Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My interview with Crystal Martinez, Director of Fieldwork Webwork, on utilizing online technology for reaching customers

Fieldwork, Inc. is a nationwide provider of focus group facilities and a global provider of recruiting and project management services. We at Stinson Brand Innovation have been partnering with them for consumer, business and medical recruiting efforts.

I talked with Crystal Martinez about the unique perspective she has into both the client and facility side of marketing research.

How was the Webwork group started?

Fieldwork Webwork grew as an extension of our Fieldwork Network, specializing in online marketing research, as well as hybrid projects that include a combination of online and in- person interviews. Managed by staff with experience inside the facility and on the client side, Webwork is taking traditional marketing research into the virtual realm.

How is Webwork different from other focus group providers?

Fieldwork facilities have always been structured so that they are run locally by owner/operators. This places a vested interest close to our clients’ projects to ensure the best possible service. Similarly, Webwork directly manages online focus groups, bulletin boards, video diaries, exit interviews, satisfaction surveys, and much more.

What benefits do online video conferencing/streaming and virtual facilities, specifically Webwork, give researchers over traditional focus groups?

We feel that every research project is different. With that difference comes a required decision on how best to approach the research topic. Our online virtual facility offers the chance to accomplish what cannot be done in traditional focus group facilities. Limited mobility patients, road warriors, geographically dispersed medical specialists -- these are all groups of respondents that would not otherwise be able to communicate with each other face to face, shoulder to shoulder in a focus group discussion. Outside of gathering folks together online, we have found that enhancing teledepth interviews with video can be invaluable to the researcher and cost-effective at the same time. Ethnographies can result in awkward introductions at the front door. Taking a few minutes to meet each other online paves the way to utilize the time you have with the respondent most efficiently.

What are the trends that Webwork is noticing in the online market research segment, and what should we know about the future of online capabilities?

The trend we are seeing is in online communities. These are not just groups of folks who like to participate in research online but catered panels of respondents who act as consultants of sorts to our clients on a long-term basis. We have seen clients who want to pull from our general online panel and some who prefer to siphon off a dedicated group of participants. Either way, they are getting a focused group of experienced customers/consumers and are able to keep the discussions going as their ideas mature.

How can healthcare benefit from the capabilities and services that Fieldwork provides, especially in light of healthcare reform?

Webwork provides an opportunity to reach out to a broader audience, making your research more inclusive. It also allows you to reach physicians and patients who would otherwise be unavailable for a traditional in-facility interview. Now we have a chance to learn just as much from Kim in New York City as we do from Sam in Spokane. We are able to interview both healthy patients and those who can’t leave their home. We can reach the big city Cardiothoracic Surgeon in Chicago and connect him with the PCP in Miami. All this without leaving your home or office.

Read more in the current issue of ACCELERATE about how Stinson is using technology to help clients gain a brand innovation edge.

No comments: