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Archive for the ‘Strategic Planning’ Category

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

dog (2)

As summer starts to wind down, I trust that folks are enjoying the sunny and hot weather. However, don’t be fooled by these hazy days. Companies can’t afford to be lazy. Summer is actually an excellent time to work on relationship marketing strategies with existing and prospective customers. It is an opportunity to reach out and touch base with key contacts and connections.

“Relationship Marketing” is a marketing approach that focuses on building strong customer relationships and long term engagement. It is often associated with customer loyalty program development, but can prove very effective in prospecting and enhancing brand awareness. It is built upon communication strategies that encourage two-way interaction and engagement. Obviously, it is critical to be utilizing relationship marketing strategies throughout the entire year, however the summer is a particularly good time to connect with folks. For many, this popular vacation season slows the deadline-focused intensity in companies, and people are more willing to interact.

Over the next couple of weeks, it makes sense to consider implementing the following key marketing strategies to better position your organization for a strong fourth quarter and building strong relationships:

  1. Identify your top customers and make a personal inquiry as to their needs and satisfaction with your product/service. Your senior leadership should be involved with this activity. Simply by asking for customer feedback, you demonstrate to customers their value.
  2. Mystery Shop your organization. It was Maya Angelou who said “people may forget what is said or done, but they never forget how you made them feel.” This quote embodies the heart of customer relations. Companies need to look at their own processes from this perspective, making sure that customers and prospects have a positive interaction experience.
  3. Examine your “listening posts.” What are the ways that customers and prospects inform you of their needs and experiences? Do you have listening posts? Are these being used? Now may be the perfect time to enhance your tools of interaction. Refresh your website capabilities. Implement a customer survey. Conduct some key research in-depth interviews. Find effective ways to “listen” to your customers and prospects so that you can continue to meet their needs.
  4. Focus on informing rather than promoting. Companies that look to position themselves as knowledgeable experts in a particular area are able to build market followers. These followers include both customer and prospects. Establish your organization as a go to source for information. Look to offer free resources such as white papers, webinars, and podcasts.
  5. Optimize social media to depict your organization’s culture and values. In building relationships, people want to affiliate with those that are most like them, hence the term homophily. This is true with organization affiliation as well. Companies need to promote their culture, values and beliefs to help brand themselves. It serves as a means for individuals to identify and affiliate with. With evermore competition, this approach is a way to differentiate your organization and foster strong relationships.

Summer is definitely a great time to enhance your relationship marketing with customers and prospects. And it never hurts to take advantage of the sunny weather in the meantime.

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 analytics 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. Visit our website at RMSresults.com.

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The following post was written by Zach Shaw, Panel Coordinator at RMS.

blog-sustainable-business

Companies who engage in green marketing showcase their services and products based on environmental factors or awareness. These companies consider long-term environmental and social impacts of business operational practices such as processing, packaging and distribution. The goal of green marketing companies is to surpass traditional marketing strategies by promoting environmentally responsible core values; in turn connecting with consumers to drive brand awareness and  aiding in the creation of new product lines that will cater to new target markets.

Before integrating sustainable marketing into your company’s marketing plan, it’s important to review the company’s current marketing mix, also known as the four Ps of marketing. The four Ps of marketing consist of product, price, place and promotion.  Properly developing these four strategies is key to developing a sustainable marketing plan.

Product – A product is a tangible good or an intangible service that is available to consumers. Companies which employ sustainable marketing strategies to promote their product(s) should consider the materials, ingredients, and how it is manufactured.  A company should look for natural and organic materials and also sourcing locally to and through fair trade suppliers, utilizing environmentally friendly materials, and using lean manufacturing and distribution methods that minimize the company’s carbon footprint. Packaging also plays a significant role in sustainability. Companies who wish to use green marketing to promote their sustainable products often utilize the following for packaging: renewable materials, recyclable products, and ensuring the product-to-packaging ratio is a tight fit to produce no waste.

Price – A company must also investigate pricing for sustainable products. These products are often more expensive than competitor products due to the high cost of ingredients, in turn jeopardizing market acceptance. This causes a “green pricing gap,” as some consumers may want to purchase products that are better for the environment, but either do not want to, or are financially unable to pay a higher price.  Although gaining in popularity, many consumers will not pay more for these premium products if they do not perceive additional value from the product (ex: a lower electricity bill from energy efficient appliances). Companies can minimize the price barrier by either reducing the cost of the product or by implementing marketing which raises the perceived value gained by the product to justify a higher price point.

