We Volunteer, We Lead



This past weekend, an incredible group of marketing leaders from across North America converged in Chicago. The organization that brought us together: The American Marketing Association (AMA). We talked about why we volunteer and about how to build teams, communities, and future leaders. When we volunteer, no matter the cause or organization, we sacrifice.

Let’s break down that word, sacrifice. The first part of the word comes from the Latin root word sacrare, which means, “to make sacred or holy.”

As leaders in our community, the sacrifice we make for the AMA is not about our love for marketing, though that part is important. Industry alone doesn’t signify enough for one to treat it as sacred or holy. Rather, it’s our love for people and one another that drives us to sacrifice. Our desire to make our communities better, and more importantly, to give of ourselves to make others better.

Industry alone doesn’t signify enough for one to treat it as sacred or holy. Rather, it’s our love for people that drives us to sacrifice.

During the event, the organization recognized two inspiring leaders from Cincinnati. The first, Ric Sweeney, who has contributed so much to the organization as a volunteer that the Volunteer of the Year award was official named after him. That’s a legacy he’s leaving as a result of building into other people, including me.

The second, Dennis Devlin. Dennis has contributed to the AMA for more than 30 years. He was the first to receive the Ric Sweeney Volunteer of the Year award, and I had the great pleasure of introducing him. My intro is below:

This is such an honor to introduce Dennis. Yesterday we got to celebrate and recognize Ric Sweeney by naming this award after him. Ric and Dennis, both great marketers from Cincinnati, have been a great inspiration to me, and important mentors and friends. So, to be able to introduce Dennis Devlin, the first to receive the Ric Sweeney Volunteer of the Year award is an incredible experience and honor.

There is much to be said about Dennis. He and I have shared many conversations over the years. Some where I was able to absorb his professional advice, leveraging his experience in his current role as CEO of Consumer Clarity, or his previous roles at marketing research and strategy consultancies such as GFK.

Most of the time, though, it was about the AMA. Working with him on new initiatives, or getting his perspective. This man, as you’ll soon see, is passionate about the AMA. Some others can claim their passion. But few have truly demonstrated their passion in the way Dennis does.

Dennis has been an AMA members since his sophomore year at the University of Kentucky. In recent years, he has changed the trajectory for the Cincinnati chapter. Breathing new life into the team, the chapter, and the broader marketing community. There are far too many details about these achievements (and Dennis’ other achievements) to fit into this intro.

I once heard about the three forces that drive volunteer engagement – agenda, peer support, and a hierarchy of achievement. To me, this sums up Dennis’s tenure with the AMA. A path he both followed and created. While this award may feel like the pinnacle of that hierarchy of achievement, I know Dennis isn’t finished. I have a feeling his work has only just begun…


Will Krieger

Quick List Tuesday May 3, 2016

Best piece of advice received this week — 
To make our beds! Every single day. This advice comes from a 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin given by Admiral William McHaven. Admiral McHaven challenges us to change lives. We think that’s important, too. We think it’s a part of our business. To change lives of employees and clients through servant leadership. To change the lives of consumers for whom our clients design products and services. This video is worth the 20 minutes to watch. Watch it this week.

What we’re sharing this week–  
We have lots of road warriors on our team. With focus groups taking place all over the country almost weekly, we are always up for making life on the road as easy as possible. When it comes to tricks and tips of life on the road, we found this article by Scott McCartney, of the Wall Street Journal, very insightful.

What we’re thinking about — 
The digital landscape is having a drastic impact on market research. It’s a constant change. And finding a way to stay current and provide quality research is something we take seriously. It’s one of our strengths. From qualboards to online video diaries, advisory boards and social media analysis, we are seeing greater use and acceptance of these methods. The ease of use and flexibility resonates with respondents and delivers a different level of insight. Interestingly, though, we’re also finding stronger embrace of non-tech client collaboration. That’s right. Less email and more face time. Ranging from ideation workshops (often with consumers), strategy workshops, and more, there is a greater realization in the value of slowing down and rolling up our sleeves for deeper thinking.  Check out one of our original blog posts on this topic.

Quote we’re pondering —
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar

Lessons from the Playground


Playground pic


A social experiment was conducted years ago. The lessons demonstrate the value of constraints in thinking creatively.

