Apples & Oranges

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I’ve been fortunate to have been able to get involved in some B2C projects lately–both on the research and writing fronts. The new B2C projects have been mostly in the CPG industry and, interestingly, the target for most of these projects has been the same: mom. Wow, what a very different audience than the payments processing customers for whom I’ve been researching, designing and writing since July 2013 at Vantiv!

I’m always thankful for the great volume of B2B projects I’ve had over the past 2 years of freelancing, but have been eager to expand my skills into the consumer side of things. Writing for consumers is so incredibly different than writing for B2B industries. I really like that image I found for this blog; the old “apples and oranges” adage is certainly applicable here.

Much of the B2B writing I’ve done is more on the technical writing side–like a whole lot of system documentation and instructions at Vantiv. In that kind of writing, getting your point across very clearly and efficiently is most important. In consumer-facing writing these characteristics, of course, continue to be important–but it’s also key that your writing grabs the attention of your audience. For virtually every product or service consumer marketing is trying to sell, the competition is stiff. B2C marketers have literally mere seconds to capture their target audience’s time and attention. With the continual onslaught of information in today’s technological age, consumers’ attention span has grown increasingly short.

This kind of short-form writing has been a new challenge for me–one that I’m excited to tackle and know that I am improving in with each day! I hope to continue to take on a wide variety of projects throughout 2015–and beyond.

Conducting Some Qual…Online!

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I feel like I’ve moved into the 21st century. I recently helped to set up, facilitate and report the results of an online discussion board for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC). It was a really fun, educational experience. Coming from academia, transitioning from using a typewriter to a computer to publish one’s thesis is considered a bit of a big deal!

As I blogged about here, back in November I completed a course with Carol Shea (of Olivetree Research) about developing and testing new concepts using online discussion boards. I was excited to actually get to work with Carol on this UWGC project. (Thanks again, Carol, for this great opportunity!) The discussion board went very well; we had many participants who shared insightful comments. As much as I enjoy moderating the actual discussions, carefully reviewing and analyzing the findings to distill new insights for the client is my favorite part of the research process.

I hope to continue to get involved with more research projects this year–especially those of the online variety. It’s evident that this is the direction in which qualitative research is going in the (immediate) future, so I know that I need to polish my online research skills. Email me today (danielle.quales@gmail.com) if your company has a upcoming qualitative research project (B2B or B2C–I do it all!) that needs freelance support!

Business Trips Continue to Be a Fun Novelty

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This week I had the pleasure of traveling out of town to visit a client and present at their office. I can count the number of business trips I’ve taken in my professional life on one hand, so it’s still a bit of a novelty for me. I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout my life, but traveling for business is still a bit of a new adventure. It’s always nice meeting clients and business partners face-to-face, often after weeks or months of interaction. Having that personal connection with the client certainly adds another positive dimension to the professional relationship.

This week I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to visit the offices of an eye care division of Johnson & Johnson for which I’ve been doing a research project. The project has been very exciting to work on, and sharing an overview of the in-progress research with the stakeholders will be very helpful as we work through the end of this project, in order to ensure what we deliver is exactly what the folks at J&J need to make a difference in their business and in serving their customers. It was a long two days of travel–with more time spent in airplanes and airports than anywhere else, really–but receiving some very helpful, frank feedback from the client makes it all worth it. I’m excited to be back home in Cincinnati and ready to dig into the last part of this rewarding consumer research project!

What are some of your favorite business trips? Any exotic destinations that you had time to explore?

Qualitative Research: From Academia to Market Research

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Anyone who knows me well agrees: I was in school a long time. I’m certainly not complaining because I loved it. Hiding from the real world until I was approaching my late 20s? Perhaps. But I had some great  formative experiences and the skills I learned have proved invaluable as I’ve embarked on my professional career, not to mention a pair of graduate degrees that perhaps no one else in the world has!

Once I wrapped up my second graduate program in the humanities and had decided I didn’t want to teach, I knew I had to figure out what the heck I was going to do professionally with the qualitative research, writing and deep analysis/synthesis skills I had honed in undergraduate and graduate school. Not to mention that I needed to find a field that would help me pay off the mounting stack of student loan debt from five years of graduate school!

Enter fate. One of my PhD advisors at Indiana University dropped me a tip in class one day that was to become the basis for my future career. He casually mentioned that there were plenty of professional opportunities for we social scientist and humanities types trained in qualitative research methods outside of academia. A ha! I knew I had to find out more about this, so I set an appointment with my advisor to discuss. The first field he mentioned that I should explore was market research. So, I did. I had taken whole courses devoted to qualitative research methods, so when I began to self-educate on market research, concepts like “focus groups,” “subjects” and “surveys” were very familiar. This whole new world of research outside of academia had been opened up to me, and this was getting very exciting indeed! I could continue to do what I loved–design, execute and analyze research–and not have to deal with teaching bratty 19-year-olds.

My first real exposure into market research was when my mom introduced me to a woman whose New Jersey-based market research company had previously done projects in collaboration with my mom’s team at work. They had an upcoming food and beverage new product development project, and they needed someone to write the report deck for the focus group research being conducted on the East Coast. I chatted with the woman (who was the President of the company) briefly, and she kindly decided to give me a shot! I signed the necessary NDAs and tax paper work, and she sent me over the project details and focus group recordings and transcripts soon thereafter. The project went well, and within a couple weeks I delivered my first market research report deck to the client!