2017 March 27 by lori
Educators are always looking for ways to engage and motivate students. Using basic marketing and sales techniques, we can rethink the way we capture the attention of students and retain them as lifelong learners.
In education, small learning communities are used to foster a sense of belonging in students. In marketing, branding is used similarly to promote loyalty to products and services. This is done by creating a distinct identity – one that taps into a specific niche and caters to a specific consumer. The brand creates a community through hype, familiarity, recognition, trust and originality.
In a classroom, YOU are the brand and your classroom culture should authentically and consistently sell learning. Here are some ways to create a brand and promote a learning culture in your classroom:
- Create authentic relationships with students (of course!) based on more than just interests in your class.
- Choose classroom core values and emphasize them consistently and often, especially when facing challenges.
- Emphasize cooperation between students – a “we all succeed together” mentality.
- Organize special events, theme days, and experiences for your students, without exclusion based on a rewards or punishment system.
- Take every opportunity to have “promotional” items like t-shirts, pencils, or stickers with teacher or student created ideas and names.
- Create teacher v. teacher competitions (but with non-learning goals – for fun).
- Use repetition in all things: classroom routine, catch phrases, names for regular assignments – jargonize your class.
- Embrace your quirkiness and be corny! Your distinct (and wacky) identity makes you memorable and loving-eye-roll worthy.
Use social (or school-wide) media
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? The majority of 21st century students use social media and studies are finding that this is significantly changing the way they learn. In addition, the role of social media has been significantly underestimated in creating classroom culture. Today’s students don’t live like today’s adults lived – they don’t make friends, learn new things, participate in the arts and music, relax, relate to their parents or find a sense of belonging in the same ways their parents did. The created spaces they inhabit to do these activities are the spaces educators now have to present learning
in order to engage them. Here are some simple ideas for promoting learning through social media:
- Use all of the technological tools your school has available and consider using them simultaneously. Students are used to multi-tasking with media and sometimes this approach (ironically) allows for less distraction.
- Encourage engagement outside of school hours through email blasts, webpage posts, or other forum/chat environments. Just like in marketing, not all posts should be “product” or learning centered – engage through fun to build motivation for students to “check in” on the class.
- Use social media formats like a pro: classroom webpages for assignments, graphic and picture heavy information for lectures, texting for participation, comments for formative assessments, concepts presented through video, FB Live (and other real-time)presentations, and don’t forget advertisements! Sneak in plugs for upcoming content when you can to preview and activate knowledge.
- Don’t forget the networking aspect – connect with people school-wide/nation-wide/globally to expose students to diverse expectations and surprising commonalities.
- Class-sponsor media within the school and online: write and publish articles together about topics relevant to your content, showcase learning and classroom life with picture threads and hashtags, donate class-chosen raffle items for events. Make people want to be part of the “hype” you build virtually (and reinforce your brand!).
*Please familiarize your students (and yourself) with the acceptable use policy for your school/district and abide by it.
Incentivize to create a customer (customer of knowledge)
When marketing a product, incentives are used to generate a purchase. Offering a reward, discount or special promotional item encourages new customers to try a product and, if the product (or salesperson) is good, they can become a loyal customer. Educators often get incentives wrong. They are almost always earned by students who don’t need them – students who are already loyal customers of your content knowledge. So how do you get a new customer, an apathetic or passive learner to “buy in”? Just like with a product, once a student sees what learning can do, he or she will be more confident, more curious and more receptive to more knowledge. That’s how true learners are created. Here are some ways to facilitate a receptive learner using incentives:
- Offer “free samples” with exemplary models of assignments, homework forgiveness for spending time with your content outside of class, and supplemental material for the taking, just for fun.
- Give students choice but direct them towards the more challenging assignments (when appropriate) with point incentives. Even done on an impromptu and casual level (“Hey Joe, I’ll give you 10 points on that missing homework if you try this option.”) can be used for differentiation.
- Use customer loyalty incentives for frequent “buyers” of knowledge by rewarding good learner HABITS, rather than performance. Offer homework passes only after great class participation, or extra credit for self-motivated note-taking or staying after to clarify a topic. Doing this individually and spur-of -the-moment works better than whole class assignments.
- Try sales techniques like “flash sales”, bidding or raffles for content concepts students are required to learn or project choices to create excitement for a subject. *Bonus for doing this through social media
- Something to remember: Sales incentives are typically small in actual “value”, but with enough chance and little risk. Keep this in mind with classroom incentives – they don’t need to be large to jump start something big.
