A New Understanding of the Business of Understanding

Recently, I connected with Bravo’s own Research Director Evan Grove to learn more about how research fits into Bravo’s vision of “Win Tough Fights” and to understand some of the faces behind the questionnaires.

A Penn State marketing graduate, Evan began his professional career working for Omega Group in 2005. Omega, was founded in 1980 as a market research and strategy firm with a unique process for engaging consumers and uncovering insights. Only two short years after joining Omega, the firm was acquired by Bravo to act as its in-house research division.

According to Evan, “Research, at its core, is a process of discovery.” This makes it an integral part of the other services Bravo offers (Advocacy, Media Relations, Digital and Creative) because every single one of them utilizes research as the foundation from which all other things are built.

The research division not only offers traditional research methods (e.g., a unique version of a focus group called CoConnex, in-depth inquiries, and phone polling) but has developed an in-house digital resource platform to build surveys and acquire responses via Facebook. This approach provides the ability to reach almost any audience, as 70% of adults online use the social network. This service, branded Beag.ly (derived from the astute Beagle, who has a great sense of smell, and the HMS Beagle which was Charles Darwin’s ship during his voyage to he Galapagos) is Bravo and Omega’s way of bringing new value to the fields of research and advocacy as they transition into more digital formats.  

There really is no “typical day” for client-based organizations but Evan tried to give me a general overview of the types of phases that exist on top of ongoing relationship building, marketing and strategy initiatives.

  • The first phase is “Planning”, defining the campaign objective and what success looks like.
  • Following that is the “Exploratory” research phase which encompasses field work and digs deeper into the “why,” looking at different drivers of behavior. This often includes message or communication testing with consumers.
  • After the data is collected, analysis and a comprehensive “synthesis” process begin in order to cull customer insights.
  • Finally, the last phase is “Reporting.” Reporting takes all the information from all the phases and brings it together into one single client-digestible plan of action with key recommendations.

Once all the nitty-gritty stuff was out of the way I wanted to find out a little bit more about Bravo’s Research Director Evan Grove:

  1. What are you most proud of in your career as of now?
    1. Being able to watch the research team grow and lead our team to take on larger projects and tackle harder problems.
  2. What is the least interesting aspect of research for you?
    1. I really love the qualitative aspect of research so I can relate to those who aren’t as excited by data tables and statistical number crunching.
  3. How do you deal with the stress of an encroaching deadline?
    1. Communication with your team, not just within research but within the entire Bravo team and the client team. By setting clearly defined goals and objectives while keeping the communication channels open.
  4. What is the biggest obstacle that you face when trying to complete an assignment?
    1. Putting together the “right” research approach — the combination of what the client is asking for and what we think they need to do.
  5. How to do you combat question/response bias when creating/conducting surveys?
    1. Start open ended and broad. Let the consumers bring the language/dialogue. “What did you do today?” evokes a much more rational response than asking, “Tell me about your day?”
    2. Proper randomization of questions and response choices.
  6. If you could work in any other sector of Bravo (Advocacy, Media Relations, Digital or Creative) which would you choose and why?
    1. Creative and Communications: They take the research and make it real by creating a story and narrative.
  7. Can you please tell me about the most difficult Research project you have completed?
    1. Shortly after joining Omega, we were engaged to complete a complex research project which included video-recording the visit between patients and physicians for a study on GERD. There were more than a hundred visits to observe and individual follow-up with each party involved. The breadth of the study coupled with the technical nature of the conversations with physicians necessitated a fast learning curve. Ultimately, we were successful and identified specific ways to improve the dialogue between patients and physicians.

-Nick Furar, Pittsburgh Office

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