Following my investigation of the current burning issues and questions of the Research Industry (see for example interview of Finn Raben, Esomar Director General about the Impact of criis on MR), I am glad to welcome Joel Rubinson, ARF Chief Research Officer.
Indeed, for the last 18 months, under Joel's leadership the ARF has been leading the way to develop the Industry skills toward a LISTENING based research practice. Of course, I could not agree more as a customer listening evangelist myself for a long time now.
Here are the answers to the three questions I asked Joël.
L.F - The ARF is now fully leading the way on the “Listening” Initiative. Could you please tell us more about how the Industry is reacting and what next is to come?
J.R. We’ve seen a transformation in thinking in the year and a half since The ARF has been bringing this approach for generating insights to the attention of the marketing research community. In 2008, purists were questioning the sampling issues, attempting to apply traditional “frequentist statistics” constructs to understand if listening brings value. We have been saying that research does two things: quantifies the expected and listens for the unexpected. This year, the belief that listening is important is more universal. My sense is that research is much farther along at understanding the value of managed communities than they are at understanding how to integrate insights from mining the blogosphere, search etc. I think understanding how to integrate listening sources from naturally occurring conversations and behavioral signals with surveys is the next step in the evolution that we’ll see over the next 12-24 months.
L.F - It clearly seems that “Listening” is calling for a complete revamp of marketing and MR practices, what do you think may be the toughest challenges for brands to adapt and evolve?
The toughest challenge is that listening is the start of a process for marketers that is still uncomfortable for many where they are opening up the leadership of their brands to customer influence. Listening leads to “n-way” conversation (brands to customers, customers to brands, customers to customers) and creates an integration of advertising, PR, customer care, research because the same conversation gives you all four at once. PR is changed from one to many via news media to now include many one-to-one conversations. Communications about a brand can now come from anywhere so marketers will need to find new ways to maintain leadership of their brand stories. This leads to the need for new organizational models, so listening will lead to tremendous change. I think the culture change needed will be traumatic for many; how to listen and learn from young people in the organization, from customers, how to respond in a way that shows customers you not only listened but you HEARD them.
L.F - Any specific events, publications you want to point our readers to find out more and join the ARF Listening initiative?
The dramatic change that becoming a listening organization requires means that the message needs constant reinforcement, expressed in numerous ways. As such, the ARF has attempted to align touchpoints. We just created a white paper called, Foundations of Listening, that is really more like the definitive book—140 pages, 30+ case histories and growing. This is free to any who come to our
Thank You Joel for your time and insights, we are looking forward to hearing more from the ARF in the coming weeks! Keep the great work going!