Two groups of children were studied. This first group was directed to a playground without a fence. The second group directed to a playground enclosed by a fence.

Researchers discovered that children in the first group (without the fence), explored less territory of the playground area than those in the second group (with the fence).

This presents an interesting concept for us “adults,” and another way to view the constraints that we are given- by our employer, our industry, our society, and so on.

Without constraint, we are tempted to keep too closely to our comfort zone. Leaning on what we know. It’s more difficult to push our own thinking, because we don’t know where and when it becomes too risky. Constraints such as budget, time, competition, etc. can actually provide a construct for thinking more creatively.

Another way to think about it is through the lens of a successful startup. They start their business, then at some point the organization is challenged and goes through a time of adversity (funding, scale, changing industry, consumer trends, etc.). These constraints create an environment in which the team is forced to think differently. They are forced to push the boundaries, but to also respect them for what they are. Those who are bold enough to put in the effort win the battle.


Will Krieger

Defining Creativity

will blog


There is a lot of talk about creativity these days, and rightfully so. It’s critical in today’s competitive environment. But, as with any popular topic, there are many offering advice, and it can be difficult to determine what point-of-view to believe. I’m an advocate for creating your own definitions first, not relying solely on Google and others.

In graduate school, I took a course taught by Drew Boyd on Systematic Inventive Thinking, a process for ideation and invention. He started the course with an assignment asking us to define innovation. Not to regurgitate the definition from Webster or Wikipedia, but for us to define it on our own.

This process unlocked and opened mental doors for me. As a millennial, I admit that I rely on Google too often. This exercise showed me how to expand my own thinking on a subject without relying on others to do it for me.

We must develop our individual creativity and voice in a world full of conformity.

Words such as Innovation and Creativity can be elusive and often ambiguous in their meaning. This process allows me to grow more in my understanding, giving a single word much more dimension and depth.

I’d like to do the same thing here with creativity. First, a look at the dictionary’s definition, where you’ll see the limitation of its meaning.

Cre-a-tiv-i-ty: noun (though the process is a verb) – The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Next, I’m using a few questions to arrive at a new, deeper definition that I can carry with me.

Creativity is play with constraints. It’s about getting out there, talking with (and LISTENING to) people, getting new perspectives and insights. But it’s also about taking breaks from work and enjoying life, allowing compartments of your mind to open up to new ideas; to subconsciously digest and synthesis all the data and dialogue you’ve had around a problem you’re trying to solve.

Lack of process, fear, and culture. Many think creative ideas come from the sky. It’s simply not true. Good, regular creativity requires discipline and process, starting with something as simple as an idea journal all the way to a standardize organizational process for creative problem solving.  Fear and culture: both can keep people from sharing their ideas and going after them.

True creativity requires you to take risk. Sometimes the biggest risk is felt when you need to externalize your ideas, make them real, and hear what others have to say. Learning is risk taking. Success is risk taking. It’s a risk to be average, to be safe, and it’s a risk to not take risks these days.

Tell me, where do you agree and disagree? Please share in the comments. The dialogue is where growth comes from.


Will Krieger

Quick List Tuesday April 19th, 2016

What we’re talking about this week — 
What would you miss if you weren’t doing research anymore? One of our team members left the field for ten years and shared what she missed most in our latest blog. If you’re a true researcher, you will love #4…

What we’re listening to–  
Podcasts. In all shapes, sizes, and topics. Can’t get enough. Basically anytime I would have been listening to music or idly watching TV, I find myself turning on a podcast to fill the space. Some of my favorites are TedTalks, The Tim Ferris Show, Serial, and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Here’s one we think you’ll like. What are some of your favorite podcasts?

What we’re thinking about — 
Speaking of podcasts, we can’t stop talking about an episode of Polling Matters that I listened to earlier this week. Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief, focused his Polling Matters podcast on age. Age and politics, to be specific. Quite fascinating that most of Bernie Sanders (age 74) supporters are 22 years old. Frank also talks about the relationship between age and marital status, retirement, and how age affects what we do.

