4 Watchouts for the New World of Consumer Research with Janelle Estes, UserTesting: Show Notes & Transcript
Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.
This is Episode #148 and we’re talking consumer research with guest Janelle Estes, Chief Insights Officer of UserTesting. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!
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Marketing Smarts Episode #148: 4 Watchouts for the New World of Consumer Research with Janelle Estes, UserTesting
It’s a changing world of consumer research. There’s never been more data at our fingertips, but with that comes privacy and ethical concerns. How do you pull out insights that will positively impact your business? It comes down to keeping humans first, what to do about data access we may shortly lose, not overindexing on too narrow an audience, and keeping the consumer a part of the process. As always, some big questions face us in the research world. How much data is needed for us to feel confident we have the right audience? What are the best ways to get cost-effective information from consumers? And how do you frame up the conversation to get the most bang for your buck? We wanted you to learn from a true expert in the consumer research space, so we welcomed on Janelle Estes. She’s the Chief Insights Officer of UserTesting, a human insight platform focused on improving customer experience (CX). This episode covers everything from focus groups to competitors. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:
- What are some watchouts for the new world of consumer research?
- How much data/information is needed to ensure you can be confident you have the right audience?
- What are the best ways to get cost-effective information from consumers?
- How do you frame up the conversation to get the most bang for your buck?
- Why may we lose some data shortly?
- How do you keep humans first?
- Why should you keep the consumer part of the process?
- How do you focus on your target consumer?
And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at: ForthRight-People.com.
Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:
- 4 Watchouts for the New World of Consumer Research with Janelle Estes, UserTesting
- [0:00] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
- [0:30] Anne Candido, April Martini
- [0:34] What are some watchouts for the new world of consumer research?
- [1:22] Learn more about Janelle on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at UserTesting.com
- [2:34] Don’t let the data overshadow the fact consumers are humans first
- [3:52] ForthRight People
- [4:42] COVID-19
- [7:28] AAA (American Automobile Association)
- [9:08] P&G (Procter & Gamble)
- [10:28] Some data access we have currently may be lost shortly
- [10:57] Cookies
- [13:42] Sam Walton, Walmart
- [14:38] Retargeting
- [16:11] Be careful not to overindex on too narrow an audience
- [19:38] Tech (Technology)
- [20:31] Webex, GoTo Meeting
- [22:14] Analysis Paralysis
- [25:30] Conversion Rate
- [25:51] Don’t leave the consumer out of the process and wait until the end
- [29:51] Disney Magic Bands
- [34:32] Uber
- [35:19] Recap: What are some watchouts for the new world of consumer research?
- [35:55] Marketing Smarts is sponsored by ScottMautz.com. Scott Mautz is a popular keynote speaker and #1 bestselling author whose latest book and talk Leading from the Middle helps middle managers dramatically increase their influence up, down, and across their organization. Want your company’s middle managers and leaders equipped to foster a high-performing organization? Want them inspired to drive the change and transformation that’s a challenging necessity moving forward? Go to ScottMautz.com to check out Leading from the Middle and all of Scott’s keynotes, trainings, courses, and books
- [36:44] How much data/information is needed to ensure we can be confident we have the right audience?
- [42:38] What are the best ways to get cost-effective information from consumers?
- [43:44] Social Media
- [46:53] B2B (Business-to-Business)
- [48:54] Focus Group
- [49:22] How do you frame up the conversation to get the most bang for your buck?
- [55:00] Podcast
- Final Thoughts
- [57:14] Check out the Human Insight Podcast
- [57:23] Check out User Tested
- [57:34] Learn more about Janelle on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at UserTesting.com
- [58:19] Recap: What are some watchouts for the new world of consumer research?
- [58:54] Make sure to follow Marketing Smarts on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
- [58:58] Learn more at ForthRight-People.com and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- [59:06] Sign up to view all the ForthRight worksheets & tips for FREE!
- [59:15] Shop our Virtual Consultancy
What is Marketing Smarts?
From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.
How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?
Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer.
Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.
Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.
April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts.
Anne Candido 0:31
I am Anne Candido and I
April Martini 0:32
am April Martini. And today we’re going to really keep the consumer in the room because we’re going to talk about all of the watchouts associated with our ever changing world. And what that means for consumer research. And really specifically keeping that consumer in the room at all times. Right, and
Anne Candido 0:47
we’re going to say and use the word consumer just to keep things simple today, but we want to make sure you guys all understand that this is inclusive, any audience you may have. So whether or not you call them clients, or customers or whether or not you’re in a B2B space in a consumer space. This is who we’re talking about. So this applies to anyone you’re trying to cultivate and engage regardless of the terminology. Yeah,
April Martini 1:09
exactly. And because it’s such an important topic, we’re bringing a special guests into our conversation and that is Janelle Estes, Chief Insights Officer of UserTesting, and Janelle welcome. And we’d love for you to introduce yourself.
Janelle Estes 1:22
Thanks so much for having me and an April. Hi, everyone. I’m Janelle. And I’m Chief Insights Officer at UserTesting, which really is a fancy way to say I’m an industry expert in all things, customer understanding. So I’ve been in the space my entire career, I have a passion for understanding people and customers beyond just data points, and actually understanding them as human beings and using that information to make better smarter decisions. So I’ve been with user testing for a little over eight years. And if you’re not familiar with user testing, it is a human insights platform that allows you to get feedback from any audience, on any experience, design concept idea is really a place where you can push ideas out into the world and get feedback on them. So hopefully, that gives you a good sense of my background in the company.