Customer Service is crucial
As consumers, we return to a brand or product because of our experience with it, not just how it works. Loyal customers can be created and kept, even with an occasional hiccup in function or service of product, because of customer service. In education, we certainly can’t expect our teachers to acquiesce to all student demands, but we can use the metaphor of customer service to help create lifelong learners. We can compare customer service to encouraging students to be happy, hard-working and inspired, even when they dislike specific content. Here are ways you can use this metaphor in the classroom:
- Check in with your students and make sure they are satisfied, formally or informally. Simple classroom surveys can be useful and allow students to feel as if their suggestions are taken seriously. Even if you can’t fix every issue, it will create trust to take interest.
- If a student feels wronged, give the benefit of the doubt. An argument over the due date of an assignment or a few points on a question isn’t worth losing a learner. Sometimes this means compromising (not on principles, ethics or rules) by agreeing to disagree and move on in exchange for a promise to rebuild trust and extra effort into a new project.
- Be pro-active about problems. If it seems like an assignment isn’t working for a student, be willing to be flexible and change something to make it work. Try to approach the student before the student approaches you. It’s easier to guide a student to a solution when he feels you are already looking out for him.
- Pass it up to a superior, if needed. Sometimes in a tough ethical situation it’s better to have a third party evaluate it and decide. It can preserve your personal relationship with the student while still settling the issue with finality.
- Be available as often as possible. If students know they can always reach you, they will rarely abuse the option but it will prove you want them to succeed and it eradicates excuses.
- Fortune is in the follow-up. We are following up constantly as educators – with data, conferences, IEPs, progress monitoring and the myriad of other tools we use to ensure our students are making strides. All of these things are extremely important, but thinking of follow-up also from a customer service perspective creates loyalty to you, your class and learning. Keep in touch with students from past years, help students reflect on previous learning and class experience, give specific and accurate feedback often, and elicit feedback from your students about lessons and assignments.
Loyal customers for life
Education is not a business and real educators know that. While it is useful to make a comparison between business practices and teaching children to learn and care about learning, the stakes are much higher in education. The market on knowledge is not intended to dupe students and should never be handled with the same intentions as a capitalist enterprise. Still, it’s true that sometimes educators feel at a loss for what to try next to motivate students in a world where knowledge is at everyone’s fingertips and yet so many can’t find it. If education can take what marketers know about how to forge buy-in, capture attention, keep customers coming back for more, we have an opportunity to capitalize on knowledge in the classroom.
Contributed by FieldGoals Academy’s Emilie A. O’Neal, M.Ed
2017 January 20 by lori
Although we researchers excitedly confess more mid-sized companies are not only accepting our motto of “do your homework” – they are also setting aside budget dollars to conduct what we in the market research industry know to be the foundation of any product or service, marketing communication or message – CONSUMER RESEARCH. However, we still too frequently encounter potential clients who do not understand the value of conducting market research. “What’s the ROI?” we are frequently asked. The under-informed should actually be asking what the consequences might be if research IS NOT conducted prior to:
- Launching a new product or service
- Modifying an existing product or service
- Identifying your market
- Expanding into new markets
- Identifying competition
- Developing your message and touchpoints
Bob Gilbreath, co-founder and CEO at Ahalogy, an internet marketing and content performance analyst firm based in Cincinnati, recently penned an article on Linked-In outing former Apple founder, Steve Jobs for negating the profound impact market research has had on millions of product and service success stories. Job’s professed,
“Some people say, ‘Give customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”‘ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
Gilbreath goes on to explain, “I wholeheartedly agree with these quotes. One should never conduct a research study that asks people what they want–yet it is a mistake that big and small companies make every day. I learned about the right way to research within the first few months of my time working in the new products team at Procter & Gamble, a company legendary for creating billion-dollar categories ranging from disposable diapers to Swiffer and Febreze. Broadly speaking, there are two types of research that work–and they are completely consistent with Jobs’ words and success.”
“First, you must spend time understanding and gaining insights into customers’ existing habits, beliefs, routines and unmet needs. We would never ask people, ‘What should we develop to make your life easier?’ Instead, we spent time with people in their homes and watched them at the store, then we dug through data about what they are buying and using. Your job, at the early stage of innovation, is to get into the shoes of your customer, understand her life, and look for insights that give you ideas on products that you could create that would surprise and delight her.”
