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The following post was written by Maggy Stewart, Graphic Designer and Marketing Coordinator at RMS.

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It’s a common question, we hear it all the time from clients: how do we market to (and actually captivate) millennials – the now largest generation in the U.S. workforce? Stumble upon any informative, well known business website today and you’re bound to see an article dissecting the new “It” generation: the millennials. According to Time Magazine, the notorious generation has finally taken over the American labor force, and is expected to surpass the Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in the United States. And with such a large target (75.4 million people, according to Pew Research), marketers figured they couldn’t miss. But as more and more millennials came into the market with impressive (and unnoticed) purchasing power, marketers struggled even more to understand them. But why the disconnect? A lot of brands out there are continuing to sell the traditional “get married, buy a house, start a family” agenda, because that’s what older generations based a lot of their spending upon. Those tactics aren’t hooking millennials, and that’s an issue because millennials are buying, they just buy differently than marketers are familiar with.

Not only are millennials’ spending habits different, but they’re so offbeat from previous generations’ that they’re completely misunderstood. This is mainly because they’re approaching adulthood in a contrasting way when compared to their older counterparts. So why the sudden shift? One reason is the economy and the scars left behind following the recession. Milestones of adulthood—purchasing a home, tying the knot, having children—are simply not as feasible anymore, hence the delay. In addition to the economic issues, millennials grew up in a truly evolving world where options for anything were endless, in turn paving the avenues for many “adulting” alternatives. Brand strategists and marketers need to consider the fact that this powerful generation was raised in a world of choice—some moved out of mom and dad’s years ago, but became adults based on their own terms, not tradition. This is the largest population to date and some of them just graduated high school. “Brands need to stop waiting for millennials to ‘grow up’ and fall in line with what past generations have done. A lot of them already have; it just looks different than it did in the past. Brands and marketers need to shift and adapt to this reality, instead of waiting for one that won’t come true,” warns Patrick Spenner, a Forbes Contributor.

So what’s a brand strategist to do? For starters, acknowledge their lifestyles and figure out how to “amplify their reality,” writes Spenner. Market the values that drive them, not the ones that deter them: focus on social groups, not life stages. You also need to consider the medium to which you’re trying to reach them. Eighty-five percent of millennials own smartphones (according to Entrepreneur), so naturally your most aggressive marketing strategy should come from a mobile platform. Optimize your landing pages, improve your loading times, be blunt with your call to action, and then get creative. And finally, you need to be engaging. Ninety-five percent of millennials cite friends as the most trusted source of product information (according to Entrepreneur). Build a customer base of brand evangelists and you’ll see your notoriety skyrocket more than it ever did with a print ad or Facebook post. “The best way to get your message heard among millennials is to have millennials themselves spreading the word,” writes Sujan Patel, Entrepreneur contributor. As a takeaway, consider these as preemptive tactics; even if millennials aren’t part of your target audience right now, they will be soon. Very soon. Adapt now, or forever hold your peace.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: An organization that creates outdoor gardening products partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a product perception study. The client wanted to test the market perception of several new product concepts. The market research objectives were to (1) evaluate awareness of the product, (2) learn the shopping habits of target consumers, (3) measure the interest of each new product concept, (4) determine the anticipated price of each concept, and (5) obtain feedback regarding features that are most liked and/or features that need improvement.

Approach: The study consisted of a five minute online survey sent to RMS ViewPoint Research Panel members. The RMS ViewPoint Research Panel is representative of both the United States population and Central New York in particular, an area with a long history as one of the nation’s top test markets. The RMS Analytics team developed the 31-question survey in consultation with the client. The survey covered various topics which gauged shopping habits, current product awareness, new product interest, anticipated price, and most/least preferred features. Survey results allowed the RMS team to identify key consumers and segment the data by consumer group throughout the report. Fieldwork lasted approximately two weeks, with a total of 487 responses collected. After the completion of fieldwork, RMS provided the client with an in-depth report that included a dashboard, executive summary, data tables which highlighted responses from key consumers, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results (A few highlights of the study’s findings):

  • As a result of survey responses provided, the RMS Analytics team identified target consumers as those who currently own products similar to those tested and are likely to make purchases of comparable products in the future.
  • The data revealed which product was favored by respondents and why that concept was more preferable than the other concepts tested.
  • Features that were most and least preferred were identified to provide the client with the insight needed to make design alterations and message enhancements before producing the product.
  • The research revealed an anticipated cost to determine a competitive price point for each new product concept.
  • Overall feedback was gathered and analyzed which provided the client with the direction needed to produce the ideal product and market it effectively.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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Recently, I attended the Central New York (CNY) Sales & Marketing Executives (SME) Valuable Sales & Lessons Techniques event. The event featured veterans from the sales industry who revealed key lessons from their professional experiences. Although I work in market research, it’s evident that these best practices are transferable to other industries. Below are three key takeaways learned from sales industry veterans that any businessperson will find useful.

