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Erica Winters, Research Analyst, represented RMS at the Demystifying Content Marketing seminar hosted by Eric Mower & Associates, and presented by Matt Read. Below are the key takeaways for implementing a content marketing strategy.

  1. For optimal brand engagement and buy-in from consumers, marketers need to do several things. They need to tell a good story, get the audience engaged, and build a relationship. A consumer may be drawn in by a great story, but you need to provide engaging content to keep them interested, and you need to establish a relationship to get the consumer to continue engaging with your brand.
  1. There are three types of media – paid, owned, and earned. Paid media are advertisements that are bought. Matt used the example “it’s paying to put something somewhere.” Examples of owned media include a company website and a personal twitter feed. They’re managed by your company (or an individual). When marketers get it right, paid media and owned media result in earned media such as social network sharing and press coverage.
  1. If you’re doing it, you better be measuring it. You need to monitor performance to determine success and find areas of opportunity. When it comes to social media, shares are more important to monitor than followers and likes. Shares result in a much wider projection of content than a like or follow.
  1. Focus your business energy into a select suite of social media sites. You can’t do everything for everyone. It’s better to do a great job on one or two sites, than it is to be half as good on many. It all comes back to providing engaging and relevant content.
  1. The golden rule of social media content: for every one promotional post, you should implement three posts that are relevant and interesting to your audience, but not geared towards selling your product or services. Whether it’s for B2B or B2C, people do not want to be “sold to” all the time. They’re more interested in relevant resources, and being informed and entertained.

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 please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

In-depth interviews (IDIs) are an insightful qualitative research method that allows the researcher to tap into the mind of consumers. To keep costs down, many businesses choose to complete IDIs via telephone, rather than the more costly option of conducting the interviews in-person.  While telephone IDIs provide a cost advantage, the researcher loses the ability to read visual cues provided by the respondent when answering questions. Due to the inability to communicate face-to-face, there are extra steps that should be taken to ensure open-ended questions asked via telephone are transcribed effectively.


Here are four tips to transcribe open-ended responses:

  1. The importance of quality responses

Quality of data is more important than quantity. Ensure that the responses you are transcribing make logical sense. Also, don’t force a complete. If you notice that your respondent is not offering valuable information to the end client, feel free to stop the interview. There is no rule that says you have to finish every interview you start!

  1. Keep the responses clean

The RMS analytics team will go through and re-read every open-ended response, so we try to make sure all responses are free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Not having a consistent format and clean responses will lead to poor reporting or excessive data cleaning time.

  1. Probe for additional details

Suppose your respondent replies to a satisfaction question by stating, “It was good.” From here the researcher should follow up by asking the respondent why “it was good.” To be diligent about probing, we suggest always following up on questions where respondents provide three words or less. Best practices in research suggest that probing on open-ended questions leads to more in-depth responses, and ultimately provide the client with more rich data.1

  1. Record responses verbatim

The researcher should record responses as stated by the respondents. This means the researcher should be recording responses in first person. For example, instead of, “He feels the hours should be longer,” record, “I feel the hours should be longer.” Additionally, do not try to summarize the respondent’s comments, or use your own words to make responses more concise. Try to capture as much as you can from the respondent’s own words.

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, please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

1 Smith, S., & Albaum, G. (2012). Basic Marketing Research: Volume 1. Handbook for Research Professionals. Official Training Guide from Qualtrics. Retrieved from: https://www.du.edu/ir/pdf/basic_marketing_research_vol_1


It is common practice for market researchers to encourage participation in research studies by providing incentives. What many researchers struggle with is the decision to provide multiple incentives of a smaller value, or fewer incentives of a larger value, as well as, what type of incentive to offer. Which option will encourage optimal participation? Opinions vary on the best approach, but there are a couple tips to keep in mind when deciding which incentive strategy to utilize to encourage voluntary participation.

