Archive for the ‘Exhibitions and events management’ Category

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….*



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.

‘Should do marketing’ – The importance of measuring your marketing activity

Monday, August 29th, 2011


Having taught marketing for nearly 20 years, I have long held the view that all marketers should come up with their own ‘model’ at some time or other in their careers.

As a profession, marketing uses large amounts of jargon and due to the nature of its role it also

has more than its fair share of models and matrices at its disposal.

One of the phrases that I have heard a lot recently is “should do marketing”.  It is being used to mean marketing activities that everyone should do such as send out newsletters or use social media.

What nonsense!  Yes, all organisations should do marketing but that is not the message being implied  by the use of the above phrase.  The suggestion is that there are certain key marketing activities that all organisations should be doing and that not to do them, therefore, is a serious failing on their part.  Something to be ashamed of.

I do not subscribe to this view.  The whole process of effective marketing is about matching the capabilities of the organisation to the needs and wants of its customers and markets for mutual benefit.  By definition, this means that in all cases effective ‘matching’ will be different. Therefore, the ways in which this is best communicated and via which media are also likely to be different.

Out of my frustration at this sweeping generalisation was born my own marketing model!

I have called it the marketing activity measurement model or MAM for short – yet another acronym to remember.

Its purpose is a simple one.

The aim is to help you to stop doing, so called, ‘should do’ marketing that isn’t working and to develop and improve upon the activities that are.

Marketing Activity Measurement Grid

  How to use the MAM model

To use the model you need to follow these three simple steps:-


Place all of your organisation’s marketing activities where you consider them to be on the grid.

* If you don’t know what return you are getting then they should be towards the left hand side of the grid

 * If you do know then they should be on the right hand side


Position each activity RELATIVE to the others. In other words, if one activity had the highest spend and gives you the best return it should be at the top right corner. Other high spend,  measured activities that deliver a lower return should be to the left and to the bottom of the lighter green box depending on known data.


  • Act on what you see.
  • Find ways to measure return on activities to the left side of the grid.
  • Look at creative ways to do this. Do some research. Measure numbers of enquiries, responses, sales, visits etc… 
  • Test new activities and force them into this model. Clearly, start with a small spend and then test results – then you can move to the right (green) side of the grid. When an activity stops delivering a return stop doing it!


What each quadrant indicates


This is intentionally in red.  It indicates you should stop what you’re doing and at the least measure it.  If you find that you are getting a low return then  stop doing the activity altogether.  If your findings move your position to the right i.e. the dark green box in the bottom right hand corner – then consider spending more until the optimum balance between spend and return is reached.


This quadrant is amber – i.e. possibly an issue to address – based on the assumption that you have a high spend on an activity for some reason.  Perhaps this is due to historic reasons or insight into your own market communication dynamics.  None of this changes the fact that until you are able to measure this activity you should reduce your spend to enable you to make a ‘should’ or should notdo decision.  If the measured return is high, the position of this activity moves to the right i.e.  the light green box.  Once here, you can look to make improvements to the activity or seek to find ways to lower spend and maintain the level of return.


Activities in this quadrant clearly fall within the ‘should do marketing’ category.  The indication here is that you should look to improve the activity.  How can you make it more effective for the same spend?  Are there opportunities for you to move your position down to the bottom right corner i.e. the dark green box?  Test different spend levels to establish whether the relationship between spend and return is affected.  If there is an opportunity to lower your spend whilst achieving the same return,  then this should be considered.


Again, these are ‘should do’ activities.  The indication is that you repeat the activities and seek to improve them in a similar way to quadrant 3.  Test the effect of increasing spend. Is the relationship between spend and return constant?  If so, invest until a  balance point is reached.

Like many other marketing models, this is all common sense.  Also, like many other marketing models, it exists because common sense isn’t being applied!

Finally, here is my take on ‘should do’ marketing:-

3 things …


Understand your markets and your customers sufficiently well to match their communications needs creatively


Measure ALL marketing activities


Then… continue with developing what works and STOP doing what doesn’t

Research Techniques 2 – How to choose a research provider

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

This is the second article in a series dealing with key research techniques. In the first article we looked at the importance of creating a brief to get the best from the research process. This time we’re going to look at what is involved in selecting a supplier and receiving research proposals.

    Why use an external supplier?

