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Transformation Secret: Transform What, Not Who

Jim Bryson shares 20|20 Research's transformation strategy for long-term success.

By Jim Bryson

On September 22, 1986, two young guys hung out a shingle with the goal of establishing a research firm focused on the delivery of outstanding research and a relationship-building commitment to serving clients.  That was the day 20|20 Research was born.  Thirty years later, that qualitative consultancy and facility company has transformed to become a firm committed to a technology focus in addition to our traditional business.  Throughout each change over 30 years, our cultural commitment to relationship-building service has never wavered.

Earlier this year, Jeff Resnick, Managing Partner of Stakeholder Advisory Services recorded the key to 20|20’s long-term success in Greenbook’s ebook, “Transformation IQ.”

Stay true to who you are. One of the most important decisions made by Jim Bryson was NOT to become a software company. 20|20’s roots and strengths are in the area of qualitative research, not software development. This led to a strategy of providing innovation coupled with a very strong service offering rather than a company focusing on selling software.

Over the years 20|20 Research has transformed what we do – but through it all we have stayed true to who we are.  The most significant example occurred in 2007 when the company decided that research technology was a key strategy for its future.  The decision was to shift our product development focus from face-to-face services to technology-based solutions.  While many in the industry pursued SaaS-based technology products, we made the decision to stick to our services model with a technology overlay.  That decision has served us well for almost 10 years.

Every company is different.  However, a company’s key to long-term success is its people and the culture that guides employees’ actions and priorities even when no manager is looking.  Long-term success is impossible without a strong culture that guides the small and large decisions each employee make every day.

Culture is what makes transformation possible.  With a strong and consistent culture, companies can change products, services, and even industries.  However, changing culture is incredibly difficult because changing culture means changing all the rules, even the ones you can’t articulate.  It means changing the answer to the question, “Who are we?”  It is a process fraught with peril and likely to fail.

When executives consider new products or new markets, they look at business needs – strategy, market gaps, value propositions, and the like. They often overlook the company’s culture.  This is a mistake.  Even the best market strategy is likely to fail if it does not fit the firm’s culture.  Conversely, a weak strategy that is aligned with culture has a significantly higher chance of success.

20|20 is not a high-flying technology firm.  But we have lasted for 30 years and transformed our business significantly, but we have never abandoned our culture.  As we look to future transformations, we will remain true to our history and our culture regardless of where the market transformations take us.

When faced with a point of transformation, choose culture every time.  Be who you are, not what you do.

 

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Growing the Industry by Funding More Research

Collaborata is the first platform that crowd-funds research, saving clients upwards of 90% on each project. We’ve asked Collaborata to feature two projects that are currently funding on a biweekly basis.

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Editor’s Note: How many startups in our industry have as their mission to literally grow the industry by funding more research? That’s what’s drives Collaborata, the first platform that crowd-funds research, saving clients upwards of 90% on each project.

Because we believe not only in Collaborata’s mission, but also the idea of connecting clients and suppliers to collaborate on projects (thereby reducing redundancy!), we’ve asked Collaborata to feature two projects that are currently funding on a biweekly basis. So, without further ado, here are this issue’s two featured projects:

 

By Peter Zollo

Collaborata Featured Project #1:

“The List: How Brands Rank Among Youth”

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Purpose: Brands that win with youth are those that young people can continue to grow into, not out of. “The List” shows you not only how your brand is performing versus your competition on the measures that matter most, but also how to improve and strengthen your brand’s perception and engagement with the post-Millennial cohort — all within a competitive context.

The Pitch: There’s an immediate payoff for brands that succeed with the post-Millennial generation today. An even bigger return is to be had by those fewer brands that grow together with this cohort and strengthen their relationship as young people age up.

Become a co-sponsor and add your brand along with seven other brands you name to the questionnaire. Buy a second share and get either a bonus sample of 20- and 21-year-olds (in addition to 13- to 19-year-olds) OR name seven more brands to be included in the questionnaire.

Deliverable: Report; WebEx presentation; data file; optional in-person presentation by Dan Coates, President of Ypulse

Who’s Backing This: Lead client: the Truth Initiative. Supplier: Ypulse, a youth insights and research expert. Additional support: Peter Zollo, former CEO of TRU and co-founder of Collaborata.

To become a co-sponsor or for more info: http://www.collaborata.com/projects/174 or email info@collaborata.com.

Collaborata Featured Project #2:

“Optimizing E: A Cross-Category Dive into What Consumers Want in Online Commerce”

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Purpose: Uncover the optimal e-commerce equation for consumers across a diverse range of categories—apparel, outdoor equipment, entertainment, hardware, and travel—thereby identifying drivers of satisfaction that transcend categories, while understanding which vary uniquely by category, and why. Discover if and how all of this differs among Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers.

The Pitch: No question: E-commerce has come a long way in gaining wider consumer acceptance and engagement. But greater insights backed by new data can provide strategic and tactical guidance as to how to optimize the full e-commerce experience for consumers. This study would not be to compare e-commerce to brick-and-mortar, but to find its own optimal equation to drive greater growth and consumer engagement.

Deliverable: Full report; Web-based presentation.

Who’s Backing This: Lead client: Mediavest | Spark, a world-renowned media agency. Supplier: Bovitz, Inc., a market research and strategy agency.

To become a co-sponsor or for more info: http://www.collaborata.com/projects/171 or email info@collaborata.com.

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20 Marketing & Sales Guidelines for MR Business Leaders

Many of the CEOs in our industry are uncomfortable with the concept of a proactive, outward-reaching marketing and sales initiative. It’s not necessarily that they don’t want to do it, they’re simply not sure how to go about it.

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Editor’s Note: Steve Henke will be speaking at Insights Marketing Day on September 30th in New York City. Join us to hear Steve and other industry experts share their marketing philosophies and perspectives on research companies’ marketing. Register today – Early Bird discounts end August 31st. 