  1. Consider the Methodology

How are you gathering the data? Are you implementing a focus group, online survey, telephone survey, or in-depth interviews? Or perhaps you will use a mixed-mode approach. It’s important to be mindful of the differences in time commitment for each of these modalities, and be prepared to reward participants accordingly. For example, focus groups and in-depth interviews tend to take the most time to complete, and will therefore require a larger investment (in most cases) than a 5-minute online survey. An additional caveat to consider with focus groups is the travel time invested on the part of the participant. Unlike a survey respondent who can participate remotely via numerous electronic devices, a typical focus group participant must be physically present and responsible for their own transportation. This additional level of investment on behalf of the participant influences the incentive expectation.

  1. Consider the Content

Regardless of the research modality chosen, the content being requested from the participant will play a large role in response rate. If the content is perceived too personal for the incentive being offered, the response rate will drop. In that case, it will be critical to understand the incentive preferences of the target audience. More on that topic below.

  1. Consider the Audience

Do you know anything about the preferences of your audience? For example, a younger group of participants may find value in knowing that upon the completion of a survey, they will be guaranteed a free Redbox code which can be redeemed for a DVD rental, while an online survey targeting senior citizens may not find as much success with that approach. There are a myriad of incentive options available, from every gift card imaginable, to digital codes for Redbox and Amazon, product giveaways (such as the commonly used iPad giveaway), and good old fashioned cash. If you are in tune with your target audience, you may already have the data you need to determine which incentive is the optimal choice. Do you have demographic information such as age, gender, educational attainment, and current work status? Using available demographic information may allow you to make an educated inference into the preferences of your target audience.

  1. Consider Incentive Fees

Some gift cards require activation fees, and unless the incentive is in the form of a digital code that can be emailed, the incentive will require fees for postage and internal administrative costs to prepare the mailings. These costs can add up quickly depending upon the expected number of completions from the study, so it will be important to set aside a portion of the project budget to cover these expenses.

  1. Consider Experimenting

If your organization routinely conducts research, the best approach may be trial and error. Start with an incentive strategy that current knowledge of the audience suggests may be most valuable, and update accordingly. Consider experimenting with different types of incentives (cash, products, and gift cards), the value of the incentive, and number awarded. Here at RMS, we routinely conduct focus groups, online surveys, in-depth interviews, and telephone interviews, so we have been able to establish a general guideline that has proven effective for our clients. The golden rule of thumb, however, is that you must consider the research project holistically – the methodology, content, target audience, and project budget – when creating an incentive strategy. Taking the time to create an incentive plan appropriate for the target audience well before conducting fieldwork will set the stage for success.

If you’re interested in conducting a market research project, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 315-635-9802.

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) understands the significance of research panels. RMS created ViewPoint, its proprietary research panel, in order to have quick and easy access to research participants. Through the responses gained from ViewPoint, RMS helps clients respond to business opportunities. For information about joining, and the benefits to joining the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel, click here.

Use these 5 steps to set up a customer panel:

  1. Recruiting

Recruiting participants can be tough, especially when prospective participants question what is in it for them. One way to overcome this barrier is to offer an upfront incentive such as a coupon, discount, or gift card raffle. Also, make sure prospective participants understand the benefits of joining, such as more lucrative market research opportunities like focus groups, interviews, and mystery shopping (where the reward for participation tends to be higher than the reward for joining).

  1. Registration

This process should be quick and simple for an example check out the RMS ViewPoint sign up page here.  Make sure there is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page easily available. Consumers may not know or understand what a research panel is, or the benefits of joining. For an example of an FAQ page, check out what RMS uses for its ViewPoint Research Panel.

  1. Welcoming Members

Once members join, personally welcome and thank them for agreeing to participate in future research opportunities. This will also give you the opportunity to respond to any questions or concerns new members may have. Not only does RMS send new ViewPoint members a welcome email, but we also call each member to show our appreciation for new sign ups. It is important establish two-way communication when members sign up in order to continually give resources for more information should they have any additional questions.

  1. Getting Engaged

Members like to feel engaged right from the start. One way RMS accomplishes this is by requesting further demographic information after the initial signup. To show our appreciation for completing this step, each month RMS offers a $10 raffle entry to new members who complete the follow up survey. In addition to engaging our members, this gives RMS further insight into who is on our panel, which ultimately provides us with the ability to supply the demographic makeup of the panel to our prospective clients. After all, it is better to gain responses from the right audience – instead of just getting completes.

