The story of a market research company that stumbled upon lead generation

Some voices close to DigitalMR are asking us to follow the money; it seems there is a lot more money in sales lead generation than there is in market research. Having said that, “Relentless focus” is one of the 6 company values of DigitalMR. This means doing both will be in direct violation of one of our company values. (MR stands for market research in case it is not obvious.) Our tagline “market research evolved” allows for some freedom to be creative, i.e.:

  • maybe the new (next-gen) market research can make inroads in adjacent marketing services
  • maybe market research will not be called market research in the future; how about customer insights management?
  • selling access to software that deals with market research and insights
  • evolution from asking questions to “social listening

…but to what end? All the above points revolve around discovering unique customer insights for our clients. Would we ever call sales lead generation: “market research evolved”?

Well let’s park this question for now. Let’s take things from the beginning in an effort to stay rational and factual about this dilemma. We have been in business for longer than 5 years now. It took us almost two years to decide to develop our own software as opposed to using 3rd party technology. The simple reason behind that is that there was nothing available that could be used for social listening and social analytics by the market research industry. So we started developing listening247® on January 1st 2012. A few months earlier, we had realised that we could save a lot of money and run better online focus groups if we had our own online communities platform. By June 2011 - so a few months before the development of listening247® started - we had communities247® V1 in beta.

Fast forward 4 years to today and here we are with communities247 V4 in beta and listening247® V2 in beta. Both tools are perfect for traditional market research agencies who want to arrest their free fall by moving into digital. I say perfect because both platforms were specifically developed for market research and customer insights generation and management. It should also be said that our positioning moved from being primarily a full service market research agency to being primarily a technology company with market research legacy and focus. 

One day at a sales meeting with the CEO of a medium size company, we received a reaction we did not expect. The CEO got more interested in our way of identifying social media posts that express purchase intent for their product category than any other use case of our social listening and analytics offering (and there are plenty) that was presented. He asked many questions and we explained how we do it using machine learning algorithms and hierarchical taxonomies in order to produce 3 levels of purchase intent: super hot leads, hot leads, and warm leads.

From then on this reaction became the norm every time we mentioned our capability of identifying purchase intent for any product or service on social media and other public websites. Affiliate marketing companies, SEO consulting firms, and digital marketing services companies are getting particularly excited with this new untapped source of sales leads for companies. They call it “the missing link” or “the missing tool” in their arsenal of solutions. They talk to us about:

  • attribution models
  • the last click
  • CPC, CPM, CPA
  • unique IDs embedded in links 
  • etc.

We look at them and our first thought is: this is not market research! Or is it? Could it be part of what next generation market research will be in the years to come? One thing is for sure, putting together a proof of concept with a prospective client or partner, is something we owe to ourselves. After that, depending on how successful the proof of concept is, we need to come up with a decision:

  • follow the money and forget about our almost academic way of approaching our solutions
  • stay true to our legacy and stick to what the world understands as being market research
  • re-invent market research, expand its periphery, and disrupt the hell out of the 60 billion US$ industry, taking it to new heights maybe double in size.

What do you think DigitalMR should do? 

 




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