When budgets get tight and businesses need to get answers fast, many will immediately jump to a survey or other form of quantitative design. Decision-makers just don’t have the time to wait for a lengthy process of in-depth interviews (IDIs), focus groups, or shop-alongs. The trade-off of a lengthier and more in-depth study does not outweigh the need to have data quickly, but like anything in business, more preparation and more attention put to the beginning of a process will almost always pay huge dividends at the end.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Quantitative vs. Qualitative is the classic left vs. right brain clash. But instead of picking a side in research, why not use both?

Enter Qualitative Research or the prototypical right side of your brain. Qualitative research often gets a bad rap for being creative-heavy and scientific-light. Therefore it goes over-looked and is viewed as too expensive for its return. Although it is often cut out of the research design in order to jump right into a survey (face it, a new hotel isn’t going to be approved for financing based on two focus groups of 6 people each), using exploratory methodologies before measuring reaps many rewards for the research team and the client. To use a baseball analogy, qualitative research is the really good set up reliever out of the bullpen that gives the flashy closer a chance to earn a save. If you don’t have a good bullpen to set up your closer, you won’t even have a chance to earn a save and a win for your team.

What are the benefits to using qualitative research before quantitative research?

  • Qual provides an avenue to dig deeper and ask whyAs with any good exploratory research, this conversational methodology allows for additional communication between the researcher and the “researchee” (I just made that up). Simple answers can be probed on, examined, and underlying drivers and factors can often be uncovered through qualitative research. As an example, quantitative research would provide you with data stating your most recent laundry detergent purchase was Tide. Qualitative research would provide you with reasons behind your Tide purchase such as noticing laundry detergent on the end cap, comparing the cost of Tide to other detergents in-aisle, and remembering a television commercial talking about the new stain defender technology. Or you just really like the color orange, who knows? Whatever it may be, it will be uncovered using qual.
  • Qual provides an opportunity to be collectively exhaustive through response lists in a follow-up survey. By asking open-ended questions through qualitative research you’ll be able to identify common answer themes from respondents. As a survey writer you can then take those themes and compile the question into an aided response structure to limit the number of open-ends in a survey, which will take the respondent less time to complete and improve the survey experience. We’ve spoken about that here on the Bunker Blog.
  • Qual examines issues and strengths to further address in a quantitative forum. In some instances, when you go directly to quant you miss the opportunity to be exhaustive with your research efforts. Oftentimes, good research leads to more questions than answers. Believe it or not and as odd as that sounds, it often rings true. Your first research project is more of a starting point for answers than an end point. By jumping the gun directly to quant, it does not provide your team with the opportunity to re-address and uncover new ideas. For instance, if you launch a major survey and a reoccurring theme for dissatisfaction is customer service, there’s no going-back to dig deeper. In truth there’s always a way to go back but it’s not efficient or budget friendly. However, if you conducted qual first, you would have been able to uncover issues with customer satisfaction and included a series of questions in the survey to get more measurable ratings on specific aspects of that experience (waiting time, friendliness, knowledge, etc.).
  • Qual offers time to digest, reexamine, and refocus the research. Here at RMS, we use the “break” period between qualitative and quantitative research to refocus our efforts. I say “break” in quotations because that can last as little as a day (or less). What it does do however, is give the entire team an opportunity to reassess objectives for the quantitative study. Are we headed down the right path? Do we need to rethink next steps? Are we addressing the right content for the survey? Are there any new ideas we want to explore? This check-point allows time to digest all of this information.

With all of these benefits stated, in some instances it is still appropriate to cut out qualitative research and go directly to quantitative. In what instances is that true? A situation like a tracker study where the first wave of the survey has already been designed and you are looking to benchmark data, government standardized surveys where wording and answer choices cannot be customized, or situations where hard data is needed almost immediately with no wiggle room on budget or timeframe. If you know 100% of your clientele purchase your product solely because its color is orange, it may be appropriate to pass on qual, and even quant, or maybe even research in general.

Thanks for reading my post. To connect with me on LinkedIn click here or to follow me on Twitter click here. If you are interested in conducting a qualitative or quantitative research project with our firm contact our Business Development Director at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). Sandy Baker can be reached at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

What does the healthcare industry have in common with the financial industry?