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  1. Put customer’s interests first

The forefront goal in business is to make your clients happy. By putting your clients’ interests first, you can think strategically about how your organization can solve their most pressing issues. In my opinion, the most successful businesses combine creativity, innovation, and hard work to “wow” clients.

  1. Make everyone else happy

Once you’ve made your clients happy, be sure your employees are satisfied too. Make sure your company offers employees the resources needed to create the best work possible. This will help make the organization an enjoyable and rewarding place to work. Employee satisfaction is crucial to creating a more cohesive brand and stronger company identity. Measuring employee satisfaction is a great way to benchmark overall satisfaction and anonymously identify areas of success and opportunity.

  1. Use social media

Social media platforms are often used by clients to learn more about an organization and its leaders before engaging in a business relationship. Of course a prospective client will look at your website, but they may also look your company up on Google and be directed to visit your business’ Facebook page, Twitter account, or Instagram profile. These social networks often give an inside look into the culture of an organization, allowing prospective clients to gain an initial view of your business before an official conversation has begun. Be present and strategic when posting on social media, knowing that it feeds consumers’ mindsets. When used effectively, organizations can see great results from its social media efforts.

About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a full service marketing and market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS provides an array of research methodologies that result in actionable insights and recommendations for the client to enhance decision making. RMS is also home to QualiSight, a premier focus group and interview research facility, and RMS ViewPoint, a leading consumer research panel in Central New York. To learn more, visit our website at: RMSresults.com.

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The following blog post was written by Alexis Smith, Intern at RMS.

 

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With over 400 million users, LinkedIn is the top professional social networking site and provides individuals and organizations with invaluable networking resources. Used correctly, LinkedIn can enhance organizations from both B2B and B2C viewpoints.

Here are four reasons to why it’s essential for organizations to have a LinkedIn page.

1. Transparency

Similar to other social networking sites, LinkedIn allows businesses to create a page and share updates. Posting on LinkedIn allows organizations to raise awareness of initiatives, and encourage professional networking with current and potential followers. LinkedIn users are able to “follow” organizations of interest. Followers are notified when the organization shares a status update, blog post, job posting, and more – much like Facebook.

2. Exposure

Your organization’s LinkedIn page will gain you access to individuals you may not reach on other social networks. In fact, nearly two-thirds of users have found that LinkedIn has helped with researching and validating people and organizations. This provides the company with a great professional networking tool.

3. Expansion

LinkedIn is essential for small to medium sized businesses that are looking to expand their clientele or business as a whole. With millions of users, LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to stay connected, engaged, and up-to-date. LinkedIn allows you to promote your content with targeted advertising approaches – whether it be to recruit a new employee, or reach prospective clients.

4. Access to new talent

If an organization needs a role filled, employers can view individuals’ profiles and connect with them. This provides recruiters with the ability to view potential employees’ job history, recommendations, education, areas of interest, connections, and more. LinkedIn is becoming a recruitment hub – where some companies are finding it more effective to find new talent than hiring a recruitment company or posting a web advertisement.

To stay up to date with all of the latest RMS news and information:

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RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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Now that we’re settling into the first quarter of 2016, we are setting our sights on identifying industry trends to determine client priorities for the year ahead.  In working with our growing roster of higher education clients, our team has noticed a shift in the education landscape towards revitalization and streamlining strategies to accommodate the changing needs of stakeholders. Through our research and interactions with clients, we’ve compiled a list of trends that we believe will be part of the higher education space going forward in 2016.