  1. Keeping Attention

It is important to keep the attention of your research panel members. Don’t let 60 days pass before reaching out to members or you will run the risk of having inactive members on your panel, or experience a drop-off (when people opt out of the panel). In both cases this ultimately leads to a lower response rate. Don’t lose sight of the end goal, which is good data!

If you are interested in discussing market research or how a client panel can benefit your company, contact Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) in Upstate NY.  You can reach us by calling 1-866-567-5422 or by emailing SandyB@RMSresults.com.

Through my time at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) and college, I have had my fair share of public speaking opportunities. These experiences have allowed me to witness great speeches, and not so great speeches. Here are three tips to help make your next speaking event successful.


  1. Know your speaking strengths

Speakers often have a style that works best for them. Knowing which type of public speaking you will be most comfortable with will make the presentation feel more natural. The four types of public speaking are manuscript, memorization, impromptu, and extemporaneous. In a manuscript speech, the presenter is able to read their speech off of a script. In a memorization speech, the presenter delivers their speech verbatim from memory after significant preparation time.  For an impromptu speech, the presenter does not prepare a script in advance. Impromptu speeches are common during competitive debates. Extemporaneous speeches are a mix between memorization and impromptu. This means that the presenter knows and understands the speech material, but left room to adjust their material as they see fit.

  1. Utilize graphics effectively

One of the most common mistakes people make when giving a speech has nothing to do with what the speaker is actually saying, but what images are behind them. PowerPoint, Prezi, and other presenting software are meant to add value to what you are saying – not distract from it. See the two examples below of presentation slides to see the difference between effective and ineffective use of graphics.

An example of a POOR PowerPoint slide:


Unprepared is the first thing that comes to mind when I saw this picture. Not only is this presenter breaking the rule of never turning your back to the audience, but the PowerPoint slide is not engaging. The text is too small, there are too many words on one slide, the background is distracting, and it is not at all aesthetically pleasing. This presenter forgot the golden rule of visual aids, which is that they should add value to what you are saying instead of helping you remember what to say.

An example of a GREAT PowerPoint slide:


iPod revenue growth is the first thing that comes to mind when I saw this picture, and I am sure that was Steve Jobs’ intention.  From this picture, I can tell that the speaker is communicating clearly to his audience. The slide draws your attention and is easy to comprehend. Visual aids like this help speakers more effectively engage and communicate with the audience, which is the whole reason to use them!

  1. Practice makes perfect – almost

The key to practicing is to do it just enough to look and sound prepared. Practicing will help speakers work out any unexpected speech issues. However, don’t overdo it. Over practicing could turn your extemporaneous speech into a memorization speech.

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 please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

I love secondary research. I employ the strategy of ‘if it exists, I can find it online’. I am always searching for new content for our clients online in the banking and finance, higher education, and in healthcare. One of the latest secondary research reports I came across in banking and finance was the Winning Through Customer Experience Report written by Ernst & Young. It is a global consumer banking survey conducted each year in which results are released and summarized.

Global Consumer Banking Survey

Here are my 5 key takeaways from this study:

  • Good customer experiences is vital to growth – Although overall financial stability is the number one reason people trust their financial institution (FI), “the way I am treated” was a close second. Other important elements of the customer experience (CX) and building trust included communications, quality of advice, and complaint handling. Quality of advice is a factor that RMS has been tracking over the years with our clients. More and more customers and members are expecting their financial institution to anticipate financial needs and recommend new products for them, working as almost a financial adviser to them.
  • Problems happen, financial institutions need to focus on the resolution experience – the report indicates that customers are expecting their financial institution to act as problem solvers to issues. It’s not the problem that matters but rather how the problem is handled. Our research at RMS has shown to confirm that problem resolution has the most significant impact on overall satisfaction with a financial institution. As the report indicates there is astounding upside if customers are satisfied with problem resolution and a downward spiral if they are dissatisfied. Banks and credit unions should place additional rigor and monitor these outcomes.
  • A struggle for differentiation – Although 60% of respondents do not have plans to open or close any accounts with their financial institution in the next 12 months, the report explains this cannot be interpreted as loyalty. Nearly one-quarter (22%) indicated that all financial institutions are the same and 17% stated it was too difficult or time-consuming to change. The time-consuming switch of FIs follows suit with research conducted by RMS in the past. Many view the process of switching FIs as too challenging which typically results in low customer churn among institutions. Many clients have employed “switch agents” or “switch liaisons” to help customers with this process of switching bills, automatic payments, accounts, etc. to reduce the time needed to make a change.
  • Convenience and trust trump all other factors when choosing a bank or credit union – The blue (convenience) and yellow (trust) diamonds perform high on both importance to a customer and satisfaction with that factor from their financial institution. ‘Keeping financial information safe’ and ‘protecting financial information’ are must haves which is why many FIs have adopted HIPAA-like policies. Looking for factors to help differentiate your bank or credit union from the competition? Choose the factors with high importance and low aggregate satisfaction (e.g., ‘is transparent about what they charge for and makes it clear to you how to avoid paying fees’ and ‘communicates important information clearly’.) If you can perform well on these two factors you will be ahead of the majority of your competitors.
Bank Importance vs. Satisfaction