Answer: HIPAA policies

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enacted in 1996 is no longer affecting just the healthcare industry and its business associates. In fact, many industries have started to adopt policies similar to HIPAA in order to keep consumer information secure.

According to Karen Buesing and Elizabeth Hodge of JD Supra Business Advisor, healthcare providers and business associates that store or process protected health information (PHI) face increased scrutiny and significant fines for data privacy breaches and security lapses. In fact, in the past 12 months, the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has recovered more than $10 million in fines for alleged violations of HIPAA.

The graph below shows the 10 largest health data (HIPAA) breaches prior to July 15, 2014. Not only does it detail the company responsible and the millions of patients’ affected, but also what the company did to commit a HIPAA violation.


10 Largest Health Data (HIPAA) Breaches

A financial company working with RMS recently asked for information about how we handle HIPAA policy violations. RMS has streamlined our HIPAA policy to create an overriding company policy for data breaches for all clients, demonstrating collaboration to align client needs and expectations beyond the healthcare industry.

Prior to this, RMS Healthcare had HIPAA policies in place due to The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HITECH Act requires OCR to apply HIPAA rules and regulations to business associates to ensure patients’ PHI is secure.

Why are non-healthcare related companies adopting HIPAA policies?

Answer: Because consumer data, like healthcare data, is worth a significant amount of money on the black market. Furthermore, fines for not securing private information are high.

In a previous post, we found that Stephen Boyer, Chief Technology Officer of BitSight Technology, said patient’s electronic medical records sell for about $20, while credit card data sells for about $1 per card on the black market. This is a contributing factor to why HIPAA breaches happen so frequently in the healthcare industry and consequences are high.

How can I create policies and procedures to protect clients and customers in order to ensure their security and prevent breaches?

Answer: Please contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) at SusanM@rmsresults.com or telephone her at 1-866-567-5422.

RMS Healthcare is a division of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) that specializes in HIPAA Compliance Training. For more information about our team and our services visit the RMS Healthcare page here. Please contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at SusanM@rmsresults.com or telephone her at 1-866-567-5422 for additional information.


With the growth of patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and the advent of payment reform, care managers are expected to serve an increasing role in managing high risk patients. According to a recent Healthcare Intelligence Network survey care managers in patient-centered medical homes have grown by 20% in the last two years alone. Long-term transformation and healthcare delivery system reform will rely on the work of care managers within the primary care practice to achieve the goals of measurably improving the health of patient populations, controlling costs, such as avoidable hospital use, and more satisfied and engaged patients. Care managers are responsible to initiate, facilitate, and monitor specific patient activities, interventions and chronic care protocols that will become the patient’s care plan. The role of care managers can be summarized in four tasks. To accomplish the goals and objectives for optimal health, the care manager will work in collaboration with the patient and other members of the patient’s care team.

4 Tasks of a Care Manager

Here are the 4 tasks of a care manager:

