COVID & arson. Online search: What’s going to impact your business and industry?

fire

Katherine Doyle at The Washington Examiner reported yesterday (April 7, 2020) that “Internet search queries for ‘how to set fire’ are spiking amid the downturn from the coronavirus pandemic, which experts say is a sign that some people may be planning to commit insurance fraud.  Search term data compiled by Google shows that the number of users looking for information on how to start a fire grew by 125% year-over-year in the last week of March. A massive 700,000 jobs were lost during the month.”   Find the article here.

This poignantly demonstrates the value search professionals (info pros) deliver to companies.

Skilled searching is part of how I generate useful market research and competitive intelligence services for clients.   This goes beyond just, “Oh sure.  Anyone can type in a search on Google and find things.”

To demonstrate skilled searching from another perspective, a client came to me several years ago with a conundrum.  “A low-level competitor is suddenly and unexpectedly gaining noticeable market share against us.  We don’t know how they’re doing it.  Can you find out how they’re doing it?”  “Sure,” I told them, “I’ll see what I can do.”   After several days of effort, I logged into – yes – LinkedIn and did a search for people whose LinkedIn profiles reported having worked for both my client and my client’s competitor.  Voila.   I found a former employee of my client who self-identified on LinkedIn that they had left my client’s firm to work for the competitor several months before the competitor started gaining significant market share; the person’s profile further indicated that they had also stayed on at my client’s firm during the first month of also working for the competitor.  That employee was in a position to share info with the competitor that could have been used for competitive advantage.  When I uncovered this information, my client immediately brought this information to their firm’s legal team.

I sometimes describe my market research and competitive intelligence services as being an “MBA Librarian” (I do have the MBA) or a “jigsaw puzzle magician” who finds data, pieces it together like a jigsaw puzzle, and provides clients with information and analysis that usefully drive productive business decisions.

In uncertain times, being competitive and keeping clients onboard is challenging – making it more essential to have insightful information and analysis to guide your ability to be competitive.    Give us a call at Burkhardt & Co.

 

Beyond business preparedness: pandemics, natural disasters, etc.

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As a market research and competitive intelligence consultant, I spend my time working with clients to strategize business planning and competitive market positioning from a business perspective – typically by collecting and analyzing market data (competitors, customers, etc.).

In addition to working with market data, everyone is currently reminded of the need for business to prepare for and respond to pandemics, natural disasters, social disruption, and other non-market interruptions to one’s business.

The idea of business strategizing ahead about pandemics, natural disasters, etc “came home” for me several years ago.  We did a market research project for a client whose business involved dealing with natural disasters.  In the course of this project, my consulting firm used the U.S. Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) database to compile a state-by-state list of every declared natural disaster for each year going back several decades – thus generating charts about the frequency and types of natural disasters that happen state-by-state.

I encourage you to think now about your business and how to anticipate non-business disruptions that could impact your routine.  Basic disaster preparedness information (having an emergency kit, having a communication plan for employees and family during an emergency, etc) is already readily available for both businesses and families.  Beyond that basic preparedness, Burkhardt & Co. is available to help your firm strategize more deeply about – and anticipate – business disruption.

 

Kim Burkhardt is a market research consultant at Burkhardt & Co.

Virtual Meeting Tip: Professional appearance via Zoom background images

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When participating in virtual meetings from home (a lot of folks are doing that at the moment!), there is the question of how to present oneself professionally on screen.  That case is made stark by photos of “looking professional vs. unprofessional from home” in Depict’s article on the subject.

I participated in several meetings in Zoom this last week.  I opted to present a background better than that of a home office.  I loaded photos in Zoom that I rotated as my background during the various meetings – including the photo above.  Granted, I’m a photographer with my own line of greeting cards so I’ve got plenty of quality images from which to choose.  The result: overwhelmingly positive.  My background appearance received favorable comments in every online meeting – with meeting attendees sometimes asking me how they could do the same.  Further, I selected background photos for which I could tell a great side story at each meeting – a photo from my trip to Ireland, the above photo of “my favorite place on earth, located in my hometown,” etc.

Would you also like to save yourself the trouble of managing a positive home background appearance in your virtual meetings? In Zoom, log-in and navigate your way to settings.  There’s an option for “virtual backgrounds.”  The virtual background option allows you to choose one of Zoom’s preloaded images for your virtual background or you can upload images of your own.  Side benefit: uploading an image of your own allows you to “pick a story you’d like to showcase” during meetings.