Place – A place signifies where a consumer can purchase the sustainable product or service. This can be a physical brick-and-mortar location or a virtual store.  Brick-and-mortar storefronts focusing on sustainability should consider investing in energy efficient stores. You may want to “go paperless” for billing, install energy saving electronics and lighting to power the store, and make reusable shopping bags available for consumers to reduce your carbon foot print.  Virtual stores should ensure their distribution is also using green practices. This may include using alternative fuels; planning fuel efficient delivery loads and distribution routes; and reducing packaging for delivery trucks. There is increasing trending consumer demand for companies to buy local, and engaging in this practice will allow the company to support local businesses while also decreasing the company’s carbon emissions – both of which will help enhance community and consumer perception.

Promotion – In addition to being known for quality, a company offering sustainable products or services should have strong brand recognition for the positive impact the good or service has on the environment.  To effectively promote the product or service, you’ll need to consider which strategy will be most effective with your target audience. Some promotional activities to consider include:

  • Traditional advertising (television, digital, radio).
  • Enticing consumers to purchase the product or service through incentives such as coupons, or charitable donations.
  • Driving awareness through public relations activities such as press releases.
  • Investing in digital techniques by creating a mobile-friendly website, utilizing search engine optimization, or purchasing digital advertising such as retargeting, pay-per-click, e-mail , or blogging.
  • A more personal approach to selling the product or service (word-of-mouth/referrals, cold calling).
  • Utilizing social media to drive engagement with the brand.
  • Mobile marketing that allows customers to use digital coupons and view digital advertisements.

These four Ps will assist your company in the development of your company’s green marketing mix. 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.

Sources:

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empty classroom

This blog post provides an updated look on a previous blog post stating how market research can help address higher education enrollment challenges. Institutions are still trudging through slower growth in enrollment than they have experienced in the past. As projected in the previous blog post, the National Center for Education Statistics has again reported the number of high school graduates to be on the decline, with 24 states and the District of Columbia expected to produce five percent or more fewer graduates in 2022-23 than in 2009-10. The Northeast can again expect the sharpest decline, where high schools are projected to produce 10% fewer graduates by 2023.

Fewer high school graduates directly influences the dip in projected enrollment in postsecondary institutions. While overall enrollment is projected to increase by 2022, the percent increase is projected to drop dramatically, from a 45% increase between 1997-2011 to a 14% increase between 2011-2022. Through conversations with clients and colleagues, it’s clear that institutions are aware that actionable insights will be needed to tread the waters. While the approach will vary across institutions, we’ve included some recommendations below for consideration in tackling enrollment challenges.

  1. Tap into Uncharted Territory

Through the projects that we’ve completed for higher education clients, RMS has seen online learning continue to gain in popularity among students and institutions alike. As mentioned in a recent blog post, online learning platforms are expected to become more customizable, providing immediate feedback on performance and tutoring, and ultimately leading to faster degree completion and enhanced academic relationships with professors. This has led to a surge in institutions demonstrating an interest in finding ways to upgrade or offer online educational options.  A survey, in-depth interviews, or focus groups with current and prospective students are valuable tools to find out if online academic offerings is an uncharted territory worth pursuing.

  1. Understand and Recruit from the Changing Demographic Pool

The traditional college student is a shrinking demographic. Institutions saw a 49% increase in enrolled students between 18 and 24 years old from 1997-2011, but that increase is projected to decline to 9% from 2011-2022. In fact, post-secondary students 35 years or older are expected to command the largest enrollment increase during the same time frame (23%), while a 20% increase in enrollment of those between 25 and 34 years old is anticipated. This continual shift in demographics among college students is a trend that will force institutions to re-tool their marketing and recruiting efforts. Adult learners will require different student services and financial needs than their younger counterparts. Commitments outside of the classroom will also vary. There are many paths that institutions may take to determine the appropriate strategy for reaching these populations. It will be important to gauge interest in the college’s current suite of academic offerings, figure out if there are programs you should be offering to capitalize on untapped adult student populations, and match that with the labor market demand for those occupations to drive marketing efforts.  Program feasibility studies  will become vital components of an institution’s effort to answer these questions. Student services and financial needs can be measured through focus groups, surveys, or through a competitive analysis of the institution’s top competitors.

