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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Superqualitative! Using Your Skills Beyond Marketing Research

Posted By Jessie Austin, 12 hours ago
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Superqualitative! Using Your Skills Beyond Marketing Research

SuperQualitative!

Foster Winter, who is Managing Director of Sigma Research Management Group presented stimulating ideas for opportunities to leverage typical qualitative skills into new arenas to all in attendance at the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference. The presentation provided an opportunity for qualitative researchers to expand thinking into new and future directions. Winter’s presentation included video testimonials and interviews of professionals who are utilizing their qualitative skills in new careers including urban planning and training medical professionals. For those who are thinking about new directions for their business, the case studies and the ensuing discussion helped provide a dialog for expanding ones' current practice or developing a new business model. For those just starting out, he provided a broader platform for thinking about a business model.

Key Takeaways:
The core skills of great moderators have many different and diverse applications. Their usefulness abounds! From using them to help train doctors by acting as a patient dying of a disease, to moderating mommy and baby groups, to managing interactive community outreach sessions, to facilitating internal project team meetings, to interviewing interviewees for high level jobs, and more. The skills translate well to any environment where empathy, thinking on your feet, reacting quickly in the moment to evolve the conversation, and where interacting as a human who is staying on track while listening and empathizing with the audience is needed.

Putting it into practice:
I know, like many in attendance, I will be looking further into broader applications to apply my moderating skills.

A-ha moment:
There can be many audiences and target segments that can benefit from qualitative skills, it’s important to take the opportunity to explore how we all can expand our field and practice.

There's life after being a qualitative researcher, and many ways to enrich the diversity of projects as a qualitative researcher!

Judithe AndreQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Janet Standen

Scoot Insights
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetstanden/  
Twitter: @SCOOTInsights

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling

Posted By Jessie Austin, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling

Facts to Truth

Summary:
There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story. 

Ask someone a direct question and they'll try to give you an honest answer. But have them tell you a story and jewels will emerge that will be surprisingly illuminating. Professional storyteller and CEO of Story Strategies Lisa Lipkin shared her storytelling experience at the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference. Lipkin shared original storytelling techniques for extracting emotionally honest information in a safe and effective way and how to interpret those narrative responses.

Key Takeaways:
At the most basic level, humans are hardwired for stories because our brains thrive on wanting to know, “will this information help me survive?” When we share information, e.g., what we as moderators tell respondents or clients and what we hear in return, the information gets translated neurologically in ways that are undoubtedly powerful, although, not fully understood. We do know, however, the benefits of storytelling are multifold. Lipkin shared that storytelling promotes healing, increases dopamine and decreases stress levels.  If we tell an emotionally-inducing story, not only are we the storytellers producing oxytocin, but so does the listener. Storytelling creates a neuro-coupling affect that results in greater connection and resonance between and/or among listeners.

Tips and tricks for delivering and eliciting stories:

  1. See the story in everything. Every object and person, even the most mundane of things has a story.  We may have to stare at things for uncomfortably long periods of times, but staring long enough will reveal the story.
    Tip: Have respondents use the things and objects around them to tell their story.

  2. Fact is not the truth. Never start your presentation to a client by stating what the important facts are.  Instead, consider what fascinates, compels and/or moves you the most, and start with that.  Due to neuro-coupling, if you are not engaged or moved by t.he story, nor will your audience be engaged.
    Tip: The key to compelling delivery is to start with the emotion and it can be a totally random emotion but make this the core story, then follow with the facts.  Let the facts hang on the core or the emotionally punchy story for more impact.

  3. Know when your chapter is over. Be mindful of your audience and timing so that you know when your story has run its course.  Listeners and audiences will know if the storyteller is not being authentic
    Tip: It is important to regularly recharge emotionally to ensure your storytelling stays effective.

Three specific techniques to help with eliciting stories from your participants: 

  1. Ask them where did they play as a kid?  Have them be very specific as they answer.
  2. Use objects. E.g., tell me the story about your accessory. Objects are vehicles that allow participants to not know that anything is being expected of them so that they can share deeper nuggets of truth.
  3. Use the invisible. For example, hand an imaginary box to your respondent and ask her to reach in and take out any object that was precious to her grandparents. Asking the participant to speak about her grandparents and not herself helps remove the direct association to the respondent; allowing her to be more honest. This approach almost always, and subconsciously, reveals what is ultimately truly meaningful to the respondent.

Remember: There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story. 