April Martini 2:16
Yep, so the perfect fit for today and definitely speaking our language when it comes to not just looking at the numbers, but the consumer in total as a human being. So with that, we will get into the four watch outs for the new world of consumer research. Number one, don’t let the data overshadow the fact that consumers are human. First, I set myself up well for this. I did Janelle just now. But you know, if you’re anything like me, you love you some data, I definitely do. But the caveat I always offer is that data itself doesn’t make the insights, you can’t take a point of data and then call it an insight. And I’ve seen that happen many, many times over the course of my career. But to get to true actionable insights, you have to think about the people on the other end that you’re trying to serve not just what the metrics tell you. And I have been in rooms where a data point comes up. And it’s like the people in the room just glom on to it, and they can’t let go of it. And they want to just go and take a run at whatever solution is associated with that data point. Instead of asking, what is the data telling me, and then going from there, because you can’t expect the consumer or the customer to be able to solve the challenge for you, nor can you expect the data to do that for you. And in the world we are in today where we have more data than ever before, it makes it really hard to know what those numbers mean, and how to put them to good use for yourselves. So at fourth rate, people, we are big fans same as Janelle, of keeping the consumer in the room, which means speaking to them, and I say that quote unquote, speaking to them, that can look a variety of ways, but from more of a qualitative perspective, and then really listening for what they’re saying, to make sure that you’re digging deep enough to say, what does that actually mean? versus you know, I like this product because it works. Okay, that’s great. But what does it really solving for? What is that core motivator, and it takes some work on your side or on your agency side, or together to really be able to get to that, and I will give one recent anecdote of a survey that I ran, and then I’ll turn it over to Janelle to give some commentary. But just to contextualize a bit. We had a beer client toward the beginning of COVID. And just by putting out a survey on line, and obviously people had to be qualified to be participants, so we could say they were the actual target, and then asking people if they would be willing to speak to us qualitatively after we were able to do a few things. One, we were able to build a consumer base for this customer that they had never had before. And we We were able to build a panel of folks that they could go back to and speak to regularly. And then as part of what we were able to uncover, we actually found that who they thought their target customer was and what the selection should be. They were wrong on both fronts. And so bless that client for Will it be the willingness to listen and participate and understand what we were getting to. But my point of this is, we didn’t just take the numbers that came back, we made sure we had the target, right, we had to sort of reorient who that was and build out that profile for them. And then we kept the consumer in the room throughout the entire process, so that it wasn’t just us telling them things like you have too many SKUs on the shelf, it was you know, this prime target is buying this handful, you don’t need 35 different skews, and you certainly don’t need to be chasing an IPA, for example. Right. So that work, I think, is just a good proof point of the things that I set up with this point around, what does it look like when it actually comes to life? So I’ll stop talking and Janelle, I’ll turn it over to you. Well, I
Janelle Estes 6:00
love that example. Because you know, I think in many cases, and I’ve fallen victim to it myself is that you have a certain belief of who your customer is. And it’s usually defined by demographics or psychographics, or behaviors, or, you know, you name it, we’ve all seen those persona sheets and segmentation files. But when you actually dig in, and you understand a little bit more about who they are as people, your your beliefs can shift. And you might even learn that who you think your customer is actually not your customer. And that you need to to kind of change change course. And yeah, I couldn’t agree more with sort of like looking under the hood. One of my most favorite examples of this is we were working with triple A, they have a landing page where you get to choose what plan you want, there’s three different plans. It’s very price lead, it’s very feature driven, it’s talking all about the things that they’re going to give you in each of these plans. And the team was not happy with how the conversion was going like they weren’t getting all the membership signups that they wanted to get. And they were doing sort of that internal swirling write of like, oh, maybe its price, or, you know, maybe we need to lengthen the subscription. It’s like all these hypotheses, right. And then actually went and talked to people who were thinking about purchasing AAA. And what they learned was that when people are making a decision about AAA and safety, on the roadside, they’re not actually that concerned about price. They’re way more concerned about confidence, trust that they’re going to show up when they say they’re going to show up. And so the team went through, and they actually led with more of those types of offerings for the packages. And they they launched it right before Memorial Day, I think in 2020, which was a major travel weekend remembers no one was flying, everyone was driving driving everywhere. Yep. And they saw crazy, crazy conversions like to the tune of 10x of what they were seeing before. And to me, that’s like a beautiful example of you can have all the data in the world, you can make all the hypotheses that you want. But really, it’s about deeply understanding, like what’s motivating people and leading with that versus, you know, leaning on our opinions, which is the easy thing to do write, it’s faster, if we feel like we know our customers, so we should be able to. But there’s nothing more important than sort of like, you know, checking yourself every now and again to make sure your your beliefs are, in fact true.
Anne Candido 8:36
Yeah, and there’s two things that I really love about what you said one, in two, going back to both your guys’s example, the common theme, I think, was that when you go in, do your consumer research or seeking out to understand consumer understanding, you need to be curious, right? A lot of times people go in with just a desire to kind of confirm what they already believe to be true, which then leads to confirmation bias, which is just like, you can make data mean whatever you want. I come from p&g I worked at products research, I can take any base size you want and make it to meet anything that I want to make it. So even in a qualitative standpoint, you could do that with leading questions. So you can always get what answer you want to get, or you can get an answer that’s going to actually benefit your business. So you have to make that decision going into the customer research, and really be mindful of being curious. And then the other thing, which I thought was very insightful Janelle on from the AAA example is that a lot of times when we’re addressing our consumers, and it goes back to the point of being human, we think it’s like a morbid, commoditized way of talking to them or relating to him or being with them, which is like price in all the things that are in it. And so we lose sight of the fact that it’s really that emotional connection that you mentioned, that is a big, big huge driver, if not the key driver of decision. And when if we can tap into that, then we can actually end Escalade, the decision making process and we can get more people to buy our product more quickly. And that is a really huge key. I mean, I’m a AAA member, I’ve been a board member for 20 years. I mean, and it’s just it’s the safety and security piece. I’m like, I don’t even look at what the renewal cost is it just, you know, I just renew it. I mean, and so I think there’s a lot to be said about that.