“The second role of market research comes in evaluating the ideas that come out of customer understanding and insights. At Procter & Gamble, we wrote up descriptions of our ideas and shared them with people in one-one-one conversations and in national quantitative surveys in order to gauge their interest and willingness to buy. In big and small companies alike, it is invaluable to get direct customer feedback. While it’s tough to get customers to tell you what they want, they do a great job of reacting to ideas that you share with them. After all, reacting to new ideas is something they do every day when they turn on the TV, chat with friends or browse through a store. Customer feedback on ideas helps you refine your product, model the business potential, and sometimes prevent you from a costly failure.”
Here at FieldGoals.US, this is our passion. Bring us your products and services, your hopes and dreams, and we will quantify and qualify your market to guarantee your success. In this exciting new era of entrepreneurial enlightenment, let us guide the way.
2017 January 16 by lori
In my 20’s, “When are you going to get a “real” job?” seemed to be the only question that mattered in my career. I was working full time for my mom at her home-based market research firm and, seemingly, that couldn’t be my end goal. I must have something else more tangible in store for my very bright future, people mused – something my own, different, “real.” But I was confused. I mean, it felt real: I made real money, I managed real clients, I worked real hours in real business professional clothes, called real subcontractors, followed up on real projects. And yet, because of those kind of assumptions, I believed there must be something more legitimate outside of her company. I couldn’t ride her coattails forever. At some point I’d have to go out and make a name for myself. Didn’t I want to leave my mark on the world? What was my true passion? All. The. Cliches.
It doesn’t matter that ultimately there was another career path in store for me. The assumptions we make about small businesses are still damaging for our own business partnerships. We miss out if we write off the success, efficacy and quality of family owned and operated companies. Nepotism has painted a negative connotation onto the very things that make family businesses so crucial and beneficial to our economy. We see favoritism, poorly qualified staff, a lack of processes – when instead we should be seeing integrity, low turnover, expertise and endurance. When we look closely at family businesses, we see that in many ways they outshine their competitors in these areas.
The world’s economy IS family owned and operated. The Harvard Business Review estimates that 80% of the world’s companies are run by 2 or more family members. In America, 1 in 5 small businesses are owned/operated by multiple family members (Birnbaum) and 30% of companies with $1 billion + in sales are family businesses, including Walmart and Samsung (Kachaner, Stalk and Bloch). It’s absurd, then, that we still believe family companies are “rinky-dink” operations, run by a talentless and uninspired second generation. The very opposite is proving to be true in most studies.
Family run companies are successful because we literally bring you home with us. The dinner table sings with updates about clients. The values and vision shared with you at the conference table are the same values and vision we laugh and aspire to as we pass the mashed potatoes. The Christmas presents are newly branded wearables, the bonuses are shared and set aside for whoever needs it the most at the moment. Your project becomes a guest with its own room, a fresh set of sheets and towel at the foot of the bed. There’s nothing more personal or more cared for than your satisfaction, because that is the currency of our family’s livelihood. As Jeffrey Miller points out in an article by The New York Times, small businesses “have the strength of the entire family, meaning all sorts of thinking and fiscal resources.” Associate professor, Patricia M. Cole, says, “a family business can become like a turtle that pulls inward under its shell” and we’ll pull you in with us. Family business is statistically more resilient in hard economic times in this way, too. The family enterprise is the beginning and the end of the plan – that’s all the motivation that’s needed.
We need to throw away the idea that the family-run business is lacking in some undefined way. It’s time to come home and meet my mother. As the matriarch of the family business, Lori Mader is not just a character or a “bird” as she calls herself. She sets the core values – and her intelligence and business acumen drive the success of the services. Her oft-joked about personality is the hallmark of her relationship with clients and the extremely loyal and long-term employees and subcontractors that are happy to be part of the family. She’s not traditional, but what she has created as an extension of herself through the company is what makes FieldGoals.Us special and different. Harvard Business Review calls this “family gravity” and they explain it like this:
“The firms we studied usually have one key family member (but up to three) standing at the center of the organization, like the sun in our solar system. These people personify the corporate identity and align differing interests around clearly defined values and a common vision. They focus on the next generation, not the next quarter. They tend to embrace strategies that put customers and employees first and emphasize social responsibility. And they have strong personalities that draw talented people into their orbits and keep them there.”
That magnetic pull is real. The relationship we all have with the company is real and our ability to outperform most market competitors is real too. It doesn’t get more real than the legacy Lori has created and continues to solidify for our family through her company. That’s what family owned and operated “really” means. Welcome home!