Putting it into practice:
I really enjoyed the session and appreciated Lipkin sharing her experience with all of us at the conference. I thought the elicitation tips were spot on and will incorporate them into practice.

A-ha moment:
We are all neurologically wired for a story, so let's start telling stories.

There’s no way to prepare for what we are going to hear, but as moderators we have to release some control and trust that these questions will go somewhere and lead to some very insightful information and jewels! 

Judithe AndreQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Judithe Andre
Verbal Clue Qualitative Research

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Marketing Technology + Human Insights = Untapped Opportunities

Posted By Jessie Austin, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Marketing Technology + Human Insights = Untapped Opportunities

Marketing Technology Tools

Summary:
New technology vendors are popping up every day offering CMO’s marketing automation tools that promise ‘smart data’ and improved analytics. For QRC’s these emerging technologies can provide new opportunities to provide services and expertise that augments this data. Lisa Horwich of Pallas Research Associates took attendees of the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference through how AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), BI (Business Intelligence) and other parts of the Marketing Technology (MarTech) stack are transforming the market research industry.

In her session, we explored how these tools are being used, and most importantly, their limitations. Marketing technology does provide businesses opportunities for greater return on investment (ROI) and growth, but they don’t do enough to provide human insights. This presents an important opportunity for us, qualitative consultants, to not only utilize these technologies, but share how our qualitative service offerings will enhance our customers’ marketing efforts.

Key Takeaways:
As of 2018, marketing departments spent as much as IT departments on technology solutions. Marketing technology is selling the promise for ROI in a fast and more efficient way, including Real-Time Analytics, Business Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (translation, speech recognition, decision making), and Machine Learning (the capacity for an algorithm to learn and improve its performance and output). All these tools provide solutions that help understand customer journeys in a more personalized way, increase customer retention and loyalty, and increase customer lifetime value.

These technologies also allow having multiple touch points of data (for example, if a customer is using a specific website through their mobile and then switch to an app but then decide to browse on their computer.  While all these technologies are promising “better, faster, cheaper” results, there are some big limitations that for qualitative consultants presents an opportunity. The most important of these opportunities is that big data can tell you the WHAT in a very specific way, but the technology is not developed yet to explain the WHY behind those insights to marketers. Horwich presented these additional limitations (L) and opportunities (O) for qualitative consultants:

  1. (L) Decisions are made solely on data --> (O) Use the data as a launching point for deeper qualitative analysis
  2.  (L) Existing data is not predictive enough --> (O) Create and maintain communities to identify predictive behavior
  3. (L) Need exponentially more content --> (O) Assist in narrowing target messaging
  4. (L) Insufficient 'training' data --> (O) Provide personas and other descriptive metrics to help 'train' algorithms
  5. (L) Lack of 'domain specific' attributes --> (O) Create feature lists to describe the data
  6. (L) Dimensionally inhibits predictive modeling --> (O) Help narrow down number of variables with human insights.

Putting it into practice:
Learning what these technologies can bring to the table and identifying where my qualitative expertise fits can help anyone during a sales pitch!

A-ha moment:
Despite how we have learned to utilize it as a resource, Google does not have all the answers!

What we do as qualitative consultants is incredibly valuable for business growth. Understanding the technological capabilities and their limitations are key for us to improve our sales pitches and present where our value lies to our clients.

Daniela RubioQRCA Reporter on the Scene

Daniela Rubio
The Intercultural Studio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielarubio/

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Research 

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2019 QRCA Annual Conference: “Charting Your Best Course” – So much more than a slogan

Posted By Annette Esquibel, Friday, March 29, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

I came to the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference with diverse experiences, an interest in qualitative research, a love of people, and a lack of direction.  I’m not going to say that attending the 3-day conference at the end of January magically fixed all my professional woes, but I will say that it gave me the resources, a community, and a direction that I had been looking for.

Before attending, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had undergone a career pivot a year before and had been feeling my way through the research world largely on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I had been networking my booty off, attending workshops, getting certifications and generally making a name for myselfbut it turns out I had siloed myself into one small niche of the research world without realizing it.  Luckily, during this time, I met Janet Standen, an amazing qually and big advocate for QRCA who encouraged me look into the upcoming conference.  Boy, am I glad I did! Participating in the QRCA Annual Conference opened my eyes to the abundance of opportunities in the qualitative research world. I was able to find more in terms of a network, career directional opportunities, and resources in three days than I had found in a year of searching on my own.