April Martini 10:23
All right, good conversation on the first point. So we will head into the second one here. And Janelle, and I actually in prepping for this episode kind of went down a little bit of a rabbit hole on this one. So I’d be remiss not to be interest not to include it, but it is some data access we have currently may be lost shortly. So I said in the previous point about how we’re in this world now where we have all this data, and we don’t know what to do with it. Well, what is also happening is there’s always sort of the iteration or the you know, what happens next, as we open and close gates. So we’re looking at you cookies in this example, and Janelle has far more insight into this than I do. So I’m not even going to try to talk the technicalities and those types of things. But the point of this is that as consumer privacy in the digital space is reexamine some of that easy access that we’ve typically had to data as it relates to cookies really specifically, may become restricted. And so what that means is that you won’t be able to digitally follow the consumer kind of behind the scenes and your analytics and your metrics to see what they are doing. I would argue that’s kind of a good thing, not just for privacy, but because it’ll put you right back on the right path of how to talk to your consumers. But that’s my point of view. And so right now, we’re asking whether it’s okay to track right. So we’ve all seen that prompt that says, you know, we’re tracking cookies, do you accept or do Would You Rather we not track you, right. And we do have a lot of companies we know that rely on that data, and they’re making decisions through that lens, I believe it’s a little bit of a lazy approach, because you’re not keeping the consumer in the room. But the idea with this point is to put some urgency against it and say, if that is how you’re making decisions, what are you going to do when that goes away, and that you better find a way now, so that you have a plan B, because ultimately, things are going to change. And this won’t be the only instance of that, right? So we’re getting pretty granular and specific with this point. But it’s more of not only can you not rely on the numbers, because that’s not the right thing to do for the consumer. But you literally may have instances where you can no longer rely on the numbers. So what do you think Janelle? Like I said, you know more about
Janelle Estes 12:29
this? Yeah, it’s it’s a fascinating kind of shift and sort of showing how the consumer is becoming more and more in control of their own data and information. And while I believe that’s a good thing, it will be challenging for businesses. And, you know, I think there are some businesses that absolutely rely on tracking clicks, and you know, where people are dropping off, and you know, how they’re interacting with the site or the experience. And to be fair, some data and understanding is likely will, in my opinion, it’s better than not doing anything at all. But you’re right, in the sense that if that is the only thing that you are doing, and that becomes unavailable at some point in the future, it can be difficult, you know, kind of thinking about how do we augment this information with other data sources. And I think, what I find most fascinating about this is that it’s sort of like we’ve introduced all these digital experiences, right. And the digital experiences have literally created a wall between us and our customers, maybe not literally, figuratively, a wall. We’re not seeing them when they’re on our website, as people, we’re seeing them as data. So we go back to the example of like Sam Walton, who used to walk the aisles of Walmart, you can’t really walk the aisles of your website or app. I mean, you can monitor what’s going on, but you’re not making human connections there. And so it’s thinking about how all of this data that we’re collecting is really because we have built these digital experiences where it’s really easy to just collect a lot of data. And customers don’t want to be tracked. And if they are tracked, they want to opt in. But more importantly, customers actually want to give you feedback. And so it’s like we’re doing this weird thing of tracking when in fact, we could just be going to our customers and getting feedback from them.
Anne Candido 14:28
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really good point and I and I will take it to the broader context to of retargeting, which seems to also become a very lazy way of being able then once you have the data to just kind of continue just a bump barred your your target consumer in an effort to kind of create that ecosystem and hope they could that five to seven times that they see the same ad over and over is going to be enough in order to drive the engagement. And that too is becoming more and more difficult in order to, to in order to go do because of how How the algorithms are working and what meta is doing in order to really, actually bake it all work to their benefit, which they’ve always done. So I think what you guys are saying is really, really important about being more intentional in how you’re creating that ecosystem. Because that understanding is going to be super, super important in order to drive that engagement. So if you’re only looking through your website in order to try to get that understanding, and you’re only engaging with your consumer through that website, and you’re very myopic, in that way, because that’s where you’re getting the data or, you know, social, whatever that channel is for you, you’re not seeing your consumer through the multiple lenses that you need to in order to be able to build that ecosystem across multiple channels, so that you can surround them with your message. So I think that’s a really, really important point. And I feel like people have started to rely a lot on that, because there’s agencies who do that specifically. So they feel like, Hey, I just have to buy this agency. And they’re going to do this all for me. And then I just have to, like, you know, wipe my hands of it, and then it’s just going to work. So be in it, I think is my point. And I love the what you had to say about that, I think that’s a really big, huge Watch out. All right, or
April Martini 16:05
third point here, moving right along is be careful not to over index on too narrow and audience. And I think some of the watch outs, we just gave around making sure that you’re really getting to know your consumer apply here as well. So pull that thread forward, certainly. But what we would say is, if when you start to do this, you really are creating too narrow of a view, and you can really miss out on opportunities. And on the other side of this, it’s important that once you do to find your audience not to set it and forget it. Because there are nuances and things that change. I mean, I think what you just said and around creating the right ecosystem, that automatically requires vigilance in a completely different way than ever before, because you have to make sure that all of those messages and channels are working effectively for you. But when you’re going to talk to your consumers directly, you really do need to make sure that you have enough diversity of thought within that audience, from a demographic standpoint, from a psychographic standpoint, and then also just in who they are as people. So that once you have that kind of target created, you have contextualization within the individuals that you’re speaking with, so that you get more of a flavor of, okay, they share these certain aspects, right. But they’re very different as human beings in these other ways, and making sure that you’re keeping that in the conversation as well. And then that ongoing conversation becomes really important in this point, too, as well as reexamining the landscape and the trends and how things are changing, not just from a digital perspective, but just in total, right? If you’re you’re competing with Is there a new person coming to the market, you know, is there an adjacent category that has popped up that you were never expecting before, because that target consumer can change for you as a result of all of those things going on. And so it’s really important to keep that pulse. But then like I said, also, make sure that you’re not focusing on this tiny, little niche. Because in the world we’re in today, there’s so many options, but then there’s also so many different factors that come into play, and the world is changing so quickly, that you could lose that audience and have missed out on a broader opportunity, because you’re looking at things from too much of a micro standpoint.