By Steve Henke, President of Harpeth Marketing

Most of the CEOs in our industry are researchers who either started their firms or rose through the ranks to take the helm. Virtually none of them came out of the marketing & sales world. Yes, they have responsibility for the overall growth of their firm, but many (if not most) built their business on good work, referrals and word-of-mouth. And many (if not most) are uncomfortable with the concept of a proactive, outward-reaching marketing and sales initiative. It’s not necessarily that they don’t want to do it, they’re simply not sure how to go about it.

  1. Marketing and Sales are processes.

Being successful at revenue growth is not about luck, gut-feel or serendipity. And it’s not just about doing good work (because everyone does good work!)… it’s the result of a well-planned, disciplined, step-by-step approach.

Too many organizations are re-active with their marketing… almost making it up as they go. They simply don’t take the time to think through their business development efforts, to clarify the processes, to create a functional plan and then to execute that plan.  But those that do are almost always come out on top.

Most importantly, the processes are learnable. At Harpeth Marketing, the process that we follow for ourselves and for our clients is The Marketing & Sales Pyramid™.

  1. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

In business development, you must measure your results. You need to understand what’s working and what’s not. If it’s working, do more of it. And if it’s not working – stop doing it, or figure out a way to improve the results.

Years ago, John Wanamaker, the founder of a major department store was quoted as saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” And while today it’s much more than just advertising, that kind of thinking is still sound.

Consider these quotes about measurement…

  • What gets measured gets done.” If the boss is watching what you do, your marketing and sales team are more likely to pay attention to it and do it right.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If you don’t know what’s broken, you don’t know what to fix.
  • Measurement eliminates argument.” It’s awfully tough to argue with results in black and white.
  1. Divide your marketing & sales efforts.

There are two kinds of clients – “first-time” clients and “repeat” clients.

Most marketing & sales initiatives tend to focus on finding new clients. But, you can’t build a business on first-time clients… to be sustainable, you need repeat/long-term ones. Key takeaway: getting existing clients to come back to your firm for additional projects is significantly easier and less expensive than trying to convince a prospect to “give you a try” for the first time.

So, as you put together your marketing & sales plans, remember to allocate time and resources to help you accomplish both.

  1. Be patient… success takes time.

Too many business owners give up on their marketing & sales plan if it’s not generating immediate returns… a decision that can be detrimental to your business.

To be successful, marketing requires a sustained, multi-faceted approach to move your firm and its services from “unknown” to “recognized” to “preferred” in the minds of your prospective clients… and then to keep it there.

This means that your marketing & sales efforts must be frequent and consistent… not done only when you can “get around to it,” but executed every day and every week for a sustainable presence in the markets you serve.

Important: On a related note, too many sales reps have lost their jobs in our industry because they didn’t close a big deal in the first month or two. In an industry with sales cycles of 6-12 months (or more), that seems a little premature, doesn’t it?

  1. Think… then execute.

Far too common in our industry is the issue of implementing all kinds of marketing and sales activities without giving any real thought to what should be done, how it should be done and if it even aligns with the goals and needs of your firm.

Before you do anything, put on your thinking cap and start working on your strategic direction by answering these four questions:

  1. Who are you selling to? (company type and buyer type)
  2. What are you selling? (products/services and pricing)
  3. What is your Position/Unique Value Proposition/Point(s) of Differentiation/Brand in the marketplace? (if you don’t stand out, why should you be selected?)
  4. What marketing messaging are you taking to the marketplace? (you have to answer the prospects’ questions: “what’s in it for me?” and “how can they help me?”)
  1. The customer is always right.

Just because you want to sell it, doesn’t mean that anyone wants to buy it. Or better yet… you can only be successful when you sell what the market wants and needs.

Here’s an example… if you own a boutique qualitative shop specializing in ethnographies… and several of your clients start asking for bulletin board focus groups, should you start doing them? Maybe… maybe not. But you do, at least, need to think about it. In business, you need to pay attention to the market and be prepared to respond to it – maybe in ways you weren’t expecting.

  1. The definition of marketing is not what you think.

Marketing isn’t just about ads, websites, social media and the sales team. Anything and everything that touches a client or prospective client and that influences their perception of your firm should be thought of as ‘marketing.’

  • Think about when you’ve waited in long lines at the DMV and how that influences your perception of that organization and the people who work there.
  • How about getting stuck on the phone with an uncaring, even belligerent customer service rep… how does that color your opinion of that company?

And neither of those issues generally falls under the umbrella of ‘marketing.’

As you’re working on your marketing & sales plan, make sure to give some thought to those “touch points” not normally associated with marketing & sales. For example, how your phone is answered, your billing process, project personnel, project proposals, your offices and decor and, of course, the quality of the work you do.

It’s not just about the project… it’s about the entire experience.

  1. You still have to DO something.

The fact is, planning isn’t all that complex. It takes time and effort… but when it’s done, it’s done (at least until next year). The real challenge in marketing & sales is in the execution of the plan… in making it come to life.

Sticking to the timeline, making sure all the details are covered, doing things on a consistent basis (even though they might seem boring or redundant), taking the time to measure and report… now that’s hard. Plan execution requires discipline, persistence and determination.

  1. Make friends.

“All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things not being equal, people still do business with people they like.”

There are all kinds of tools and technology to help with our marketing and sales efforts. And they are important and necessary, to be sure. But we are still in the “people business”… so good people skills and solid interpersonal interactions are still critical. And over time, with more interactions, that ‘like’ evolves into ‘trust.’ When that happens, you begin to build clients for life.

  1. Seek first to help, then to sell.

“People don’t like to be sold… but they love to buy” (thank you, Jeff Gitomer). So the role of the business development function is to help them buy. This happens with things like:

  • During each step of the Buying Funnel™, providing information that will help your sales prospect make a buying decision; this could include articles, case studies, white papers, etc.
  • Offering up good industry resources (even if it might be a competitor).
  • Connecting people to their mutual benefit.
  • Engaging in online threaded discussions (in LinkedIn groups, for example) and sharing some of your expertise.

