A key challenge for a disruptive product is to set the new bar (or standards). The more path-breaking the product, the higher the bar. With every iteration of the product, you raise the bar. The ideal approach to market a disruptive product is to get a few early adopters. The trend-setters, the people who have it in them to embrace innovation. These will be the people who will challenge you. They will imagine things and share ideas. They will see the potential and push you to raise the bar even higher. They will be your mavens. They will help you tell the world that the bar can be set higher.
The bigger challenge is convince the laggards that the current bars are set too low. These are the skeptics, the people who resist. For a disruptive product to get mass adoption, you need these people.
MavenMagnet is leading the charge to disrupt market research. The social media monitoring tools set the bar for what can be done using information on digital platforms way too low. These tools, or dashboards as they are commonly called, are not even scratching the surface as far as the potential of this massive pool of data is concerned. MavenMagnet technology and technique garner insights that are projectable to map to market performance. Over the years, we have been blessed by the early adopters. Every product we develop, ranging from competitive analysis to ethnography to customer journey, we work with early adopters who help us make these product better. We iterate, we develop new features, new products and keep raising the bar.
Our most important challenge is not to create path-breaking products. We know how to do that. We have an active pipeline to keep doing that. Our key challenge to is demystify the belief that social media monitoring tools are doing what can be done using digital data.
Status quo – the existing state of affairs, current customs and practices. In any industry, status quo is something that is widely accepted and used as standards. A disruptive product is something that challenges the status quo. An early adopter embraces the disruption. The product that perseveres through the resistance of status quo reaches mass adoption and sets new status quo.
One of the industries that has status quo set for decades is market research, we commonly refer to as traditional market research. Focus groups of tens are used for qualitative insights. Surveys of few hundred provide quantified projections.
There are quite a few issues with traditional market research. Let’s talk about the top ones. It is plagued with respondent bias. The answers are driven by the questions you ask. There is no discovery based on what consumers want. Research fatigue limits the sample sizes. Time involved in developing the questionnaire, recruiting respondents, collecting data and compiling results is way too long when the average life of products in most industries is down to months. The biggest issue that’s a key hurdle in garnering strong insights is the disconnect between qualitative insights and its natural quantification (again you can get forced quantification using the Q&A process).
What are we doing about it? We are challenging this out-dated status quo.
MavenMagnet is transforming market research. We are taking the entire concept of Q&A out of the research equation. This eliminates respondent bias and let brands hear the real voice of the consumers. The insights are completely discovery based driven by consumer perception. Our sample size is in tens of thousands, so we provide natural projection of these insights. We deliver qualitative insights on quantitative scale in one to four weeks making it actionable for brands to update their positioning, understand their consumers, and optimize their campaigns.
We live in an irrational world. Everything from the stock market and consumer buying habits to people’s beliefs and their voting choice is irrational. As a marketer you have to navigate through this irrationality and fit your product in the mix. In other words, you have to accept the irrationality and make sense of it. And that’s where we come in picture.
At an individual level its complete chaos. Even looking at a few dozen maintains the chaos. The chaos normalizes when you take tens of thousands of consumers and their hundreds of thousands of conversations. What emerges out of this exercise is something really beautiful. You get strong patterns that define your consumers, what matters to them and influences them to make decisions in their lives.
The basic idea is to understand your consumers. Develop products that they want. Speak to them in the language they speak. That’s how you will decode the irrationality and become a part of their world.
MavenMagnet conducted a study in partnership with The Economic Times published on February 27, 2016. Here’s the link to the study.
About four years back, I embarked on this crazy and exciting journey called MavenMagnet. Fresh out of business school and some software development work experience under my belt, I decided to do something where I would work with people I really enjoy working with, be excited enough every morning to jump out of bed to go to work, build a brand my customers can trust and add a little bit of value to the world my company lives it (and never wear suit to work).