Click to enlarge – pic taken from EY.com report comparing importance of factors compared to satisfaction with same factors

  • Segmentation is the key to understanding your customers and responding to opportunities – Many clients have undergone efforts to segment their customer base. Segments share common behaviors, expectations, preferences, and therefore solutions. It also assists with future targeted and niche strategies for new customers or members. This report sub-divided 32,000 respondents into 8 global segments: (1) self-sufficients, (2) balancers, (3) safety seekers, (4) new world adopters, (5) unhappy and unmovings, (6) elites, (7) traditionalists, and (8) upwardly mobiles. These segments can be analyzed by preferences and behaviors as well as traditional demographics such as gender, age, education, income, assets, etc.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm that specializes in banking and credit union market research. We are based out of Syracuse, NY but we have clients across the country. If you are interested in talking more about potential market research and surveys with our firm contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Business Presentation

This is Part 2 of our series on successful focus group implementation. Review Part 1 tips here.

  1. Moderating Approach

The skill of the moderator can make or break the focus group. It’s best to hire a professional who has experience managing the dynamics of a focus group. It’s not uncommon for discussions to go off topic, and a good moderator will know how to get the group back on track. They’ll also be able to probe on topics that may not be explicitly stated in the moderator’s guide, but are brought up during discussion. Here are a few other tips that we routinely implement in our focus groups to maximize participation.

  • When possible, have a co-moderator present to help set up, sign participants in, and take notes. If the project requires confidentiality, ask participants to sign a confidentiality agreement, or verbally reinstate the need for confidentiality.
  • Ask participants to use the restroom and turn off electronic devices before getting started to minimize outside distractions.
  • Provide name cards for participants and moderators. We like to start with an ice breaker such as “What is your favorite TV show” or something equally light-hearted and non-controversial.
  • Inform participants (again) if you will be recording the focus group, and the level of confidentiality they can expect from their participation. Most of our recordings are used to generate transcripts, and we do not include full names in the reports.
  • Once the discussion is complete, have the co-moderator assist with distributing honorariums and obtaining signatures for the receipt of those rewards. Also be sure to label any notes obtained from the moderator and participants immediately following the discussion to avoid confusion during data analysis.
  1. Getting the Most Out of Your Data

Once the focus group discussions are complete, the fun part begins – data analysis! Not all focus groups will require full transcription of the discussions, so it is important to determine if it will be necessary to include an allotted amount in the project budget. A typical transcription will take approximately twice the amount of time it took to conduct the focus group. So a 90-minute discussion would take about three hours to transcribe. For groups where transcription is not necessary, moderator and participant notes will be utilized to complete the analysis. Below is a high-level summary of the data analysis procedures for a focus group.

  • First, the researcher will review all notes or transcripts to determine codes for major themes that exist across the focus groups.
  • Sub-categories of themes that emerge will then be determined.
  • Direct quotes will be pulled to support the themes and key findings.
  • If other modes of research were conducted, the findings from the focus groups can be triangulated to provide a basis for an executive summary in the final report. For example, if a theme from the focus groups aligns with a finding from an online survey, it would be important for the researcher to note this in the executive summary.

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 please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


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