Archive for the ‘Marketing management’ Category

Small but mighty: the power of passion communities

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

See our new ‘Credentials’ presentation

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017


5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Bax to run a segmentation workshop at the isbi schools conference for Prep Schools

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

As a school’s marketer, what’s your greatest challenge?

The isbi schools Marketing and Admissions Conference for Prep Schools 2013 is to be held at St. George’s, Ascot on the 20th September 2013.

The focus for this year’s conference is – Differentiate Innovate Influence Engage

The theme

“Successful organisations are realising that the traditional ways of differentiating from the competition no longer propel growth, but will simply allow parity with the competition. The demand on schools to be seen to stand out from the crowd, identify their unique selling point and develop a competitive positioning has never been greater.

This year’s conference will tackle three specific areas of differentiation, with a focus on practical solutions and transportable knowledge. We know that schools are struggling to articulate what makes them the ideal choice for their target market….”  isbi schools

Steve Bax, MD of Bax Interaction. will deliver a workshop entitled

How to segment your target market for the best results

For more details on the workshop click here


How to design engaging questionnaires webinar mp4

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Summer Camp Banner


You can view the SNAP Surveys summer camp webinar delivered by Steve Bax here.

“This webinar explored the key principles behind effective questionnaire design. Steve discussed current thinking on how best to engage potential respondents and improve completion rates.” SNAP

You can view other Summer Camp webinars from SNAP here.

10 tips for building and developing a team

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

What is a team?

A team is what a group of people can become when it has a clear sense of purpose. A performing team has a clear synergistic output – in other words the output is greater than the sum of the parts (contribution by each individual). A good , local Cambridge, example can be found with rowers. Rowers will tend to be part of a club (the group) and then many will row with others in eights or fours. These individuals have to have a clear sense of purpose and work together or the boat will be unlikely to balance, go very quickly or go straight! The crews need to work as teams.

Cambridge Bumps Rowing Race

If you have been in a performing team, you will know what this feels like.  It is very special and you want the dynamic to continue!

10 Top Tips


1. Clarity of purpose

Ensure that you are clear as to the purpose or purposes of the team. Make sure that you have SMART objectives that are prioritised

2. Select members carefully

Identify what skills you need and ensure that you can either secure these or train selected individuals in them. Attitude is important. The mantra ‘recruit for attitude, train for skill’ can apply in some team development situations. Team size is important. Teams of more than 10 people tend to be difficult to manage effectively and those with less than 5 need to be carefully structured to recognise the need for individuals to play more than 1 or 2 roles.

3. Aim for a mix of team role preferences

You are aiming for balance here. Use the Belbin test or similar to identify your and other members preferred team roles. Seek to avoid gaps and having too many members with the same preferred styles.

4. Decide on leadership and management styles required

Who will lead the team? Will this responsibility be with one individual, shared or rotating? What style does the team purpose need? Project teams, for example, often need a style towards the autocratic end of the continuum to ensure deliverables are achieved. Other teams may need a more participative style.

5. Communicate the purpose(s) to the team members and other identified stakeholders

A team needs a sense of purpose so make sure it is effectively communicated. Collaboration with other functions and teams is also an important consideration so ensure that other stakeholders are clear on the purpose too.

6. Manage team development proactively

Don’t wait for it to happen. Recognise the steps involved and manage the completion of the early stages actively to ensure that they happen in a short time frame. To perform, teams need to go through the following stages1:-


  • Forming

At the start of a new group, individuals are unclear about their roles and each other. Team building activities can accelerate the process.

  • Storming

A turbulent period for a group. Leadership and/ or objectives may be challenged. The group may change in shape both in the roles being played by individuals and membership. Actively managing these elements can, again, speed up the process.

  • Norming

At this stage, individuals in the group start to settle down. There is more shared understanding of purpose and each other and procedures can be agreed. Gaps in skills and resources should now become apparent. Addressing these, from a management perspective, can enable the group to move to the next stage.

  • Performing

This is where the group has really become a ‘team’ and is now ready and capable of delivering against a set of targeted objectives. Tip number 7 is now the priority.

7. Use John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership approach

Recognise the need to manage the team, the individual and the task for an effective outcome or set of outcomes. Ignoring any one of the three will mean that performance will suffer in some way.

8. Measure progress and reward success

Tom Peters summed this one up “What gets measured gets done, what gets rewarded gets done”.