Here is a reality check of how well we did (and how badly I f**ked up):
Working with smart people
One thing I can say with good confidence is that I did pretty well here. The first person to join me is pretty much the smartest big social data market researcher out there today. It’s a pain to work with people striving for perfection, and it multiplies when the person is your younger sibling. So the pain might kill me, but MavenMagnet will not have to worry about quality of work. Next I was joined by advertising industry experts and market research veterans to help build our client facing team. And along the way we met some great people to help build MavenMagnet. There is one big regret here. I didn’t get to work with “all” the smart people I would have wanted to work with. Bootstrapping a company has some disadvantages, and one of that is you cannot bring on board all the people you want to work with. We are getting better here and hopefully 2017 reality check will be a bit different.
Building a trustworthy brand
MavenMagnet’s mission from day one was to transform market research. Get companies out of the traditional way of doing market research and listen to customers and leverage their conversations to do market research. It is not an easy task to transform an industry where the standard process, i.e. you ask questions and you will get answers, were set in 1970s. The first step in this transformation process was to set a brand clients trust. We did quite well here. We are proud to say that we have had near perfect satisfaction score for the work we have done. Almost always we were not able to out deliver what the client expected. We took hits along the way to meet or beat the expectations, but when I look five years down the road, I believe that will pay. The high client satisfaction also gives all the client facing people in the company a sense of confidence to pitch prospective clients that we will out deliver the client’s expectations. But a trustworthy brand is one not trusted by only your clients, but a brand that is trusted by everyone. We have to do lot of work in this space. We have got good PR in India to build trust around the brand. In US, we have to step it up and build some partnerships with authoritative publications to get the name out there and build trust.
Something known as success
Our mantra at MavenMagnet is “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” We started with an idea and a game plan to work on it. We developed some great products. We took tangents. We acquired some big clients. But are we successful? That depends largely on the definition of being successful. We have a good chunk of Fortune 100 companies we are working with, but there are so many more companies we can help using our products. We have five key products to help clients make critical business decisions, but we can develop more focused products to target issues faced by different industries.
What about revenue numbers? Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Am I excited to jump out of bed and get to work? You bet I am.
Is MavenMagnet’s future looking bright? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
What about the suit? Well once every few months…but then you don’t get everything you wish for…
I recently spent a lot of time in an airplane coast to coast. While typically it is a great way for me to catch-up on my sleep, this trip happened to be a day time thing and I was not very sleepy. So while counting hours to land and thinking of better ways to convince prospective clients to use MavenMagnet services, I realized how being in this box makes doing research outside the box (read use MavenMagnet) such a no-brainer.
Before I talk about the parallels, let’s set the landscape. Day trip flying for 4 hours, no entertainment set in the plane and no wi-fi. So what did this lead to? About 150 people in the plane with nothing to do but either sleep or read or talk. So while having a light conversation with a good looking girl sitting next to me, I was listening to people sitting around me. People were talking about everything from who will be the next president to what they will do if Donald Trump become the President to when will Apple have a new product that is not just a newer version of iPhone or iPad to why season one of House of Cards was so much better than season two.
This was nothing but a minuscule of what conversations on the Internet are and what MavenMagnet scrapes to do market research. No one was asking anyone to talk about a specific thing. The conversation on next president was triggered by a Time magazine cover. The Trump comment was courtesy of the last night Republican primary debate and polls following that. The Apple conversation was triggered by Apple stocks falling down. House of Cards came up as one of many TV shows as a reaction to Golden Globe nominees list.
The Internet is this times millions. People talking among themselves. People talking with people they probably don’t know but have common interests. The kind of insights you can get out of scraping human conversation in an unbiased and unobtrusive way has no parallel out there. What we have developed at MavenMagnet is a set of tools and techniques to parse, dissect and understand these conversations, products in these conversations and people having these conversations. Market research cannot get better than this!
Here’s a link to the story: http://www.mavenmagnet.com/Articles/MAVENMAGNET_ET_OldSchool_vs_NewAge.pdf