Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Future of Marketing Research?

more-guerrilla-marketing.jpgI just finished reading an interesting new book (actually, new because it’s an updated 2009 version) about marketing research. The book is called More Guerrilla Marketing Research: Asking the Right People, the Right Questions, the Right Way, and Effectively Using the Answers to Make More Money by Robert J. Kaden, Gerald Linda, and Jay Conrad Levinson. Someone at Stray Dog Media sent me a free review copy, which was good of them (there.. my FTC disclosure guidelines have been satisfied). In sum, the book is a nice, succinct set of ideas and guideline for managers who want to understand why and how to employ marketing research, and how to understand it.

Most of the book covers the fundamentals of marketing research. Budgets, Research professionals. Research plans. Focus groups. Surveys. Questionnaires. Sampling. Applying the results of research into marketing practice.

It is a good, solid book for practitioners, particularly those in smaller ands medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that don’t have much exposure or understanding of marketing research. It explains very well why and how marketing research is vital for understanding, testing, and growing a business.

However, the book is quite weak when it comes to qualitative techniques beyond the old-style focus group, or explanation of newer techniques. Ethnography? It is not even mentioned. Depth interviews? Nope. Netnography? Are you kidding? They do mention “data mining” however, in a fairly cursory and introductory fashion. I was expecting a bit more innovation and forward-thinking from the “guerrilla” part of the marketing research. But the book is pretty old school and established. There’s not much surprising or new, or which challenges the marketing research status quo.

The part that I found most interesting, and which got me thinking the most, was the final chapter of the book, which they called “The Future of Marketing Research.” On p. 327, they quote the interestingly named “Doug User” (the perfect guy, it would seem, to conduct “User Research”) who is a Ph.D. and a senior VP with Widmeyer Research & Polling, who talks about how the “fragmentation” of consumer makes it hard to find and understand target audiences using “traditional” marketing research.

The answer according to the quote in the book is “new metrics and new methods: video blogs, online portals, emotional measurement, data harvesting, analysis of comments in online forums, and private online communities.”

This sounds like a bit of a techno-hodgepodge to me, but I think this is thinking that is moving in the right direction.

It started me wondering about the best and most informed usage and combination of newer methods for tracking market changes, diagnosing marketing problems, identifying opportunities, and staying on top of brand positioning challenges.

How might we think about mixing and matching social media marketing research and other marketing research techniques such as:

  1. Ethnography
  2. Netnography
  3. Data mining such as social media and blog monitoring
  4. Engineered or managed online brand communities
  5. Social networked brand response groups
  6. Online panels
  7. Online focus groups
  8. Online surveys
  9. Crowdsourced information-providing contests
  10. Brand wikis
  11. Neurological and physiological scans (yikes! how did that get in there?)

How are these techniques similar, and how are they different? Where and with whom are each of them more effective, or less effective? How can they be combined for maximum effectiveness and minimum cost (i.e., for real efficiency)? How can they be used along with traditional techniques to maximize the delivery of time-sensitive information to where it is nedded for maximum impact?

Taking these ideas even further….When will marketing research become indistinguishable from or inextricably linked with marketing itself? When will both of these actions become interlinked with management itself (i.e., instead of managing sales figures, and motivating a sales force, managers would also need to manage brand mention and opinion figures, and motivate a word-of-mouth consumer force)? Where would those boundaries be? Where would research end? Who would perform this new blend of research, marketing, and motivational management? How would this Social Marketing Research interface with the company management, and with Enterprise 2.0?

I postulate here that some of the most successful managers of the coming decade will find their unique competitive advantages in the living, breathing, insight-laden answers to marketing/research questions such as these.

Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online-Info, Free Book Chapters, and More

Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research OnlineHey everyone. The long-awaited (for me at least) Netnography book is actually, really, being printed by Sage this week, in New Delhi, I think. The presses are rolling, the drums of ink are being loaded, the dead trees are being slapped to produce pages, and out will emerge…the book. The first book, ever, in the history of the world, on netnography. Yeah. I’m kind of excited-can you tell?

Although the book has been available for pre-order from Amazon for a while now (Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online), this week, Sage put up the information about the book, and some nice bonus materials.

Here is the link to that page, but read on, cuz I’ve got a pretty nice surprise for you at the end of this post.

Here comes the official “blurb” of the book which I wrote, along with some of my own commentary and filling-in-the-blanks kinda stuff (you already know that I like to do that on this blog, don’t you?).

So I start the thing with the cheap persuasion trick of telling people just how darn important this phenomenon of online communities really is (like, is there anyone out there who still thinks the Internet is “just a fad”? believe me, I heard this much more than you might think when I started out).

“With as many as 1 billion people now using online communities such as newsgroups [that’s where it all began], blogs [remember when they were the latest thing?], forums [what’s the difference between a forum and a newsgroup? don’t know? Buy the Book!], social networking sites[i.e., Facebook and Orkut and a few others, since MySpace appears to be on life support], podcasting, videocasting [YouTubing], photosharing communities [we can’t forget Flickr], and virtual worlds [is Second Life making a comeback? and, hey, are all these parenthetical comments starting to drive you crazy yet?], the internet is now an important site for research.”

Yes, that’s the big idea. If the Internet is changing our life, then being able to use new tools to study that change is going to be very important to research and researchers. Not just marketer researchers or consumer researchers. ALL social science researchers who treat topics that are affected by these technologies.