  1. Revisiting Recruitment Strategies

Marketing Mix: It’s no secret that today’s students are immersed in a digital lifestyle. That has led many institutions to investigate or implement digital strategies aimed at attracting and retaining top-notch students. Ruffalo Noel Levitz conducted a poll in 2015 to determine the communication preferences of high school students and parents with institutions. Interestingly, they noticed a preferential shift towards direct mail by college students compared to 2011. This finding led them to conclude that institutions should develop and deploy a mix of recruitment strategies – digital and print. Noel Levitz suggests that students may prefer to receive college information via direct mail, but they are unlikely to respond through the same medium. Instead, the goal should be to entice the prospective student to visit the college website for further information. It will be important for institutions to examine their current suite of marketing strategies to ensure they align with the expectations of their target student audience.

Adult Learners: Where we’ve seen the most interest from our higher education clients in 2015 is in identifying how best to reach the adult learner population within their geographical recruitment footprint. High school graduates are no longer the staple for all institutions. Instead, they’re expanding their portfolio to include non-traditional and adult learners to capture those interested in beginning their college career at a later age, or advancing a skill set. Continuing education and personal enrichment courses are of particular interest for community colleges, where prospective learners are already accustomed to a more flexible atmosphere including part-time study and evening course options. Institutions are exploring the preferences of this growing segment of the population, and investing in curriculum that will meet their needs.

International Student Recruitment: There has been a lot of buzz over the last couple years about a spike in international student recruitment. Given that it’s become the norm for most colleges to be operating under financial burdens, it’s no surprise that that they would invest in targeted recruitment of individuals who bring more revenue to the institution. The uptick in international student recruitment has led to more benefits than simple financial gain for many colleges. A 2015 report produced by The Lawlor Group notes that international students also boost cultural campus diversity, while also bringing a more personal “global perspective” into the classroom. In their 2015 report, Hanover Research points out that institutions are now turning to specialized companies such as Pearson, which offers a “Progression+” college informational service, to assist in the targeted recruitment of international students. While the concept is intriguing, it’s certainly not appropriate for all institutions. It is essential to consider whether an increase in international student recruitment is appropriate for your college. To attract top-quality students, institutions now need to offer desirable financial aid packages (which was not the standard even a few years ago), invest in a digital presence, and attend appropriate higher education conferences (some of which require travel abroad).

  1. Competition from Alternative Education Programs

Alternative learning methods such as MOOCs have been in effect for many years, although opinion varies on their effectiveness and impact on traditional bricks-and-mortar higher education institutions. Newer alternative learning entrants to the market include mini bootcamp and nanodegree style learning opportunities. With the technology boom still in full swing, these alternative education methods are becoming increasingly popular and available. Many careers in technology are listed as high-need, high-wage, and high-skill, but there is a lack of qualified individuals in the workforce to fill the needs of employers, making these options attractive to both employers and individuals looking to break into a booming workforce or improve their competitive stance in the marketplace. These programs offer students the benefit of flexibility (often fully online at their own pace), they can be completed in shorter time frames than a traditional college education, and are often much more affordable. A great example is Udacity’s availability of several nanodegree programs which can be completed in about a year and cost $200 per month, with a promise to get half your tuition back if you complete the program in 12 months or less. The emergence of these options is certainly something that higher education administration is already keeping a close eye on. Over the last year, RMS has also seen a growing interest in higher education feasibility studies regarding online program options. Institutions are realizing that to stay competitive, they may need to refresh their current suite of academic offerings to better align with the evolving needs of the education consumer.

  1. Competency-Based Education

The streamlined approach to higher education has taken further shape in recent years through the growth in competency-based education (CBE) programs. CBE programs measure a student’s progress based on how well they learn the material rather than the length of time to complete a degree. In a traditional program, a student typically must complete a minimum number of academic credits, regardless of how well they already know the material. CBE programs allow students to learn at their own pace, and demonstrate via learning mastery.  A research brief published by Public Agenda in late 2015 revealed the results of the largest survey effort on the topic of CBE programs, including baseline CBE adoption data by participating institutions, program design and implementation data, opportunities, and barriers experienced by respondent institutions. The brief disclosed that nearly 600 institutions offer CBE programs, with public institutions leading the way. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are the most popular credentials earned by graduates of CBE programs at institutions who have a fully active program(s) or are scaling up CBE efforts. However, the majority (64%) of responding institutions are in the planning phase of CBE adoption while only 14% have implemented a CBE program. It’s clear that administrators view CBE programs as the future and it will be interesting to see if the concept evolves to become the norm in higher education learning.