  1. Revitalize Retention Efforts

Retention is critical to higher education institutions, and for good reason. Retention is influenced by initial college impressions such as admissions procedures and policies, but includes many post-admission factors such as academic advising, financial aid, student activities, and residence services. There are several ways to determine which factors are weighing most heavily on retention.  An institution can pinpoint their areas of opportunity by measuring current student satisfaction and comparing it to data gathered from individuals who inquired about the institution but did not apply or enroll. This will reveal where current students feel the college may be falling short and allow the institution to make improvements in an effort to reduce the likelihood of the student body seeking other academic options. It will allow the college to identify gaps in current processes or services that is leading to missed opportunity at the initial admissions phase. Focus groups, satisfaction surveys, and student services assessments are great options to answer these questions.

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.

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The education industry has faced its fair share of hurtles since the economic downturn. It’s clear that a prosperous economy requires an improved educational system (among other things), but the kinks in the rope have yet to be worked out to figure out exactly how to achieve improvement. Thoughts differ on how to achieve a more efficient education pipeline, but several themes remain consistent front-runners for trends to monitor across the educational space this year as we begin the second quarter of 2015. Some of these trends were not a surprise to our team, but some were certainly eye opening.

A bit dramatic, but you get the point.

A bit dramatic, but you get the point.

  • Tuition and financial aid are expected to increase, and more institutions are projected to fall short of revenue and enrollment targets.1 As institutions continue to see their typical funding sources dwindle, many are relying more on grant awards and alternative revenue. This will lead sponsoring organizations to require information not only on the impact of the award, but also an implementation plan for continuous measurement and analysis of data to optimize the education industry and positively influence the economy.2 The funding gap in education has been well publicized, but solutions have been more scarce. We anticipate that institutions will dedicate more resources to alumni relations and grant writing to bridge the gap once internal budgets have been optimized.
  • Colleges realize the need to demonstrate value to prospective students, so more institutions will be investigating how they can best provide quality education and services which add value to students.1 This will likely not come as a surprise to our colleagues in the higher education industry. Students have been showing increased interest in the value of a college education over the last several years. Obtaining student feedback will be vital to jumping this hurtle.
  • Academic technology and use of analytics is projected to increase at higher education institutions. It will become more commonplace for college’s to gather and use data on student learning and behaviors.1 The focus will need to be on metrics that predict success and are early indicators for areas of improvement, rather than graduation rates and persistent rates, which give us information after it is too late to impact a student’s collegiate experience. To make this venture successful, professors and administrative professionals should be part of the planning process when data collection and reporting tools are being developed.2 While some institutions will have staff in place to handle this influx of data, others may benefit from seeking a qualified vendor to assist in the compilation and analysis to determine next steps.
  • Online learning will continue to gain in popularity and robustness. Platforms are expected to become more customizable, providing immediate feedback on performance and tutoring, and ultimately leading to faster degree completion and enhanced academic relationships with professors. As students are becoming increasingly savvy with technology, institutions will need to find ways to upgrade or offer high tech educational options.This is certainly not a new concept, although it continues to evolve over the years. Since the emergence of MOOCs, we’ve seen a boom in online educational offerings. Although their effectiveness is often debated, it’s clear that online learning as a concept is growing in demand.
  • Acceptance of nontraditional credits, such as “industry-based certifications, credit exams, live demonstrations, etc.” from working professionals who switch careers is expected to become increasingly popular. This will allow the workforce to be recognized for their current knowledge when entering an academic program for a new career.1 This trend caught us off guard. It’s a very interesting concept, and we’re excited to hear if this is gaining in popularity within the industry.
  • The demographic of first-generation college students is evolving. Many are no longer “American-born students from working class families,” but are more likely to come from all corners of the world who graduated high school in the United States. Having completed secondary school stateside will make them appear like a domestic applicant, but they’ll have different financial and service needs.1 It’s not uncommon to see more institutions recruiting a larger number of international students. The U.S. has seen an 85% increase in the number of foreign students since 2005. What’s interesting is the shift – first-generation college students who grew up in another part of the world, but relocated to the United States to complete high school and attend college. Institutions will need to determine the financial aid and student service needs of this population to stay ahead of the evolving trend.
  • The traditional post-secondary student demographic is also shifting. The number of mid-career professionals and baby boomers attending college is on the rise, which will require institutions to revisit their suite of academic offerings and ensure the evolving needs of the student are being met (such as desired schedule, learning format, and program structure).1 Program feasibility studies and revisiting strategic plans will become vital components of an institution’s effort to meet changing needs.
  • More states are requiring institutions to give college credit to veterans for their service to our country. There has also been a shift in policies which requires all public universities in the United States to allow military personnel to receive in-state tuition for use of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit, regardless of residency restrictions as part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.3 This is a recent alteration in tuition expectations, so it will important for institutions to monitor and assess the impact of the Act on their bottom line.