Annette Esquibel Meeting

Using the Young Professionals Roundtable to learn from each other's experiences and strategize solutions. Photo by Annette Esquibel

Annette Esquibel Meeting

Another “a-ha” moment in the works courtesy of genuine and ample networking opportunities. Photo courtesy of Babbletype

The conference was chockfull of diverse learning opportunities: 

  • Conference Sessions: There were a variety of conference sessions focused on five themes: honing methodologies, expanding thinking, refreshing convention, building business, and tackling technology.  There were sessions that could be of value whether you were a novice or expert, and with videos and materials from each session available after the conference, you didn’t have to worry about missing out on something incredible. 

  • Roundtables: Presentations not your thing?  There were also multiple small group and roundtable sessions to participate in. The Young Professionals Roundtable, called The Young Professional Exchange: Career and Life Hacks to Super Charge Your Growth, may have been my favorite learning opportunity. Recognizing that my peers face similar concerns and issues in our professional pursuits was reassuring and I gleaned actions from the solution-focused discussion that I am still applying in my day-to-day.

  • Case Studies: Tired of only hearing about things in theory?  Then the case studies presented by the Qually Awards finalists were for you!  With a real-world challenge set, these researchers presented pitches of creative, thorough, and diverse methodologies. 

  • Exposure to Tools & Vendors:  The marketplace was always an interesting place to spend a break.  Seeing all the tools and vendors that are available to us as researchers on exhibit was very helpful in figuring out the most effective way to work. 

  • Structured & Informal Networking: Last but certainly not least: the people! As a Young Professionals Grant winner, we were given multiple scheduled events to get to know each other. And what a great group of professionals to be a part of.  I also learned a ton just through conversations with other attendees. Coffee breaks, meals, evenings out, and even chats in the lobby led to a-ha moments and genuine connections that are invaluable.  QRCA is made up of qualitative researchers of all walks including independent consultants, researchers at agencies and in-house researchers so there was never a lack of interesting people to get to know! Speaking of interesting people - let’s talk about the First Timers program for new conference attendees.  Ambassadors are available for all first-time attendees and help make your time at the conference more productive and less stressful. I was lucky enough to be paired with Kate Wagenlander Watson, a QRCA rockstar and overall amazing human being.  Before the conference, I connected with Kate and we created a game plan to make sure I was able to get the most out of my time in Savannah. 

The beauty is that I know attending the conference is just the tip of the iceberg.  Since the Young Professionals Grant includes a year membership to the QRCA, I have access to all the online archives of past discussions, blogs, and articles as well as current posts, newsletters and webinars. The online community is a welcome and welcoming resource that I am so excited to put to use. I am joining my local chapter as well as Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to continue building my community and engage in learning that I am especially interested in. Plus, I can continue to grow my toolkit and support this great organization through the ample leadership and volunteer opportunities available. Really, the only thing limiting how much I can be involved is myself.


An amazing breakfast for the Young Professionals Grant winners served as a warm introduction for the group. Photo courtesy of Shannon Danzy

In case it isn’t clear yet, the people are what make QRCA and its annual conference so great.  I was absolutely floored by the genuinely collaborative and supportive attitude of the members I met.  One phrase I heard that perfectly describes their attitude is “There’s plenty of room in the sandbox.” While many of my past conference experiences have been tinged by an undercurrent of competitiveness and transactionality,that was not at all the feel of this gathering. I am confident in saying that because of the YP grant, I am now a member of a community.  I have found kindred spirits that are more than willing to act as mentors and friends in years to come.  I am confident that this network will be integral in finding my niche in the wild world of qualitative research.


Comradery was abundant from the get-go with both first-time attendees and long-standing members. Photo courtesy of Babbletype

So, thank you QRCA for welcoming me into your fold and for providing the generous Young Professionals Grant that made it possible for me to attend.  I’m so excited to continue my qualitative research journey as part of this amazing community. If you are questioning the value of joining QRCA, are starting out in the research world, or would like to hear more about the annual conference and funding opportunities, please reach out! See you all in Austin in 2020!

  

Annette EsquibelAnnette Esquibel
Anthropologist turned research strategist, Annette’s global experience is based in people-centered research aiming to do the most good possible. Currently located in Minnesota, she is now an active member of QRCA and invites you to connect.

