On Tuesday we were fortunate to have Brad Fay from the Keller Fay Group come in to talk with us about the notion of the "influentials." In his former position at GfK NOP World Brad had done a lot of interesting work on the "Influential Americans" and the difference between social influencers versus category-specific influencers. We were also able to hear Brad talk about the new company that he co-founded with Ed Keller, the Keller Fay Group and their TalkTrack methodology.
Students got a taste of what the world of market research is all about and it served as a nice contrast to the campaign design work from our earlier guest speaker, Steve Curran from Pod Design.
Here are the four key points I took away from Brad's talk:
- Brad gave us a helpful way to identify influencers, regardless of whether they are "social" influencers, "category" influencers, or "brand" influencers. The common characteristics are: 1) a degree of social connectivity (for example, how many close friends a person has, if they are "joiners," how many e-mails you get from different people, etc.); 2) being a source of advice for other people; 3) being an information-gatherer; and potentially you can add in have specific knowledge or experience in a particular category. This will really helpful as the students think about identifying influencers in their own organized WOMM program design (we also connected it to Emanuel Rosen's handy mnemonic to identify network hubs: ACTIVE; see Anatomy of Buzz for details).
- We asked him about the 10% statistic for the "Influential Americans" and whether or not that 10% applied to influencers in a particular category. He gave the best answer I've heard of this by explaining that you have to understand influencers on a continuum. The 10% line represents a certain amount of influence, but you could also cut the line at 5% or 25%. If it's 5% then you're looking at people who might have much more influence in their social networks while if you use 25% then the level of influence might not be as strong. A company might want to define influence more broadly or narrowly depending on their goals and thus you might draw the line at different places (some company's business models might want to focus on the top 1-2%!).
- A student asked him what their major should be if they want to get into his line of market research work. He had a great response. He said it was less about the major and more about your level of curiosity. He said that market research can be a little "geeky" and that the people who can stay in it over the long term and thrive need to be the type of people who get excited about what makes people tick and what's going on in the world around them. He went on to say if you're the type of person who, when you're doing a research project, just can't wait to get the "tabs" (tabulations) back and maybe even make friendly bets about what the findings might be, then you're the type of person who is a good fit for market research. He then asked the students how many people that might be. In a class of 18 students about 3 raised their hand. He then said, "Yep, that's about right!" :-)
- Finally, I loved Brad's point about reporting results back to a client. He said that in a written proposal or a presentation to the client you want to tell a story. Clients come to market research firms with problems to be solved and Brad said that your report has to frame any report in the context of a story that presents an answer to the clients' problem.
Brad's undergraduate major was Political Science and he did his master's degree at the University of Connecticut, studying with Bud Roper, son of Elmo Roper.
Thanks for joining us Brad!
Tags: WOM word of mouth Word-of-Mouth Marketing marketing communication market research TalkTrack Keller Fay Group