Helping others is not just a good and beneficial thing to do… it is a non-threatening way to ease into a buyer-seller relationship.

  1. Take charge of your own success.

When we ask business owners in our industry, “What are you doing about marketing at your firm?”, the answer we hear more than any other is, “referrals and word of mouth.”

Understand, referrals and W-O-M are both good things… the trouble is, they rely on someone else to make you successful. Is that really what you want? In addition, this kind of help from outsiders inevitably lessens or even dries up (your supporters retire, resign or otherwise move on).

To ensure your success, you must take a proactive approach to your marketing and sales. It starts with a well-thought-out plan, smart go-to-market strategies, a consistent level of activity, measurement and continual improvement (based on the measurement findings).

  1. Stick a stake in the sand.

In our ultra-competitive, commoditized marketplace, why would a potential client pick you? And, “We do great work… have great people… and provide great client service” doesn’t cut it anymore. Everybody says that… whether it’s true or not!

To stand out, you must find something that helps to separate your firm from all (or most) of your competitors – something that you want your firm to be known for and that your clients and prospective clients will care about. Maybe it’s one of these: an industry focus, a methodology focus, an application focus, a market focus, a technology advantage or a unique business model.

Regardless of which direction you go… commit to it, integrate it into your operations, then build your marketing efforts around it.

  1. Potential clients can’t do business with you if they don’t know you exist.

So, your marketing & sales must start by building awareness for your brand name and positioning in the markets you serve. Here are some awareness-building tactics to think about:

  • Your website, of course
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Advertising
  • Networking
  • Blogging and other content marketing
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Exhibiting at conferences
  • Press releases
  1. Not on the social media bandwagon? You need to be.

Like it or not… believe it or not… agree with it or not… social media is here to stay. More importantly, it IS where your clients and prospects spend time… so you have to be there.

Learn to get comfortable posting, sharing and engaging. Do a little every day. Social media marketing is a proven way to build awareness (see #13), share your expertise and help to position your firm (see #12). All of which can lead to a buyer-seller relationship.

  1. Growth doesn’t happen by accident.

We often hear from small (and some not-so-small) firms that, “We just don’t have time for marketing and sales.”

My response? “Then it’s not a priority for you.” By contrast, regardless of how busy you are, you still manage to pay the rent on the first of each month, right? And you still find the time to invoice your clients after each project? Of course you do.

Business development is no different… and is just as critical to the success of your business as having an office and getting paid.

Want to be successful at marketing & sales? Make it a priority.

  1. Selling skills first… then research.

Does this sound familiar? “We promoted one of our PMs (or researchers… or analysts…) to a sales position and it didn’t work out.”

Shocking!

When hiring for ‘research sales,’ too many business owners worry about the ‘research’ part… and not enough about the ‘sales’ part. Which is, after all, the goal of the position.

Rule of thumb: it’s a lot easier to teach research to a good sales person… then to teach selling to a good researcher.

  1. Focus on the ‘benefits.’

People don’t buy drills at Home Depot because they need drills… they buy drills because the need holes!

Learn to talk not just about what you do… but about how your prospect can benefit from what you do and what that might mean for them. Think featurebenefitadvantage. For example:

  • Feature: “Online bulletin boards are asynchronous, which means they are not in ‘real time’…
  • Benefit: “…so that participants can log on at times that are most convenient for them…”
  • Advantage: “… which results in deeper, richer and more complete comments – and ultimately, better research.”

So, what are your ‘holes?’

  1. Avoid feast-or-famine.

One of the biggest challenges every firm in our industry faces is the feast-or-famine nature of the business. This general happens because we squeeze our business development efforts in-between projects… which gets us into the on-going cycle of project – biz dev – project – biz dev – project… and so on.

One way to mitigate that is to make sure your marketing & sales efforts are spread out over time. That is, do a little bit every day and every week… regardless of how busy you are.

Try this… block off 30 minutes every day (maybe over your morning coffee) to do some small things… write a blog post, make 2-3 sales calls, connect with others on LinkedIn and so on. And pretty soon, all of those little things will start to add up!

  1. Sales isn’t just the responsibility of your sales people.

Managing sales people is uncharted territory for many (if not most) business owners. They hire a sales rep, provide “training from a fire hose,” give them a list of potential clients and then send them out to sell.

Then, when the rep fails to deliver a new client in the first couple of weeks, the owner seems surprised. Really?!

Most good salespeople are solo operators… but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help, guidance, refresher training, patience and empathy from the owner, help from marketing, technology tools, reasonable goals, an understandable compensation plan, sales meetings and so on and so on.

Without these support mechanisms in place, the chance of your sales rep(s) achieving their sales goals (and yours!) is drastically reduced.

  1. Learn to listen.

We work in the Market Research industry where we help the end clients get feedback from their target market. Yet, we rarely do the same thing. But it’s critical.

By getting regular feedback from your clients, they will tell you what products and services you need to develop for them, what content they want you to write for them, what issues they have that you can solve for them… and not insignificantly, how to sell to them.

So consider the easy ways of gathering client feedback:

  • Post project surveys
  • Annual surveys, which should ask higher-level questions than project surveys
  • Talking with them at conferences
  • For tech companies, establishing user groups
  • Participating in social media conversations
  • Including them in product development cycles
  • And when all else fails… picking up the phone and talking with them.

Wrapping up

Marketing and sales are fundamental building blocks for a successful (and sustainable) business… no less important than HR, operations and finance.

So, as you begin to re-focus the business developments efforts at your firm, follow these 20 marketing and sales concepts to solidify that foundation.

Good luck.

 

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IIeX Competition Winners Remesh Are Set To Disrupt Qual Research

IIeX Competition winner Remesh brings qualitative research into the digital age by integrating artificial intelligence with market research.

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It’s been a crazy, busy summer for me: between more personal time off than I have taken in many years, IIeX, and an unprecedented volume of new business across the GreenBook family of companies many posts I’ve wanted (and needed!) to write have languished in half written form for weeks. I think I’ve finally gotten my head above water though, so it’s time to get some of those posts out the door. Today’s is at the top of the list.