Website: ThePeoplePerson
LinkedIn: Annette Esquibel

Tags:  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  Qualitative Research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

Posted By Farnaz Badie, Thursday, March 28, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

 

Customer Journey Map

Summary:
Crafting a customer journey – reflecting both practical and emotional behaviors and attitudes – can illuminate more nuanced marketing and product development path for our clients. In this session, Aliza Pollack of Aliza Pollack Consulting, elegantly and patiently unpacked the steps required to create a customer journey.

Key Takeaways:
There are five key steps to creating a customer journey map: Benchmark, Discovery, Synthesis, Visualize and Action Plan.

  1. Benchmark: is essentially a stakeholder's download, in order to identify who the client team is, what they already know, and how they view the issue at hand. This step can be achieved in many ways, including using stakeholder interviews, client workshops, online surveys, etc.
  2. Discovery: is finding out what motivates the customer. This step ideally involves in-depth interviews with current users, lapsed users, as well as non-users of the brand, service, or category in question.
  3. Synthesis: is about analyzing the information acquired during the Discovery phase. The idea is to use the learnings in order to put the customer journey map together in a way that helps the client the best.
  4. Visualization: is about bringing the journey map to life, often using visuals / graphics – the final output could take several forms, e.g. poster, podcast, video, etc. Aliza often uses a designer to create the final map.
  5. Action Plan: is taking the created map and thinking about how to best utilize it. This step often takes the form of a client workshop led by Aliza, where the customer journey map results are debriefed and reviewed, and the client team discusses next steps.

Putting it into practice:
After this session, the creation of a Customer Journey Map is yet another qualitative service that I can now offer my clients, and in doing so, add value to their business.

A-ha moment:
The process of creating a journey map is imperfect, in that we are trying to shore up consumer's memory. As a result, we should do whatever we can to tap into the key journey moments in real time, through utilizing research techniques such as shop-alongs, respondent diaries, ethnographies, mobile research, etc.

Aliza was incredibly generous, precise, open and good-humored in delivering this session. She was able to answer multiple questions and better guide the audience through the process, making sure that attendees walked away with a clear understanding of what it takes to create a Customer Journey Map. Thank you Aliza for a great presentation :)

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Farnaz BadieFarnaz Badie
The Thought Bubble
LinkedIn

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Discover & Deploy Design Thinking

Posted By Liza Carroll, Friday, March 22, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Discover & Deploy Design Thinking

 

Design Thinking

Summary:
During the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference, Sofia Costa Alves of Mindbrand demonstrated how to lead a full Design Thinking Process from Stage 1 of Insights Gathering to Stage 5 of Product Testing. She illustrated the process through real case studies of process in action, from beginning to end. Costa Alves provided each attendee with a toolkit template that we can incorporate into the methodologies we offer to clients.

Key Takeaways:
Throughout the presentation we saw the divergent, integral thinking that characterized the process. Costa Alves shared that there are many different ways to put the Design Thinking Process into practice – it is about understanding the consumer and problems we are trying to solve.

The case study that Costa Alves provided was a great example of how to utilize the Design Thinking Process. The first step that was deployed was to have participants write down what they found “new, interesting, or surprising” in findings from consumer visits prior to the live session. Participants were instructed to lay out their opinions with three different color Post-Its:
Green = What’s Working
Red = Need to Fix
Yellow = Meh

The key to this process is to make sure that every participant is heard. After the Post-It exercise, the information was organized into major themes and then written on blank cards. These cards were placed on the wall and the post-it evidence was put on a flip chart where the team looked for strong evidence that there was something going on. All of this information was then converted into problem statements with priority being given to the key identified problems.

The participants next got into the ideating stage of the process. For each problem, participants were asked to create four radical solutions and then started generating ideas through drawing and writing. The work was shared with the group and feedback was given by all present participants. From these steps, the teams built prototypes and decided how to test the solutions they came up with and present them to consumers.

Throughout the whole process it became very clear to me that the key to successfully utilizing the Design Thinking Process is the charisma and energy of the moderator. Through the key use of energizers, ice breakers and breaks, the moderator can keep momentum throughout the process and find success.

Postits

Putting it into practice:
Personally, after this great in-depth presentation I will be carrying the recognition of how deeply the consumer needs to be understood in qualitative research into all my thinking and dealings with clients.

A-ha moment:
I found it funny and insightful that in the case studies presented, the moderators were able to gain the participation of the executives by giving up their phones for chocolate. Finally, the solutions/prototypes were focus-grouped with consumers. I loved the idea to "create 4 radical solutions" for each problem statement and will use that in my practice.