Quote we’re pondering —
People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
– Napolean Hill

Did you enjoy this Quick List? If so, please forward this email to a friend or follow us on Twitter @REPASSinc.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week.
To Your Success,

Will Krieger
Vice President, Insights


Will Krieger

What I Missed Most When I Left Market Research

Market Reseach Word Cloud


I have a confession to make. When I left the market research field, I was a bit burned out and did not think I would ever come back. I’d worked on the supplier side as well as the client side. I was employed by both big companies and small companies. And I thought I was all done. I left to spend more time with my small children, and ended up with a career detour into sales and sales management, working from home. Then, my small children were big children, and the idea of a more regular work week with weekends off sounded very attractive. I found the market research world is indeed a small world, re-connected with colleagues, and found myself back on “planet MR” in short order.

Many things had changed over a decade, but I was surprised by what I discovered that I missed during my ten years away.

1. The rush of excitement and anticipation when you receive a new set of data tables. Fresh, new data tables. One banner, maybe even two if you are lucky. All the new insights to be uncovered, the hypotheses to be proved (or disproved.) I must sound like a data nerd when I say I just can’t wait to read them, highlighter and sticky notes in hand.

2. The language of market research. You, yourself. Unaided and aided awareness. Derived importance. Ending a question with “or not.” I did not use these phrases for more than ten years!

3. That frisson of fear when you start a focus group. You have a well thought-out discussion guide. You have clients with big expectations in the back room. And you have ten strangers with whom you want to quickly build trust and rapport. Sometimes it is a little scary, but it’s a good kind of scary.

4. Eating M&Ms in the dark. Speaking of focus groups, seriously, what is more fun than observing consumers while you eat unlimited snacks and Chinese take-out and lose all sense of time? Yes, you do get to eat M&Ms in the dark at the movies, but focus groups are more like live theater. You never know what you will hear or see next, and you are allowed to talk to your neighbor and use your cell phone.

5. That happy, “sunbeam breaking through the clouds” feeling when you realize you’ve helped a client learn something really new. I’d forgotten how great it feels when you watch a product progress from a concept to a market reality, in part because of your research contributions. Having a Vice President of Marketing muse, “we never thought about it that way before” – it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

What would you miss if you left our field?


Katie Klopfenstein Blog Bio

Quick List Tuesday April, 5 2016

Our newest issue of the Quick List, a bi-monthly summary of what’s happening in marketing research and new happenings at REPASS.

What we’re talking about this week —

Have you had a chance to check out, My Favorite Questions, the latest blog post? Would you believe we wrote it all in questions?

What we’re reading– 

We came across a blog from the Market Research Society that featured their interview with Adam Phillips, a research consultant and Managing Director of Real Research in the UK. Great post and talked about the importance of always, always asking questions. Asking questions is the backbone of market research.

What we’re thinking about —

The power of your mindset has a serious impact on every aspect of your life. Check out this article from @HarvardBiz to see why they agree, Why the future belongs to Tough-Minded Optimists. As the article puts it, “Not wide-eyed optimism, an unthinking faith in the inevitability of success, but what the leadership scholar John Gardner famously called “tough-minded optimism,” a blend of original ideas, deep convictions, and resilience in the face of change.”

Quote we’re pondering —

Our only limitations are those we set up in our own mind.” – Napolean Hill


Did you enjoy this Quick List? If so, please forward share this post with a friend or follow us on Twitter @REPASSinc.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week.

To Your Success,

Will Krieger


Online Qualitative Discussion Boards – Are They Right for Your Project?


Bussiness Discussion

Online focus groups (discussion boards) have been conducted for more than 15 years and are a well-accepted and valid qualitative research approach. This tool is especially useful when the target market is spread over a wide geographic area, making live qualitative cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. When are they the right tool for your research project?

Discussions are conducted live over 3 – 7 days using a specially-designed software platform. Usually, 20 – 30 people are recruited, with around half completing all tasks. Incentive payment is pro-rated based on participation level. The moderator follows each participant’s activity level and prompts for responses as needed.

The moderator prepares a discussion guide with segments that are posted at scheduled intervals. Participants log in to read and answer the guide, comment on other participant answers, or respond to follow-up questions from the moderator. Clients can log in to follow the discussion while it is being conducted and can sent private notes to the moderator with follow-up questions or requests for clarification.

Typical activities included in online discussion boards are photo diaries, writing about an assigned task or topic, word clouds, collages, concept evaluation, and mini-polls. Respondents can participate from a computer, smartphone, or tablet, allowing them to make comments and record information while on the go.