For most of us, most of the time, an external research supplier enables us to outsource skills and experience that are needed for our research requirement. More often than not, this is not available cost effectively from within our organisation.

Due to the fact that in most cases the costs can be agreed at the start in the form of a contract, and you do not have to go through the learning curve that you otherwise would then outsourcing can be much cheaper in the long term.

Depending on the research that you are doing, external suppliers may have special facilities or competencies to meet specific needs. For example, they may have viewing facilities, they may have experience in online panels, they may be experienced in moderating group discussions, have field based personnel, have a call centre, be able to handle international projects and so on.

It may be company policy to bring in external suppliers. Not a bad idea. An external research provider will bring all-important, objectivity to the process. As an experienced researcher, I would still always use an external research agency as a client. When I ran an exhibition business, for example, I used a very creative research agency to provide powerful insight into visitors’ experiences when attending our shows. This included being able to estimate with a high degree of statistical confidence the value of business resulting for the exhibitors as a result of the exhibitions.

    How to go about selecting a research supplier.

If you have the time, try to identify three or four agencies to send your brief to. There are various ways to do this – you can get recommendations from colleagues, existing marketing agencies you might use, current or previous marketing tutors and so on. You can search the Internet! You can look in the Research Buyers guide. You can even look in the Yellow Pages!

Whichever route you choose, you should be looking for one or all of the following things: -

Previous experience in your sector. This isn’t always essential and, actually, I often advocate getting at least one agency to pitch that does not have experience in your sector! My reasoning is that they have no preconceptions in terms of how to approach your project and may therefore come out with a new way of tackling the objectives.

The necessary experience and skills to address your specific needs. For example, if you need qualitative research undertaken using discussion groups you need a research provider that has skills in group moderation. If you need online research, you need a provider with experience in this methodology and so on.

Sufficient resources. Make sure that your target agency has sufficient manpower to deliver your project. This does not mean that the agency needs to be overrun with people; just that they are able to evidence that they can line up the necessary resources to do your research within your timescale.

References. Is the agency any good? Ask for references and take them up. Potentially, this is your organisation’s reputation on the line. The agency you choose will directly reflect on your organisation. Think about it – they will be talking to your customers and potential customers. The way they perform is crucial.

Stability. How long has the agency been in business? What is their turnover? Are they profitable?

    The Proposal

Successful marketing research can only take place when all parties involved in the process know what is happening.

The proposal is critical to this.

Your selected agencies should present written proposals for you to consider and it is highly recommended that you get them to attend what is called a ‘beauty parade’ to formally present it to you. More on the ‘beauty parade’ in a moment.

The proposal will be based on the research brief and should provide the basis for your final choice of provider. Once you have agreed a proposal this provides a basis for a contract between you and the provider.

So what should the proposal contain?

1. The background to the research project from the agency’s perspective. This should be their understanding of your organisation and the issues that need to be researched.

2. The rationale for the research. Again the agency should play back to you the key business decisions that you need to make as result of the research project .

3. The research objectives. These should be based on the objectives that you have given the agency but would usually also be enhanced due to the experience that an agency can bring to the party.

4. The method or methods that the agency is proposing. This section will normally be very detailed and contain how the research would be conducted. It would normally include secondary and primary research methodology. The proposal should justify the methods being suggested and explain how they will address the research objectives.

5. Reporting. The proposal will state how and when reporting and presentation will be undertaken. For example, will interim reports be given? (a good approach) …and will the findings be top line results or full analysis with recommendations?

6. Timing. A detailed breakdown of stages and timescales is usually given. This enables you to clearly see what will happen and when. And, of course, that your deadlines will be met.

7. Costs. The breakdown of costs by stage is, again, usually given with a total figure.

8. Personnel details and references. The proposal should give short backgrounds on the people who will be working on your project (these people should ideally attend the beauty parade too) as well as references to previous work conducted.

9. Finally, contact and contract details will be included. This should detail who will manage the relationship and project, payment terms, data ownership and so on.


So, you will get your shortlisted agencies to present the proposals to you all on the same day. It is sensible to get the interested parties within the organisation to attend and to agree in advance the criteria upon which you will base your decision.

This enables you to score each presentation on the same basis.

So what criteria might you use?

1. How well the agency shows that they understand the brief and your organisation by converting it into a good proposal.

2. How well their personnel interact with you and your team during the meeting. Remember how important this is. If they get on well with you it is likely they will get on well with your customers.