I was excited by the sheer number of Post-Its used in the various stages of the case study. They vividly conveyed the creative thinking and collaboration that went on throughout the Design Thinking session.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Kendall Nash Liza Carroll
RDTeam, Inc
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizacarroll/

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Easy to Use Theatre Games for Energy, Insights and Ideas

Posted By Ben Grill, Thursday, March 14, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Easy to Use Theatre Games for Energy, Insights and Ideas

Moderator's Preparation

Summary:
At the QRCA Annual Conference, Laurie Tema-Lyn of Practical Imagination Enterprises took the opportunity to teach quallies new playful ways to engage research participants and clients. In her presentation, Tema-Lyn gave us the tools and the confidence to overcome the barriers of expense and the daunting nature that comes with learning new techniques and taught us to use roleplay, improv and other theater games in our work for fun, energy and results!

Key Takeaways:
There are a lot of different games that we can utilize as researchers to engage our participants including

  1. Word Salad: A finger snapping game where the moderator asks a questions and people toss in their thoughts. QRCA participants admitted that when we tested this game, they felt more relaxed, focused, less stressed and able to answer honestly.
  2.  “Yes and…”: A technique used to build on the other participants’ ideas by saying “Yes and..” We learned that it is a good idea to run this exercise for two minutes maximum and then the moderator should end the process and debrief on what was said/acted out.
  3. Theatre of Exaggeration: As a group, we were divided into two teams (i.e. one side against idea X and the other side is pro idea X) and each team says what the extreme benefit or risk of the product or service is to identify potential issues.

I left the session with actionable tips for successful theatre games including making it okay for participants to fail and laying out some rules of play. The key to the success of these tactics are to build trust and comfort among participants early so they can let their hair down. Lastly, I learned that it's important to also debrief on the methodology/process:

  • Did the client find these innovative techniques useful?
  • Inspiring?
  • Better than the usual approach?”

Putting it into practice:
I greatly enjoyed Tema-Lyn’s session and I plan to use some of these tactics in my research. Anytime a group is low energy, the Word Salad would be a great way to energize and get latent ideas out of people. Also, when groups are quiet in the beginning, a few of the improv games could be used to create a more playful and sharing atmosphere.

A-ha moment:
I realized how impactful these tactics can be as I was watching the researchers in the room test the theatre games and agreeing they actually help them relax and engage in the question being asked. 

This session was great to experience live, seeing the games in action really drove home their impact. I am excited for Laurie’s upcoming post on the Qual Power Blog post on utilizing these tactics further!

For more information check out Laurie's book "Stir it up!  Recipes for Robust Insights and Red Hot Ideas" and look for her upcoming Qual Power Blog post on bringing the power of theater games to your next session!

Ben GrillQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Ben Grill
The Insights Grill
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bengrill
Twitter: @bengrill

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Research 

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The QRCA Conference: Why I Loved It & Why You Will, Too

Posted By Vidhika Bansal, Monday, February 25, 2019
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2019
Vidhika Bansal is a 2019 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant helps advance promising young qualitative researchers’ careers by providing access to networking and educational sessions via a free pass to the QRCA’s Annual Conference plus a one-year membership. Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more.

What often makes quallies like us different from the rest of the world is our collective curiosity, empathy, and ability to transform our knowledge of people’s needs and experiences into strategic direction. Given that the QRCA’s Annual Conference is run and attended by quallies, it’s no surprise then that it’s not your average conference.

My week in Savannah at the 2019 Conference, Charting Your Best Course, was jam-packed and enriching in so many ways. As if the delicious Southern food and relaxing river views weren’t enough, here are three reasons why the QRCA Conference stands out in my mind:



Dessert

Dessert following a scrumptious meal at a local Savannah restaurant, seconds before I devoured it



Networking Made Palatable

As consultants, networking is not just an add-on marketing strategy; it’s practically a necessity. Quite unfortunately though, for many—myself included—networking has almost become a dirty word. It tends to conjure up flashbacks of awkward interactions with strangers, insincere exchanges of pleasantries, and general anxiety and dread. Thankfully, the QRCA conference helps change that.

High friendliness quotient: One thing I learned in almost no time is that QRCA folks are among the friendliest you’ll meet. Perhaps it’s because most of us talk and listen to people for a living, but striking up conversations with fellow conference-goers was refreshingly easy and felt far more authentic than I had expected. The various ribbons added to everyone’s name tags made finding common ground and making connections even easier (especially as a first-timer and YPG recipient). And if you’re shy, have no fear—it’ll just be a matter of time before someone approaches you and breaks the ice!