Author credits go to Emilie O’Neal – educator, mom, daughter
2015 September 18 by lori
Can we just get rid of villains in children’s movies?
by Emilie A. O’Neal, M.Ed., Education Research Specialist
My 4 year old sister is obsessed with animated characters. Right now, most predictably, they are Elsa and Anna from Frozen and Ariel from The Little Mermaid, but also Woody and Jesse from Toy Story. Ironically, she has never actually seen these movies in their entirety.
Why? Because they are scary. In her own words, because “some parts are a little scary, like when you have bad dreams.” Sounds legit.
So, being the diligent adults in her life that we are, we turn off, fast forward, skip chapters and distract during those parts of the movie EVERY TIME even as she is now probably on her 100th round of each of them.
My sister is the youngest in the family by 21 years. Yep – that’s a pretty significant period of time for us adults to forget a few things. In particular, how absolutely TERRIFYING some children’s movies are. I’m serious. I have all sorts of fuzzy nostalgia about animated films like The Little Mermaid and I remember watching it over and over again as a child. But somehow, my little child-brain had completely forgotten a few things about that movie. Upon re-watching it with my sister 20 years later, something became super clear through my adult eyes: that stuff is crazy scary. Bad dream scary – just as my sister so poignantly described.
Without even reopening the ideologically scary implications of Ariel’s decision to leave her family and be with Eric, or the assumed race and specific body-type of Ursula, or the victim silencing of Ariel with the literal loss of her voice (because those subjects have been discussed before), on a basic event level there is some jacked up stuff happening in that movie. When Ursula rises out of the sea in a blown up version of herself, surrounded by black clouds, wielding Triton’s giant trident and emitting a deep guttural laugh as she tries to drown everyone, I looked over at the terror in my 3 year old sister’s eyes and realized nothing was right about this moment. This was NOT okay.
I come from a very “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” type of family. I don’t believe in sheltering kids and I do believe that the best way to prepare for and cope with the evil that most definitely exists in this world is to confront it. But right now? While we are relaxing? At three years old? In a cartoon? It was too much. We turned it off. And we still do every time we get to that part. Or to the part where the snow monster with the “teeth like needles,” as Sissy calls them, comes out in Frozen. Or the part where Sid tortures the toys in Toy Story.
I don’t think I’m doing her a disservice or making her too sensitive. You didn’t see her face. You didn’t see the fear. I’ve seen this before in other kids, too. It’s not the kind of look an adult gets – that recognition and identification of an “ugliness” about humanity that maybe you haven’t encountered, but you know is out there somewhere. No, this look, her look, was a look of rawness, the opening of a wound, a painful surprise. Because here, in this moment, was the first time she even knew an “Ursula” could EXIST. That a person could be so mean, so angry, could inflict such pain and misery on other good people that it made her fearful to BE in that world anymore. It was a look of flight, of intention to escape from the imaginary world that minutes before was bringing her wonderment and happiness, a look of retreat back to reality where it was safe and I was sitting on the couch, arm around her, eating popcorn. It was devastating to watch.
I know these villains are created to teach children about hardships and how to overcome them through the resilience of the other characters, but have we ever stopped to think about whether or not that lesson needs to be taught in this way, at these moments? Have we ever considered that some of these villains are triggers that might need warnings attached, despite their G rating? In my sister’s case, Ursula has taught her about drowning, Sid has taught her about torture, Maleficent (in Snow White) has taught her about lying, Jafar has taught her about ownership of women’s bodies, Scar has taught her about guilt, and just about every children’s movie has taught her about death. As an adult, I appreciate the lessons those stories provide and the invaluable connection that stories, in general, create. But is that what I signed up for when we sat down to watch a movie that night? I sure as heck wasn’t anticipating a chat about the innate and inexplicable darkness in some human souls to a three year old over a snack. She was oblivious to these evils before and now here she was, looking up at me ready for answers. You can call it naïve, but I call that innocent, too, and I’m sort of interested in preserving that in the people I love for, like,…ever. So what if we just cut that stuff out? What if Ursula and Sid and the snow monster with needle-teeth just disappeared? Would the story suffer that much? It can’t be that complex. She’s 4, for god’s sake. She’s pretty easy to please. She was totally cool with sea animals playing reggae, Olaf bouncing around in his own hallucination, and Woody micromanaging the other toys. We could have hung there for another 45 and called it a day. I don’t think we need to build a children’s movie conglomerate on desensitization. I know she’s going to experience evil in real life someday, unfortunately. It’s not necessary to artificially create a scenario depicting a flawed version of humanity for her to learn about it while she’s winding down for her nap or home sick with a fever. There will be time for that, later. She’s just a kid. Maybe Ariel and Ursula are just two best friends. Less racy, I know, but I bet we will still watch it a hundred times.