”This exciting [at least, exciting for me] new text is the first to explore the discipline of ‘Netnography’ – the conduct of ethnography over the internet [now how’s that for a concise definition]- a method specifically designed to study cultures and communities online. For the first time [you read it here first folk, for the very first time], full procedural guidelines for the accurate and ethical conduct of ethnographic research online are set out, with detailed, step-by-step guidance to thoroughly introduce, explain, and illustrate the method to students and researchers [and, no, I didn’t think of titleing it “Netnography for Dummies”, but I did try to keep it straightforward, easy to follow, and simple, for the most part].

The author [that’s me!] also surveys the latest research on online cultures and communities [think of that as bonus material, and you can have it for free…see below], focusing on the methods used to study them, with examples focusing on the new elements and contingencies of the blogosphere (blogging), microblogging [Tweet, Tweet], videocasting, podcasting, social networking sites [there’s that Facebook stuff again], virtual worlds, and more. [So a key differentiator for this book is that it is totally up to date with all the changes on the Internet. In the past, netnography told a lot about how to do research on newsgroups, but it wasn’t very explicit about how to use it to research Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, and so on. Although I could write a book about each of those topics, this version at least mentions and includes netnography that uses all the latest tools and social media techniques that people are using to connect. It’s current. At least, for the next ten minutes it is ;-) ]

This book will be essential reading [that’s what I’m hoping, anyways] for researchers [scholars, market researchers, even bloggers who love to do research] and students in social sciences such as anthropology, sociology, marketing and consumer research [well, in my classes, for sure], organization and management studies, and cultural and media studies.”

So, that’s the blurb, with my blah-blah inserted into the blurb so that it’s now a blah-blah blurb. Try saying that ten times fast with your mouth full of crackers.

Okay, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a reward and here it is.

Sage is also giving away the first two chapters of the book, to try and whet your appetite for more. The first chapter is a good solid introduction to the topic that answers some basic questions about what netnography is and why we need it. It defines some key but sticky terms like online community and cyberculture. It also tells you, in summary fashion, what is in the rest of the book so that you can get an idea about how the book is put together.

If you want Chapter 1 all to yourself, you can download a pdf of it by just clicking here.

But, wait, there’s more.

In their generosity (and, perhaps, their estimation of its worth), Sage has decided to share not just the blurb, not just the book title, not just Chapter One, oh no, but also Chapter Two with all of you.

And Chapter Two is really something. Chapter Two has a lot of good, useful stuff about theories that talk about Online Communities and Cultures. Oh, Chapter Two took me a lot of time. I worked, I sweated. People, I slaved over Chapter Two. I cannot believe that they are giving it away (have I been studying Stephen Brown’s rhetorical style a little bit too closely, do you think?). Chapter Two overviews many existing theories that help us to understand what is happening with online cultures and communities. It gives facts, figures, statistics, and it has a wealth of definition and theory. Giving it away? With all due respect to Chris Anderson, that’s an outrage. Chapter Two will boost your knowledge of this important, growing area. It will allow you to beat out your friends and colleagues in social media knowledge. It will give you not only classic theories but totally new and updated theories.

Yes, you read that right. Do you remember the old tourist, mingler, devotee insider classic of Kozinets (1999)? You must remember it? No? You don’t? Well, it’s pretty well known, sort of. Well, that theory is completely, totally updated. Revamped. Overhauled. Freshened. Brightened. Some of the terms (I won’t tell you which one—tourist—oops) are completely terminated. Executed without mercy. And there are new terms, new moving parts, innovative and world-broadening extensions to the theory that are included. And new theories on top of that. Exciting, thrilling new theories, yes indeed.

And they’re all yours, right now, absolutely free.

Can you imagine that?

All you need to do ladies and gentlemen is to click on this link right here and the gem that is Chapter Two will be yours to read, to enjoy, to cherish, and of course to CITE LIKE CRAZY in your own research forever.

And now, the Grand Finale. The moment you’ve been waiting for.

Can you believe there is anything else? No? You can’t? You must have a serious trust problem, then.

Because there is.

I just got the email today from Harriet Baulcombe at Sage. And I’ll paraphrase here what she just wrote to me (when you read this, please try to read it in an upper crust British accent, as that’s how I always read my letters from Sage, as they all come from London):

“I am writing to let you know about a new type of promotion that we will be running for your book in January. In the last couple of months we have incorporated Google books into our website, so from just before publication onwards, visitors to the site have the option to search inside the book in addition to downloading a pdf of a selected sample chapter. You can already see an example on our website. Usually, we restrict the view of the book in Google books so that visitors to the site (or to the Google books site) can view no more than 20% of the book. However, what we are planning for your book, for January only, is to make 100% of the book free to view via Google books. As soon as the book is released, at the end of January, we will switch the restriction back on.”

Yes, you read that right, it sounds like they are planning on GIVING AWAY MY BOOK FOR FREE. That’s a pretty big promotion, and a pretty big leap for an established book publisher to make.

Yep, lucky, lucky you.

You will get a chance to read Netnography: The Book online before it is released. Probably about the 7th of January (I’ll let you know—but of course, you knew that already). On Google Books. What could be cooler (uh, probably a lot of things…)?

The book is due to be released at the end of January, and at the point, the free Google Books access to the book will end. Oh, sad, sad day.

But by then, you will be hopelessly addicted to it. Wildly dependent on it. You simply won’t be able to live without it. Right? (Why not order your copy of Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online now, in advance, so you won’t have to bear the agonizing line up, all dejected and withdrawal-shaken, putting yourself through that Harry Potter-like queue on that January release date?). Blog this, Facebook and Tweet it. Tell the world, people, tell the world!

Okay, enough incredible news. You’ve got two book chapters to read. Get busy.