Stress-free socializing: The organizers orchestrated events that further facilitated pain-free networking, especially if you’re a “first-timer” who has never attended before. First-timers are paired with “ambassadors”, who are QRCA conference veterans that can serve as familiar faces and guides throughout (shout out to my wonderful ambassador, Regina!). There was also a “speed dating” event for first-timers where we got to meet with other ambassadors, and as YPG recipients we were able to connect with fellow early/mid-career quallies at the fun, laidback, young-professionals-only breakfast and dinner events.

(Pro-tip: Remember to bring stacks and stacks of business cards with you—you’ll need them to give to all the new people you’ll meet in quick succession as well as for the vendor raffles!)

Conference Badge

My conference badge, adorned with a couple of colorful ribbons that helped break the ice



Stellar, Actionable Content

One of the main goals of attending any conference is usually to leave with takeaways that you can apply to your work immediately—and the sessions at this one definitely did not disappoint.

Insights about insights: There were so many fantastic talks that it’s not practical for me to list them all right now, but these were some of my favorites.

  • Carmen Simon’s very memorable keynote on using learnings from neuroscience to craft content that sticks, especially by relying on familiar mental models
  • Lisa Lipkin’s engaging anecdotes depicting how to best elicit honest stories from others to learn about them, and how to find “magic in the mundane”
  • Allison Rak’s uber-practical hacks for boosting research and reporting efficiency
  • Liz George’s window into using role-play to glean rich insights when ethnographic methods are not an option due to ethical and logistical constraints
  • Laurie Tema-Lyn’s entertaining workshop on improv exercises as a research tool

FOMO no mo’: With so many intriguing sessions going on in parallel (and without a Time-Turner allowing us to be in multiple places at the same time, a la Hermione Granger), it can sometimes be a challenge to choose which presentation to attend. Luckily, starting this year, all presentations were recorded so attendees could go back and watch them even after the conference was over. On top of that, there were “Reporters on the Scene” taking notes during each session, and those curated notes will be published for those who would prefer reading summaries of sessions they missed over watching full videos. Knowing that I would be able to watch the talks I couldn’t attend in-person saved me a ton of indecision.

(Pro-tip that a few kind members shared with me: If you’re struggling to decide between talks, check out the downloadable presentation decks in advance to give you a sense of which one of the alternatives might be most up your alley.)

Something for everyone: There were talks on a vast variety of topics, including proposal writing, storytelling, recruiting methods, journey mapping, projective techniques, usability testing, and even behavioral science. In addition to the breadth of subject matter, I appreciated the mix of formats in which content was shared, ranging from informal roundtable discussions to vendor exhibits to structured presentations of tools and frameworks.


Dinner Group

Being silly at the Young Professionals Dine-Around (Thank you to Shannon Danzy for the photo!)



Finding Your Tribe

Last, but certainly not least, if I had to sum up what makes the QRCA Conference unique, it would be the unmatched sense of community. Cheesy at it sounds, attending the conference felt more like joining a big, happy family than just congregating with a group of like-minded professionals.

Come for the learnings, stay for the people: Valuable content is no doubt important, but the people you meet at the QRCA Conference are just as important, if not more so. Even though technically attendees could view each other as competitors, I noticed that the environment was overwhelmingly collaborative, with knowledge-sharing and camaraderie aplenty. There are even special interest groups (SIGs) to further hone in on people who share your specific interests (for me, it was the Ethnography, Creativity + Ideation, and UX SIGs). With the QRCA, one thing seems to be true: you get as much as you give.

Hugs, not handshakes: “We’re huggers,” I heard someone say on my first day at the conference. I looked around and—lo and behold—it was true. Not only did people greet each other with a genuine excitement to reconnect, but the good vibes weren’t confined to conference hours. Pre-conference mornings began with “healthy connections”, where passionate QRCA volunteers led dance and meditation sessions to get us started for the day. How cool is that?! Similarly, conference evenings ended with group “dine-arounds”, where we got to reclaim the calories worked off in the morning by indulging at local restaurants—a great way to continue conversations, meet new people, and ensure you always had company for dinner. This personal touch is what makes the QRCA such a special organization.

Needless to say, I’m truly grateful and honored to have been a recipient of the QRCA Young Professionals Grant. Without it, I likely would not have attended this year’s conference, and in turn would have missed out on all of these amazing benefits.