9. Motivate the team

Be the team that others want to be a part of! Recognise achievements and celebrate successes both within the team and outside with the wider stakeholders.

10. Nurture the team

Remember to apply the key elements of management to all team activities. Ensure that you:-

  • Provide direction
  • Plan
  • Motivate
  • Coordinate team, individual and task activities
  • Control to ensure delivery on all levels



  1. Team development stages – Dr Bruce Tuckman 1965


Bax Interaction adds a new dimension to its services

Thursday, June 14th, 2012


The Cambridge based marketing research, strategy and training consultancy Bax Interaction Limited, has added a new dimension to its services and a new member to its team.

The company, which has an impressive track record of improving marketing effectiveness for its clients, has welcomed Chartered Marketer Pippa Corbett as Marketing Projects Director.  Pippa, an experienced marketer with a strong background in the professional services, not for profit, technology and fresh produce sectors, joins the Bax Interaction team to strengthen the strategic marketing audit, analysis and marketing planning service and to bring a new dimension of ‘managing marketing projects’ to the mix.

With extensive local and market knowledge, Bax Interaction brings specialist expertise to assist organisations in the East Anglia area with marketing audits and research through to strategy planning, training and mentoring and the implementation of identified marketing tactics.

Says Managing Director Steve Bax, “We are delighted to welcome Pippa who brings extensive experience of the marketing audit process, implementation of strategic marketing plans and managing marketing projects to the team. With this added dimension, we can offer a unique service from tailored research and analysis of your target market, strategy realignment and development of your marketing planning and training and development of your core marketing personnel.  As a team we have the capacity and capability to ensure your marketing is working effectively”.

It doesn’t just stop there though.   At Bax Interaction, the team stays involved to ensure marketing works by helping clients to source and manage communications providers, mentoring marketing team members to ensure they are fully bought in and understanding of their roles and regular plan measurement and review sessions to ensure that the objectives are achieved.

Pippa Corbett joins Bax Interaction as Marketing Projects Director


Does market research pay in today’s economic climate?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012



“Good quality market research pays today more than ever before” says market research expert Steve Bax, MD of Bax Interaction.

“With more and more businesses vying for market share in tough economic times, good market research can make the difference in positioning your business as a brand leader, understanding customers to give you the edge, creating a USP or identifying an opportunity. But many businesses do not realise the money that they are wasting when putting out sub-standard and ill-thought-through questionnaires.”

To tackle the problem head on, Steve’s Cambridge based marketing research, strategy and training consultancy has launched a brand new questionnaire improvement service called the Quest that can enable marketers to double the response rates on existing questionnaires or surveys.

Bax Interaction offers their skills and expertise, both as practitioners and teachers of marketing research, to marketers to enable them to improve the design, layout and methodology of their questionnaires to dramatically improve response rates and data quality.

Steve Bax, MD, continued “The bottom line is that using a poorly designed questionnaire is a waste of time for everyone involved. For example, ambiguous or double barrelled questions not only put off the respondent but cannot possibly provide clear answers for the organisation asking them. This creates a vicious circle where the organisation involved concludes that research does not deliver the answers they need and respondents get frustrated with the process and stop participating.”


The Quest service provides organisations with a fast, low cost, professional evaluation of a draft or existing questionnaire in the form of an actionable, diagnostic report.  The report covers all key aspects of questionnaire based research, and recommends actionable improvements to be made to the questionnaire itself as well as to the delivery method and approach to be used. This means that the survey process can be significantly improved and better decisions can be made as a result of the responses gained.

Accessing the Quest service could not be easier. A brief enquiry by email to Bax Interaction will trigger a call from them to gather the key details they need. A diagnostic report with clear recommendations will be sent back via email within 2 working days.

The Quest service is delivered by Josephine and Steve from the Bax Team


The service costs from just £150 + VAT ( for up to 10 questions)  – a small price to pay for actionable advice, when you need it, that is guaranteed to directly improve questionnaire effectiveness.

As an introductory offer Bax Interaction is offering the first 5 organisations who contact them before the end of July 2012 a free Quest report in return for a testimonial on how it has worked for them….*



Collecting Secondary Data – research techniques article 3

Thursday, December 8th, 2011


In this third article on research techniques, we are going to explore secondary research methodologies.

