I just spent the last two days standing in our company booth at a local business expo. This was not a market research related event, but an expo that brings together a potpourri of businesses from all over the area (for me Salt Lake City, Utah USA). Though successful for us, the expo felt like a meat market. It seemed like I was back in the dating pool, trying to find a spouse, using speed dating techniques. "What do you look for in a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/business relationship/market research company?" "What do you do in your free time?...participate in any online surveys?" "What do you do...for work?" "What do you know about market research?"
Every booth had a "gimmick"... something to pull you in to the booth...a drawing for an Ipod Nano here, a Grand Piano there, a flat screen LED TV here, an Amazon Kindle there, nachos at this booth, candy at that one, pizza at this booth, burritos (yes that's right - burritos) at another. It was all a little surreal. We chose to give away candy and an Amazon Kindle (it's amazing how few people have heard of a Kindle...Reading?...That interferes with my TV watching). Our drawing had a catch. We decided to force (encourage?) people to get a better understanding of what we do. Have you ever tried to explain a market research business to the guy that owns the Heating & AC shop down the street? Taking nothing away from the guy...but...Market Research HUH?
We set up an online survey and required the attendees to fill it out in order to enter into the drawing for the Kindle. It was amazing how novel the approach was...and how open to participation the attendees were. More than anything, I wanted some idea of who...analytically...was attending the event and whether we should even consider going back. The results surprised me.
This is the third year that we've attended this business expo, and the first year we've had internet access to run a survey. Reflecting on this year vs. previous years, a couple of things stood out that may be interesting to market research companies overall. Here are some suggestions for market research speed dating:
A man doing market research knocked on a door and was greeted by a young woman with three small children running around at her feet.
The man says, "I'm doing some research for Vaseline. Have you ever used the product?"
The young woman says, "Yes. My husband and I use it all the time."
The man says, "And if you don't mind me asking, what do you use it for?"
The young woman says, "We use it for sex."
The researcher is a little taken back. "Usually people lie to me and say that they use it on a child's bicycle chain or to help with a gate hinge. But, in fact, we know that most people do use it for sex. I admire you for your honesty. Since you've been frank so far, can you tell me exactly how you use it for sex?"
The woman says, "I don't mind telling you at all. My husband and I put it on the door knob and it keeps the kids out."
Call me quick on the uptake (or not), but in following this process, I soon realized that people understood what we were doing, what we were selling, how they could apply it to their business, and why they needed it. If I could only have avoided the folks that wanted a lot of research...full scale research programs...for a cost that was less than the labor involved to put it together.
Discovery Research Group is a market research company established in 1987 that has garnered a reputation for successfully assisting companies in finding solutions to their market research questions and organizational concerns regarding their businesses. See us at:
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