Year-Long Online Bulletin Boards Provide Insight into Needs of High-Value Corporate Stakeholders for Philips
Real-time coverage of the following session from QRCA’s 2011 “Symposium on Excellence in Qualitative Research” in Chicago: “The Virtual Boardroom: Using Online Qualitative to Research Senior Stakeholders.” Michael Walsh of Observant LLC and Penny Measure of Philips Healthcare, Amsterdam talk about how online bulletin boards gave them valuable year-long access to global business leaders.
Philips knew the learning could be invaluable if they could tap into senior influencers around the world in three key segments: senior business leaders, healthcare professionals and lighting professionals. To overcome the challenges of having participants, observers and moderators spread out around the globe, Observant LLC proposed a year-long online bulletin board with senior stakeholders.
Philips used their advisory panels to provide feedback on their Livable Cities Award program, advertising, brand imagery, and several other efforts over the year. They discovered there were great benefits to having the participants engaged with Philips over an extended period of time; they were able to provide feedback on marketing programs with a greater understanding of the whole picture. As Mesure explains, “Effectively, there were acting as a virtual boardroom for us.”
The panels met six times over the year and most participants participated in all six phases; those that didn’t usually just had scheduling conflicts. Participants were very enthusiastic about being asked their advice and liked hearing how their feedback was helping Philips.
Key learning about running a Virtual Boardroom:
- Targeted discussions: use very concise questions and don’t probe too much with this audience; allow them time to express themselves and interact with each other.
- Continuous feedback: share some of the learning and insights with the participants after each phase; participants feel appreciated and helpful.
- Appropriate incentives: offer choice of cash or charitable donation, but the research team feels that the real motivation was interest in the project and the process and the feeling that their ideas were helpful.
Philips took many actions as a result of the learning from this research, including:
- Redefined their target audience. They had thought they had three distinct segments, however there were actually a lot more similarities than differences which had a big impact on 2011 marketing plans.
- Modified their 2011 media plan based on learning.
- Made a stronger effort to avoid over-commercialism, as even senior business leaders do not like “marketing speak.”
- Identified the need to come up with an alternative to the “Hospital to home” term for their healthcare division as this causes influencers to withdraw.
- Pre-tested marketing campaigns, web sites and micro-sites that spun off because of this research.
Michael and Penny ended their presentation by noting that the boards were deemed so successful that they will be expanding the effort throughout Philips in the coming months.