Not only is a profile here on the blog one of the perks of winning the IIeX Competition, but it’s also a way to help the industry stay abreast of the newest companies that are about to have a major impact on MR. The Insight Innovation Competition held at the Atlanta Insight Innovation eXchange in June was filled with amazing companies, but one company rose above the rest and was the unanimous winner: Remesh. You’re about to find out why.

The gist is that Remesh brings qualitative research into the digital age by integrating artificial intelligence with market research. Its disruptive technology empowers research companies and brands to conduct focus group style conversations with large groups of people and analyze the results in real-time. And make no mistake, it is disruptive, as you’ll see in a minute.

Remesh received top billing, beating out over 10 other market research and consumer insight startups for the $20,000 prize. The first round of voting was crowdsourced by the general public, and final awards were chosen by a panel of industry leaders. Judges included, Dan Foreman, former President of ESOMAR and advisor to many market research start-ups; Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical; Jeff Krentz, Executive Vice President at WPP; Joan Lewis, former Global Officer & SVP Consumer & Market Knowledge at Procter & Gamble; and Kyle Nel, Executive Director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

Upon winning, Andrew Konya, CEO and Founder of Remesh summed up his thoughts on the win:

“We’re thrilled our software capabilities were recognized by industry peers and an esteemed panel of experts. We know that prior winners of Insight Innovation have seen tremendous success, either by organic growth or acquisition, and this award demonstrates how quickly Remesh is gaining recognition as a powerful tool for market research.”

Remesh was recognized for its software that uses artificial intelligence to make engaging with and understanding large groups of people fast, easy and insightful. The platform empowers a single person to instantly chat with and ask open-ended questions to a group – regardless of size or location. The group’s responses are analyzed in real-time using proprietary machine learning AI, and Remesh’s point-and-click data panel instantly delivers expert-level insights on the fly.

 

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Unlike any other version of “online qual” type approaches (MROCs, online groups/IDIs, ethnographies, etc…) Remesh is the first platform to bring the speed and cost efficiency of automation that already exist in various quantitative approaches to a true qualitative research process.

The “killer app” of Remesh is centered on its scale and speed: it enables incredibly large scale, synchronous and guided conversations via a moderated discussion and uses AI to analyze all responses and categorize/cluster responses in real time so moderators can probe, ask follow-ups, and guide the conversation as if it was a small group. Then, it enables full analysis of the sessions via dashboard based tools also in real time.

It’s that real-time analysis of responses as they occur that is the “secret sauce” here: it enables a moderator to guide a conversation with thousands of participants in real time: all disparate responses and important points are instantly available for the moderator to review and respond to to shape the next interaction of the conversation.

It probably isn’t a surprise that the big brains behind Remesh do not have MR backgrounds. They come from academia and tech. They also were not originally targeting research: they were trying to solve for a way to quickly engage and collect the opinions of hard to reach populations in the Middle East. As they solved for those problems, what emerged was a platform with significant commercial applications in market research and they have been steadily growing ever since.

I sat down with CEO Andrew Konya to talk with him about their story and dive deep into the platform. It’s a bit on the long side, but well worth the time. Not only is Andrew a heck of a nice guy, but his thinking on where Remesh is today and the opportunities in front of them is incredibly exciting. There is a ton of insight and in-depth information here that can give you a better view on the company than I could ever write so if you can deal with listening to me prattle on here and there you should check it out!

 

 

All of the companies that have won the IIeX Competition have gone on to greater success, with some becoming real game changers. I think Remesh falls into that category: they have the potential to disrupt and transform qualitative research more than any thing that has come before. Imagine integrating Remesh into a community, or into a quant study, or as part of a crowd sourcing program: the possibilities are almost endless to harness this platform for real business value.

Congrats to Andrew and his team on their win: I expect we’ll be hearing an awful lot more from them over the next few years!

As an exclusive for GreenBook readers, and as an extra benefit of winning the IIeX Competition, I asked Andrew if he could share some of their demo videos. Below are three different videos that explain the platforms, the use cases, and how to use their analysis tools. If you’re looking for a novel new way to conduct qualitative research I encourage you to check them out and then contact them for a personal demo.

 

How Remesh works. from Andrew Konya on Vimeo.

 

Remesh demo from Andrew Konya on Vimeo.

 

Understanding Data from Team Remesh on Vimeo.

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How Pokémon Go’s Popularity Can Benefit McDonald’s

How does getting the attention of Pokémon crazed smartphone wielders benefit McDonald's?

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By Shane Skillen

Unless you have young children, you probably hadn’t heard from Pokémon for a while, but that all changed with the buzz surrounding Pokémon GO, a mobile game that uses GPS to engage fans to play the game out in the real world.

In an astonishing fact, Pokémon GO has been downloaded more times in one week than the very popular relationship app Tinder has been in the past 4 years and according to some sources, it could surpass Twitter in terms of its daily active users!

Avid Pokémon GO players uncovered that a McDonald’s logo was hidden in the app data and hours later the Pokémon Company confirmed that there would be a branded tie in with the QSR. Some small businesses had already been capitalizing on the global game craze with fun signs or promotions, but this announcement marks the game’s first foray into official brand partnerships.

How does getting the attention of these Pokémon crazed smartphone wielders benefit McDonald’s?

Physical Availability

Early details seem to indicate that all McDonald’s locations in at least one country, rumored to be Japan, will be turned into “PokéStops” or “Pokémon Gyms”, which means players will  follow their GPS and congregate at these locations to engage in certain geographically tied in game activities.

In How Brands Grow, Byron Sharpe describes how physical availability drives brand growth. Simply put, brands that are more readily available, are more likely to fulfill consumer need states. When it comes to QSRs, brands can increase their physical availability by increasing the number and accessibility of their locations. Providing more reasons to attend their stores or locations creates new consumer entry points.