  • The first task of a care manager is to identify or target high risk patients within the practice that could benefit from care management support. This can be accomplished through the use of technology, analyzing data available through the electronic medical record, or by information supplied from payers. In addition, the practice’s own providers are often a source for determining the most complex patients that would benefit from coordination of services and care management. These sources can often easily identify those patients with the largest utilization of services such as those with frequent office visits, hospitalization, or emergency room visits who would likely benefit from care management support.
  • The second task of a care manager is to perform a thorough assessment of the patient’s and caregivers needs and determine the patient’s goals for improving health. The assessment will review the patient’s clinical history and diagnoses as well as functional, cognitive, and mental health status. Ultimately this assessment will lead to establishment of the patient’s custom care plan. The process of assessment should result in the patient being engaged in determining his or her short and long-term goals and collaborating to determine the actionable objectives and any barriers to meeting specific measurable quality outcomes based on his or her values and preferences. The plan should be developed with both the abilities and aspirations of the patient and/or caregiver and should consider any applicable factors related to the patient’s and/or caregiver’s culture and preferred language. The plan should identify and prioritize the patient’s problems, specifically address quantifiable goals to the problem(s), and outline mutually agreed upon activities to meet the goals. Timelines and methods for monitoring the progress toward the goal should be detailed. The plan should then be given to the patient and/or caregiver in writing. Training and education to the patient and/or caregiver is essential to the success of the plan. The care manager is responsible for self-management support. Patients need to be reminded of their importance in the process and be prepared for their collaborative role in the decisions needed for self management. The care manager should always consider that what they are promoting is the patient’s happiness.
  • The third task of a care manager is to put the plan into action by assisting in delivering any needed interventions including education, referrals to both specialists and community resources and required testing. Community resource needs may include psycho-social support, accommodations for transportation, or auxiliary aids and other community services. The care manager should have a toolkit for facilitating referrals which could include standard forms for access to available county resources and copies of co-management agreements with frequently referred to providers. In addition, the care manager must be certain that all labs, screenings, and specialist reports are available within the patient’s record at the time of each visit. The care manager will work with the patient to use self-management monitoring tools, where applicable.
  • The fourth important task of a case manager is, in collaboration with the patient, to continually reassess and adjust the plan where needed to be certain the interventions have been effective in moving the patient toward their goals. The progress can be assessed with the patient and, where applicable with the caregiver, at each encounter and/or at agreed upon milestones, but at least annually. Any barriers to meeting the plan goals should be reviewed, and adjustments made to keep the patient on track. Updates to the plan may need to be made as progress toward goals is achieved, as circumstances change, or when barriers are encountered.

Assisting patients in achieving their healthcare goals, through care management activities, will ensure sustainability of practice transformation and achievement of triple-aim goals. RMS Healthcare, with over 50 years of collective and proven experience in providing consulting services to our clients is pleased to provide ongoing relevant information on healthcare trends and specific transformation activities to serve our clients. For more information on how we can help your practice with practice transformation or care management activities, please contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at SusanM@rmsresults.com or telephone her at 1-866-567-5422.

The RMS Analytics Division works with two very different audiences and it is imperative that it tailors each message accordingly. One audience is businesses, which need clear-cut professional messages. Our Analytics Division provides tailored market research and consulting in various industries such as healthcare, education, financial services, manufacturing, and others. Another audience is ViewPoint members, which need creative and intriguing messages. Our ViewPoint research panel is made up of consumers who get paid for participating in focus groups, surveys, mystery shopping, and interviews. The goal of our ViewPoint panel messages for consumers are to get people to sign-up for the panel, whereas our message for businesses is to attempt to generate interest in using ViewPoint for their market research needs.

What are the benefits of using a market research panel for businesses? Click here.

Tips for Marketing to Businesses (B2B)

  • Professional – B2B messages differ from B2C. In many cases you are marketing to corporate decision-makers so your language needs to be tailored appropriately. It isn’t a stand-up comedy show. Although it’s your goal to be noticed, you don’t want to be noticed for the wrong reason or tarnish your brand.
  • Length may vary – Create messages without readers being underwhelmed or overloaded. To do this effectively, plan messages to give business prospects the appropriate amount of information. For instance, healthcare readers are used to more information and more detail so it’s okay to elaborate. But if you are marketing to advertising firms you need to make your message short, appealing, and graphical. Each audience has different tastes.
  • Modify language depending on industry – Do your research on the client and their industry to learn where they go for information (maybe even use a market research vendor like RMS). Also, be well versed on frequent communication strategies for that industry. Use language that is used by others.
  • Be specific - Use or create relevant examples from your portfolio to show potential clients what you could do for them, and how it would be useful. This can be done through client testimonial campaigns or even case study blog posts. We know a little bit about those.
  • Sell – Ultimately, your B2B message first needs to catch readers’ attention and stand out. But then, your message needs to end with a call-to-action. Click here to send an inquiry, click here to read more, call this number, or send us an email, etc. See this example from RMS’s LinkedIn page:

B2B Marketing

Tips for Marketing to Consumers (B2C)

  • Creativity When it comes to consumers, you are allowed to be a little more creative and flexible. Create messages that will grab their attention and keep it by engaging them.
  • Include photos - Photos increase the readership and engagement in messages. Using infographics, photos, or other visuals is a simple trick that will get you more clicks from consumers. No one wants to read boring paragraphs.
  • Short - Get to the point. End.
  • Create enthusiasm – Make consumers excited and motivated by your communication. Give them an option to take a next step, participate further, and even share with friends after they’ve had an experience.
  • Appeal to the masses – With any messages you share online and through social media, your ultimate goal is to make it go viral, trend on Twitter, or be shared on Facebook. More views equal more impressions. See this example from RMS’s Facebook page:

B2C Marketing Tips

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services or better targeting your B2B or B2C marketing please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

The following article is a case study of a recently completed hotel feasibility study.