Janelle Estes 18:23
Yeah, I absolutely agree. We were I was just chatting about this today with one of our customers and kind of thinking about, you know, okay, we want to get feedback from existing customers. But beyond that, maybe we get feedback from prospects, or maybe we get feedback from customers of your competitors. And that’s one of the things that I think we sometimes tend to overlook is this idea that we can be getting feedback and insight around more than just the things that we’re building. So not only your competitors, but also think about world class or best in class experiences, the experiences that you hear about all the time, probably some come to mind for you. What about getting feedback on those and seeing what are the things that they’re doing that we can then emulate in our experience. And so that’s what I see some sort of really great teams and companies that are doing this great are looking at the world from all of those different angles. So I think that that point is absolutely spot on. I also want to also give a shout out to sort of like this notion of hearing from people who are not like us. I think when you work in the world of tech, or actually just work really anywhere, you’re surrounded by a lot of people that are just like you, that’s how networks work. And so getting beyond that is really, really, really important. An example I’ll give you prior to coming to user testing, and before actually tech played a big role in how this insight is powered. I used to have to do my own independent research, where I’d bring people into a lab I’d have some use websites and they give me feedback. And I live in New England. And so I was going and renting a lab and like, you know, the sticks of New Hampshire somewhere. And you can imagine the diversity that I was getting, which was close to now. So, you know, when remote platforms, even things like Webex and GoTo Meeting came along and allowed you to connect with people all over the world, you know, making sure that we’re still remembering that, in addition to talking to our customers, or prospects, or however you want to slice and dice, making sure that you’re getting a broad range of who those people are, and you are getting strong representation, I think, to an earlier point around confirmation bias. Sometimes when we are getting feedback from people who are just like us, they’re going to confirm things that we’re already expecting them to say. And so that diverse perspective is so important. We were working actually with a a company that had VR, or AR sorry, powered things where you could try on like clothes and glasses and things like that using the app. And they were doing a whole bunch of testing with us and realized that some of the clothing wasn’t showing up on people with darker skin. And that was they hadn’t realized that until they actually did testing with that group of people. And that was a huge finding. Right? Because you can imagine, I mean, not just it not being accessible to that audience, the brand impact on something like that. I mean, I think back to you probably have read, like when the Polaroid film was first created, it actually was it, there was a very similar issue with it not capturing people with darker skin. It’s sort of like that was such a brand blunder that then is like you still could find articles about it today. So, you know, I think it’s important. Again, I think that the main point here is like, if you have a wide and diverse group of people you’re targeting, you need to make sure you’re hearing from all of those folks. Amen.
Anne Candido 22:03
Yeah, it’s a really fantastic point, I will offer the flip side of that coin, which is analysis paralysis, right? We’re feeling like you have to get so many people and you have to go and understand every single element of risk and risk mitigation, that you’re not willing to take any action whatsoever. So that also captures people and they end up spending a lot of money a lot of time and but never able to quite pull the trigger. Because we’re not quite sure if they’re confident enough, especially if it’s something that they don’t know enough about. And here’s where I’ll say, obviously experts really, really can help you be able to distill that down into an actionable plan. So you don’t swirling and going down those rabbit holes. But also what I’ll say and I mean, again, from my experience at p&g, where, you know, there wasn’t a lot of risk, we could take with these billion dollar brands that have been around for decades and decades, we still made decisions based on small base sizes, and some cases, and that was always based on the amount of risk that you needed to take and what the reward of that risk was. And if one was, which way that little carrot was facing with as a risk, greater the reward reward was greater than the risk. And then what level of confidence did you need in order for that to work out for you? Right? So 10, I mean, 1015 20 people have your audience, as long as it’s a diverse subset of your audience, could be all you need in order to make certain decisions. Right? So keep that in mind too, as you’re gonna think about that context of how do I get to a decision? Or how do I get you know, how many people is enough? And all those sorts of things? Because it can start to start to feel a little bit overwhelming on which side of that coin you need to be on?
April Martini 23:54
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really fair point. Because, you know, like you said before, Janelle any data is better than none, right? If that’s what you’re gonna have have it? And I think this is good to add to your comments about don’t feel like you have to boil the ocean, either. Right? And I think our point with this is, if you’re looking through a human lens, the point of this whole episode is you navigate through that way versus focusing on metrics and numbers and, you know, letting that guide you, then you can typically find the right solution, but you have to be doing the work on your side to get to it. So if you’re talking to that 10 to 20 people and they are diverse enough to the prior conversation we were having, it’s up to you to kind of like sift through and say, Okay, here’s the common things, but what does that actually mean? Okay, well, what is actually doing for them? Okay, how is that changing their life or whatever that kind of analysis is so that you’re getting to the crux of an insight that you can solve for for them, regardless of size that’s going to be meaningful.
Janelle Estes 24:57
Great. Yeah, absolutely. I think the day danger in being in this field is that we’re endlessly curious. Right? So like, you start to ask questions, which then makes you ask more questions. And so knowing to your point kind of when to say, You know what, let’s make a call. It’s really important. And I think, to your point, April around the human perspective, usually when you have a whole bunch of data, metrics, conversion rates, whatever, whatever, whatever, you talk to a handful of customers, you get the context on the data pretty quickly, it doesn’t take a long time for you to start to see patterns and trends. And so, you know, kind of merging those two worlds together is a great way to sort of get that holistic view and then move on. Yes, yes, exactly.