The stages of research

 Research data comes from two core types of collection methodologies:-

  1. Secondary sources
  2. Primary research activities

 The building blocks


 Research methods will typically use a mix of the above elements. It is usual to follow the following order:-

a)    Secondary research phase

b)    Qualitative phase

c)    Quantitative phase

d)    Sometimes a further qualitative phase may take place

Observation can be used in both primary phases.

It is good practice totriangulateresearch methods. So by using 3 different methodologies to explore a given objective. This avoids atypical findings and ensures that a representative set of findings has been secured, as far as is possible.

 What is secondary data?


 This is existing data that was originally collected for another purpose. Also known as desk research because it always used to be done sitting at a desk! 

Secondary data should ALWAYS be gathered FIRST.

 It is often described as being less expensive than primary. This can be the case but not always. The activities need to be planned and closely managed to ensure that they do not absorb significant amounts of time and therefore cost.

 Much online research is undertaken by secondary data gathering using search engines, directories, forums and so on.

 Secondary data provides a basis for primary research and can, sometimes, meet current research needs without the need to continue to a primary stage.

 So what is primary data then?


This is data gathered expressly for the research purpose. We usually collect this type of data SECOND  – AFTER secondary sources have been exhausted.

The key elements here are the aspects of observing what happens and questioning why, how, who, when, which and so on.

The methods available will be explored in more detail in a future techniques article.

Data forms

Data comes in two forms. Qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative data is gathered by using …”A body of research techniques which seeks insights through loosely structured, mainly verbal data rather than measurements. Analysis is interpretive, subjective, impressionistic and diagnostic.” *

Source: The Market Research Society

It is important to remember that this type of data is non-quantifiable. It is about what people ‘feel’, their perceptions, views, attitudes and so on. Things that are hard to quantify but just as important as numbers in many ways. The techniques to gather this data tend to be largely unstructured enabling respondents to talk about things in the way that they wish to.

Quantitative data is gathered by using “… a structured approach with a sample of the population to produce quantifiable insights into behaviour, motivations and attitudes”

Source: Alan Wilson – Marketing Research – An Integrated Approach


So this is about numbers – Percentages, rankings, scores, values, shares, numbers of those that buy, don’t buy, might buy, prices and so on.

The research process



The above visual shows the steps that need to take placed in a typical research process. It is a useful checklist to remind us of the importance of clearly identifying what it is that we want the research to deliver from the outset.

The nature of secondary data

There are 2 distinct sources of secondary data – internal and external.

Always seek internal sources first. Most go straight to Google without considering whether data might exist within the organisation. This can sometimes be in the ‘heads’ of personnel. Competitor information can sometimes be unearthed in sales persons’ cars, for example!


  • Sales figures
  • Operational data – stock levels, etc
  • Customer satisfaction results
  • Advertising spend
  • Customer complaints records
  • Effectiveness data from promotional campaigns
  • Marketing research reports from past studies



External sources are numerous. Consumer Generated Media (CGM), especially, has grown in importance as a data source.The key is to avoid spending too much time following ‘blind alleys’. This is where the time and cost can escalate sharply.

  • Directories
  • Country information
  • Published marketing research reports
  • News sources
  • CGM (Newsgroups, blogs, groups)
  • Internet – single search engines, and multiple search engines


The desk research or secondary research market is complex  – see below for some of the sources:-


Source: N Bradley

Some useful sites include:-

  •  Google Scholar

  •  World Factbook

  •  Published Market Reports

  •  Trade associations

Googlepublic is a particularly useful source for country based data.

Planning secondary or desk research


As mentioned above, planning desk research is all important.

Decide what you will explore and how long you will spend doing it. Do not exceed these boundaries before you review progress!

Do one thing at a time. Gather data sources and bookmark them. Do not be tempted to read each as you find the source. You will be diverted from your plan and end up exploring multiple potential ‘blind allies’! Think how easy it is to get diverted when searching for a holiday on the internet, for example.

Once you have gathered a number of data items, stop and skim read them. Then review and assess which are valuable and worthy of further exploration and which aren’t?

Internet Search Strategies


You must decide:

  • Time to spend
  • Number of sources you will look at
  • Age of sources. How far back will you go?
  • Format of data. What type of data are you seeking?
  • Methodology to use. What approach(es) to data gathering will you use?