2015 January 19 by lori
Let’s play a word association game. I say “education” and you say…
Teachers. Books. Learning. Field trips. Homework.
Maybe 5 or 10 years ago these nostalgic throwbacks would win you any game of Outburst. But now, there’s a new word in public education that parents, students and educators are rapidly finding out might just be as inextricably linked to school as segmented lunch trays, cliques and flu season. That word is DATA and it’s not going away.
From pre and post-tests to parent satisfaction surveys, many states are now requiring the collection, analysis and evaluation of student, school, achievement, demographic and community data. This stems from a larger legislative demand for standardized testing and a new wave of educational research that focuses on results, in part, as a response to those testing demands. Technology has further aided this growing trend as many schools now have complete electronic and web-based data management systems, making standard information and the ability for cross-tabulation available to almost anyone in the school community.
We have reached a data revolution in education and the possibilities are numerous and exciting. Just think: A teacher can now easily access graphs that quantify a student’s growth on a particular unit, identify low performers and set goals for individual students. A guidance counselor can now determine which students are at-risk and group them in order to monitor for discipline referrals, grades and attendance. A parent can now view student grades in real time and run reports for each class to find commonalities across content areas and create game-plan for upcoming “rough patches” for their kiddos. These are now becoming regular scenarios for the use of data in educational communities and as we master more of the technologies involved in collecting, analyzing and evaluating data, educational leaders are starting to capitalize on decisions made from the use of this previously-unavailable information.
We want to use data and we should, according to most experts in education. Contemporary education researchers continue to tout the importance of using data in educational design and instruction. It’s no surprise, considering that most states now require data collection and evaluative action for school data. As a public school teacher in Pennsylvania, for instance, you can expect that you will be required to collect and analyze the following types of data this school year:
- pre-assessment and post-assessment performance data for your instructional units
- self-reflective data as it relates to teaching objectives of your choosing
- special education data for Individual Education Plans
- school-wide standardized test performance data
- behavioral referral and progressive discipline data
- demographic data and it’s correlation with other school improvement factors
You might then choose (or be strongly encouraged) to collect additional data like parent information from back to school nights and take-home surveys, or community data to help you decide how to best implement new programs that will affect future employers in the area. As an administrator in a public school, you will oversee even more data collection and analysis: college acceptance and performance data from graduated students, teacher observation and evaluation data, budget numbers and fiscal auditing, school-wide attendance/discipline information, and the inter-section between all of these types of data and overall student performance.
It can be overwhelming and the stakes are high. In PA, as in many other states, funding and punitive action is now determined by the evaluation of this data. Years of aggregate numbers can now be linked with individual teachers and administrators to stay on their “permanent records,” following them throughout their careers. Suddenly, all of those bright possibilities where teachers and educational leaders were working together to solve problems with this data now seem like a confusing maze of numbers, with a word association game that has you tossing quarters in a jar. Many smart and gifted educators are left feeling unprepared and too insecure to tackle the time-consuming and highly specialized task of dissecting and translating the numbers into something meaningful for the eyeballs staring up at them 45-90 minutes every day.
The art of data collection, implementation and analysis is its own skilled industry, with full-time professionals equipped with the training and skills to look at information and turn it into insights. Unfortunately, education and the data industries have yet to make solid friendships. Many schools go about the rigorous process of designing research and analyzing the results in-house, using professional development time, their own teaching staff and a few PowerPoint Presentations to guide them. Validity, organization and data integrity are put at risk when the enormity of such data tasks become relegated to a few hours here and there spread over 9 months and forgotten in the summer. It’s not a wonder, then, that educators are struggling to find value in this process; that the rumblings of yet another “data day” at school are enough to make any teacher double the coffee intake and bring the Ibuprofen.
When did we expect experts in education to also be experts in data, especially without support? When did we start believing that professionals in the data industry were better suited to millions of dollars in market research for the latest potato chip flavor, but weren’t needed for our most important endeavors as a society? When did a political campaign need a team of data experts more than a school district?
If we truly believe that data and education are now all-time associates, then we need to assign resources to making that happen. The opportunity is there for both the data industry and the education industry to team up and make some magic happen. It’s unrealistic for us to assume educators can tackle the growing data opportunities with only a few minutes of direction each year. We need those skilled data professionals to help educational communities master the data collection technologies they have, strategize the best implementation of research and help school leaders and teachers analyze the findings using the years of collective experience in both domains. We’ll never leave the link between data and education behind us, but maybe “education” and “RESULTS” can be the next word association of 2015.