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

1. Higher ed thought leaders forecast 2015 trends. (2015, January 1). http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/higher-ed-thought-leaders-forecast-2015-trends

2. Phillips, B. (2014, December 19). Top 10 Education Trends to Watch in 2015 and Beyond. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-c-phillips/top-10-education-trends-t_b_6345056.html

3. All public colleges will soon offer veterans in-state tuition. (2015, March 9). http://college.usatoday.com/2015/03/09/all-public-colleges-will-soon-offer-veterans-in-state-tuition/

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The following blog post is a case study summary of a recently completed project here at RMS. The market potential model study and algorithm referenced in this post was designed and completed by George Kuhn, Director of Research Services at RMS. You can contact him on LinkedIn by clicking here. The project took a total of 8 to 10 weeks to complete.

Background: A local consortium of clients partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a market study of residential property growth in the primary market area (PMA) of downtown Syracuse, NY. The main objective of the study was to determine how well penetrated the Syracuse market was and to determine what potential there is for residential growth.

Predicting Residential Potential

Downtown Syracuse

Approach: The market potential study was broken down into three core components: (1) demographic and trend analysis, (2) competitive assessment, and (3) a telephone and online survey. All three components were combined to build a market potential model which used data-driven assumptions to arrive at research conclusions for this report.

  • To complete the demographic analysis of the this market potential study, Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) utilized DemographicsNow.com which is an online software supported by data from the official United States Census. Statistics collected in the 2010 Census were then projected using sophisticated models and algorithms to arrive at 2014 estimates and five-year predictions for 2019. To determine a pool of residents that will most likely impact residential living in the Downtown Syracuse area, RMS needed to review two separate Census tracts. Market predictions from the data include basic demographics including population, age of residents, income, and other factors.
  • The mystery shopping component and competitive assessment of this market research study was the second of three crucial pieces to the foundation of the market potential model. A list of over 30 like-properties existing in the primary market area (PMA) was compiled by RMS. It is important to note this inventory only reviews what was deemed to be “like-units” to what developers would like explore adding to the residential market and the 30 properties (both rent and own) are not intended to be a fully representative of all of the offerings within the Downtown Syracuse market. A combination of phone calls, emails, and secondary research completed online was used to obtain critical data on current residential living options in the PMA. RMS professional staff posed as potential prospects and residents interested in living downtown to obtain three key pieces of information: (1) current price and rental ranges offered at the property, (2) current occupancy rates at the property, and (3) other influential amenities offered at the property that might influence the decision to choose it over a competitor.
  • The quantitative surveying component of this market research study was the third of three crucial pieces to the foundation of the market potential model. RMS employed a short survey of approximately 20 questions which lasted respondents a total of three to five minutes. The survey was constructed to better understand resident attitudes, needs, desires, preferences, and interest in residential living in the Downtown Syracuse market. A total of 613 completes were obtained for the quantitative survey. The survey was first sent to RMS’s proprietary Central New York ViewPoint panel which includes over 2,000 residents in the area that are willing to participate in important research studies. Due to the limited number of telephone records available for purchase, additional efforts were needed to reach the downtown market using an awareness campaign that included: (1) the creation of an official letter document endorsed by the clients supporting the need for feedback from residents, (2) social media sharing through personal networks, emails, and phone calls from the clients’ and RMS’s set of contacts, (3) paid boosts on Facebook for the survey which targeted residents within a 5 mile radius of Downtown Syracuse, and (4) targeted phone calls and emails from the RMS in-house call center and staff to large area employers encouraging the sharing of the survey letter and link with staff.

Results: 

  • The Downtown Syracuse Market Potential Model combined a number of different assumptions, known data points, and variables in an attempt to arrive at answering the objective: How many more additional residential units could be added to the Downtown Syracuse market while still ensuring extremely high occupancy rates? A conservative number, an intermediate number, and a ceiling market potential number was provided to the clients based on the market research. The model provided market potential numbers for current (2014) through 2019 figures.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Central New York. RMS specializes in feasibility studies and using a unique combination of demographic trend data from the U.S. Census, competitive insight, and survey data to create a customized algorithm for predictive analytics. This includes such predictive analytics as estimating residential market potential in a city or region, estimating the number of stores or retail locations a specific area could support, estimating the number of long-term care units a market could support, or estimating how well a product or service would do if it was launched. For more information on predictive modeling projects contact Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development at RMS at 1-866-567-5422 or SandyB@RMSresults.com.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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 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.