Allocate time to:

  • Identify sources
  • Locate sources
  • Secure access to published/ peer approved material


Useful techniques to use

Use Boolean logic to make your search more efficient. This uses AND, OR, +, – and placing search words in speech marks to hone your search approach and save considerable time. The effectiveness of these can vary by search engine but generally the defaults are as follows:-


OR delivers material containing just College, just University and where College and University appear together.


AND delivers ONLY material where poverty AND crime appear.



NOT means that material where a word appears will NOT be included. So in this case only material with cats will appear. Beware however, where cats and dogs appear together the material will not appear in the search.

Internet search strategies

  • Wildcard *
  • Dictionary of synonyms
  • Bookmarks/Favourites
  • Find in page facility (via view or edit)
    • CTRL F
  • Recommendations, links and rings from sites you visit initially

The wildcard (*) is a useful tool to reduce typing long search strings. Add the * to a short set of words and the search engine will find all material starting with these words. Most search engines tend to do this by default now.

 “Ask your question” in inverted commas to deliver the exact words in that order in the search results.

 One-off needs

  • Set up temporary information requests
  • Use human experts
  • Talk to people! Email authors!


Don’t forget the power of talking to people that have some insight into what you are searching for. As indicated, these people may be in your own organisation, a trade body, an author of an original source or a librarian in a library!

  • Plan to stop receiving information.



Due to the inherent problems with secondary data – it was collected for some purpose other than yours – it is important to evaluate its quality and relevance. The internet provides us with large volumes of data but this makes it all the more important to ensure that it is carefully sifted and tested for validity and reliability.

Validity and reliability issues with all data

Validity = Are we measuring what we think we are measuring?

Reliability = If we did it again would we get the same results?


Use this simple test to help you to evaluate the data that you have sourced.


To assess the reliability of information look at the source and the context. This is particularly useful when assessing secondary data.

If the total is six or above then the information is likely to be trustworthy, if it is five or below then use should be made with caution.


Completely reliable (5)

Usually reliable (4)

Fairly reliable (3)

Not usually reliable (2)

Unreliable (1)

Reliability cannot be judged (0)


Confirmed elsewhere (5)

Probably True (4)

Possibly True (3)

Doubtful (2)

Improbable (1)

Truth cannot be determined (0)

Source: Nigel Bradley


Recording and reporting sources

Use Harvard referencing here to ensure that sources are captured and then reported effectively.

It is especially important to record dates and addresses for internet based data as these can frequently be updated, removed, amended and so on due to their nature.

You can find a detailed set of advice given by the CIM to its students and tutors on using Harvard referencing here.

CIM guide to Harvard Referencing

 Limitations of secondary data

  • Availability

Remember that data is not always available on the internet. Not all material gets placed on the net. Think about your requirements and seek others input on how and where data to meet these might be found.

  • Applicability
  • Accuracy
  • Comparability
  • BIAS
  • Age
  • How parameters defined for sampling, for example
  • Sufficiency – it there enough data for your purpose?

As already mentioned, key limitations revolve around the fact that the data was not created for your purpose. More often than not it provides you with a base for primary research rather than being totally sufficient for your needs. ALWAYS look at secondary data with a healthy degree of scepticism. It is valid? Who was the audience for the data in the first place? What are the likely biases implicit for that audience? How was the sample structured? Are the recommendations sound and based on valid research data?

Finally, the data may just not exist so primary data collection is your only route!

Some pros and cons for secondary collection methods


DESK RESEARCH Not everything is available on the internet! There are books and other printed media that are not available via traditional searches. Using a library and especially  the skills and knowledge of a good librarian can significantly short circuit the secondary data gathering process Time. As with all secondary data collection there are plenty of dead ends that will be arrived at with this method. You have to travel (usually) to the source. So significant potential for time and cost.
SECONDARY DATA SEARCHING ONLINE Inexpensive if planned and managed well. Vast quantities of data available. Not all desired data is online! Need to go back to source where at all possible. Need to combine data to verify and validate it.
BLOGS/ CGM (CONSUMER GENERATED MEDIA) A good source of data potentially. A subset of secondary data collection. Same issues as other secondary sources. Who says? Why are they saying it? Be sceptical. Ask validity and reliability questions of any data you derive from these sources.

 For help and advice on gathering secondary data contact Steve at Bax Interaction now. Click here

Questionable questionnaires ?

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We see them here. We see them there. Questionnaires now seem to be everywhere.