Emilie A. O’Neal, M.Ed.
Academic Research Consultant, FieldGoals Academy
2015 January 8 by lori
When I began my career in 1982 at the Wholesale Credit department at Exxon Company, USA in Houston, TX it was before the time of catchy cultures and clever mission statements written by twenty something literary geniuses sucking on Blow Pops. Our brand tagline was simply “commitment to excellence” and it was carried through the ranks like a battered banner in the Revolutionary War – headlining annual meetings and italicized on every report in the bottom left hand corner, a symbol of strength and integrity. Unfortunately, we really didn’t comprehend what it meant, other than we were to do “good work”. Thanks to market research, that has changed for most companies through brand awareness and perception initiatives.
Brand Taglines clarify who you are and what you do – while Brand Essence sums up how your brand connects emotionally with your customers. Taglines allow you to stand out for one good, specific reason, far apart from commoditized competitors. On the consumer end, this rings true with low-involvement purchases: You’re at the store and remember you need trash bags. You also remember being on your hands and knees cleaning up coffee grounds after one ripped. You saw a commercial for more durable bags, but can’t remember the name. While you’re scanning your options, it hits you — “Don’t get mad — get Glad.” Voila, the commoditized selection gets personal.
Referring to a product’s name in the tagline can be a sound move if it’s done properly. It should directly tie a benefit to a product name in a memorable way (“Every kiss begins with Kay”). It should not merely say the name to take up space, as in Exxon’s old slogan, “We’re Exxon.” The only way that tagline could be worse for Exxon is if they mentioned the Exxon Valdez.
ENTER BRAND RESEARCH! Developing a brand is more than just deciding on a name, slogan or picking some colors. It is the summation of all you do and how you wish to be perceived. It’s derived from all your touch points with your customers and prospects. Developing a brand requires having a plan that consistently communicates what your company is and does, along with your distinct image, attributes and personality.
Getting to your brand identity is a collaborative process which begins with MARKET RESEARCH.
- Start by listening to your employees, customers and competitors and begin assessing your premise and the desired conclusion of the branding process.
- Investigate your current brand and the assets and image it brings to your organization. Learn from your INTERNAL team and your EXTERNAL clients (and competition) the perceptions (brand image) that your brand has in the marketplace, the position it has established and the promises it has made, kept and broken.
- Evaluate the desired conclusion and ask yourself about your strategic goals and what value the new brand should bring to reach those goals.
Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for it By Name
Meow meow meow meow … who remembers the catchy tune to which cats meowed in commercials for Meow Mix? Meow Mix released a simple but telling tagline, “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask For It By Name.” It plays off the fact that every time a cat meows, he/she is actually asking for Meow Mix! The tagline was clever and successfully planted Meow Mix as a standout brand in a cluttered market.
At FieldGoals.US, we conduct proprietary research, custom designed for YOUR BUSINESS based on hours of time spent with YOUR TEAM finding out what makes YOUR BRAND and YOUR CONSUMER tick. Call us. Become enlightened!
2014 June 4 by lori
Every morning for the past 6 months, prior to going into work, I visit our post office box to check for business mail and then pop right across the street to the McDonald’s drive-through to order my medium McCafe coffee with two creams and two sugars. This exercise is two-fold: one, to make sure I am personally using a product manufactured by one of our nearest and dearest clients – and two, to ingest the caffeine this 54-year-old, aging, formerly athletic, tired and cranky researcher needs in order to face the spreadsheets with the anticipated enthusiasm these same beloved clients deserve.
Let me remind you – I am a 54-year-old, 55+ older adult researcher. The lines are becoming rather blurred. McDonald’s was kind enough to reinforce this the other day when I picked up my coffee and the girl at the window took one look at me and said – “Oh, you should be getting the SENIOR discount!” – really? I LOOK like a senior now? ….please, be so kind as to bear with my rambling dissertation on growing old.
According to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070), these are a few of the awesome changes in our bodies we can expect as we get older:
Your cardiovascular system
As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.
Your bones, joints and muscles
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density — which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength and flexibility, and you might become less coordinated or have trouble balancing.
Your digestive system
Constipation is more common in older adults. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids and lack of exercise. Medications — such as diuretics and iron supplements — and certain medical conditions — such as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome — also might contribute to constipation.