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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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Strategic communication during a crisis is essential. During this time, stakeholders are looking for confirmation that the company or person has his or her best interests in mind. If the crisis is not handled well, the company or person will fight to get its stakeholders back. Here are 3 characteristics of good crisis communication for your company:

1) Quickness – First, being quick is of utmost importance. It shows stakeholders that they are extremely important. Also, it is important that you disclose the news first rather than media outlets. For example, when news about an affair was about to spill, David Letterman disclosed the information to his audience on his show before anyone else. Disclosing it to his audience first was a great move because his audience already likes him and the news of the affair did not inherently damage their opinion of him. In contrast, Tiger Woods did the opposite and his reputation is still damaged.

Healthcare Consulting Firm

2) Clarity – being clear means to communicate the whole story all at once.  Stakeholders will not appreciate delayed or withheld information. Let your stakeholders know exactly what is happening all at once instead of delaying it, or trying to inform them gradually. Also, if you make any promises to fix the crisis make sure they are attainable and that you accomplish them in a timely manner.

3) Consistency – make sure all communication with stakeholders is consistent. You should find that all of your messages convey similar tones and meanings. The key to consistency is honesty. Therefore, all spokespersons for your organization need to have up to date information and media training in order to effectively communicate.

How does this fit into market research? A large client base for RMS is hospitals and Departments of Health and Human Services because both are mandated to complete patient satisfaction surveys. This forces market research firms to follow HIPAA rules and regulations.

A large concern for crisis among organizations in the health care industry is the topic of patient data security breaches. This information is sometimes referred to as electronic protected health information (EPHI). Since market research relies on participants’ responses, it is important that people feel safe giving organizations personal information. One way to put participants at ease is by stating that all information is kept confidential and anonymous.

Stephen Boyer, Chief Technology Officer of BitSight Technology, said that the healthcare industry saw the largest number of securities breaches, but were also the slowest to respond to these crises. It often took more than five days to fully respond to a breach in healthcare. Boyer also said that on the black market patient’s electronic medical records sell for about $20, while credit card data sells for about $1 per card. This is one reason why breaches happen so frequently in healthcare and consequences are high.

Here are some examples of data security crises in healthcare:

  • Example #1: Reasonable Response – According to Erin McCann, Associate Editor of Healthcare IT News, in September 2011 Stanford Hospital and Clinics notified roughly 20,000 patients that their protected health information had been posted to a public website. The information included medical diagnoses and patient names. The information was posted on the public website for nearly one year. “Our contractors are explicitly required to commit to strong safeguards to protect the confidentiality of our patients’ information,” said Diana Meyer Chief Privacy Officer of Stanford Hospital and Clinics in a press release. “We have worked extremely hard to identify all the parties responsible. No hospital staff member was involved in posting the file to the website. We will continue to take aggressive action to hold all responsible parties accountable.”
  • Reaction: This statement is an equitable response for this crisis. The statement was given via a press release which means that it was not as direct to media as it could have been. However, the message of the statement was clear, assigned blame, and told stakeholders that aggressive action was being taken.
  • Example #2: Better Response – According to McCann, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) notified nearly 1.3 million people that hackers gained access to an agency server for almost a year before being discovered. This was one of the largest HIPAA breaches ever reported. “We apologize for the stress this announcement is going to cause,” said Richard H. Opper, Director of the DPHHS. “DPHHS is committed to answering questions clients and employees may have and to help them to take advantage of the services we are offering.” DPHHS provided affected clients with credit monitoring services. This statement is better because it was given by a powerful and credible figure. Opper apologizes, and focuses on how the hospital is helping stakeholders.
  • Reaction: This response also gives a gateway to continue contact with stakeholders, which leads to two-way communication. After hearing the statement stakeholders will understand that it took a long time to discover the breach, but DPHHS is able to provide resources to ensure their private information stays secure.

RMS Healthcare is a healthcare consulting firm that offers various market research services and consulting services pertaining to patient satisfaction, community surveying, and NCQA accreditation. If you are interested in learning more about what RMS has to offer and how we can help your organization contact Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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