Visit Burkhardt & Co. to learn more about our market research, competitive intelligence, and business development services.

 

Group online meetings, working remotely

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I am experienced at “working remotely” – it’s my preferred way to work.

So, during this period of illness and social distancing, I set up a page on our website with information for those new to working remotely.

In addition, I am now offering group calls for professionals in my network to discuss remote working for those new to this mode of employment. The calls will offer both topic discussion and an opportunity for professional interaction!  Contact me (on or off LinkedIn) to participate in next week’s Zoom call on Tuesday at 2:30 pm Eastern.

 

 

Market Research: Keep your customers during uncertain times

Cascade Mtns via 520 bridge

“Increases in business uncertainty are associated with prolonged declines in economic activity” (see: National Bureau of Economic Research).

Currently, the U.S. economy is expected to continue contracting (see The Conference Board’s forecast).

Such circumstances can make it tempting for business to cut back on market research, viewing market research as “discretionary.”  It’s not discretionary, actually, and smart businesses realize this.

During times of uncertainty and business decline, it is more important than ever to do what you can to keep customers spending – on your business, not with your competitors or on other products/services.   Market research and competitive intelligence provide insights about consumers, competitors, and market conditions that support your strategizing and consumer communications – information you can use to encourage your customers to continue buying your products or services during periods of uncertainty and economic decline.

Burkhardt and Co.  is available to deliver market research and competitive intelligence.   Reach out to us.

Today’s “Remote Working” Tip: Communication

birds of a feather, Lake Washington

When I spotted these birds at Lake Washington in Seattle, they were practicing “social distancing” (they were each two to three feet apart) – yet they were also able to communicate with one another.

When you find yourself working remotely, establish regular workplace communication mechanisms and routines (phone, email systems, online meetings, etc.).  This has a number of benefits:

  • Communicating with your boss allows you to clarify expectations.  When is X project due?  How do you want ‘abc’ to be done?  What’s happening with clients A, B, and C?
  • Communication helps “keep projects flowing.”  Keep up on “who’s doing what” on projects and “how and what is getting done when.”
  • Checking in with co-workers and people in other departments “keeps you in the loop” about what’s happening within the company.  Watercooler networking matters.
  • Regular communication helps reduce social isolation.

Also, keep communication flowing outside of work to help reduce social isolation.  Visit with friends and family, go for walks to see neighbors, etc.

During this time when increasing numbers of people are unexpectedly “working remotely,” we at the market research firm Burkhardt & Co. are sharing our experience with #workingremotely here.

 

Market Research & Competitive Intelligence, Jigsaw Puzzles

jigsaw puzzle

A businesses’ information needs are like a jigsaw puzzle.

Businesses need quality information that impact all aspects of strategic planning and operations.

Finding and managing such information can be time consuming and confusing.  It can be like working with an unfinished jigsaw puzzle – often without all the pieces.

At Burkhardt & Co., our market research and competitive intelligence services “find and put together the available jigsaw pieces,” thereby making information accessible, relevant, useful, and actionable.

If you need market research or competitive intelligence services, contact us at Burkhardt & Co.

Clear view of the flow of market information

Whatcom Falls

There’s no shortage of information flowing these days.   Getting clear view of information that matters….. well, matters.   This is particularly critical in uncertain times when market conditions are murky and unclear.   Working with a good market research consultant (like me!) provides that clear view – just as this pedestrian bridge provides a clear view of Whatcom Falls Park (Bellingham, Washington).

Market research, reflections

Partially frozen Green Lake in winter, Seattle

Just as this partially-frozen lake (Green Lake, Seattle) reflected the sky and snowy landscape on a freezing day in February, 2019, the market research I deliver pulls away ice and other clutter to deliver an accurate reflection of market conditions.  This is particularly critical in uncertain times when market conditions are murky and unclear.  Contact me today!

Market research, a “sunrise moment”

sunrise

Businesses need quality information that impact all aspects of strategic planning and operations.

Finding and managing such information can be time consuming and confusing.  It can be like working with an unfinished jigsaw puzzle – often without all the pieces.

At Burkhardt & Co., our market research and competitive intelligence services make information accessible, relevant, and useful.    We present data as a jigsaw puzzle completed with as many pieces as are deliverable.  Like a jigsaw puzzle of a sunrise image – an “ah ha” moment.