Thanks to the generosity of the grant sponsors and dedication of the event organizers, I left Savannah with fresh insights, a renewed view on networking, and even some new friends. Looking forward to next year’s conference in Austin and hope to see you there!


Vidhika Bansal

Vidhika Bansal is a UX strategist with a background in behavioral science, brand marketing, and human-centered design. She’s passionate about using the power of words and people’s stories to make product and service experiences the best that they can be. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Tags:  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  Qualitative Research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Catch and Release

Posted By Melanie Brewer, Friday, February 22, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Catch and Release

Recruit 2.0:  Online Marketplaces

Summary:
Do you want to save time and money on recruiting?  So do I.  That’s why I was really excited for the presentation “Catch & Release: Applying My Experience Learning to Fly Fish to Using New Recruiting Tools and Services” by Ted Kendall of TripleScoop Premium Market Research. New platforms for recruiting respondents are disrupting the marketplace, similar to the ways that Uber and Airbnb disrupted the car services and hotel marketplaces. These platforms put the power into our hands, but as Ted put it, how do you decide whether these new platforms fit your recruiting needs and if they do, how do you adapt all your recruiting skills to the new medium?

Key Takeaways:
While acknowledging that no system is perfect, Ted extolled some of the advantages (big) and challenges (modest) based on his several years of experience with Respondent.io and Userinterviews.com, two platforms that are making it possible to easily recruit for qual studies – sometimes filling a study within just a few short hours and at a significantly lower cost.  Benefits include the ability to authenticate users via LinkedIn or Facebook profiles, 80% or higher show rates, easy screening, and access to diverse groups, professions and geographic locations.  While there can be a learning curve, Ted argues it's well worth it for the benefits.  In addition, the platforms are rapidly evolving and are likely to just keep getting better.  Each offers unique features, so they're both worth trying.  One twist is the need to "market" or "pitch" your study to participants, so be prepared to make your project sound awesome and exciting to motivate them to respond – but ideally without totally giving away your screening criteria.

Putting it into practice:
I plan on exploring the tools Ted presented, along with the new features that are being rolled out on a regular basis, after the conference.

A-ha moment:
The observation that these platforms are disintermediating the marketplace similar to other software tools like Uber and Airbnb, and – just like those tools – are likely to become an increasingly important part of the landscape going forward – meaning we should all learn to use them so we don’t get left behind.

I will leave you with this final pro-tip courtesy of Ted: you can use the tipping feature in Respondent to pay for extra tasks you may wish the participants to complete, like homework or pre- or post-tasks!  

Melanie BrewerQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Melanie Brewer
Santa Barbara Human Factors, Inc.
Twitter: @melanieinsb
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melaniebennettbrewer/  

Tags:  Conference Recap  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research  Recruiting 

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My Experience at the QRCA Conference as a First Timer and Young Professionals Grant Winner

Posted By Sonya Shen, Thursday, February 21, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2019

Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

Sonya Shen is a 2019 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant helps advance promising young qualitative researchers’ careers by providing access to networking and educational sessions via a free pass to the QRCA’s Annual Conference plus a one-year QRCA membership. Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more.

Conference Swag

Selected Conference Swag

I won a QRCA Young Professionals Grant to the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference, “Charting Your Best Course.” I just returned from spending three packed days in Savannah, Georgia learning from and connecting with other qualitative researchers.

Young Professionals Grant (YPG) Winners Received VIP Service
In October 2018, I learned that I had been awarded a YPG. I had been wanting to focus my career more on qualitative research, and winning the grant was the impetus that I needed to start making my ideas a reality. I immediately felt taken care of: YPG winners received communications leading up to the conference about events geared towards First Time Attendees and Young Professionals. I was also paired up with my own conference ambassador, Susan Sweet of Sweet Insight Group, who helped me prepare for and navigate the conference by sharing tips and introducing me to other attendees. I felt welcomed and prepared even before setting foot in Savannah.

The Conference Schedule Was Packed with Events and Sessions
I recommend planning out which sessions to attend before heading to the conference. The conference app was also helpful in the moment in figuring out where to go next (always a challenge at conferences!). A nice bonus I appreciated is that all sessions are available for viewing after the conference so attendees have less angst about missing a presentation. My FOMO turned to JOMO when I realized I could take a guilt-free break outside to recharge. I treated myself to a walk to Chippewa Square, made famous by the movie Forrest Gump (spoiler alert: there is no bench in the square, it was just there for the movie).