  1. Automating Marketing Efforts

With the continual expansion of digital channels available, higher education institutions have to balance a multitude of marketing efforts to reach their target audiences. Many institutions have to balance social media marketing, email, a website, and content marketing while finding a way to integrate all of the data that allows them to gain meaningful insights which shed light on how best to connect with current students, prospective students, alumni, and other stakeholders. This has led to an increase in the popularity of marketing automation solutions. Marketing automation tools synthesize an institution’s marketing efforts to allow for in-depth marketing campaign analysis, tracking of campaign analytics and ROI calculations, among a myriad of other efforts. Institutions that use these automation tools have the ability to enact more personalized communication efforts, which is thought to resonate well with both traditional and non-traditional students by making them feel connected to their campus. Since marketing automation is still yet to be standard on college campuses, adoption of these tools would provide an institution with a competitive edge.

This is the first in our series of higher education trends, so stay tuned for updated trends throughout the year! Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our higher education market research services, please contact the Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com  or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Sources:

“2015 High School Students’ and Parents’ Perceptions of and Preferences for Communication with Colleges.” Ruffalo Noel Levitz, 2015. https://www.ruffalonl.com/documents/gated/Papers_and_Research/2015/2015_Perceptions_Preferences_Report.pdf?code=3913351183201512

“A Research Brief on the Survey of the Shared Design Elements & Emerging Practices of Competency-Based Education Programs.” Public Agenda, December 2015. http://www.publicagenda.org/files/SurveyOfSharedDesignElementsAndEmergingPracticesOfCBEPrograms_PublicAgenda_2015.pdf

“2016 Trends in Higher Education Marketing, Enrollment, and Technology.” Hanover Research, November 2015.

Buege, V. “International Recruitment: Today’s Issues and Opportunities.” The Lawlor Group, April 2015. http://www.thelawlorgroup.com/international-recruitment-todays-issues-and-opportunities/

Duncan, Scott. “Marketing Technology Adoption in Higher Ed: From CRM to Marketing Automation.” Higher Education Marketing, November 5, 2014. http://www.higher-education-marketing.com/blog/education-marketing-blog/marketing-technology-higher-ed-crm-marketing-automation

Mathewson, Tara G. “5 Higher Ed Trends to Watch in 2016.” Education Dive, December 30, 2015. http://www.educationdive.com/news/5-higher-ed-trends-to-watch-in-2016/411362/

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‘Tis the Season!

‘Tis the season to be jolly! From our families to yours, Happy Holidays!

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The following blog post was written by Alexis Smith, Intern at RMS.

 

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There’s a lot of hype about the impact of Millennials, those born in the early 1980s to 1993, in the workforce. The next generation to infiltrate and transform the workforce is Gen Z, those born between 1994 and 2010. According to Forbes, Gen Z is characterized as being entrepreneurial, loyal, flexible, and realistic in their approach to careers compared to Millennials.

  1. They will sacrifice salary for a flexible career

With over 3 million baby boomers expected to retire and Millennials promoted to managerial roles in 2016, a gap is left to be filled by Gen Z. Gen Z’s familiarity with technology allows them to stay connected more than any other generation, making them essential to business. However, Gen Z isn’t likely to jump on just any job offer. This generation is more likely to choose organizations that value work-life balance and opportunities for growth over salary.

  1. They are comfortable with technology

Gen Z is unique because they were raised in a technologically advanced environment. The high levels of technology have made an impact on their learning styles, making them an asset to the workforce. This customized instruction allows Gen Z to better recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to adjust to shortcomings and sharpen strengths.

  1. They are hyperaware of how others perceive them

This generation is known for their social media involvement. However, Gen Z’s “obsession” with social media is also used as a tool to brand themselves. As a result, Gen Zs are expected to work hard towards career goals. Gen Z will set themselves apart in the workforce by being driven to break their self-obsessive stigma in order to please their superiors.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following blog post was written by Mark Dengler, President of RMS.

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I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the expert business panel at the 2015 Brazzlebox Small Business Summit on November 4th at the Oncenter. I was thrilled to see the amount of young entrepreneurs eager to learn and gather as much insight as possible. I was also excited to be surrounded by fellow business professionals who divulged their honest opinions and experiences for the good of our growing community. Not only did our Q&A session pertain to entrepreneurs, but it also relates to those who continue to market their services and want to grow.

Whether you’re a business that has been around for a few years, or an entrepreneur ready to implement your business plan, tracking information that will help improve your operations and marketability is crucial. From start-ups to businesses that have been around for years, it is important to look at consumer trends, competitors and price points. Identifying what your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) is will help differentiate you from the competition. Ask yourself questions—why should people purchase from me? What is different about what I’m offering? How can I take what’s already out there and make it better?