Your bladder and urinary tract
Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) is common with aging. Medical conditions, such as diabetes, might contribute to incontinence — as can menopause, for women, and an enlarged prostate, for men.
URINARY INCONTINENCE? Wait, what????
Well you get the idea. You start to pee your pants and everything goes downhill from there. Or does it?
Back in my glorious 40’s I was in the best shape of my life. My kids were almost grown and my business was humming along, so I was able to work out at the gym every day, do a little tanning, have fabulous dinners with my friends and colleagues – and be in bed by 10PM every night. I thought I would look and feel this way forever.
Then 50 came.
First it was the little things – those pesky little lines around my eyes and mouth; the thinning of my already-skimpy hair; cosmetic things. But soon to follow were those big ticket items that turn a MILF into a GMNWF (figure it out geniuses.) Aches and pains that come and go – no sleep, hot flashes, memory blips, fog-headed, wearing CLARKS sandals with my high-waisted-pants kind of old! These are all true things that I have/am/do.
Enter Helen Fields’ article in Smithsonian Magazine (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/?no-ist) “What is so Good about Growing Old?”
Forget about senior moments. The great news is that researchers are discovering some surprising advantages of aging. Helen shares, “Even as certain mental skills decline with age—what was that guy’s name again?—scientists are finding the mind gets sharper at a number of vitally important abilities. In a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their cognitively taxing jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory and visual spatial processing. How so? They were expert at navigating, juggling multiple aircraft simultaneously and avoiding collisions.”
Subjects in their 60s were better than younger ones at imagining different points of view, thinking of multiple resolutions and suggesting compromises. People also learn how to deal with social conflicts more effectively. For a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Michigan presented “Dear Abby” letters to 200 people and asked what advice they would give.
“It turns out that managing emotions is a skill in itself, one that takes many of us decades to master. For a study published this year, German researchers had people play a gambling game meant to induce regret. Unlike 20-somethings, those in their 60s didn’t agonize over losing, and they were less likely to try to redeem their loss by later taking big risks. These social skills may bring huge benefits. In 2010, researchers at Stony Brook University analyzed a telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans and found that people over 50 were happier overall, with anger declining steadily from the 20s through the 70s and stress falling off a cliff in the 50s.”
Here at FieldGoals.US we take pride in our ability to analyze the 55+ market and advise our clients on the products and services they should be providing to address this ever growing (and emotionally stable!) group of consumers. Come along for the ride with us, would you? Growing up is not that bad! I got my coffee for 50 cents!
2014 March 10 by lori
“The science of psychology in traditional marketing research provides a great complement to what can be measured.” – Eric Bradlow, Professor of Marketing, Statistics and Education, Vice-Dean and Director of Wharton Doctoral Programs, and Co-Director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative
After all of these years proving ourselves, do we market research pioneers still have to explain why “doing your homework” pays off? – not only in ROI, but in long-term planning, futuristic opportunity and, of course – the almighty advertising dollar which is spent frivolously unless managed meticulously under the research microscope.
In an article published by the Wharton Digital Press, a case study on 3-D and its “failure to launch” exemplifies the disconnect between some manufacturers and real consumer needs – not just “want to haves” – but “must haves”. The launching part comes when consumers actually PURCHASE the product, not just say they want it or need it. The disconnect is due to the lack of controlled and intelligent market research in which a rich science of buyer psychology is embedded in design.
“It is a sad state of affairs. Market researchers [are] the ones holding up the light so we could see an otherwise dark world,” says Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader.(https://marketing.wharton.upenn.edu/profile/193/)
And indeed sad it was where, in the annals of product launches, the advent of 3-D TV won’t go down as a high point in consumer love-at-first-sight. “The product first drew hype, then modest sales. But after five years on the market, the format has stalled. One mass-market manufacturer, Vizio, announced with the new year that it has pressed the pause button on 3-D. Major content providers ESPN and the BBC have discontinued 3-D TV program development.”
The question – and the answer – lies in whether companies are still willing to invest the kinds of resources in the ambitious quantitative and qualitative research necessary TO UNEARTH MEANINGFUL ANSWERS. What happens more and more now, Fader notes, is “people say, ‘Let’s just try stuff and see what works.’ It’s a widely held belief that it has become much easier to test things IN market [i.e., by saying,] ‘Let’s put out our concepts and see what gets clicked on the most.’” That doesn’t help your engineers design what could have been the BEST. By conducting meticulous and uncluttered research and determining underlying drivers that cause people to click, we can develop better products and services.