Background: A local restaurant and banquet facility recently partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies Inc. (RMS) to conduct a feasibility study to support its business plan in order to receive financial support to construct and operate an adjacent hotel on its property. The hotel would be parallel to the business and restaurant allowing for easy access between the two facilities. Key objectives of this study included:

  • Conducting an assessment to determine how the hotel will fulfill unmet needs.
  • Determining estimate daily occupancy and average rates.
  • Competitive analysis of hotels in the market area of similar type and size.
  • Demographic data.

Here are 5 key components to a quality feasibility study from a market research firm.

Hotel Feasibility Firm

Need a hotel feasibility firm? Contact Sandy Baker at RMS by dialing 1-866-567-5422.

Approach: Due to budgetary and timeframe constraints, three components of market research were conducted to test the viability of the adjacent hotel: (1) in-depth interviews (IDIs), (2) competitive and demographic analysis, and (3) a 3 year pro-forma financial forecast. RMS conducted 12 IDIs with economic leaders, hospitality groups, and large businesses in the area that use hotels in the area on a regular basis for various reasons to understand market opinions related to the demand and value of building the hotel. Interviews were conducted with key decision-makers for travel in the area. The competitive and secondary research assessed the defined primary market area (PMA) demographics. The overview detailed the scope of surrounding competitive and non-competitive businesses, population growth, travel trends, occupancy rates, average daily rates, consumer expenditures, income, and other key demographic trends in the region. The third and final component created an estimated operational budget prepared by RMS.

Results: At the conclusion of the study, the RMS Analytics team prepared a PowerPoint report which included a summary of key findings, recommendations, and action items derived from both stages of the market research. There was regular interaction with the designated representatives and the RMS team throughout the project engagement. The report was an extensive breakdown of feedback from the IDIs and statistics from the analysis to predict the feasibility of the hotel. Ultimately, the feasibility study arrived at a conclusion for a green light for the hotel with several factors that would influence the success of the venture.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a hotel feasibility firm located outside of Syracuse, NY. We specialize in feasibility studies for a variety of industries. If you’d like to know more about RMS and our capabilities please contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

The following blog post is a case summary for a recently completed project with Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) in Syracuse, NY. RMS is a brand and branding research firm. We use data and insights to steer your brand and campaign in the right direction.

Background: Recently, a regional design and build firm partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies Inc. (RMS) to better understand brand features and benefits of its organization. This branding research involved interviewing current and past clients, as well as understanding needs and wants from non-clients. The market research served as an overall re-branding and strategic planning input project for the firm.

Branding research firm

Need a branding research firm? Call RMS at 1-866-567-5422.

Approach: Component 1 was exploratory research using in-depth interviews (IDIs) with key clients; Component 2 was online survey research with all current and past clients; and Component 3 was telephone survey research with non-clients.

  • First using exploratory research in Component 1, RMS conducted 12 IDIs with current and past clients of the firm who had varied experiences with the organization. Interviewee lists in tiered priorities were provided to RMS by the firm.
  • For Component 2, a multi-mode online and telephone survey was used to complete a total of 39 surveys with current and past clients of the firm representing a 39% response rate. A list of a total of approximately 100 potential respondents was sent to RMS for the online study. An initial email was sent from the firm to potential respondents to make them aware of the importance of the survey before invites were sent by RMS. Those who participated in the Component 1 in-depth interviews (IDIs) were removed from this component. RMS incurred a total of five attempts to reach respondents. The survey lasted approximately 5 to 7 minutes for respondents.
  • For Component 3, a similar survey script was used for a 5 to 7 minute telephone survey targeting non-clients in the market area as determined by the firm. RMS purchased random business sample of organizations with at least 6 employees or more. Respondents were offered a $25 honorarium as a thank you for participating in this research. RMS collected a total of 75 non-client survey completes from this third and final component