In this case, the game itself will drive traffic to these locations by making them desirable destinations for anyone playing. Given that these consumers will have likely been walking around for hours glued to their phones while playing, the Golden Arch labelled “PokéStop” are likely to trigger and satisfy hunger and thirst need states. It will be interesting to see how the potential washroom lineups impact paying, yet non-playing consumers.

A relatable example from Byron Sharpe’s book is how Sainsbury’s in the U.K. demonstrated sales growth over its competitors during the busy Christmas period of 2010 by simply purchasing 12,000 tons of salt and ensuring that their parking lots were always free of snow, making their retail locations more desirable and accessible.

The Halo Effect

In simple terms, the halo effect is the tendency for an impression created in one area or by one brand to influence opinion in another area or for another brand. McDonald’s has had a long standing partnership with Nintendo, previously supporting the company’s DS and 3DS systems with Wi-Fi enabled beacons and having strong brand ties with the Pokémon franchise through promotions and Happy Meal toys.

By highlighting this partnership, the positive associations consumers have towards Pokémon GO create a mental halo that McDonald’s can position itself to take advantage of. The partnership may also dial up new associations that further strengthen equity in the brand.

Brand Growth

McDonald’s is making a bet that this partnership will drive significant traffic and positive associations for the brand. Time will tell whether the game continues to garner the attention that it has so far , but in any event, we applaud McDonald’s for trying new things to build physical availability by making its retail sites more desirable and accessible. It is also a smart brand move to drive additional associations through the halo effect with the excitement surrounding Pokémon GO. If interest in the game and the overall popularity of Pokémon continues to grow, imagine the impact this partnership could have, especially if McDonald’s chooses to leverage its 30,000 global locations.

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Monthly Dose of Design: How Can Design Save Us From Becoming Boring and Dull in the World of Market Research?

When it comes to branding everyone’s got a lot to say about how companies & organisations should or shouldn’t use design as a tool of communication. Market research companies aren’t excluded from this hype.

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By Mahdis Nikou

I’m sure you will all agree with me that there are lots of articles, point of views and arguments around brand identity, brand personality and advertising. When it comes to branding everyone’s got a lot to say about how companies & organisations should or shouldn’t use design as a tool of communication. Market research companies aren’t excluded in this hype either.

As I was reading through an interesting article by Lucy Davison & Paul Buckley about the importance of branding in market research, The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Branded; my curiosity was piqued by their recent visual exploration based on 25 global research company identities. They analysed each logo according to six design fundamentals: Colour, shape, form, font, imagery and symbol. But what they found was an overwhelming use of blue & grey. In addition to this, square was the dominant logo shape applied in most designs

So what does it all mean? Why blue, grey and square?

When it comes to design, colour plays an important role. Each colour has its own meaning and many believe that if a certain colour is used in the right place the results could be extremely successful.

For example, have you ever wondered why the majority of food chain restaurants have used red, yellow or a combination of both as their primary colour in their branding? Think of Mc Donald’s, KFC, Burger King, Nando’s, Dominos and Pizza Hut. In colour psychology, red and yellow are known to subconsciously stimulate appetite and increase excitement. According to recent studies, people tend to spend more and leave quicker if they are surrounded by red & yellow colour combinations in a restaurant, which is exactly what fast food businesses want you to do and here they’re achieving it by just applying a simple colour principle!

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The same theory applies in market research. There is a reason why blue and grey are the dominant colours when it comes to research company brand identity and yet again that reason is linked to the psychology behind colours and our subconscious mind.

In colour theory, blue is associated with intelligence, communication & confidence. Different shades of blue also provide mental clarity, prove productivity and instil trust. Similar to blue, grey is known as the colour of neutrality, wisdom, stability and compromise – all potentially positive attributes for a market research company.

But let’s not forget that while these two colours are known for having many positive and intellectual meanings, overusing them can also communicate stillness, settlement and aloofness. Often this familiarity and stability along with their commonness, well, can seem boring and dull!!

So how can design help us?

Now that we’ve come to an understanding about why the world of market research might seem a bit bland, it’s time to dig a bit deeper into ways of improving our brand image by using the right design theory.

While colour is one of the most important part of any design, it’s not the only fact we should focus on. When it comes to design, each element has its own characteristic. Shapes, fonts, lines, patterns, textures, contrast, composition they all communicate messages separately but when we put them all together, within the right hierarchy, that’s when the magic starts.

Visual hierarchy is a simple but essential design principle. This is the art of organising & prioritising design elements into a form of layout that guides your audience’s eyes from one element to another. Where you want your audience to look first, what’s the first call of action you want to draw attention to and how punchy you want your message to come across are all dependent on gaining a good understanding of visual hierarchy.

To give you a better understanding of this principle I created a layout to show you how visual hierarchy works in a simple example. Look at the image below and try to memorise your eyes movement on the page.

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I can pretty much guarantee that your eyes traced on the page like this:

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If my assumptions were right, your eyes focused on the big bold title on the left first. You then got dragged into the right side looking at the tiny text on top of the pencil pointing at it. The coloured box was the third element your eyes paid attention to. You then looked at the paragraph to find out what the content is about. Finally, the small text underneath the red box was the last element you paid attention to.

Now here’s the same content showed on a page without a strong sense of hierarchy:

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Boring? Confusing? Uninteresting? I thought so.

You probably noticed that your eyes are finding it hard to focus on one specific element on the page and if you’re keep looking at the image then the chunky paragraph above it thinking “Oh god who wants to read that?” I won’t blame you!

This is what hierarchy does. It makes your content look interesting. It encourages your audience to focus on different elements based on their importance. It brings movement to the page and it creates the right balance between your text and image.

Q: “I’m not a designer, what should I do?” A: Use your tool box more often!

The good news is that you don’t have to be a designer in order to achieve hierarchy. You just need to experiment a bit more with your tool box. Whether you’re using PowerPoint or even Word as your primary platform or a more advanced software like Adobe InDesign, you can still create a hierarchy that communicates your content efficiently.

