Mar 30, 2011, 12:38 AM
As I consider projects and various decisions I’ve made over the years, sometimes the smartest things I’ve ever done are the ones I didn’t do, and we recently completed a project that definitely fell into this category. A favorite client of ours (a national agricultural board…and we do we love McDonald’s French fries, but that’s not a hint) asked us to assist them in developing an even better relationship with their growers. Our starting point was a desire by the client to deploy a full profile management system linking to their internal databases to collect information, conduct analysis, and generally interact with their members (potato farmers). Profile Management as a general theory is built around a long-term relationship with the individual user whereby the user can maintain their own individual account, always keeping their contact information and interests updated. What we hadn’t fully anticipated was that the effort to establish and maintain a relationship over time is very dependent upon economies of scale that just don’t come into play with small audiences. As we were working through the details, we found that how a client interacts with their customers/members is highly dependent upon both the data that needs to be collected and the level of motivation that the customer/member displays. There are lots of different ways to interact with an audience but they can be broken down into three broad categories: Survey – a survey typically implies sampling a specific population over a short, limited period of time and statistically extrapolating attributes of the overall group from the responding sample. As a general rule, 3% of any group randomly selected will be statistically valid Census – a complete count of a specific population as possible conducted over a short, limited period with the objective of contacting 100% of the population Profile Management – a continual, ongoing process whereby the respondent actively provides their most current and relevant data Although all three are communications strategies, profile management requires a very different approach to, and support of, the target audience versus either a survey or census. The big difference is that the profile management approach requires an individual to provide their data to a central place rather than being contacted for data. A user will only provide data if they are incentivized by some value proposition e.g., exclusive information such as market assessments or some form of monetary value such as frequent flyer miles or similar. Now I work with a lot of statisticians and math types and have been waiting years to show that just because they have a PhD (you know who you are) doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t come up with a cool graph every now and then:      a’ – are all the people who are inherently motivated and will respond to an automated survey or census request b’ – are all the people who are hard to get to respond and will need to be personally contacted Here’s where it gets interesting – deploying a profile management system is going to only attract the most responsive customers or members. That means that the profile system will appeal to a subset of the overall respondents, and yes, you will potentially get better data but it doesn’t eliminate all the follow up with the slightly less motivated users: a1’ – are those users who will voluntarily update profile data via a website a2’ – are those users who will likely respond to a survey but NOT maintain an updated profile The overall finding is that if the group who will now maintain a profile (the a1' group) is large enough and the extra information is worth enough, then a profile management system makes sense.  However, in the case of small audiences, the cost and effort of the communications and incentivization is more than the value of the data.  We ended up recommending a lower-cost investment on profiles and instead focused on enhancing the surveys to make them easier and better. Not the outcome I was expecting, but we saved our client quite a bit of money and the lesson – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Darn, I let my french fries get cold.
Mar 24, 2011, 12:37 AM
Just like our last few blogs, this week’s musings center on spring. That beautiful time of year when the fancy of a young man (or lady) turns to love, cherry blossoms and…tax returns?! It’s all a big…
Mar 16, 2011, 12:35 AM
The Orgwide Problem Solving Process beats a four-leaf clover every time I’ve got this buddy who, like me, is a business man. In fact, this buddy of mine (for this discussion, let’s call him “Seamus”)…

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