And that, my friends, must be designed by RESEARCHERS who spend time, energy and academia studying psychological drivers and behaviors – not an intern in the marketing department moonlighting on Survey Monkey.
Part of the problem with research today is a lack of definition. Fader says, “I have a fairly crisp definition, which is assessing consumer preferences and attitudes. Basically you are doing surveys about what customers are thinking and making decisions on that basis. I don’t count any of the big data or data mining. That’s not market research – just the opposite!”
“Let’s marry what people are doing with what people are saying.”
The end of the tale is a sad one. But not unexpected if you work on the premise that ANY company no matter WHAT size MUST “do its homework” and conduct research to examine price points, competition, awareness and perceptions and myth from reality in a world of gimmicks and short sales cycles. “Analysts and trade press attending the International Consumer Electronics Show last year in Las Vegas delivered last rights to 3-D after Vizio dropped 3-D TV’s and instead began promoting ultra-high sound resolution ‘4K’ television sets.
There has been much consolidation in our industry but manufacturers and service providers alike are seeing the great value in boutique research firms offering fewer services and doing them very well. It is hard for clients to resist the “siren call” of the conglomerate consulting firms, but the merging of traditional market research wisdom with the raw muscle of big data will yield quantitative and qualitative riches.
2014 February 28 by lori
There is a fine balance – especially for non-profit, long-term care facilities – to stay in the black on the balance sheet while following core values, which often include taking care of our older adults who do not have the financial ability to “self-pay” for personal care or skilled nursing. Often, the discrepancy between what Medicaid reimburses and the cost to the facility does not encourage a great deal of advocacy on behalf of the facility itself. In Pennsylvania, our Governor would like that number to be increased or incentivized to encourage a larger percentage of bed usage from the Medicaid sector.
There are required quotas for state approved facilities.
Pennsylvania is a rapidly aging state: one in five residents is currently 60 years of age or older. By the year 2020, one in four Pennsylvanians will be age 60 or older. Two-thirds of nursing home residents are Medicaid patients, and the data show unreimbursed Medicaid costs in Pennsylvania will exceed $470 million this fiscal year. Dr. Stuart Shapiro, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, is one of many sounding the alarm. He and Genesis HealthCare Vice President Paul McGuire joined Smart Talk – a program sponsored by public radio station WITF in Harrisburg, PA – to talk about long-term care in the state.
Dating all the way back to 2001, when a comprehensive study of the Medicaid reimbursement system ‘s effect on the quality of long-term health care providers showed that an increase in Medicaid reimbursement improved quality as measured by professional staffing – the quandary over the necessary level of Medicaid reimbursement to nursing care facilities versus the level that incentivizes attention to improved care and a higher number of Medicaid admissions and lengths of stay – has been examined by our State and National lobbyists and legislators.
Just today, in the Bangor Daily News, lawmakers were reported to confront a difficult reality in the coming weeks: the state has been underpaying its [nursing homes] for years, and a bill pending before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee would give them a needed raise….in 2011, MaineCare — Maine’s version of Medicaid — paid the [homes] $29.4 million less than it cost them to care for their residents. To make up the difference, the homes shift the charges to the minority of residents who pay for care from their own assets or whose bills are paid by Medicare.
For private, not-for-profit retirement communities and CCRC’s the incentive to admit long-term Medicaid patients or to keep those who may or may not need to be held in excess of a rehab stay – does not exist. Meeting the minimum requirement makes the most financial sense in a world where most revenues are reinvested in the care of self-pay residents. Accounting meets altruism, and the CEOs and Chair people of the Board are caught in between.
“If we could reach people earlier with some limited home and community-based services, we could delay more people going into facilities,” said Brenda Gallant, Executive Director of Maine’s long-term care Ombudsman program.
“Maine’s Nursing homes will always be an important component of long-term care. But services should be available for all those who want to and can remain safely in their homes, be it adult day programming or help from an in-home aide. For taxpayers, those services are substantially cheaper than nursing home care. The federal government has an interest in paying for them through Medicaid.”
No matter what your party affiliation, there is one dynamic affecting not only our manufacturers and services providers, but also our long-term care facilities. America is aging – and we – as product and service providers – have an obligation to address all areas of need, especially healthcare. Here at FieldGoals.US we specialize in 55+ older adult research – and partner with long-term care providers to ensure preparation for your 1-year, 5-year – and beyond – plans to reach the ever-changing face of our aging nation.