In my next post I will show you how by adjusting font size, creating contrast, placing imagery and using colours you can achieve hierarchy more in depth.

Thanks for reading & until next time!

Useful links:

Psychological Properties Of Colours
Color Psychology: The Emotional Effects of Colors
Design Tips for Non-Designers: Visual Hierarchy

 

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Is Your Sample Quality Getting Better or Worse?

With so many new entrants into the sample industry, and all vying for the attention of some of the busiest professionals we know – doctors, if you are in the life sciences – it is always wise to ask tough questions about your sample.

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By Phil Moyer, Senior Director, Crowd Operations, InCrowd

The latest Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report delves into the topic of sample quality, and whether technology is improving the situation or making matters worse. Many new vendors and methods are now available to access physician samples and Greenbook raises an important, and timely, issue facing the life sciences market research industry.

“Is sample getting better or worse?” the GRIT report asks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found that answers to “sample quality” depended at least in part on professional affiliation.

“If you are in a full service firm, focus facility or a corporate researcher, you are far more likely (42% and 43% of respondents) to say ‘worse’,” the report said. “If you work for a data collection provider or sample provider, then it’s the opposite with 56% and 46% saying “better’.” This is likely due to how well your organization is leveraging technology to improve sample quality.

The “worse” camp is right to worry. Many who responded to GRIT “have a strong sense that there are only professional survey takers and fraudulent bots that are taking all the surveys because there is a race to the bottom in terms of cost.”

Those who see sample quality improving point out that technological advances don’t just cut costs, they can directly address many of the new and longstanding challenges to gathering reliable, high quality data.

With so many new entrants into the sample industry, and all vying for the attention of some of the busiest professionals we know – doctors, if you are in the life sciences – it is always wise to ask tough questions about your sample. Here are a few things to watch for:

  1. Fraudulent Respondents: Are they really physicians? Technology allows people to pose as doctors or write code to infiltrate online recruitment channels. Yet, technology can also be used to stop them. Professional databases of medical licenses and NPI numbers can be accessed for instant validation, to ensure that the physicians joining your panel are who they say they are. That’s just the first step. The second step is personal validation, or knowledge-based authentication, based on public databases. The respondent is asked questions like, “What car were you driving in 2011,” or, “What road did you live on in Boston?” Answering these questions is easy for a real person, but quickly exposes bots and human imposters.
  1. Repeat Respondents: One fear many market researchers have is that, with a highly specialized target audience, they are getting the same individuals responding to their surveys. In this case, technology can be the market researcher’s best friend. For example, there are many physician databases, sample exchanges, and online communities that can be connected for wide and deep reach, and market researchers should make sure their program is taking advantage of the most basic of technologies to do this —the API.In addition, platforms can utilize powerful algorithms that allow a randomized yet controlled survey invitation flow. Typically, traditional online surveys will send out one mass invitation to all eligible respondents even though the desired n size is significantly smaller. This means that a large portion of the sample will have a bad experience (see a closed survey) or get successive surveys. A good sampling algorithm, on the other hand, can send a small, targeted batch of invitations, monitor the responses and recalculate every 15 or 30 minutes to an hour to determine how many more to send based on a wide variety of factors, including when they last responded and how quickly. This allows for very precise sampling and response rates, which keeps respondents happy and reliable.
  1. Lazy Respondents: Every survey has outliers—those members who aren’t engaged or are providing nonsense answers. This is where automated and manual survey-level sample validation is critical. The right software can easily spot speeding (going through the survey too quickly), straight-lining (answering the same letter all the way), suspicious IP addresses (multiple respondents from the same IP address), and garbage open-ends (just random letters). None of these things by themselves may be sufficient to disqualify a response set, but software and human quality assurance specialists work hand-in-hand to flag suspicious respondents and compare the data to that respondent’s history, and either kick them out or set them aside for further review. Our firm believes strongly in doing this in real time, which greatly reduces the chance that organizations will receive questionable responses.

Sample quality is the fundamental building block for actionable insights. Any doubts about the validity of your respondents or their answers will compromise your ability to make solid decisions and strategic recommendations, and undermine your entire market research project. With technology, market research is making huge strides in all aspects, including sample quality. Just make sure you know what questions to ask.

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Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10: Snacking While Second-Screening Sports

Of the 5,625 unique links shared on the Twitter #MRX hashtag over the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

By Jeffrey Henning

Of the 5,625 unique links shared on the Twitter #MRX hashtag over the past two weeks, here are 10 of the most retweeted…

  1. Getting Deeper “In the Moment” – Anne-Marie McCallion of The Numbers Lab, writing for TMRE, makes the case for adding video to online surveys, using facial coding, and collecting passive data.
  2. How Market Researchers Can Thrive in the Age of Faster and Cheaper – Writing for Vision Critical, Ray Pointer outlines 7 steps for researchers to thrive: 1) Get closer to customers; 2) Integrate with the rest of the business; 3) Be an automation winner; 4) Be an improvement enabler; 5) Be a business translator; 6) Gain a skill each year; 7) Use market research skills as your edge.
  3. The Internet of Things Builds More Brand Inertia – Nigel Hollis of Millward Brown points out that once your refrigerator is telling your grocery store to restock it (through the Internet of Things), it will be even more difficult for new brands to win customers.
  4. The 3 Pillars of Content Marketing + Bonus (6 Best MRX Blogs) – To succeed in blogging for researchers, identify your target audience, reach out to them on the sites they frequent, and deliver consistently.
  5. Global Study Shows Many Around the World Uncomfortable with Levels of Immigration – In a survey across 22 countries, Ipsos Mori found that 4 in 10 want to reject all refugees, and 6 in 10 are concerned about terrorists pretending to be refugees.
  6. Text Analysis Predicts Your Politics without Asking – Blondes prefer Republicans, married Christians vote Republican, and other insights from self-descriptions according to a study of 1,000 U.S. adults by Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics.
  7. Sports Fandom Culture: Global Viewing Habits and Consumption – This free ebook from Euromonitor (registration required) looks at revenue from sports events, the rise in use of a second screen while watching sports (for commentary and conversations), and tourism to Brazil.
  8. The Rise and Fall of Big Data Hype—and What It Means for Customer Intelligence – Tyler Douglas of Vision Critical says the “big drawback” of Big Data is the lack of actionable information that reveals customers’ motivations and attitudes.
  9. Snacking and Out-of-Home Eating Mean Calorie Intake is Underestimated – As waistlines grow, people’s reported calories shrink, according to The Behavioral Insights Team. As a result, official UK statistics on calorie consumption are wrong.
  10. Approaches and Trends in Data Visualization and Storytelling – Mike Page of Blueocean provides tips for approaches to visualizing data: be clear, engage with stakeholders, and encourage collaborate.