Everyone appears to be asking more and more questions.

This is generally good, right? Or is it?

My philosophy has always been that any research is better than none but now I am not so sure.

Doing some research poorly is probably worse than doing none at all, in fact. I am reminded of a quote from Ruth Mc Neil, a fellow of the Market Research Society, who responded to the Sony Walkman research debacle – when research results suggested that the product would bomb with consumers – by saying “People who use the wrong research get the wrong result. If the product had been described properly, consumers would have realised that they did need it after all”.

This thinking can be applied to the boom in Do It Yourself (DIY) surveys. If you ask the wrong questions, in the wrong way – you will get the wrong answers! This could lead to making unjustified and potentially costly decisions.

For many years now, I have been on a quest to find the perfect questionnaire. I have yet to find such a thing or, as yet, to create one myself! I am not convinced that such a thing exists!

There appears to be a similarity between people’s views on questionnaire design and driving skills. Everyone appears to believe that they are able to do it and can do it very well! As we know, the difference between this perception and reality can be very different!

Like any other skill, designing effective questionnaires and selecting the right methodology for ensuring that the right people are targeted and that response rates are maximised through the delivery mechanism and so on needs to be learnt and developed. We are not born with an innate ability to design exceptional questionnaires!

Online DIY survey software enables anyone to get in ‘a car and drive’ (design a questionnaire) sometimes with disastrous results.

So where am I going with all this? I went for a pub lunch with my family in Essex. The pub shall remain nameless.

Comments Card

At the end of a very good lunch, we asked for the bill and, as is often the case now, a ‘Have Your Say’ customer comments card came with it! At face value, I thought this looked good and saved it for use in future marketing college delegate workshops!

On closer inspection, I noticed some issues with it.


  • Very good to see that there was one. The wording was a little odd though – “To help make your experience as enjoyable as possible we’re asking for your opinions” – Sounds OK except that this is being asked at the end of the meal so the respondent is about to leave.  
  • Classification questions right at the top – Name and Email address. This takes up a quarter of the space available which is perhaps a little much. It does say that “Any information you provide us with is strictly confidential and will not be passed on to any third party”. Fine,  but presumably they intend to use it for their own direct marketing purposes but they do not say so.


  •  They made good use of rating scales although I am always slightly concerned  by  the use of “Okay” as ‘middle ground’.

Open questions

There were two of these.

  1. “Please comment on your experience and suggestions on any improvements”


It was going so well! Here we have a double barrelled and ambiguous open question. Unfortunately, it is badly written so it doesn’t make sense either.

  1. What would you like to see changed or improved here? (E.g. theme nights, music, certain dishes etc)”

Sorry to be pedantic but changed or improved would be better as two questions perhaps. Are the examples given changes or improvements to the meal and or the service which is what they have been questioning up to this point? It is unclear.

Multi choice

“What age group are you in?”

This is fine as a classification question.

“Who was with you?”

Again, slightly confusing. One of the options was “Own”. Presumably, on my “own”? Or “no-one” perhaps?

“Are you doing anything else in the area” Options were “Work, Shopping, Leisure, Other (no space to add any details) or No”

What is the purpose of this question? It is unclear as to how they might use this to make ‘your experience as enjoyable as possible’.

 So, as I stated earlier, the comments card looked reasonable at first glance but this short questionnaire is trying to do too much. It is attempting to get insight on at least seven areas

i)                    Volunteered data so that they can market to you

  1. Age
  2. Name
  3. Email address

ii)                   A rating of the meal

iii)                 A rating of the service delivery

iv)                 Comments on the experience?

v)                  Suggestions for improvements  to the experience? (assumed)

vi)                 The type of customers that are eating in the pub?

vii)               What changes or improvements are desired for the pub as a whole? (assumed)

This is too much for one side of a card 21 cm by 14.5 cms!

Of perhaps more concern is that they are missing the opportunity to get more  depth of response on key elements such as the venue, location, facilities e.g. parking, atmosphere, likelihood of returning etc…

This may appear very critical but I regularly see much worse.

The message?

 Research needs to conducted using robust methodologies that deliver against clearly identified objectives.

 By all means create your own questionnaires or surveys but perhaps consider taking some ‘driving lessons’ to hone your skills too!

 We offer a service that can help to improve your questionnaires called The Quest. Find out more about how you can get your existing or draft questionnaires vetted here.