My TMRE 2013 Takeaways Part III: Imagery>Text

Invoke Solutions qualitative quantitative online focus group employee motivationThis next post is a bit of a subversive, yet important, nugget I walked away with after attending TMRE this year. I heard a good deal of chatter around making insights “stick” and how to help clients and stakeholders internalize and, even more importantly, evangelize the insights we as researchers bring to them.

I think it’s pretty well-known by most adept researchers these days that charts and cross-tabs and percentages (and even straight-up verbatims) don’t speak for themselves. Context and an understanding of real business objectives turns data into insight. And I am constantly keeping this in mind when delivering research and analysis. I am always trying to move beyond simply delivering data to delivering impactful and actionable insights.

But while this idea of context gets at insight, there is now a growing understanding that this isn’t enough. We are a busy – crazy busy – society these days. This is no secret. And while researchers’ main jobs are conducting and interpreting research, our stakeholders’ main jobs are often not. So they need a quick and easy way to internalize findings and insight. Colliding with this need for quick bites of data is an uptick in “visual-ness.” And this was a lot of what I heard at TMRE. As Jared Weiner (VP of Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc.) said in his keynote – we are moving from a society that communicates strictly through dense language to a society communicating largely through imagery, noting examples such as SnapChat and Instagram. Taking it down to a research level, even Dan Pink (who I wrote about back in February of this year: talked about how much he loves word clouds in his keynote.

And I did for sure talk to some individuals on the exhibit floor and at some random sit-downs that are very focused on telling their research story more visually. Infographics, for example, are a way some researchers are starting to present data in a more engaging and dynamic way.

I think this shows that we as researchers not only need to always be looking for new ways of gathering data (which is so often the focus), but also of presenting it. Even as I write this post, I am sitting at an NEMRA conference and just heard Manila Austin, VP of Research at Communispace talk about how important it is to visualize data when presenting to clients and a need to be “entertaining.” Research at its core is inherently interesting to researchers. But with stakeholders outside the research capacity, there should be a desire to bring it to life for them – through imagery, videos and Infographics.

When creating my Insights Reports, I am constantly looking for ways to present my data in fun and interesting new ways to further engage my clients and bring my findings to life. But all this talk around making insights more engaging through imagery has really given me a new mission to always keep thinking about how to make my insights and findings more exciting and engaging for my clients. So, all you Invoke clients – keep an eye out for some new , interesting ways we will be presenting data in the future.

If you would like to check out my other blog posts from TMRE on Online Qual ( and Mobile (, feel free. And as a special treat, my colleague Amos Wagon will handle the next post on what he saw regarding Big Data at the conference.

Yours visualizing the future,



  • Tyler Palk says:

    It was a pleasure hearing your story and about your company yesterday at the NEMRA conference. We spoke very briefly after, and your comments and presentation got me very interested to find out more about the company. I am a student, so I am new to the research world, but I had a few questions after hearing you speak and reading through your posts. Why do you feel that the simple fact that clients are paying thousands of dollars for the information you are presenting doesn’t get them engaged enough, and that you need visuals and entertainment? It makes sense that having stakeholders involved in the process would get them more engaged, but why do you still need to entertain them with a final report? I am almost never really entertained at school, but I am immerse myself in the information because I pay for the privilege to learn it. It seems bizarre to me that someone who is paying a lot for information needs to have fun to be engaged with the data.

    Thank you for your time,


    • Wayne says:

      Hi Tyler,

      It was a pleasure speaking with you as well. And it’s a good question. Honestly, there are a couple of reasons to still care about adding that bit of oomph to the final report. For one, as a research partner, we want to have the best chance of our work being not only seen by those we work directly with at our clients’ offices, but also evangelized throughout the organization. Especially at C-level, many executives don’t care about charts and cross-tabs. They want to have a digestible and easy way to take in the data and understand quickly how this would impact their business. We, as a visual society, sometimes do better with quick visuals than mounds and mounds of text. Think USA Today and their Infographics.

      Also, you are always looking for competitive advantage. I not only want to work with my clients on one project, but want to be a partner going forward. So anything I can do do make the report interesting and engaging can help with this. The supporting data behind these visual pieces is still important, but the visual helps to leave a more lasting impression.

      Thanks for the comment,

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