Findings: Here are a few key takeaways from the branding research:

  • Opinions about using one firm for all aspects of a building project versus multiple firms were mixed. The appeal of the firm’s current integrated approach varied, largely depending on the nature of the client and of the project itself. A number of interviewees said there were inherent advantages and disadvantages to using one firm for all aspects of a project. During the survey portion, 89% stated they would prefer to use one firm for a building project because of cost savings and the opportunity for more supervision and control of the process.
  • Top-of-mind awareness of the design and build firm was low. Online search proved to be a significant source of information and awareness for prospective clients. Word-of-mouth and personal referrals are the preferred ways of learning about building firms. Much of the firm’s current identity was strongly tied to being a firm with multiple capabilities/divisions. Satisfaction levels with each of the firm’s divisions was generally high.
  • Broadly speaking, most were looking for a combination of proven expertise in the field and a firm that they could build a strong relationship with based on communication, personal rapport with key contacts, and trustworthiness. When prompted clients stated they were looking for firms that had high accessibility for communication and also affordability of services.

If you are interested in using branding research to help guide your brand or new campaign please contact Sandy Baker, our Business Development Director at RMS via SandyB@RMSresults.com or by dialing 1-866-567-5422.

Social media is a great method of outreach if you know how to use it.  Many businesses utilize social media because it is a cheap and easy way to connect with consumers. However, some companies do not know what they should and should not include on their social media pages. As a result they decide to never start on social media, or start but stay away as much as possible. Put these five tips in your social media tool kit before you aim to get thousands of likes and followers.

1. Set Goals

This sounds simple, but it helps you understand what expectations should be. A lot of your success with social media would depend on the audience you are trying to target. For instance, you should know what the most popular social media website for this specific audience is, how many times would they visit this website, and what type of messages work best for that audience.  A social media assessment can help you with that.

You could arbitrarily set a goal. For example to increase “Likes” on Facebook by 20 percent by the end of this month.  Or, you could analyze competing business’ social media efforts and set a more feasible goal. Once you have set your goal, check out Facebook Analytics. This will help you understand what times are best to send out messages to the users, what messages received the most coverage, as well as other useful information.

2. Increase Credibility

Credibility is particularly important in social media. In order to present your business in a viable manner make sure everything on your page is business related. All posts should connect with your professional efforts. However, this does not mean you cannot have fun and be creative. Some ways RMS has done this is by:

Posting fun photos of employees:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.09.25 AM

Participating in trends:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.14.28 AM

Posting about events happening in the area:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.11.50 AM

 Efforts like these help add a “face” to your business and often generate the most hits.

3. Pull Responses

The prep work for this is easy to complete, but actually getting responses is difficult to achieve.  All you have to do to get started is to give users an opportunity to start a conversation. For example you could do something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.22.57 AM

4. Follow Up

Once you open the lines of communication respond quickly with accurate information. Furthermore, consider sending direct messages to users who like your page, like posts, or follow you by sending them a simple thank you note. This is also a great opportunity to include a quick plug about your business, and to provide them with resources to seek out additional information. Even if issues come up on social media, it provides you an opportunity to address it immediately. Even more importantly, others can see you were reasonable, responsible, and professional. Below is a review on Facebook from a ViewPoint Panel member, which RMS quickly responded to.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.57.52 AM

 5. Reward Customers

You may be wondering why many people have not liked your page or posts thus far. One way to increase your numbers is to create an incentive to come to your page. Many businesses offer exclusive coupon codes that give customers a reason to visit its page. For example, you could offer a code for 10% off an order.

Another way to reward customers is to create your own contest or challenge by having customers complete a task in order to get a reward. This could be as simple as asking customers to post a photo of themselves using your product or service to your page. Then, the customer with the best photo wins $50. This is an easy way to get awesome promotional efforts out to current and potential consumers. Below is an example from a post on RMS’s Refer-A-Friend Challenge.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.48.42 AM

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more social media tips contact our Director of Business Development Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


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