April Martini 25:41
Which actually takes us nicely to the next one, which is number four, and the watch outs for the new world of consumer research is don’t leave the consumer out of the process and wait till the end. So being part of this world for as long as all of us have, you know, I’ve been part of plenty of studies where we have we’re at the concept stage, right? And we’re asking, do you like this more than this? Or this? Or would you buy this, or would you use this or whatever, starting at that point, is the old way of doing things, that’s not how to do it anymore. And part of it is because we have access to our consumers in a new and different way than we ever have before. But the other part of it is that you may completely miss the opportunity, or the big opportunity in doing something like that. And or you can bring something to market that actually is of no use, because you’re putting three things in front of people in a focus group, or whatever they’re trying to please you or tell you what you want to hear, right. And so you’re asking them in a fake environment, which one they like better, which one they would buy, but there’s nothing else contextually around them in that environment. And so you’re not getting the true information from them. They’re just responding in terms of whatever stimulus you’re putting in front of them. And this goes back to my point about not expecting the consumer to solve it for you. And so if you start with them early, and you’re having that conversation, and you have that repeat group of consumers, whatever that looks like, and you have the ongoing conversation, you’re less likely to get completely off track. And you can use them at various points to test and learn and to optimize and to shift and make changes and try out different things so that you can get to a really viable solution. One example I’ll give is, there was a client and we were working on products for young children. And the way that they had historically been doing research was, would you buy this? How much would you pay for it? Like, you know, when they already had r&d already had the product produced, right? And so we back that up? And we started with what are these products actually doing for mom. And so we got to a much more emotional place around, you know, I don’t know what to do when they’re not feeling well, in this instance, that was the pillar of the business, they’re not feeling well. And sometimes I feel like I have no ways to help them. And this was a respiratory set of products. And so we got into a very meaningful conversation with them about their vulnerability of their feelings and not being able to take the uncomfortableness if that’s a word, away from their child, and feeling a little bit at a loss. And that led us down the path of new moms, right. And so we got into this really rich space, and we were able to stop creating products for the sake of creating products and start creating ones that actually addressed this whole pain point for mom, and it completely shifted their business. And, you know, to your point about growth, I mean, it just took off, because we were talking to those moms in a way that they were able to say, Yes, that’s me. And then, you know, it became a conversation more of what else you got, once those products started to take off. And so I think that’s just a good example, to validate this point. Once we started talking to them more about what would be helpful or how they were feeling or you know, the things deeper than just whatever this product was solving for their child, we got to a much better orientation for the business and the success of that business.
Janelle Estes 29:10
Yeah, absolutely. I think waiting to the end to see if people like it or not, or would buy it or not, is not the place to start. Although it’s where I see a lot of teams focusing and a thing could take takes a certain level of another type of growth and maturity to get to a place where the business is willing to say, You know what, we need to investigate all of this before we even push a pixel or come up with a new concept or idea. In the book user tested that I co authored with my CEO Andy MacMillan, we talk about the Disney Magic Band story. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one. It’s kind of a fun one. So it was, I think back in 2007. So this was a long, long time ago. But they found that only half Half of the people that were visiting Disney World for the first time, so they wanted to come back, which was like, not a great statistic for them. So there was a woman running the park experience at the time. I think her name was Meg Crofton. And she had a team that she set out to go figure out what is wrong, like, what’s the pain. So they went out into the parks, they observed everybody, you know, they obviously noticed the long lines, which I think Disney is notorious for. And then in addition to that, they were noticing that people had to carry a lot of stuff with them. Like if they were staying on property, they had their hotel key at the time, or maps. And that’s in addition to all the stuff you need for that park. Long story short, the team identified the problem and then created the solution of the Disney Magic Band. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but it’s a little wristband that you wear, that has your park pass all your all of your passes to get on your rides, it has your credit card, it has your hotel key, you know, super convenient, but also because of how convenient it was, and the efficiency that it created. Disney was able to get, I forget the exact percentage, but much a lot more people through the park on a given day. So it was not only efficient for customers, but it was great for the business as well. And I think it was five years later, they polled people again, the first time visitors and that number jumped to 70%. That said, they wanted to return to the park again, if it was their first visit. So we find that is a fascinating example of sort of like really understanding and dissecting a problem to then come up with a solution. Because I’m not sure if you were to send a team to go fix the problem of visitors not wanting to come back after their first time. I mean, I’m sure we could speculate on what the conversation would be right? Price. Maybe lions actually. But like, it’s a great example. And they’ve since evolved the magic fans, I think you could still get them but they now have an app experience that’s more integrated into the park. But I think that’s a good example of bringing the customer along with the entire journey and not just right before you launch something.
Anne Candido 32:06
Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic example, because I think we see I feel like I’m a contrarian on this episode. But I feel like we see a lot too is that people fall in love with their ideas, they fall in love with their products, they fall in love with their business. And this is like what they want to give to the world. But they haven’t actually done any research or any kind of insight mining to understand if actually the world really wants it. And that is a really huge issue. And you could call it product market fit, you could call it a lot of different things. But what’s really super critically important is to understand that as early as you possibly can, in a way that allows you to be very objective still, when it comes to your product and your service. Otherwise, the further down the line you get, you get that bias of diminishing returns where you’re like, I’m not going to stop. Now I’ve already invested this much time, I’ve already invested this much effort. Whoa, I’m sure it’s just a small set of consumers who don’t like it, or a small set of people won’t use it, or this is gonna be really good for those people. I mean, when we were getting to that point in PNG world, when we knew where we were like basically jumping the shark, we’d say Oh, it’s great for camping. Nobody would say it’s great for camping we knew it was. Now there’s a lot of products actually are really good for camping. But like that can’t be your your generic catch all for everything. So I think it’s really important to think about that. And I’ll give my own personal example, when I was in a brunch meeting and a person was pitching their new app. And this app was basically it provided a more like global service in order to find babysitters, right. And I looked at him and I said, Well, did you check in especially because this was a Cincinnati focused one. Did you check in Cincinnati and and actually see what the landscape currently looks like? Because I can tell you every single location and Cincinnati network in order to find babysitter so what is yours doing that this one isn’t going to do? Well, you can like get all these babysitters. I’m like, Well, I don’t need it necessarily a babysitter from Cleveland to come. My kids in Cincinnati and like, I still don’t get it. And so I mean, we talked about it for like 10 minutes, he goes, Yeah, my wife didn’t get it either. And I’m like, your wife didn’t get it. And now you’re still doing it. I said, Well, you should have flip it around. I mean, what we really need is you really need Uber’s for your kids, like you need somebody who’s going to come and drive your kids around. He goes, but we already did this app. And I was like, Oh man, buddy, I am so sorry. I mean, because like you could tell there was no product market fit. He hadn’t done the right research to really understand it. He just fell in love with the idea when gung ho into the idea and didn’t even stop to take a breath to see hey, does this thing really work? Especially when my wife who is like, you know, the person is probably getting the babysitter says it’s probably not going to work. So take it you know, I think that’s just a good example. And the ones that you said to have like one again, it’s going to be After being curious, but also means like taking a breath and being a bit objective, you have to be objective in this world, or you’re going to spend a lot of money finding out the hard way that your stuff may not work.