Note: This list is ordered by the relative measure of each link’s influence in the first week it debuted in the weekly Top 5. A link’s influence is a tally of the influence of each Twitter user who shared the link and tagged it #MRX, ignoring retweets from closely related accounts. Only links with a research angle are considered.

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Winning on Insight in Innovation

In today’s world, brands that have a true, deep understanding of their consumers - brands that understand consumer values and their needs better than anyone else - are going to be the brands that win.

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By Kim Bowers and Andy Ford

As a strategic market research consultancy, we receive a lot of requests to help in innovation. Whether it’s new product development or packaging innovation, companies know that they must constantly be innovating to survive. Innovation is critical.

But, we’ve noticed something troublesome in many of these requests and it typically lies in the drivers of these innovation initiatives. In our experience, innovation projects are usually kicked off as a reaction to a competitive offering or simply chasing consumer trends. We call this “limping into innovation.” While trends and competitive offerings can be good starting points for innovation brainstorming and may randomly strike gold as innovation drivers, typical results are less than optimal. And that’s because the most important ingredient is missing.

Chances are your brand is operating in a world of perceived parity. Whether it’s beer or pet food, OTC medications or prescriptions, categories are crowded and everyday people are getting more cynical and bored with the same old thing. Your product idea may be better, last longer or is made with better ingredients. Your package idea may be more attractive, modern or user friendly. Unfortunately, to the consumer, it is all white noise. And innovation initiatives that continue to only chase trends or react to competitors typically result in more of the same…contributions to the parity and white noise.

So, what’s the solution? Insight. In today’s world, brands that have a true, deep understanding of their consumers – brands that understand consumer values and their needs better than anyone else – are going to be the brands that win. It’s not about what your competitor is doing. It’s about what your consumer is feeling. It’s not about what consumers find trendy. It’s what your consumer needs to fill a void in their life. Your consumer should look at your product, package or idea and feel actual tension. They should be thinking: “Wow. I must have this. It is so me. They knew exactly what I wanted, even if I’d never realized it before.”

We believe companies should charge (not limp) into innovation led by Insight. We recognize this is not easy. Often in innovation, ideas are abundant, but Insight is illusive. So, here are three simple principles to help your organization focus on Insight in innovation.

“Winning on Insight” Principles for Innovation

  1. Prioritize “True” Insight

Make a commitment to prioritize true “Insight” (with a capital I) in your innovation practices. Even further, make sure the Insight you are using is truly a consumer Insight that is fit to lead. Keep in mind that true Insight is not a focus group quote, a consumer trend or a competitor tweet. It’s not a universal truth or a convenient marketing wish. Insight is a deep understanding of your target’s beliefs that, when leveraged for innovation purposes, has the power to change your target’s behavior. Unearth and achieve this level of Insight first. Then prioritize this type of true Insight and watch how your innovation initiatives gather power.

  1. Invite the Customer

The surest way to achieve a deep understanding of your target and to prioritize Insight is to invite the consumer into the innovation process. Infuse them throughout to ensure that Insight is not only prioritized, it is executed against appropriately and leveraged to its maximum ability. This doesn’t always have to mean conducting a focus group or having a consumer co-creation session. Sometimes a touch point through a digital means, i.e. mobile or online community research, can reveal real time consumer experiences that may drive innovation. From the discovery phase, to defining whitespace, to development and delivery of the idea – the consumer’s voice should be the driver, the voice of reason and the measure of success.

  1. Fail Faster

Finally, we encourage your teams to fail faster. Failure during innovation should not be lamented – it should be celebrated! Identify and weed out the bad ideas so you can focus all efforts of optimization on the good ideas. In our opinion, failing faster is best achieved through rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping is taking an idea that exists in someone’s head, or on a post-it note sketch or on a conference room white board, and bringing it to life in a tangible way. Handing the consumer an idea (or even better, their idea) in tangible form allows them to better evaluate its merit. Did it deliver on the insight? Let them tell you after physically experiencing the product vs. just reading about it or seeing it two-dimensional. It makes a world of difference in the quality of ideas generated.

“Winning on Insight” Principles In Action: The Brädo Innovation Lab

Brado_2Brädo recently developed a new innovation tool to help our clients put the “Winning on Insight” principles into action in a way that is efficient, cost-effective and impactful. The Brädo Innovation Lab is a mobile prototyping suite that has been custom designed to facilitate front-end innovation. This one-of-a-kind, transportable facility is equipped with everything needed to ideate and prototype, from low-fidelity materials like clay or pipe cleaners, to high-fidelity equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, modeling software and food extruders.

We brought the Lab to the recent IIeX North America event to give attendees an opportunity to experience it first hand, and the response was exciting. See a bit of The Lab yourself with this short video:

Transferrable to any location, brand teams, agencies and consumers come together in The Lab with Brädo Creative Strategists and Technical Makers. These are dynamic and focused innovation sessions, bringing together your best internal thinkers with your customers and giving them all the tools needed to move your brand forward. Ideating and prototyping in The Innovation Lab hits on all three “Winning on Insight” principles. It ensures initiatives stay grounded in true Insight by infusing the consumer into the innovation process. And it allows brand teams to identify flaws faster and optimize ideas on the fly through rapid prototyping.

