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TrendSource Takeaways: 2013 Corporate Researchers Conference

Posted by Ryan Kelly on 11/5/13 2:53 PM
Ryan Kelly

Hello blogosphere! A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of representing TrendSource at the MRA’s Corporate Researchers Conference in Dallas, TX. Below are some takeaways from what I thought were the most impactful sessions. Enjoy!

Predictive Analytics for Market Researchers, Dr. Eric Siegel

Dr. Siegel is the author of Predictive Analytics, the definitive book on this emerging field of study. While he didn’t go into great technical detail in his 60-minute talk, he did lay a brief outline of how he views the predictive analytics world and the process for developing predictive analysis.

  • Dr. Siegel’s background is in Computer Science, and more specifically as he told me after his talk, Machine Learning. Not shocking, but I’ll admit that I was surprised that he wasn’t more heavily invested in Statistics or another field of mathematics.
  • Dr. Siegel draws a hard line of demarcation between forecasting and predictive analytics, using the example of Nate Silver being a forecaster, but the Obama campaign being predictive analysts. An important attribute of a predictive analyst to Siegel seems to be action.
  • He was convincing enough to prompt me to read his book—check back soon for the full review!

Practical Tips for Planning and Executing Successful Presentations, Chris Elsbury (Coca-Cola)

This was hands-down the most actionable session I attended, and here’s what I learned about presenting as a researcher, although much of this can be applied to any presentation:

Ask for predictions! At the beginning of a research findings presentation, ask the attendees to predict what the results will be. This tactic offers two key benefits:

  1. “You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.” How many times have you heard this from a VP or CEO at the end of (what you thought was) an impactful presentation? Cut this off at the head by asking for predictions – and even writing them down on a whiteboard.
  2. Plain Old Boredom. If you’re presenting to someone who makes a living sitting in meetings, there’s more than a slight chance that they didn’t enter the room exceptionally excited to hear you talk for 60 minutes. Capture their interest by engaging them in a sort of predictive game.

Identifying Consumer Insights with Dale DeBoer, Meijer

Dale DeBoer of Meijer’s Consumer Insights department spoke about a project he completed last year on Black Friday. As a researcher, it was an inspiration to hear how he did the following:

  • Listened to his internal clients’ needs and wants
  • Game-planning for delivering actionable and timely insights
  • Delivering with his team

Dale’s story of how his internal clients needed a quicker turnaround on their reports was all too familiar. His reaction and solution, however, was unique. I won’t tell the story as well as Dale did, but here’s the gist. Last year on Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year – Dale put together a study following this process:

  1. Recruited real Meijer customers to complete surveys in-store on the morning of Black Friday.
  2. Using mobile app technology, Dale and his team were able to receive the data in real-time.

Here’s the impressive part – after stopping data collection at 12:00 PM, Dale and his team “locked themselves in a room” and were able to come out with a final deliverable by 4:00 PM!

Dale’s story was a great way to wrap up a great conference filled with inspiring stories and great people. Looking forward to CRC 2014 in Chicago!

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