April Martini 35:12
Yeah, I think those are all great points. All right, so let’s just recap. For watch out for the new world of consumer research. One, don’t let the data overshadow the fact that the consumers are humans first, trying to define your consumer in data points, misses the mark. Number two, some data access we have currently maybe lost shortly, we’ve gotten used to all the data at our fingertips, government mandates may change that and take away this current reality. Number three, be careful not to over index on too narrow and audience, make sure to get a wide view of demographics and psychographics and defining your target consumer. And number four, don’t leave the consumer out of the process and wait until the end. This is the antiquated way Don’t waste your time, money and efforts with this approach. In our next segment, which is in the trenches, we give real world examples specific to industries and situations but with broad application for anyone to digest and put into action. And the first question we have here is how much data or information is needed to ensure we can be confident that we have the right audience. And we’ve answered around this and various points we’ve made already. But I’ll try to put a finer point here and then turn it over to Jim now. But the good news and we’ve told you this is you don’t have to spend all your money on consumer research anymore. 10s or hundreds of 1000s of dollars for you know those we’ve all been a part of them. It’s like, we’re going to do six weeks of qualitative mining and six weeks of quantitative in whichever order that company did it. Because by the time you even get those results, now it’s obsolete information, things are changing too quickly. But that money doesn’t need to be spent like that, because we have all these other creative ways, like we’ve talked about today, to be able to get to your consumer. And so we do feel like and Janelle made this point before, when you have a handle on your analytics and you’re regularly using those to check in with the consumer, you can get a pretty quick temperature of where you are. And maybe you have a panel that you tap into regularly or you have a survey you put out to the people that seem to be the the ones that buy the product most often or spend the most money, you have that regular in with your customers and consumers. So you can look at what the data is telling you and then compare it with what they’re saying. And that typically will give you a pretty good pulse on things. And the good news also about this to my point about not spending a bunch of money, if you do create a panel or even if you’re just taking a subset of folks, you know, every so often and reaching out to have a conversation. You can give them 100 bucks, you can give them a gift card to your company, you can send them product, there’s lots of different ways to do this now. So this is one area that I don’t think you have to be overwhelmed because the costs has gone so far down from where what people used to spend. And to incent people really doesn’t take that much. I mean, Janelle, you made the fabulous point. Have you had these people like raising their hand saying I want to talk to you about it, find those people tap into them, and they’ll be happy with an incentive that I think will surprise you. What do you think Janelle?
Janelle Estes 38:07
Yeah, absolutely. I think the cost and also the time to insight has reduced dramatically. Back in the day when I was doing this in a lab setting, you know, renting a lab space in Manhattan for two days in flying it a bunch of people from the company to sit behind the mirror and watch us, you know, talk to a handful of consumers. Those were the days
Anne Candido 38:28
Lots of peanut m&ms and ordering food out.
Janelle Estes 38:32
Exactly, exactly. Fine. I remember I was moderating a facilitating a session and like this was this was before like, chat, right? And like, all of a sudden, I’m sitting there I see a piece of paper slip underneath the door, like, Excuse me, let me go pick it up. The people on the other side of the mirror had a bunch of questions that they wanted me to ask the person that it was in the room with me. So I thought that was like, that was just so many other ways to do that. Now, thankfully, and it’s expedited so quickly, like it’s, you know, that wasn’t that long ago that I was that that was happening. And so, you know, I think leveraging technology, leveraging the panel of people that are customer base that you might already have tapping into different teams to maybe give you access to either the customers themselves or the data. You know, I have some customers that are mining call center data on a regular basis to understand what are the top things we need to address to, you know, bring down support, call volume, and so it’s just a lot more accessible than it was 10, 15 years ago.
Anne Candido 39:40
Yeah, I think those are all my good points. I remember being in those two, where you know, they always come back after you’re like, Do you have any questions? You’re like, we have questions, right, like and you’re just like, oh, man, okay, whatever. I think those are, yeah, that’s a reality that no longer exists. Thank goodness. And I think if you’re, you know, go back to the statement I made before Are when you’re thinking about, like how much of that information you really need, and it really goes back to what their business needs are, right? So it depends, like, you may only need to be 20% confident because you’re gonna go do a small test, and you’re just gonna put it in the mark, and you’re just gonna see what actually works and that this world now is so primed for that. If you have any question at all, put it into the hands of your consumers and get some data, you can speculate all day, you can hypothetically put it in whatever situation you want. And you may be wrong on all different accounts, put it out there, get a little bit of test and learning going, seeing what happens and then optimize from there is the best way to find cycle tests now, because it allows you to get that data in real time. And like you said, you don’t have to wait now months for all your data to come back from these big quant tests, or somebody to go and distill through all your quality data and then distill it down to these really high level basic understanding that you were like, Oh, why ironically, those match up with our brand architecture. Interesting. So it’s not anything new and different, because you didn’t get to like, you know, the granular qualitative data, because everybody has to simplify it for actual sharing out, because our managers can’t understand anything more than that. So they set right, so I grabbed a little bit of a soapbox, a little bit my Tide box, but like, so I digress just for a second. But I think it’s like you have to decide like what your competence level needs to be. And that’s based on the risk again, and reward equation, and, but use some of these things in order to help you fast track that I think is really ideal. But also try just to make small bets to begin with. And I think that’s the other thing I would say about that, so that you can help mitigate some of that risk. Yeah,
April Martini 41:39
I think that’s a great point. All right, our second in the trenches question, what are the best ways to get cost effective information from consumers? So I’m gonna list out a few here, and then I’ll hand it over to Janelle, and I’m sure and we’ll have some as well. But like we said, it doesn’t have to be hugely expensive. And it can be anything from social media surveys with the asked to reach out to certain individuals for deeper discussions, I gave that example with the beer example. You know, we, I mean, part of it was the moment in time, and we sent that that survey outright when COVID hit, and it was for beer drinkers. So that’s a pretty easy topic to recruit for. But I mean, it just to win a gift basket from the company, we had some, like 220 responses and a handful of days, right. And then the subset was really easy to get that handful of consumers, friends and family call where employees can send out to friends, and they share. And obviously, you have to assess whether the people that come back are a fit. But you can do that in a handful of questions and get the right people to give you that feedback that you’re looking for mining your consumer database for loyal customers, I mentioned this before you’re looking for people that spend the most or repeat purchase the most or give you the best reviews, or if you want to do a little extra digging, who’s out there talking about you and recommending you on their social media pages, all that kind of stuff. And then checking your own social for people that are commenting or liking or sharing, you know, they’re participating in the conversation with you. They’re the ones that are raising their hands and saying, Yes, I would like to be a part of this. So hopefully that gives just some examples. And Janelle, I’m sure you have more but and your platform, quite frankly, that you guys use have ways to get people engaged, that really can be fast, and also not cost you a ton of money.