One of the most influential pieces of data that you can use to track your USP is customer feedback. Your first customers are your “early adopters” and will ultimately become your ambassadors in the marketplace. You need to recognize that their experience with your product or service is critical, from the very beginning to the very end. Businesses that have been around long enough to build a customer base need to continue monitoring the marketplace and its reaction to your product or service.

To keep consistent with the evolution of the marketplace, you need to have a plan that incorporates some key elements:

  1. Competitive assessment: profile your top competitors. Identify the saturation potential and estimate the market share.
  2. Marketing strategies: determine your USP and brand perception in the marketplace and execute accordingly.
  3. Develop an operational income statement: review it regularly to monitor revenue generation and expenses.
  4. Set operational milestones: strategically plan where you want your business to be at future points by defining achievements that will prove success in your operation.

Building a successful business requires resiliency and a strong drive to succeed. Develop a culture and community in your organization that reiterates what you define as successful. Fortunately for start-ups and veteran businesses in our area, there is an abundance of resources such as networking events, local chambers and business organizations, all here to help local establishments flourish. Take advantage and participate in many of the opportunities offered—gaining that knowledge and insight is something you can take with you no matter what stage you or your business are in.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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Thanksgiving has evolved from the celebration of a good harvest in 1642 to the celebration of food, football, floats, family, and fun. We’re researchers, so we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to dig up some interesting data. Enjoy!

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Although these Thanksgiving Day traditions have evolved over the years, what has remained consistent is the meaning behind the holiday – gratitude. RMS wishes all a safe and happy holiday season!

 


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Social media is a quick and easy way to share information and engage with consumers, employees, and the community. Using social media for marketing initiatives is less expensive than other options, making it a cost effective way to communicate. If executed properly, small businesses can see great results from social media efforts. Here are six best practices to help small businesses succeed on social media.

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  1. Define your voice

Personify your brand by giving it a distinctive voice across all social media outlets. This will establish consistency without repeating the exact same content. This is especially important when looking at the differences in formality between social media outlets. For example, informal language is more appropriate on Facebook for most businesses, while a more formal approach is suitable on LinkedIn. Keeping these slight differences in mind will help you create targeted content on social media.

  1. Transparency is key

Let stakeholders see behind the scenes of your organization, especially the people who make your organization great. Social media is a great way to showcase your workplace culture. Put the people who work in your organization front and center. A few ways to do this is to highlight new hires, promotions, birthdays, milestones, events, and other reasons to celebrate (with the employees’ permission of course)!

  1. Quality not quantity

We all know people who over share social media, and organizations are not an exception. Your posts should appeal to one or more of the following stakeholder groups: clients/customers (past or present), prospective clients/customers, employees (current and potential), or the general community. When creating content, think of the following: Will this resonate with my audience? Is this the right platform for this post? Is there anything I can include (i.e. pictures or links) to make people more likely to engage with this post? Is the language clear and concise? If you say, “No,” to one or more of these questions you should take a step back and think about what you are posting and why.

  1. Build a community

Social media is a great way to build a community around your brand. To do this, you must strive for engagement. Don’t be afraid to ask followers for feedback and comments on posts.

Another way to drive engagement is to create personalized posts by tagging businesses, clients, and people when applicable. For example, if someone from your company attends a local event you can tag the employee and the organization hosting the event in your posts to increase exposure.

  1. Know your numbers

Knowing what appeals to your followers (and what doesn’t) will make your posts more strategic and effective. To do this, review the analytic insights provided on your social media account page(s). After perusing, you will have a deeper understanding about who your followers are, what content is most engaging, when the best times to post are, and more.

  1. Have a plan

Having a plan will allow you to create posts in advance, which will save you from scrambling to create content at the last second. At RMS we use a social media calendar to plan content for major milestones and events. This allows us to place posts strategically, and know what content needs to be created in the future. It’s also important to note that not all content should be created ahead of time. Social media is very “in the moment” so it’s important to be ready to participate in discussions around trending topics that are appropriate for your business.

Your company should also have a communications plan in place for responding to feedback. Separate action plans should be created for positive, neutral, and negative feedback. Having policies and procedures will allow employees to respond swiftly and appropriately to all feedback received.

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

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