Online focus group advantages include:

  • Increased geographic reach: participants can be located anywhere there is mobile or internet access. Since the boards usually remain open for several days, people can participate equally well from different time zones.
  • Convenience: Group participation can be higher because respondents don’t have to go to a special location or reserve a specific block of time for the discussion.
  • Detailed data: Since respondents can all post at the same time, they have a better chance of providing more in-depth responses. In addition, the moderator can address follow-up questions to the group or a single respondent.
  • Response bias reduction: Because the moderator is interacting remotely yet directly with each respondent, there is less opportunity for biases or influences that can affect answers, such as age, gender, race, personality, etc. This same level of anonymity encourages participants to be more open with their comments than they might be in a focus group room.
  • Improved client-moderator communication: Clients can observe and discuss the results internally while the discussion is conducted. Clients can provide input, guidance, and questions to the moderator without disrupting the discussion flow.
  • Reduction in non-critical expenses: Because moderator, clients, and participants all log in from their current locations, travel and some facility expenses are eliminated. In addition, the board provides a searchable/sortable text record of the discussion, eliminating the cost and time required for transcription.

Online discussion boards can have some challenges:

  • Engagement: The moderator must keep the discussion engaging to encourage full attention. It is not possible to eliminate respondent multi-tasking during an online discussion.
  • Non-verbal responses and group dynamics: Since the discussion occurs online, the moderator isn’t able to assess participant body language or voice tone. The moderator can encourage respondents to use emoticons, font variety, pictures, and gifs to more fully express feelings. The moderator can also use mini-poll questions to get a quick read on the group’s feelings on a particular discussion point. Some online platforms have begun to integrate facial coding systems that allow moderators to get a direct read on participant emotions.
  • Top-of-mind feedback: Respondents can always think about their answer or add to posts, so it’s very difficult to get true top-of-mind responses.
  • Security concerns: Because the respondents are remote, extra care must be taken to confirm that the person recruited actually meets the requirements and participates in the discussion.
  • Costs: Online discussion board providers still have to screen, recruit, and pay participants. In addition, online boards typically have a fixed hosting fee that is similar to a facility charge. Because the discussion is usually conducted over several days, the moderator can spend more hours on the board than in a regular 2-hour in-person focus group.
  • Study objectives: Participants aren’t able to interact directly with a new product, prototype, or service directly unless it is provided to each person in advance.

Online discussion boards can be a highly effective approach if appropriate for the research objectives and target group. Talk with your REPASS account team member to see if they are right for your next project.


Amy Davidoff Blog Bio

My Favorite Questions

If you could sit down and talk with anyone you wanted, who would it be? And what would you ask them?

But, why wait to ask of someone you may never meet? Why not ask those same questions to the person you sit next to everyday? Why not ask those questions to an expert in a field you want to know more about, your boss, your friend, someone you want to be your friend?

Aren’t we all innately curious? What caused us to stop asking all the questions we want to ask? Is it a fear of looking silly, or being in a “less powerful position?” Isn’t that silly? Wouldn’t we know more by asking more?

I bet your wondering, “What would you ask?” Here are some of my favorites:

On life:

Tell me your story?

What is it that drives you each day? What are you passionate about?

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

What makes you angry? Happy?

What’s one thing you really want to do, but haven’t done yet? Why?

On Experience/Learning:

What are the biggest challenges you have faced? Biggest mistakes and/or wastes of time?

Who/what company have you found to be one of the best examples in the XYZ industry?

How did you design your company/product/etc., and why did you build it that way?

What are your favorite instructional resources on the subject/industry/etc.? Books, websites, journals?

If you were to train someone and only had one week, what would you train them on? What would be in the training manual?

What is your favorite question?

Will Krieger

A Review of Ohio’s Payers and Providers Since ACA Adoption

On January 14, 2016, Anne Saker, from the Cincinnati Enquirer.com commented on a summary report on Cincinnati hospitals.  She observed a surge in net income in 2014 for hospitals while Ohio’s health insurers overall profits declined.

While I’m not sure that Ms.Saker meant to make a point about how well hospitals are doing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while insurers suffer, we did want to share some observations that may not be obvious to those who read her article. Read more