Janelle Estes 43:29
Yeah, absolutely. In addition to all of those that you mentioned, which I certainly think are great places to get and find people who are willing to give you feedback and who fit your target demographic. There are also technology solutions to do it as well. So the user testing platform, for example, we have a network of contributors, and these contributors are essentially on demand, and they are there and willing to give feedback on anything, whether it’s a new idea, a competitor’s website, we even offer the ability for people to do things like you know, show me your closet, or show me your pantry or show me something physical in your world. And so, I find, I’m always blown away with who I can find and how quickly I can get the feedback. I was working. I did a little guest lecture. And I was working with an entrepreneurship course. And there was one gentleman in the course who was looking to start a preventative Botox shop in Mexico City and he wanted to find women between a certain age demographic that had considered preventative Botox but have not gotten it yet. We went through and set up our you know, we went to go kind of cast the net out to our contributors to see like, is there anybody that kind of fits this mold, and I was able to get feedback from five women within a couple of hours in Mexico City, which is nuts. And so, you know, being able to have some of those tech powered solutions is at your fingertips can be really useful as well.
April Martini 45:02
A nice plug for your business, we like it, yes.
Anne Candido 45:06
Well, I also think that there’s things that used to be very in person. And that now can shift to being more virtually oriented. So we used to do a lot of shop alongs, we used to used to do a lot of in homes, which is a very easy way just to recruit and kind of get in the context, or it’s an issue of your of your consumer just to kind of see how they would behave if they were going on a shopping trip and how they would look at the shell, right? Or you can actually have people who do that for you, you can hire people to go into a restaurant, you know, a surprise or undercover restaurant tour, or undercover shopper that would go in and they would have that experience and then give you that feedback back that could be your friend who goes in and goes and does that. So there’s multiple ways that you can get that information, if you’re just a little bit savvy, and you think about it from the context of like, okay, how can I get this done? Versus what are all the things that are in my way that I can’t do it? Or how much it’s going to cost? Or how long is it going to take? They’re also if you’re just taking from a B2B standpoint. I mean, the one thing that April and I do a lot with regards to our business, is we ask our clients to offer us people for us to go call. Yeah, right. So we do vetting call. So we ask well give us a you know, folks within their company, folks outside your company, your clients and customers or whoever or your stakeholders are you want us to go talk to, and we’ll go talk to them. And we’ll grab that data for you. And we’ll distill it down, and we’ll have a conversation about it. So there’s multiple ways of being able to get at the data. In that case, that’s an additional piece of work that we’re already going to go do. Or it’s you know, just being savvy and figuring out how to get it done.
April Martini 46:47
Yep. Well, I think the other piece of it is in we haven’t talked about this overtly. But you’ve heard us say how many years we’ve all been collectively doing this. There is a science and there’s an art to this. Yeah, for sure. And I mean that from the qual quant standpoint, but then I also mean it from just learning what to do with the data, once you have it. And really understanding what you’re looking for and the right avenues to go and kind of dissect and then put the data and information back together is an art form that I think develops over years and years of experience, where you start to see patterns that start to emerge, or things you can borrow from other industries, or, Oh, this is similar to that over there, which said client would never know, because they don’t have exposure to that industry at all. But you can bring that stuff forward. And I think that’s where the magic and the partnership happens. Because you’re right, we do we, we always say to our clients are the expert at your business. And we are the expert across a lot of different industries from a branding and marketing and research perspective, right? And so when we’re all willing to come to the table to pull that collective expertise with the consumer, or customer or client at the forefront, or whatever that conversation is, I think that’s when you can get to the really creative solutions that break down any barriers, and you get the most authentic feedback. Because, you know, Janelle, when you mentioned the sliding under the door in the focus group, I mean, I went right back to several situations in my life. And I’m like, how unnatural was that? Like, these robots in the background, were just a piece of paper under the door. So I think the world we’re in now, when you are able and willing to do a little bit of extra work or extra steps to get there, the richness of what comes out is just like nothing that you’ve I’ve ever experienced before, the world we’re in now.
All right, our third and final in the trenches question which I’m going to hand this over to Janelle as the experts on this call? How do you frame up the conversation with these customers to get the most bang for your buck, and you’ve talked a little bit about the platform, but please feel free to use that as an example and just kind of talk about your experience and approach overall, to get to that real info from people versus just surveys and the likes of things we’ve said don’t do any more today.