Brado_1By following these simple principles and utilizing the Brädo Innovation Lab, we are helping our clients, from big Pharma to global beer brands, produce ideas that are truly breakthrough in their categories, and saving them significant time and money in the process.

We encourage all research and brand professionals to adopt these “Winning on Insight” principles in order to stand out in a world of parity. We encourage all to give Brädo a call to get a look at our Innovation Lab in action. And above all else, we encourage all brands to never, ever, have another innovation initiative devoid of insight again.

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Kim Bowers

Kim Bowers is Senior Director, Business Unit Consultant at Brädo Creative Insight. A former advertising agency Account Planner, Kim has ample understanding of the creative process, and a healthy respect for both the limits and potential of qualitative research. Kim has seen first-hand the value of insight in communications, and she uses this knowledge and experience to add creative depth to the processes and services offered by the Brädo team. Kim’s job is to ensure that Brädo continues to meet the changing market research needs of their valued global clients, particularly in the complex categories of innovation, shopper marketing and digital research.

Kim.bowers@brado.net

Andy Ford

Andy Ford is Senior Director, Group Leader of Innovation at Brädo Creative Insight. Prior to joining Brädo, Andy most recently worked in the advertising agency business, creating an in-house consultancy and software platform that drove consumer research. Over the course of his career, Andy has led efforts to develop new products and identify strategic white space for brands such as Taco Bell, PepsiCo, Doritos, Avery Dennison and Tyson Foods. Andy is a highly requested speaker regarding consumer trends and strategy, and is rapidly expanding Brädo’s innovation offerings in qualitative market research.

Andy.ford@brado.net

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Three Things I Learned from Catching Pokemons

What can we learn from Pokemon Go to make sure that we remain relevant with the people that we survey, and are gathering data that will help our clients make better decisions?

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By Felix Rios

Pokemon Go landed in the UK last week and I jumped on board right away. Twenty-four hours and seven pokemons in my pokedex later, I noticed a few lessons we can apply in the market research industry. In case you are wondering, yes, I said it right: Pikachu can teach us something.

Pokemon Go Mania

It’s almost certain that by now, you’ve heard or read something about it. However, in case you don’t know what it is, this Vox article explains it in 400 words, or what is equivalent to 2.85 tweets.

Within 13 hours of launching, Pokemon Go topped the App Store charts. It already has more active users than twitter, and is now going for the heavy hitters, snapchat and google maps.

If you’ve ever done Google Trends analysis, you know that Facebook is the most searched term on Google. I use this term as a way to give some context to other search queries and identify, beyond just the number google shows, how they rank compared to the most searched terms. In Pokemon Go’s case, this is the first time that I’ve noticed in a long time a search term getting so close to “Facebook.” This is an indication, at least, of the incredibly huge wave of curiosity that this game is generating.

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Pokemon Go’s immediate success responds to many things. They are betting heavily on nostalgia, and for my generation, that grew up with Nintendo, we have a soft spot for vintage videogames. It takes cues from RPG gaming, which also has a huge cult base following, and it leverages technology and augmented reality seamlessly, which brings together nicely the entire experience.

People are spending a lot of time playing Pokemon Go. To be precise, users average 33 minutes of daily use, according to Sensor Tower. Just to give you some perspective on what this means, the Facebook app is used for an average of 22 minutes, Snapchat 18 minutes and Twitter 17 minutes.

So, these are 3 things that became more and more obvious as I played with Pokemon Go for the last 24 hours and made me realize that we should be paying attention to some of these things in the market research industry, to make sure that we remain relevant with the people that we survey, and are gathering data that will help our clients make better decisions.

  1. Experience is king: On a scale from 1 to 10 how much do you like to complete a survey vs doing other things?….This is what we are asking our participants to do. Our surveys are competing against Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, and now Pokemon Go. I talk to clients concerned about making sure their 20×6 grids render properly on mobile devices. The Pokemon Go-ers of today are the panelists of tomorrow. Imagining that they will adapt to our ways, in the spirit of research, is not really going to solve anything. We will only talk more and more about the falling engagement with research and increasing dropout rates if something isn’t done. The advertising industry realized this a long time ago. That industry has managed to turn selling into an entertainment experience. Eventually, a similar shift needs to happen in our industry. Pokemon Go’s gaming experience has instant gratification as an important part of it – the feedback is immediate. But it also brings “social” beyond the cold and lonely web experience, to the actual physical world. People are going out and talking to other people, interacting and sharing.
  1. Data is the new currency. As we mentioned, in the US, 21 million people are using Pokemon Go for 33 minutes at a time on average. While you are using the app, it is tracking your location, has access to some personal information, and is drawing your movement patterns. It is still not clear how Pokemon Go will monetize their product, beyond the in-app purchases, which has already generated $1.6 million in revenue from iOS in the U.S. alone, according to Sensor Tower.One thing is certain: they are collecting boatloads of data. This app is still in its early stages, and the buzz could fade out quickly, but I’m sure that future features will be oriented toward making more sense of the location data they are collecting, to make it richer and more actionable. Sooner than later, this data will turn into audience profiling that will feed an advertising business by Nintendo, or someone else. It’s time we also start looking at this data.
  1. Help yourself to all my data: There is an entire generation that is less paranoid worried about confidentiality, as long as they are getting something they deem valuable out of it. This is a reality, and it comes with great responsibilities. We in the market research industry should be thinking of what we can give to our participants so they engage in a voluntary and proactive data sharing relationship. Incentivizing turns the conversation into a transactional relationship, and while it may work today, it may not in the future. The sooner we can start thinking this way, the sooner we will change the market research dialogue, and start seeing data collection through new eyes.

We are in the business of understanding human behavior, and the tools and methods that we use need to remain relevant. This is why we have no other option than to move at the same pace as the world around us, because they are not going to wait for us.

Now, I need to go and find a Pikachu, I’ve been told there is one hiding around the Houses of Parliament.

If you have used Pokemon Go and have also learned something, please send me a tweet. I’d love to hear about it.

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