Thursday, May 14, 2009


Florida Newspaper Interview

Yesterday, I got a call from a reporter from the St. Petersburg Times (recently voted "the best newspaper in America." He is sending me an entire ad campaign (60 pieces in all) to review. It is a political advertising campaign and involves some sort of scandal with the ad agency hired for the project. This is the first time I will be asked specifically to comment on a given campaign. I should receive the materials today and have all weekend to formulate my opinions and comments for the Monday interview. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


International Online Research for B2B is Not a True Option

With several international B2B clients wanting more and more offshore reactions to their concepts and ideas, I began using online bulletin board focus groups as a tool. First of all, they were selected because I get everyone in the group to answer every question, so the feedback is richer than a traditional focus group. Also, I get some “group dynamics” because everyone can see the other persons’ answers as soon as they submit their own. In addition, they can change their answers any time their want to and they can comment openly on what other participants have said. As a moderator, it gives me the option to clarify answers as well during the normal three-day sessions. Participants come in and out over the course of the three days at their convenience and usually spend about 15 minutes a day inputting their answers and comments. Perfect tool for getting answers in a controlled manner from a geographically dispersed audience. Right? Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”

The main problem has become one of recruitment. Unless you can get the person with the right title who also speaks English, chances are he or she will not participate even if you offer an incentive fee of $200USD! It appears that in some countries in Asia, for example, there are mores that make it uncomfortable for people in business to talk about that business openly online. In other situations, while they may speak English, they really don’t “write English” too well, making it hard to understand their answers. On top of that, unless you provide a list of names, numbers and e-mails, chances are the incidence levels will be so low that you’ll wind up paying another $200 per recruit above and beyond the incentive dollars. At this point, this type of research not only becomes impractical, but also expensive.

The answer? There’s really little choice. It’s “go back to basics.” I cannot take any more risks that this kind of study will be plagued with problems. As a result, I am going back to one-on-one personal interviews done in each country in that country’s official language. It’s the only alternative to ensure I get the data my clients need.

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