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Why Market Research Is Essential to Good Business

Tom Webster, Vice President at Edison Research, joins the Content Pros Podcast to share his unique perspective on political polling, our so-called shortening attention spans, friction, and his criteria for great content.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Tom Webster - InstagramTelling Stories With Numbers

Though this is Tom Webster’s second appearance on the Content Pros Podcast, he visits this week for a special and timely reason.

In addition to doing market research for brands on consumer behavior and marketing effectiveness, Tom’s employer, Edison Research, is also the sole provider of exit polling data for American political elections. Tom gives us the inside scoop on how this data is collected and distributed, naming it the biggest content marketing project in America. 

No stranger to delicate information, he is not a proponent of the “fail fast” mentality, but believes in taking the necessary time and funding to come to conclusions that are credible and unassailable for the strength of your business. He also believes that where the data fails to support you can be your biggest opportunities for business growth.

Political stratagem aside, Tom talks about his other work at Edison Research where he both supports business data and keeps companies honest, depending on the story that the numbers tell him. He speaks to the importance of voting with your conscience, current podcasting trends, and ballroom dancing. (Yes, you heard that right!)

In This Episode:

  • How changing news cycles have affected political exit polls in recent years
  • How our own political voting process is the biggest content marketing project in America
  • Why evaluating your own “cost of failure” is crucial when conducting internal studies
  • Why you should think about context before recording your new podcast
  • Why the “fail fast” mentality is perhaps inadvisable
  • “Friction” and how it applies to your content
  • Why our attention spans are not actually getting shorter
  • How third party polling makes your business better


Quotes From This Episode:

“Our attention spans are not getting shorter. We binge watch ‘House of Cards,’ we power-listen to ‘Serial.’ We will consume long form pieces of content if it is good. We don’t have long attention spans for crap. But we do have extremely long attention spans for things that engage us, challenge us, or come from expertise.” —@webby2001

“What we sell, our product is comfort. What we sell is the ability to sleep at night knowing you have made a better decision than you would have made without our data. We take great pains in sampling and survey designs to provide that comfort. Look at the cost of failure. If the cost of failure of what you’re doing is small, go ahead and go it. Don’t call me. If the cost of failure is high, then it’s generally worth devoting a percentage of that cost of failure to getting a little more certainty.” —@webby2001

“It’s better to be right but late than early and wrong.” —@webby2001

“With podcasting, my competition is not other research companies. My competition is ‘Serial.’  You have to understand that when you go out there and turn on a crappy mike with poor story telling elements, you’re not just competing against another tire company or detergent company. You’re competing for people’s attention.” —@webby2001



If you couldn’t continue the career you have today, what would you do?

As a jack-of-all-trades, Tom would find it difficult nailing himself down to any one thing, but decides on a recent hobby shared with his wife. “My wife and I are currently taking dance classes. So I’ll say, if I couldn’t do market research, I would be a professional ballroom dancer.”

It sounds like he may be convinced. “After my seven lessons, I believe I’m ready to hit the circuit. I’m ready to win the Pan-Pacifics!”

As host Chris Moody says, it sounds like “Dancing With the Marketing Stars” is a podcast-video format just waiting to be made.

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