Qually Award Finalist Presentations
The three finalists for the Qually Award presented their proposals and took questions in front of a live and discerning audience. It was clear that a lot of preparation went into the proposals. I was impressed by the amount of camaraderie and openness to sharing that I saw.

Keynote
Dr. Carmen Simon of Memzy delivered a keynote presentation on “The Neuroscience of Memorable Messages”. We learned about memory and the fact that people only remember 90% of what was shared with them after two days. Dr. Simon discussed how to make messages more memorable and how to get people to act on a message (such as if you offer a slight twist, it will bring the brain back to the present).

Sessions
Laurie Tema-Lyn’s session on the topic of “Using Theater Games in Research” demonstrated how to use different techniques to meet a variety of research objectives. I learned how to set the stage so that researchers, respondents, and clients are all comfortable using more out-of-the-box methods such as World Salad, Improv/Role-play, and Theater of Exaggeration. The session allowed me to think creatively, practice my active listening skills, and give myself permission to try new things.

Lisa Lipkin presented on the topic of “Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling,” where she encouraged us to “make magic out of the mundane” when we are eliciting stories from respondents. Her tips included seeing the story in everything because what we store in our memories is most meaningful, and everything and everyone has a story. Lisa also encouraged us to dig deeper and be an “emotion detective,” as fact is not truth. Start with the emotion, then hang the facts on it.

Zebra Strategies’ Denene Rodney and Sharon Arthur’s session on “Ensuring Real Diversity in Qualitative Research” examined the role of the researcher as clients’ stewards to educate, guide, and safeguard them, and to better customize marketing messaging that consider cultural nuance. It shared actionable tips of how to ensure personal and collective accountability, accounting for bias, and ethical considerations. I walked away with strategies on how to exemplify this topic by being honest about what I do and don’t know, figuring out how to get answers if I don’t know something, expanding my network, developing empathy and curiosity, and to not run and to not hide.

“Opening Closed Doors with Role-Play” by Elizabeth George of Market Strategies was a deep dive into how to use role-play in research. While ethnography is the gold standard, barriers abound, such as in doctor/patient interactions. Liz walked us through the logistics of a particular type of role-play in which doctors are the respondents, actors are hired to play the patients who interact with the doctors, and the researchers are the facilitators. There was a great deal of information, and I felt like I was equipped to implement this strategy if I wanted to.

Networking Was Plentiful
I highly recommend attending a conference where most attendees are great at asking questions and where organizers are skilled at facilitating experiences. This conference checked both boxes. There were plenty of opportunities to meet other attendees and connect over shared interests. Highlights Include:

  • The First Timers Event: This was set up like a speed dating event where First Timers meet non-First Timer attendees. All the fun with none of the awkward rejection!
  • The Young Professionals Dine-Around Dinner: I connected with other Young Professionals at a restaurant in downtown Savannah. Topics of discussion were varied – from career to food, to kangaroos (friend or foe?).
  • Thursday Night Event at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub: A giant get-together for everyone at the conference which included First Timers Bingo (Tip: maximize your time in the food line by asking passers-by if they can help you cross off a bingo square).
  • The Young Professional Exchange: Career and Life Hacks to Supercharge Your Growth (Roundtable): Young Professionals convened to discuss solutions to problems they commonly face. One of the many takeaways I left with was to lean into what sets me apart as a researcher.
  • Optional Chapter Meetings: I got the opportunity to meet other qualitative researchers in my area over breakfast.

As a First Timer, I felt completely at ease while networking. The conference size was manageable, and it felt heartening to see that so many other attendees knew each other and were catching up.

There are Many Opportunities to Stay Involved After the Conference
As a winner of the YPG, I was also awarded a one-year QRCA membership. I am already signed up to attend the next SF QRCA Chapter Meeting and plan on volunteering in some capacity. There are many opportunities to stay plugged in through the QRCA forum, through a SIG (Special Interest Group), or with a committee.

Bonus “Wow” Moment: Doing chair yoga with a view overlooking the Savannah River.

The 2019 QRCA Conference was a wonderful learning and networking experience. Thank You to the QRCA and Young Professionals organization for organizing the conference and awarding me a YPG. Hope to see you next year in Austin!

Sonya ShenSonya Shen, Independent Research Consultant

Sonya is a Researcher, Storyteller, and Yoga Teacher located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Linked In

Tags:  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  Qualitative Research 

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