Janelle Estes 49:08
Right? I think the beauty of connecting with customers is a couple of things. One is to understand them and their behaviors. So you know, I never asked people really direct questions like, you know, would you ever shop for a car online? Like, right, you know, those types of bias sort of leading questions. Instead, I might say something like, tell me about the last time you purchased a car, what was that experience? Like? Walk me through it. Tell me what worked? What didn’t? Where could it have been better? It’s sort of going back to the point of the confirmation bias, like, you may have decided that you’re going to create an online platform for purchasing automobiles, but we need to make sure the need is there. First, we need to make sure the pain is there first. And so that’s how I tend to uncover those is having people reflect on previous experience. That’s really add to what you’re exploring. I don’t always ask about what people plan to do in the future. Because I think as human beings, we’re very terrible at predicting future behavior. Yes, we are. It’s not malicious by any means. It’s just that we don’t know what we’re going to do in the future, we tend to sort of tell ourselves a happy narrative, what we’re going to do, but doesn’t always pan out that way. So that’s one thing I tend to do is help people reflect on past experiences. And then I have people actually use experiences. So instead of getting a pop up, when I’m using a retailer website, saying, how likely are you to recommend this website to a friend on a scale of one to 10? Maybe I just actually take a whole bunch of my customers and put them on the website and figure out, you know, what’s working? Well, what’s not? And how do we get better versus taking that metric? And trying to then, you know, kind of back into it to figure out why is it a 7.8, and not a 10. Because ultimately, you’re going to end up just hypothesizing if you’re not able to uncover the why behind those numbers. So those are, those are things that I recommend doing, I also recommend looking at your most important experiences on a regular basis. So I’ll use the easy example of a retailer. Or maybe let’s do financial services to mix things up a little bit. You know, top flow is probably understanding a product offering, right? Also, maybe applying online, maybe if it’s a visit has a physical presence, finding the nearest branch, looking at those key activities regularly, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or even annually, to be honest with you, there’s so much that’s often happening in the background of your site or experience, it’s being released all the time. And so you don’t always know when things break, or when things just aren’t optimal, you’d always be doing better. And so looking at those key things regularly is important. And bonus points, if you do it with your competitors, too. We have a couple of customers that look at their experience against their top competitors on a quarterly basis. And they use that to drive. What are we going to focus on? It also avoids like what I like to call the Mi two syndrome, which is a competitor launches something. And then everyone’s like, oh, we need to launch that too. Oh, that allows you to sort of like that, like, is this actually working for the competitor? And what do people think about it before we invest in doing the same thing?
April Martini 52:26
Those are great. I, we, it’s such a timely example. I mean, we’re in the process of training one of our clients right now on competitive auditing, and exactly what you said, I mean, just having that regular pulse on things, so that you can understand what you’re doing against what they’re doing is so important. And I think that when you do it on a regular basis, it becomes a discipline and a practice in a way that it can be again, more quickly done each time. Because it’s like, you know, what the experience has been typically, you can go on to their website, or their social or their whatever, and say, Oh, they’ve changed this within the past couple of months, or this is a new offering, what does that look like? And then I think it’s exactly right to say, okay, and is it working, which is a huge one, I mean, the me to stuff is alive in any industry, I don’t care regardless of how strong your brand is, we see it all the time. But using those learnings, I think it is so smart to have a consistent pulse on it and always have those learnings going on. So that one you don’t miss anything. But then to you can be very in tune and educated and an expert in your business in a different way than just this is my job. And this is what I do with these blinders on everyday. And this is how we do it. And I don’t I don’t look at any of that stuff outside of that. So I think those are great points.
Anne Candido 53:44
And I think the point you guys brought up about you’re looking for the experience is really a good one. Because a lot of times people will shy away from looking at competitors, because they’re like, Well, we have the best product. I mean, why do we care? Or we have the best service? Why do we even care? We’re the top of the industry. Why do we even care because just like that, as an snapping her fingers on a podcast, it could come crashing down based on a new entrant a new offering, or it could be something that has been going on for a little while that you just haven’t noticed. And that starts eroding your reputation, your credibility, your popularity, because we all know the best products, the best services, that’s just table stakes now, it’s really the experience that differentiates a brand. It’s really the way that people feel about the brand that drives that ability to as we say like that brand love which allows people to charge higher prices and allows you to get more customers or more consumers more quickly helps to build your reputation helps you to scale all of those good things. You can’t be doing that if you’re just selling your business based on a product benefit that you’re going to hang your hat on. And that’s going to be you know it for your business. So it’s the experience that really, really, really matters. You still have to deliver a good product a good service that you can’t overcome On a bad product and a bad service with that your consumer experience, but you can’t elevate it to the point of getting you out of the commoditized space into the brand space by having that consumer experience and by continuing to monitor it and continuing to refresh it. Yes. So yeah, I think that’s a great point.
April Martini 55:19
All right. In our third and final segment, we typically highlight companies or brands that may or may not be using their marketing smarts. But when we have a guest, we turn it over to them. So Janelle, I will just say, Bring us home offer any last minute thoughts or promotions for your company? And then don’t forget to tell people where they can find you.
Janelle Estes 55:37
Yeah, absolutely. So I think the key takeaway with all of what we just talked about is that business is human. And humans are complex, interesting creatures that change all the time, we, especially with the kind of environment and conditions around us versus COVID. Now, it’s macro economy, like there are things that are shifting, and changing how customers behave all the time, how they think, how they feel, because they’re people. And I think it’s our job as professionals to make sure that we understand the human that is on the other side of the experience that we’re delivering, not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because it helps you deliver more effective experiences that ultimately impact bottom line, in terms of where you can find me, I have, obviously a Twitter presence on LinkedIn. You can also tune into the Human Insight Podcast, which is a podcast that I co host with the user testing CEO. And we also recently published a book back in February called User Tested. And it’s about sort of the practice of well, understanding your customers as people and not just data points, and it has practical examples and case studies and ways that you can apply a lot of this work to yourself in your company, even if you don’t have let’s say quote unquote, the research chops that a professional researcher may have. Awesome.
Anne Candido 57:08
It can they get to the book on your website, you didn’t mention a website. Is there a website you went to?
Janelle Estes 57:12
Yeah, so yes, you can check out usertesting.com as well. And there’s a link to the book there, as well as the podcast.
April Martini 57:18
Okay, awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you for joining us today. It’s been awesome. I think you’ve brought a lot of great examples to the table and help to sort of round out this conversation around what to do with our consumers in our world today. Just to recap for watch out for the new world of consumer research. One don’t let the data overshadow the fact that the consumers are humans. First, we talked a ton about this, trying to define your consumer and data points misses the mark. Number two, some data access we have currently may be lost shortly. We’ve gotten used to all the data at our fingertips, but government mandates may change that and take away this current reality. Number three, be careful not to over an index on too narrow and audience make sure to get a wide view of demographics and psychographics and defining your target consumer. And finally, number four, don’t leave the consumer out of the process and wait until the end. This is the antiquated way Don’t waste your time, money and efforts with this approach. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: ForthRight-People.com. We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now go show off your Marketing Smarts!