary—is collected online from samples created through landline, mobile phone and online recruitment. Most of our Plan Developer strategic studies are based on ratios of in-depth telephone to online interviews that are appropriate for the goals of each project.

I am quite proud of what our team has accomplished in response to the disruptive forces reshaping market research, believing that we have been appropriately ahead of the curve without overreaching by using approaches or methodologies that are untested. When I read in the Politico piece referenced above that an organization as highly regarded as Pew is beginning to blend online and telephone interviewing, my pride in our organization grows further, as we began that process more than five years ago. I’ll also add that we’re not standing still; as I wrote in a blog last August, ten of us traveled to Canada to participate in a two-day summit devoted to data quality with our primary fielding partner and we are still working on initiatives that came out of that trip.

Great Data Quality Summit

The Coleman Insights and Integr8 Research teams with our fielding partners at the Data Quality Summit in Canada

Whether you are a Coleman Insights client or not, I leave you with three suggestions about how to be an educated research customer:

  1. Work with research partners who are “methodologically agnostic.” The days of conducting all strategic research through landline telephone interviews and music tests solely in auditoriums are over, as there is no one right way to conduct research. Different segments of the population respond to opportunities to participate in research differently; the best research companies understand this and utilize multiple techniques to engage consumers. If a research company you’re considering hiring makes claims like “no one uses telephone interviews anymore” or “online music research can’t be trusted,” end the conversation.

 

  1. Simply moving online is far from a panacea. While there is little doubt that the ability to survey consumers online has revolutionized market research, it has also resulted in the creation of some truly awful research. That’s because the range of quality in online research varies widely. Make sure that the research providers you hire to conduct research online utilize samples from only high quality sources.

 

  1. Understand that research must be tailored for each collection platform. Take a moment and think about how you may word something in an email or a social media post and how you would do so differently if you were telling someone the same thing in-person or on the phone. That difference also needs to be reflected in how things are asked in telephone interviews versus online questionnaires. When you hire a research company that utilizes multiple methodologies, make sure they have the expertise to design surveys for each platform they may use for collecting data.

If you grew up in the New York area in the 60s and 70s, you’ll recall an advertising campaign for Syms, a men’s clothing store chain, that featured the legendary tagline, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” Those seven words are just as true today when applied to the fast-changing world of market research.

Preparing Your Radio Station for U2

Tuesdays With Coleman

On Friday, October 2, 2009, I was programming 96rock in Raleigh, NC and preparing the station for a major live broadcast the next day. U2 was set to play nearby Carter-Finley Stadium as part of its 360 Tour, and there were a number of last-minute logistics to run through. That’s when the phone rang.

It was the regional rep for Interscope, U2’s record label.

“Jay, I have a few questions for you.”

I was intensely focused on what I was doing, but, “Sure, what’s up?”

Interscope rep: “How long does it take to get from the venue to your radio station?”

Me: “15 minutes.”

Interscope rep: “How long does it take to get from the airport to your radio station?”

Me: “25 minutes.”

Interscope rep: “How long does it take to get from the airport to the venue?”

Me: “10 minutes.”

Interscope rep: “Ok, thanks.”

Click.

My mind started racing and I was freaking out, and here’s why:

I knew on the day before U2 kicked off the North American leg of their 360 Tour in Chicago, they had conducted radio station interviews and visits at several stations, including 93.1XRT and Q101, and had donated a VIP concert experience to 101.9 The Mix for its fundraiser.

A week later, the band popped into the studios of 102.1 The Edge in Toronto with just a few hours’ notice.

Now, my Interscope rep had left me a cryptic message and I’m certain U2 is going to come by the studio for a visit.

That overwhelmingly thrilling concept led to this thought:

“Oh no, what if U2 comes by the studio for a visit.”

Was the studio in an acceptable condition to host U2?

Could we mobilize a security infrastructure fast enough once the word got out?

Did we have the right people in place to handle everything that comes with a visit like this? Could we turn around production pieces immediately? Would we be able to maximize the PR opportunity? Would we be ready to utilize our digital assets right away? Could we come up with some memorable questions they hadn’t heard before?

And so, we mobilized like U2 was coming to visit. Fortunately, I do believe we were prepared for the special moment if, in fact, the band decided to grace us with their presence at the last minute.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

On the other hand, it was a great opportunity to ensure we had all our ducks in a row.

In many ways, we work in the preparation business.

Among many other things, perceptual research can identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities both for your station and for the radio market as a whole.

Stations we work with often evaluate various potential scenarios and determine which actions to take based on the insights.

Although you can’t predict every scenario, you can prepare.

So, prepare like U2’s going to drop by this afternoon.