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Member Spotlight – Mike Berendes

14 Oct Posted by in Cactus Call | Comments Off on Member Spotlight – Mike Berendes
Member Spotlight – Mike Berendes

berendesheadshotName: Mike Berendes
Director, Sales & Marketing
Company: Custom Intercept Solutions

Current City: Minneapolis, MN

Hometown: Maple Grove, MN

Years in the market research industry:  17 years in CPG/Agency consumer insights, research, and analysis

What duties does your current job position include? I head up the sales and marketing departments at CIS. I’m responsible for all content (online and offline), all sales generation, and current client management.

What’s the best aspect of your current job position? I love reconnecting marketers to their consumers in the real world. Over the last few years, I’ve seen marketers starting to favor impersonal data analysis over direct customer engagement, and it’s been disheartening. Knowledge is not power; APPLIED knowledge is power, and the application is to drive or maintain customer sales. Now clients can get “drill sites” for their big data engines, which means they can be more efficient with their time and budgets. Data alone is no substitute for real conversations in the real world, and I see this job as my chance to move marketers beyond techno-gadget solutions, to real conversations with real consumers in the real world…for real results.

…and the worst (if there is one) ?
It can be hard to hear the prejudice that so many marketers have, thinking their customers are “not smart” or “not aware”. To quote famous advertiser David Ogilvy: “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.” It’s a great testament to being genuine rather than simply “spin” or “buzz.”

What do you see coming in the market research industry during the next five years?
In this age of email blasts, social media echo-chambers, and demographics-based advertising, I am seeing a growing desire for the “genuine” in a world of “spin.” Winning businesses are reconnecting with their consumers in a genuine way, in a true 1-to-1 level, and have begun to make good on the idea of “personalization.” People see thru marketing buzz, and it’s surprising how many companies still rely on it, especially since the mantra of “fool me once” seems to be prevalent everywhere. I see the “age of fluff” being replaced by the “age of real.”

How did you first come to work in market research?
I have a long history in shopper marketing, analysis, and consumer insight. Over the years, I found more and more business leaders leaning toward “shiny new objects” that promise deep, real insights from tons and tons of data. However, the promise never became a reality. Ever.

As more tools devolved from “must-haves” to “nice-to-haves,” to “interesting data,” I found myself using the tried-and-true method of (gasp!) conversations with consumers to give a framework to my data analytics, with much success. Now, I could have kept on doing this and rose through the ranks at some Fortune 100 CPG company, but I felt I had a duty to evangelize the “secret weapon” that brought me such insights and success.

What led to you to joining the MRA?
Since I’m a big believer in conversation, context, and insight, the MRA’s forum for idea-sharing had immediate appeal.

To what other professional organizations do you belong?
I am a 6 Sigma member, AAPOR member, as well as several groups on LinkedIn.

What is your educational background?
I have a BA in International Marketing (minor in Spanish) from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. I also have an MBA in Marketing from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

Where else have you worked in the past – including non-MR positions?
Novus Media, Kraft Foods, Activision video games, General Mills/The Pillsbury Company
What do you do in your spare time – hobbies or activities?
I love to golf and deer hunt, when I’m not playing with my 3 daughters (11yo girl, and 8yo twin girls – even the dog is a girl.  )

Do you have any unusual talents?
That’s a hard one! I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, which I guess is unusual. I’m no Tony Robbins, but I’m always elected group “spokesperson.” 

What would others be surprised to know about you?
It’s probably that I have done voice-over work. I have a pretty “radio-friendly” voice. I think I have a “face for radio” too. 

Favorite book or movie?
I loved The Edge with Anthony Hopkins and am a Star Wars fan – except for Jar Jar.  On the book side, I have lots of favorites, but I have to list Stephen Covey’s “8th Habit” among the top.

What is your ideal vacation?
I would love a repeat of our family trip to Disneyworld!

Final comment or quotable:
“People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs”
-Carl Sagan