3. How innovative are they? How well they demonstrate that they are not just going through the motions. I always like to see some evidence of creative thinking in terms of getting the best insight from research methodology.

4. Are they proposing a methodology that you think will work? Part of this tests whether the agency has explained and justified their suggestions sufficiently.

5. Does the proposal meet your requirements in terms of cost and the timeframes?

These are just a few of the criteria that you might consider as the basis for making your decision.

Ultimately, you need to be comfortable with the agency you choose. People do buy from people they trust. Given how critical research is to your organisation’s success finding the right research provider is vital.

Bax Interaction is appointed by Europa Science to ensure the success of its first conference

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Bax Interaction is appointed by Europa Science to ensure the success

of its first conference

Bax Interaction Limited (BIL), has been appointed by Europa Science, a young publishing

company specialising in European scientific, technical and medical markets, to provide sales and marketing support to

ensure the success of its first conference.

The conference, entitled Machine Vision in European Manufacturing, is

the first of its kind and is aimed at all those involved in the purchase and specification of vision systems for use in

manufacturing industries across Europe. The conference is being staged by one of Europa Science’s publications, Imaging

and Machine Vision Europe, and is seen as a natural development of the high profile that this title has in the


This conference is endorsed by the UK Industrial Vision Association, supported by the European Machine

Vision Association and is targeted at a select audience of directors and senior managers from the manufacturing sector. An

all-inclusive package is offered to delegates to provide a first-class conference experience in a UK centre of


The conference will be staged at St John’s College in Cambridge on the 13th and 14th September


World-class speakers on the subject of machine vision applications have already been secured from Daimler

Chrysler AG Group Research and the European Machine Vision Association with more to be added in the very near


Commenting on the appointment, Steve Bax, the MD of BIL, said “ We are delighted to have been appointed to

assist in the successful delivery of this exciting new conference. This new event on the calendar is taking a refreshing

approach to adding value for the delegates by focusing on presenting real life experiences from those who have applied

vision systems to their manufacturing processes. This is very different from the more traditional trade conference approach

where the supply side speaks! The BIL team will provide the specialised sales and marketing support that Europa Science

needs to ensure that their first conference is a measurable success for the delegates and their companies, the speakers and

Europa Science itself.”
For more information on the Machine Vision in European Manufacturing Conference and Europa

Science please contact Warren Clark at

alternatively visit

For more information on Bax

Interaction and how it can make marketing work for your organisation please contact Steve Bax at

href=""> or call him on 01223 864011 alternatively visit the

site at


Machine Vision in European Manufacturing Conference

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Machine Vision in European Manufacturing Conference – 13th and 14th

September 2007 – St John’s College Cambridge

A NEW one and a half day conference for all those involved in the

purchasing and specification of vision systems for use in manufacturing across Europe.

  • A full

    programme of application studies from blue-chip manufacturers

  • Learn from their experience how to make

    significant improvements to the bottom line through quality control and improvement

  • Meet suppliers and

    network with other vision users

  • Fully inclusive package consisting of:- 2 nights accomodation in

    historic St John’s College including a conference dinner and refreshments during the days, a welcome drinks reception with

    excursions on the River Cam on traditional punts, parking and transfers (available at certain times from Cambridge Station

    and Stansted Airport)

  • Bring your partner packages also available

For further information and

to book online visit



PEM sponsors the 8th Cambridge Enterprise Conference

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

PEM sponsors the 8th Cambridge Enterprise Conference


Group is sponsoring the Cambridge Enterprise Conference for the first time.

This new marketing approach for the firm

clearly positions PEM as a major provider of integrated accountancy and business services to the Cambridge� techology


The� conference will take place at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on Wednesday 5th September


� The theme for this year is “Growing Big Gorillas”
Why do so few European technology

businesses grow into large, world-beating ones? Is it because of differences in the business environment? Is it because

European and US entrepreneurs have different ambitions? Is Europe capable of producing the next Microsoft, Oracle or

Google? How do companies achieve substantial growth anyway, and how do they decide whether to sell to a big company or to

try to grow their own Big Gorilla?

The 8th Cambridge Enterprise Conference aims to discuss these questions and

others relating to the issue of growing large knowledge-based companies.

For more information on the conference

please visit


For more

information on the services provided by PEM please visit